Friday, January 18, 2013

Elbow Room

Someone in my Ladies Who Wear Sequins & Polyester & Sing Barbershop Chorus tripped on the sidewalk and broke her elbow this week. She'll be having outpatient surgery tomorrow to fix it. So we'll probably show up wearing palazzos and rhinestone earrings to sing in the hospital hallways and cheer her up. Meanwhile, what a perfect time to talk about MY elbow.
          When I was thirteen, I played basketball. Aggressively. So aggressively, in fact, that once, when I reached in to steal a ball, I lost my balance and landed with a thud on the floor. Lying flat on my back, wondering what I had done to myself, I looked up to see the ref's forefinger about two inches from my nose. I had spent most of the game complaining about everything he did, so it was with great relish that he pointed at me and yelled, "Foul on Mrs. Linklater!" [That wasn't my name yet, being thirteen and unmarried, but it'll do for this story.]
          The foul was irrelevant actually, once I took inventory of my body and realized I had done something bad to my elbow. I looked up at the kid, who was only a year ahead of me in school, and said, "I think I broke my elbow." 
          For the next half hour, as we waited for the paramedics, or whatever passed for paramedics in those days, I sat on the basketball court and kept asking for someone to go to my locker and get my Twinkles. Funny how your mind works when your body goes into shock. Nothing else mattered but those Twinkies. Which may have led to my lifelong liplock on those preservative-laden little confections. Part of me was planning ahead, thinking how good they would taste in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Another part of me wanted to make sure that nobody else got them, since I don't think we had locks on our gym lockers back then. Once my mother arrived, the Twinkies were safely secured in her purse, and I was transported to the hospital for x-rays to see what I'd done. 
          I had dislocated the radius of my left elbow. Nothing was broken, but the main bone that connects your hand to your elbow was out of place. As I was being wheeled into the operating room to put my parts back where they belonged, my mom reminded me that she'd have my Twinkies waiting when I was finished. 
          My arm spent six weeks in a cast, bent at a right angle. When they removed the cast, there was a forest of long, dark hair growing wherever the cast had been. Tres chic. As if that wasn't bad enough, I couldn't straighten my arm. In fact, it really hurt when I tried. That's when I was told there would be weeks of physical therapy to slowly make my arm straight again. "We don't force elbows." 
          Meanwhile, only three weeks after I discombobulated my own elbow, a boy at my school dislocated his elbow also playing basketball, just like I did. But he only had to wear a cast for three weeks. When they took his off, he had complete mobility. Unlike me. 
          I began to wonder where my doc had gone to medical school. In fact, had he gone to medical school?
          Instinctively, I knew something was still wrong with my elbow. 
          However, it was years before I realized what a complete hash that orthopod had made of my arm. I never could straighten it out completely. Still can't. And it took a long time for the discomfort to go away when I threw a ball, played tennis, or did anything left-handed. Did I mention I am left-handed? 
          About ten years ago, for no particular reason, I looked at both of my elbows in the mirror and discovered something. My left arm has an extra elbow. That pointy joint which sticks out when you bend your arm so your hand can touch your shoulder? I have two of them on one arm. Here's a weird picture to show you what I mean. They look more like lady parts, but, trust me, those are my elbows. I took the picture with my Photo Booth camera, that's why the picture is a mirror image. So my left elbow is on the LEFT, not the right. 
My left elbow, with its two points, is on the LEFT

See the two points? One above and one below? I don't think the doctor actually put the radius back where it belonged. Let me rephrase that -- that POS really messed things up. 
          No wonder I thought something was wrong when the cast came off. 
          At least I got to have my Twinkies.  


Jon said...

Well, I enjoyed the story - even though it was a very painful one. I wonder where that doctor is now, and how many other elbows he has ruined. If that happened to me, I'd be very intent on seeking revenge.

When I was sixteen I fractured my left wrist playing football, of all things. I hate football but we were forced to play it in high school. Hell, I didn't know a touchdown from a hoedown.
To this day I can't bend my wrist, but it never stopped me from playing the piano.

Chris said...

I'm glad you explained the mirror image. I was looking at the "left" one thinking I didn't see two bumps. Then when I realized it was the "other left" I saw it immediately. Yeouch!

I like to imagine you didn't dislocate the elbow during the fall. It was subsequent to the ref calling the foul, when you gave him a little "elbow advice" on how to make calls.

Candice said...

I'm thinking your Doctor may have gotten his med degree in Mexico. :(

Mrs. L said...

Jon -- you were soooooo lucky. I screwed up a finger playing volleyball and softball and can only play the piano with nine fingers.

Chris -- wish we had a LIKE button just for your puns.

Candice -- how did you find time to stop by, what with the rats in the garage and a toddler to chase?