Monday, July 02, 2012

That Time I Broke My Arm

Well, it's take a good seven and a half months for me to feel like this incident is far enough behind me to write about.  Or, it was the accidental reaggrivation of the injury that led me to spend 3 hours at the doctor today that refreshed the memory in my mind. Either way, here you go.

I was less than a month into my new position as Central Regional Manager of Workforce Development (awesome title, eh?) and it was a couple of minutes before my second managers' meeting.  Around 60ish people were in the large conference room.  I remember that I was wearing my dress that is too short for work, but I had tights on, so I justified its appropriateness along with my boots I bought in Istanbul.

After a quick chat with some co-workers in the women's restroom, I headed to the meeting.  I opened the door, stepped out onto the tile floor, and the next thing I knew was that my head had slammed into the ground.  Yes, the nasty, tiled floor in front of a thrift store bathroom.  I jumped up as fast as I could to avoid more embarassment and went back into the bathroom to calm myself down.  I mostly felt embarrassed, and didn't feel much physically.  A couple of co-workers were in the bathroom and here's how our conversation went:
Me:  Hey guys, I just--
Co-worker 1: Oh my gosh!  You hit your head!
Me: How did you know?
C1:  You have blood running down your face!
Me: [Totally starting to panic wondering what's actually wrong with me.] Oh, I'm sure I'm fine.  Does it look okay?
C2: Uhhhh, here's a paper towel. I'm going to get a first aid kit.
Me: [Panicking even more and afraid to look in the mirror in case something is really, really wrong with me.] Well, I fell in the hallway.
C1:  Does it hurt?
Me:  Not so much...ummmm...I need to sit down.  Oh sick, this floor is gross.  Can I have a paper towel to sit on?
C3, C4, C5: [Enter restroom].  Oh no!  What happened?
Me:  I hit my head...and my arm really hurts.  I'm not sure I can bend it.  And, whoa, don't freak out, but I might pass out.  I feel okay, but I just need to...

I lay my head back and prepare to pass out while C2 puts a band-aid on my bleeding head.  I open my eyes and there are like 12 people surrounding me, all trained in First Aid and CPR.  Everyone is talking and one lady is in the back of the bathroom, frozen, just staring at me:

C6: Sarah, I'm going to go ahead and call 911.
Me: [Considering how the humiliation will be multiplied by 1000 if an ambulance comes to get me.] I think I'm fine.  I just need a minute to get myself together and see how I actually feel.
C7:  We need to do a critical incident report for the company!
C6:  No, we always call 911 when it's a head trama.
Me: [Head trauma?  I have a head trauma?  What do I look like?] Ummm, let's just wait a minute.  I think I'm okay, but I can't really move my arm.

In walks Mike, the guy who has been my supervisor for about 3 weeks now. He's got my purse and computer and says to me, "Get up.  We're going to the doctor."  Awesome.

So, Mike is driving me to urgent care and trying to lighten the mood by telling me injury stories of the girls he used to coach basketball for, and I'm trying to play it cool like I'm not totally humiliated and kind of freaked out that I'm kind of in pain but I don't know where or what's wrong.  We get to urgent care and sit down in the waiting room.  Mike is busy emailing all of the co-workers who are asking about me while I'm trying to ignore the TV show playing in the waiting room that is talking about better sex.

They take me back into the urgent care room and take me into the X-ray room.  They keep telling me to relax my right arm and flatten it so they can get an x-ray, but I couldn't bend it.  This went back and forth for about 5 minutes until they gave up on me straightening it.  After the x-ray they took me to an examination room and waited for my x-rays to develop.  At this point, I start to shake - no convulse - uncontrollably.  I'm not sure if I truly was cold, or I was in shock, or if I was just so embarrassed I needed to shake it out.  Either way, everyone kept coming in and checking on me.  When the doctor came in and looked at my x-ray, all he said was, "Hmmm, there's something funny about that.  I mean, not funny actually, but kind of strange.  I think you may need surgery.  But I can't tell you that.  You need to see an orthopedist, STAT."  (For real, he said STAT.)

So, off Mike and I go to the Orthopedist, but first, we need to figure out how to get my car home.  So, another co-worker ducks out of the meeting and follows us to my house.  Only, we had moved into our house 2 days before.  And oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Jonathan was in Guatemala and my mom was watching Rory.  This is the conversation Mike overheard between my mom and me in his car: "Hi mom, well, don't worry or anything, but I fell at work and cut my head open and may have broken my arm...yes, I'm okay...I'm going to an orthopedist mom, I don't need a plastic surgeon...NO MOM, I DO NOT NEED PLASTIC SURGERY...Anyway, I'm on the way home to drop off the car and change.  Mike, my boss, and one of my co-workers are with me driving my car.  Yes, I'll see you soon."

We go home, Mike and Carolyn try to find seats amidst our messy box-filled house while my mom and I go upstairs and try to figure out how to get my dress off when I can't bend my arm.  And, oh yeah, Rory is screaming the entire time because I can't pick her up.  Awesome again.

So, after the doctor at the Orthopedist confirmed that my arm was, in fact, broken and I would, in fact, need surgery, I headed home for the evening.  I was in terrible pain, and even more terrible humiliation.  The only time I cried was that evening when Rory fell off a toy and I couldn't pick her up.  The best part was sitting down in front of Jonathan over Skype and trying to explain to him why I was pale, had suture tape over my right eye, and I was in a sling.  He changed his plane ticket to come home a day early so he could go to surgery with me.

I had surgery two days after my injury.  About four hours of surgery and two metal screws later, I was on the road to recovery.  This surgery video can speak for itself.  It was pretty awesome.

The next 2 weeks were spent like this:

Then I went back to the surgeon for my two week follow-up.  The nurse quickly and casually unwrapped my soft cast, and the second I saw my shriveled, bloody, stitched arm, I started to feel ill.

They sent me for another x-ray and as I sat there, I began to feel more and more light-headed. I told the x-ray tech I might pass out, but he said I wouldn't.  I continued to insist, and the last thing I remembered was him saying, "How can you pass out when you're talking to me?"  Then, I lifted up my head and there were like 5 people in the room looking at me, including my doctor who said, "Are you okay?"  I had no idea what happened and they had to tell me I passed out.  Awesome.

Anyway, after that lovely experience, I began my Physical Therapy.  Three times a week for 2 months straight, I spent an hour with a bunch of sports guys who always tried to include me in their football conversations, even though I never knew what they were talking about.  I went from being able to bend my elbow about an inch to an almost full range of motion.  It was a LONG 2 months though, especially for Jonathan.  He couldn't leave me alone with Rory for weeks and weeks because I couldn't pick her up and put her down, change diapers, or prepare her food.  I was a hot mess.  Finally, I was able to bend my arm a bit more and put more weight on it.

Twelve weeks after my injury, I was released to normal duty.  Here is the before and after picture of my x-rayed arm.

So, aside from the regular snap/crackle/pop when I bend my elbow, the $45k workers comp hit it took to my company budget, and the gnarly scar, I'm back to normal.  I still meet people at work who say, "I know you! You're the girl who broke her arm!"  I'm so glad I'm going down in Goodwill history as the employee who broke her arm in the bathroom.


Jane said...

Just a shout out to all you moms and dads out there. If your child (no matter the age of your child) gashes his/her face always insist on a plastic surgeon to stitch it back up! The Mom

mary said...

oh, my, that is a story! you and J are such troopers!!! thanks for the gory details, and I'm sure it build trust with your employees in the end :)

Julianne said...

That video was awesome, and what a crazy story!
Maybe your elbow was already weak from that time the bus driver closed it in the bus door...I still smile thinking about you laughing through telling that story...hehe