Sunday, 8 May 2016

What I've Learnt From A Broken Wrist

As I write this, it has been exactly three months since I fell and broke my right wrist. I've had my fracture attended to in two hospitals, endured two rounds of surgery and countless therapy sessions. 

My life changed after a fall in February. 

I was taking a stroll after dinner and slipped on a pavement where puddles of water had collected from the rain earlier. I fractured the two bones in my right wrist. Somehow the bananas I was carrying fared better than I did. 

It happened overseas and I had to stay overnight at the hospital so the orthopedic surgeon could temporarily fix it. Through an external reduction procedure, he manoeuvred my displaced bones back into position and immobilised my arm in a cast, until I could have surgery back in Singapore.

I've had my fair share of bumps and falls in the past. My passion for the outdoors plus my flat feet have scored me the odd tumbles here and there. I once fell off a Segway and seriously sprained my upper right arm. I've parasailed, snorkelled, trekked and cycled, torn my skin and sprained my ankle more than once. 

So I'm used to bruises, cuts and sprains. Broken bones, hell no! There's always a first time and I hope this is the last.

A broken right wrist is one hell of a curve ball, especially when it's the hand I depend on for simple tasks I'd taken for granted. The hand I use to eat, drink, write, swipe my iPhone and iPad, hold my computer mouse, brush my teeth,  wash my face, switch TV channels and open the door. 

You get the picture.

My broken wrist, before and
after surgery
I was unlucky to break both the radius and ulna at the distal (wrist) end of my hand. My surgeon diagnosed it as a distal radius fracture and distal ulna fracture. The radius is the larger of the two bones of the forearm. It rotates around the ulna, allowing us to rotate our hand, turn our palm up or down, bend and straighten our wrist and elbow.

At the time, I felt no immediate pain even though my wrist was bruised, swollen and lost its colour pretty fast. My forearm felt numb and looked grossly odd, bent near the wrist. Not a pretty sight.

The impact of the fall had compressed the median nerve which controls sensation and movement of the hand. 

It's also the reason that until today, I still feel pins and needles in my fingers and wrist, and I wake up each morning to a tingling wrist, stiff fingers and a tight grip-like kind of feeling in my forearm that takes several minutes to ebb away.