I’ve been really careful since moving to the top of a six-floor walk-up. When running, I stop at the first point of resistance (a yoga phrase), because I can’t hurt myself to the point where I can’t walk up stairs. If I can’t walk up stairs, I can’t get home. I’d have to call my roommates to pack a few things for me, so I could stay at a hotel with an elevator. Getting hurt is not an option.
Until Sunday when I was walking down the stairs to meet a friend for lunch and a movie. I had a bag of trash in one hand and a shoebox of recycling in the other when I slipped on a step that was most assuredly broken, or covered in banana peels or wet, and I went down. Hard. I landed on my right elbow and thigh. I winced, but was pleased that I neither spilled the trash nor got covered in the butter that had to have been coating the stair.
I decided I was fine and would walk it off – down the rest of the stairs. As soon as I got to the bottom, I took a seat in the dusty old chair no one ever sits in. I felt nauseous, but the lobby was hot, so I took a couple sips of water before tossing the trash outside. I came in and examined my elbow in the mirror. Is the bone supposed to look like that? I compared to my other elbow. Ehh, maybe? It didn’t look alarming, for sure, so I decided to go anyway.
I put on my sunglasses, so no one could see the tears welling up in my eyes, as I walked New Yorker speeds to the downtown A-C-E. I grabbed a seat on the train and rubbed my elbow until it felt better. At West 4th, I tried to pick up my bag with my right hand, but YOUCH! I quickly switched it to my left, and stepped off to meet Adam. We sat down for sushi. I reached for my water with my right hand, but couldn’t bring it to my face. Adam gave me a look, so I told him what happened. “That happened to me once. I had to wear a cast,” he said. Then, as if he were a doctor rather than a visual effects technician, he started giving me tests: “Can you reach this? Can you grasp that? OK you’re fine.”
I asked the waiter for a fork for my sushi. Don’t judge! You try chopsticks with your non-dominant hand! As we were leaving the restaurant, I again reached for my bag with my right hand and again gritted my teeth. Adam asked if I needed an ice pack. “Duane Reade is right across the street,” he said. I told him I’d be fine. We were going to see a movie, not weight-lifting.
This is where I pause in the ER story to tell you about my awesome movie-going experience. Adam’s company did the visual effects for “The Amazing Spider-Man,” so there was a 3-D showing in the super high-tech theater in the office. The sound alone blew me away. And it’s one of the few times everyone sat through the credits – but they all wanted to see their names and their friends’ names.
Back to the elbow … after the movie, I stopped off or an ice pack and then called my mom. My mom, who doesn’t go to the doctor for anything, told me to go to the emergency room and get it checked out. So I did. The doctor said the bones are fine, but she could tell I banged it up good. It was warm to the touch, swollen and my range of mobility is limited. She set it in a sling and gave me a prescription for painkillers.
But I felt ridiculous walking out of the hospital in sling for what amounted to a bruise, so I took off the sling and shoved it in my bag. A bruise! I’m not going to baby a bruise!
I probably should have babied the bruise. I got up this morning and felt pain in my arm and tingling in my fingers, but I got in the shower anyway. I knew I couldn’t reach my head with my right hand to wash my hair, so I held the shampoo bottle in my right to squirt it in my left. I gave the bottle a little shake to get it going, but YEE-OUCH! I fought back tears again. Good thing my job involves sitting at a computer, not lifting heavy things or shaking bottles, right? Turns out pushing a mouse around aggravates elbows. I came home at lunch time to ice it and baby my arm. I’m holding it very still as I type this and I’m not using a mouse.
And I promised my boss I’d be careful walking up the stairs.