The Five (Terrible) Upsides to Breaking Your Arm

The Five (Terrible) Upsides to Breaking Your Arm

Jonathan Armstrong

I’m not gonna sugar coat this: I broke my arm taking a flying leap of stupid off of a three high. It was no one’s fault in particular and while, yes, it could have been prevented, it could also have happened to anybody. It’s just a risk you take being on an acrobatic team like S.W.A.T. Just  a few days prior to my accident, another member of the team fell off of a similar three-high flat onto his face; he just had the good fortune of having fallen onto a softer mat and having bones that are made up of something a little stronger than fiberglass and hope. That being said, breaking your arm is just awful. However there are several surprising upsides that come with the experience that you should look forward to if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. (Spoiler: but you really shouldn’t look forward to them too hard because they’re kind of awful as well.)

5.     The drugs.

I’m not an advocate of drugs. I don’t smoke or drink or do any substance “recreationally,” but let me tell you, when the bone from my arm was literally poking out of my skin I was ready for something to make all the bad feelings go away.

Why it was terrible: With all the cases of people getting addicted to the stuff and robbing hospitals for it, I figured morphine was going to be just the best thing ever and while it did keep my arm from feeling anything like it rightfully deserved to feel at the time, mostly it just made me feel normal. And the pills they gave me to take home (Hydrocodone) seem to do even less. But let me tell you, try taking a couple of those bad boys on an empty stomach (as I did not once, but twice) and you will learn of a whole new world of nausea.

4.     The surgery.

So the doctors had two options when I got to the hospital: they could either just put my bones back in the right spot and cast them up, which would be easiest but wouldn’t give me full use of my arms again for backflips and stuff, or they could put two metal plates against both parts of my funny bone and screw them in place. The second option would cause me to have a longer stay in the hospital and give me more pain initially, but would give me better use of my arm later on. I don’t remember making a decision personally, but I ended up getting the plates.

Why it was terrible: Contrary to my reasonable assumption that the surgery would give me some sort of cyborg super-arm, capable of doing things impossible for it before (such as surviving short falls), the surgery has actually left my arm (get it? Because it was my LEFT arm) at about the same strength as before, which is cool because I would like to eventually start playing sports again, but was a major let down from what I’d expected.

3.     The attention.

As it turns out, when you end up in the hospital, people will come out of the woodwork to talk to you. Absolutely everyone wants to know if you are okay and you end up showered with gifts and cards urging you to get better. That’s on top of the 24-hour nurse care, courtesy of the hospital.

Why it was terrible: Well, to be clear, the attention itself wasn’t terrible. To everyone who visited, sent a gift or a card, called or even texted: I appreciate all of you so much! But the first night I was there, my left arm was broken and my right had an IV inserted right in my elbow. Picking up the phone was excruciating and hugging someone required more tact and dexterity than disarming an explosive.  All the while the drugs they had pumping through me the whole time kept me about as alert and awake as a narcoleptic mattress tester at church. Needless to say, I was constantly surrounded by people vying for my attention at a point in my life wherein I possessed all the social graces of a hard-core gamer after the latest World of Warcraft expansion.

2.     The basic temporary immunity from all responsibilities.

One of the first things I did after surgery was to call, text, or email all of my professors and/or bosses and let them know about my situation. They were all very understanding and gave me as much time as I needed, which was very cool of them. I was however, rather nervous about a job I’d recently been contracted for by the Texas Conference, but a nurse was happy to inform me that according to the Americans With Disabilities Act, or some similar piece of legislature, they weren’t able to fire me just because I’d broken my arm and would instead simply have to find a way to accommodate for me. So essentially I skipped what amounted to a total of a half a week of missed school and work and no one was able to stop me.

Why it was terrible: The key word there is temporary. I didn’t have to turn in any assignments or go to any classes, but that work sure as day didn’t just disappear. It’s lying in wait for me like some sort of deadly jungle beast, or Rosie O’Donnell if I was covered in bacon fat. The time I spent in the hospital was not super extra study time I got to give me an edge over the other students, it was time spent in a broken stupor. Now I’ve got a cloud of assignments and tests to do and prepare for with the full productivity that only living with one arm can grant; that’s on top of the slight daze the pain medication leaves me in a constant state of. But it’s okay. I should be able to manage because my newfound abundance of—

1.     The free time.

I can’t do gymnastics for a while. That alone took up about eight hours a week, not including performance times. I also can’t play clarinet in the wind symphony for a while, which took up an additional five hours a week, not including performances. Add those together and I’ve suddenly got enough free time for another part-time job. It’s exactly as much free time as I’d been wishing for all semester.

Why it was terrible: All that free time is going to be spent compensating for how much longer everything is going to take now that my arm is broken. All of it. And I miss band and gymnastics.

Now this article wasn’t just for me to complain and tell everyone how miserable I am. This broken arm is more an inconvenience than it was anything else. I’m actually very happy that I’m as fortunate as I am—the fall could’ve been much worse—but if you’re ever approached by a genie who claims he can give you drugs, cybertronic body parts, popularity, and all the free time you could ever want, don’t take him up on his offer. Seriously, that guy’s a jerk.

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