10 things you need to do before you break your arm

me 2

A slight glitch in the schedule this week, which makes the title of this blog seem rather hubristic. So here’s the latest from this not-so-spry retiree who managed to fall downstairs. But the good news is that while I landed in a big puddle of tea, at least the cup didn’t break. That was my entry into the world of the one-handed for the next six weeks, and a few things spring to mind immediately:

  • You need two hands for almost everything.
  • My admiration for those who go through life with a permanent impairment has gone stratospheric.
  • A Friday night in Emergency is a tale of two cities, where a dedicated bunch of patient and caring people confront some of their saddest, angriest and drunkest fellow citizens. And the standard of care offered to them – and to me – is absolutely outstanding.

But the main thing that has struck me since my enforced mono- dexterity is that it’s revealed just how unprepared I was for this change of lifestyle, and on reflection I realize there are plenty of things I could have done to get fracture-fit. So here are a few tips to get you all ready:

(1) Don’t pack up your entire life and move house, or if you do, make sure you hold on to the banister when going down stairs

cats getting married

(2) Get married…ideally to a hairdresser, although we can’t all be as savvy as Julia. But this is where all that picking up socks from the bedroom floor and putting down the lid of the toilet seat pays off. It’s one thing to wander out into the street with a jar of tomato paste to ask a neighbour to unscrew the lid for you, but it’s much harder to ask the nice guy over the road, or worse still, the slender gym-buffed gal next door, to do up your bra. For that you need someone who signed a bit of paper that includes the words: In sickness and in… And while we’re in the lingerie department, apparently no one has yet designed a one-handed bra fastening -front or back. Bob reckons he’s on the case and is prepared to sacrifice quite a few hours of intensive research on the internet. Anything to be helpful.

(3) Be nice to your friends, and they will drop by with dishes of lamb shanks or rocky road, and offers of shopping and chopping. And accept it all gratefully, this is not the time for false heroism…oh don’t worry, I can manage. Sure you can manage, but where’s the fun in that?

max and mandy

If you are seriously lucky, friends will arrive from interstate for a Disney theme party, but before they transform into Mary Poppins and one of the seven dwarves (the tall one), they will make up their own bed, prepare your dinner and – get this – clean and oil the whole of the front verandah!!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Max and Mandy for services to friendship above and beyond!

(4) Buy shares in Velcro. With the ageing population, it’s about to go mega. Shoelaces will be consigned to the quaint footwear section of the museum along with clogs and Roman sandals.

(5) Do whatever you need to do now. Do not put off making up the bed in the spare room, or – to go existential for a moment – that trek along the Larapinta trail, visit to Machu Picchu, or trip to Sydney to see the grandkids. You never know what’s coming up.

(6) Save some money. Seriously, have a contingency fund for calling a taxi, a window cleaner or some visits to the physio. Have one less latte or glass of wine and put the money in a jar. And – bonus – that probably lessens the likelihood of falling down in the first place.

(7) Buy clothes with pockets. And while you’re at it, embrace the elastic waist. It might not be fashionable but neither is wetting your pants while you try to undo a zip. Zips are definitely two-handed affairs.

(8) Do those squats at the gym. Levering yourself up after extracting something from the lowest compartment in the fridge is bad enough with two hands. With only one hand, things called glutes come into play, these are bits of my body that have been completely ignored so far but if they are still prepared to be my friends, I plan to pay them much more attention in future.

(9) Buy decent sharp knives. One-handers need to slice cleanly, and can’t afford for the onion or mango…tomato even, to go skidding off after an ineffectual blow from a blunt blade.


And as for basil…he’s a surprisingly fibrous little herb. In the end I had to rip it apart with my teeth! Aren’t you glad you didn’t come for dinner that night?

(10) Get a kindle. I know I know, they are cold and ugly and they don’t smell right, but          when you spend time in the hospital system, there may be a good deal of waiting involved. As well, when digits are working overtime, a book that only uses one of them, has its own light, and packs a whole bookshelf into a little leather case gets my vote.

As for me…there’s a bit to be learned from all this.

broken limbs cartoon

Never again will I laugh at any of the plethora of gags about folk in casts that seem to be a standby of cartoonists (and of a particularly lame ad for fried chicken doing the rounds at the moment). Breaking one bone isn’t remotely funny and breaking lots of them must be horrendous. But there’s no use crying over spilt tea, and my fracture was not even a bad one, so while I’m sorry I won’t have Dr House puzzling over it, I’m happy to get away with six weeks in a cast that, if I can find the right scarf for a match, could even be considered a fashion accessory. Upside is I can eat even more lovely French cheese…all that calcium! And I’ll be sure to follow Dr Google’s free advice on future preventative measures: don’t climb ladders or trees, jump on a trampoline or take up ice skating.  So that’s my figure skating career finished! Oh well, I’ll just have to adjust.


4 thoughts on “10 things you need to do before you break your arm

  1. Hi Angie. Just shows you can still do a great blog in adversity. At least you’ve got fat fingers on one hand to help. We all take an awful lot for granted don’t we. Hope the recovery goes quickly. Mike xx

  2. Oh Angie,
    How dreadful. It’s one of those “learning opportunities” that people always talk about when something, that we’d rather hadn’t, happens.
    But I admire your positive attitude and your ability to see the sunshine through the rain. I think that’s finding rainbows in everything and life’s lessons everywhere.
    Last year was my ‘year of the fall’. I fell four times. Luckily haven’t done so once this year (touch wood).
    I began by falling down the stairs while away for the weekend with the family. Hit my head quite hard and knocked myself out. Had my first trip in an ambulance (that was exciting) and then 5 hours in a neck brace while they checked everything out. Fortunately no damage and I’m grateful to still be here today. It was a close call though.
    The other falls were minor with damage only to my pride. At least that doesn’t take long to heal.

  3. A few years ago I had a “frozen” shoulder which was very painful and created a disability similar to yours. I certainly understand what you mean about bras and zips.
    Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I’m pleased you can still do your writing.
    I’m assuming this was in your new home? And that maybe the Disney party was a housewarming?
    Now that you have got this over and done with, the rest should be plain sailing!

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