Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself. It was only a broken arm. Millions of people deal with far worse permanently.

BAGMAN: "But you do self-pity so well!"

BUTLER: "Hush, Baggie. He's not in the mood. He swore at the dogs this morning. If he wants to pretend he's in a better mood, let him do it."

So since it was time, I say, glaring at Bagman and backing him off, to stop feeling sorry for myself, I decided to attempt a fairly normal morning after two and a half days of semi-vertical reclining in a lounge chair in a sling. Besides, having not changed my t-shirt for that time no-one would come near me any more -- a mixed blessing, that.

Karen had offered to help me change and shower that morning but I had probably snapped at her too. But I wanted to try it on my own so after she left, I went to the bathroom to begin a game of Bathroom Twister.

First, I took a deep breath and unvelcro'ed the front of the sling and let it drop, letting my arm hang straight down. Barclay a.k.a. Dr. Stewart, my hero and soon to take his medical boards at MUSC, had explained the humerus and how it heals and it was alright to have it un-set but I should not put stress on it. Okay...so I can do anything with the rest of my body as long as the left arm hangs limply down.

Dropping the pants was easy...well, at least after I figured out how to unfasten them with one hand. Note to self: may want to find easier pants to put on afterwards.

T-shirt was puzzling until I reached back with right hand (I'm left-handed by the way), pulled the collar over my head and hopped on one foot -- don't ask, I don't know why -- swore at myself for not removing my glasses first because the caught in the fabric, then jiggled my right hand until it came free and hung with my glasses somewhere in the fabric, attached to my limp left armpit -- probably by dried sweat. Yuck.

Assess for pain. So far so good. Into the shower. Ahhhh. Warm water. Heaven. And now for the soap, which my stupid non-dominant right hand promptly drops. But I'm on top of it. I've learned that in order to keep my right arm from swinging out, I can't lean over to pick up things and have already perfected the art of genuflecting in such vertical grace it would win approval from the Queen of England. Although it might not win her approval to see it done, naked, water pouring down, in a small, slippery shower stall.

Having retrieved the soap, I quick start using it before I drop it again. I keep the left arm fairly vertical while I attack the its pit with the first soap it has seen in days. All the uncleanliness flows down the drain: dna-laced detritus, fibers from the sling, morsels of food, a page from the Sunday comics...

I had worried about how I would wash my left arm, but the real problem turned out to be my right arm. Washing my right armpit with my right hand -- well, just imagine Chimpanzees.

No more challenges. Those parts I could not reach with a towel were delegated to evaporation.

Until time to shave. I wasn't worried about the razor in my right hand. A nick or two here and there...so what. But the problem was getting the lather out of the aerosol can. I usually just push the button on top and squirt some shaving cream onto my other hand and...

...other hand. Now there is the problem. If my left hand is hanging down...should it be the squirter or the squirtee? After a moment, I decided to simply eliminate the middle man and squirt the shaving cream directly on my face. Where is the camera when you really need it?

Having completed being the butt of my own fraternity prank and cleaned off an ocean of shaving cream, I tackled getting dressed again.

Pullover shirt, no problem -- I remembered to remove my glasses first. Pants...here's where the serious hopping around on one foot occurred. And the realization that I broke my humerus the day after Thanksgiving which meant my pants were too tight to begin with.

BUTLER: "Please tell me you aren't going to blame the tightness of your pants on Thanksgiving!"

Okay, okay...but my pants are all on the tight side these days...Okay!! Get off my case!!

BUTLER: "Ah, yes. You are in a much better mood, I can tell."

So jeans were soon eliminated simply because there was no way my right hand, by itself, could maneuver those little brass buttons through those little eyeholes under stress.

So I began trying on dress slacks because they have hooks instead of buttons and...well...blush...because many years ago I gave up style for the comfort of elastic waistbands.

But elastic is elastic and whether I used by broken arm to hold one side or push the other side, I could feel twinges. Plus, they have hooks but they also have buttons too...didn't the tailors have confidence in their ability to keep pants on? Why do the waistbands have one button inside, then a hook, then another button outside? I had already given up on the buttons and was just straining to get one hook hooked. I had even pried it out so it would catch better. At least once, I decided in desperation that I would never be able to dress myself again.

But finally, sucking, squeezing, puffing, grunting, clawing, hopping, swearing, pulling while ALWAYS KEEPING MY LEFT ARM LIMP AND VERTICAL...I completed it. A pair of slip on Crocs, reattachment of the sling, and I was ready for the world, despite the fact that my pants totally clashed with my shirt.

No matter. I was exhausted anyhow. I went back to the livingroom, lay back on the lounge chair, and went to sleep.


  1. Bravo, Mark!
    I was worried there in the shower you'd tip over and break some other bones. Have some nice coffee, now.

  2. I am trying to work out a timetable. It must have taken you a whole morning, by the description.
    And I know it is not easy to get dressed with one hand/arm; my mum had an accident years ago and for almost 3/4 of a year was not able to use her left arm. I helped her more than once, in the bath and to get dressed etc.

  3. Well done! Adversity sure is your friend (and our good fortune to read your hilarious recounting of it). Might I suggest...soap on a rope?

  4. So just like a man...don't ask for directions and certainly don't ask for help!

  5. I'd hate to point out the obvious, but once your shirt was on, you certainly could have added the sling, giving you a bit more range of movement when putting on pants.

  6. I'm still back in the palace, watching you and the Queen!

  7. Apropos to almost nothing, but just to cheer you up a bit: Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed. I think this makes you related to a genius.
    Listen to Barclay and forget about getting dressed; it is too stressful.

  8. Just video the whole routine and market it as a new form of aerobic exercise!

    Truly - I sympathize - just beginning to fully use my broken arm/wrist. At least I broke my non-dominant arm - How did you ever type that long post??

  9. Okay, first of all - ask for some sweat pants for Christmas - sheesh! Second, I blame my dryer's high heat for shrinking my clothes. That's my story and I am stickin' to it!

    Love the Sunday comics page part!

    Good story. I hope I never break a bone. I have a glass shower door and I know that wouldn't be good.

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