07 August 2012

A Lesson in Ballistics

Well, I've not written anything for a good while now.  At least some of that is because my most recent encounter with gravity.

On Friday 22 June, at the end of a hard day's work, it was time to head off to the pub (please note: to the pub, not from the pub) to have a farewell drink with a colleague who was leaving for another job.  I went down a flight of stairs and then spun through 180 degrees to head down the next flight.  As I stepped off, I caught my heal on the top stair and before I knew it I was airborne, head first.  In my dreams I can fly but I realised that, since I was awake, that particular skill would not be available to me.

My recollection of the next brief interval lends weight to the idea that time appears to slow down in extremis.  Apart from shouting very loudly (something along the lines of, "Aaaaaarggggghhhh!!!!!!") as I travelled, I remember taking in my surroundings (hard, tiled stairs with a hard, tiled floor at the bottom) and realising that I was about to hurt myself seriously.  I noticed that my arms were extended in front of me in an instinctive attempt to stop the fall.  I had time, it seemed, to realise that this classic reaction usually ended with broken wrists and so I lifted my hands to avoid serious damage to my arms but retain some protection for my face and head.  Unfortunately, I was turning a slow somersault as I went, which meant that my forearms hit the second or third step from the bottom at exactly the wrong angle.

My landing was hard and painful.

I picked myself up from the crumpled heap I had formed at the foot of the stairs with acute pain in my right hand and left wrist.  I flexed my fingers and, relieved to find everything worked, assumed that nothing was broken.  Remarkably, I seemed otherwise intact.  I had been very lucky.

By the time I reached my car, my hand and wrist were very sore.  In an adrenalin-induced state of confusion, I decided that the best thing to do was to drive home(!), a journey of about 14 miles, and then get my Beloved to take me to the A&E department of our local general hospital.  By the time I got home, my left wrist had swollen and become even more sore.

To cut a long story short, I came home from casualty four and a half hours later with my left wrist in a splint, my right forearm bandaged and two fingers strapped together, and with an appointment for Monday's trauma clinic.  I had broken my 5th metacarpal, right hand, and left radius styloid.

To cut an already-shortened story shorter, I ended up being off work for four weeks.  I was unable to drive, could not type, manage buttons, pick my nose or scratch inside my ears, could not push or pull doors, or put my socks on.  I was relieved to discover that the functioning two fingers and thumb of my right hand enabled me to perform essential toilet functions ...

I am now back at work, after five weeks off (the final week because of a bereavement).  My right hand still aches by the end of the day, and I do not yet have full and pain-free movement in my wrist but I'm getting there.

I have revisited the scene and I was very surprised to see how short the flight of stairs was.  It has eleven steps but, at the time, it seemed like twenty.

Gravity has tried to get my twice before (see the other 'Gravity' posts).  Third time lucky.  Still, I needed a break;  unfortunately, I got two.