My wife got me a bike for my birthday.
Three weeks later, I fell off of it, and broke my elbow.
The other day, I saw that my coworker had left his old bike out in the rain.
“I have a bike that I’m not using,” I said. “Barely used. Need it?”
“Sure,” he said.
So, we loaded the bike into my wife’s truck and drove it in to work.
“Here you go,” I told my coworker.
“Thank you,” he said, and we haven’t seen him since.
I hope that the bike didn’t kill him.
But better him than me.
I keep a battery charger and spare phone cord with me now.
I don’t want to run out of power on my phone ever again.
The last time I ran out of power, I was in the Emergency Room all alone with an iPhone that had a broken sleep button.
And a broken elbow.
My friends rescued me when they had the gift shop send a universal charger to my room.
And every kind of candy bar, cookie, and beverage they had in stock.
As much as I like Nutter Butter, the charger and cord are just a bit handier.
I called the sports medicine hotline to set up an appointment for my first physical therapy session.
The operator asked me what I needed to work on.
Would October 10th at 2 work for me?
It’s going to hurt, she says.
I know. I’m not ready, but I’m ready.
Date of birth?
I tell her.
Oh no, she says. I’m so sorry.
It’s okay. I tell her. I’ll be alright. I’ll get better. Right?
I hang up and sit there… quietly.
Happy fucking birthday to me.
I have a doctor’s appointment today.
His staff takes x-rays of my elbow and then sticks me in a room to wait for an hour.
When I’m fed up with the wait, he comes through the door, pokes and prods me for a minute, and then I’m sent to the reception desk to pay and set my next appointment.
I took half a day off to do this. But if I had taken a whole day off, I’d have gotten wellness credit reimbursed on my paycheck for half the day.
My elbow is getting better. It’s my patience that’s broken.
As part of my rehabilitation, I have a blue foam Lego brick to squeeze.
This builds up my grip strength.
However, it’s a lot more fun to throw my brick at people.
It’s like a blend of Angry Birds and Tetris.
And Lego, I suppose. Although what’s the point of having just a single Lego brick?
You can’t build anything with it.
I shrug, and look over my toy drawer:
A single Tinkertoy spoke
An erector-set screw
A piece of this
A piece of that
A pile of team-building pieces I never built with.
I squeeze the brick and laugh.
My grandfather was a pool shark, and he tried to teach me and my brother how to play pool.
My brother listened, but he didn’t have the talent.
I had the talent, but I was too young to listen.
Only after he died did I listen, his voice in my ear, telling me to think through each shot and breathe.
I got good. Really good.
Then, I broke my elbow.
It just doesn’t extend correctly anymore.
My wrist and fingers won’t bridge properly either
I’ll send my cue to my niece. Hopefully, she’ll hear his voice whispering “Breathe.”
Every so often, I hold out my arms, turn them over, and compare them.
It’s been over six weeks since the surgery, but I haven’t yet regrown all the hair back on my left arm. There’s patches of stubble all over it, unlike the pelt on the right one.
Also, the left one has atrophied significantly, allowing the pins and plate to poke against the tight skin.
I bang my left elbow against a countertop.
Nothing. No more funnybone, anymore.
A canned laugh track, perhaps?
Then, I bang the right elbow and CRAP! THAT HURTS!
But it feels so natural.
I prefer not to think of physical therapy as taking time away from being able to meet my deadlines at work.
Instead, I consider appointments at the rehabilitation center to be an opportunity not to worry about deadlines.
The problem with thinking this way is that it’s the pain of the stretching and pulling by the therapist which distracts me from the work deadlines.
In a perfect world, I’d be healthy and have all my time available to get my work done.
I close my eyes, forget about the project due Friday, and let the therapist twist my shoulder again.
After I broke my arm and underwent surgery to rebuild it, I was given Vicodin for the pain, and it worked. It kept the pain at bay when I took it regularly.
Forty minutes after taking a pill, I felt the rush and it felt good.
But over time, as I healed, the pain subsided. I built up a tolerance to Vicodin, and the rush stopped coming.
Take more? No. That leads to addiction.
Instead, ease off the drugs, and switch to Tylenol.
And then, when I’m better, and my tolerance subsides…
I hope I didn’t sell off my stash.
In addition to a digital photo frame, I’ve mounted a laser pointer to the brace on my arm.
I can turn it on and wiggle it, to make the cats go crazy and chase it.
It runs on a pair of AA batteries so it lasts a long time. And the switch is a toggle, so I don’t need to hold down the button to keep the laser on.
I had a good time with it, until I fell asleep with my arm pointing out the window, flashing into the cockpits of airplanes landing at the airport two blocks away.