As some of you may already be aware, I was in a serious car accident on November 10 of last year. Both my arms were broken, the left with one relatively clean break near the elbow, the right with both bones shattered.
While I was still in shock, and before I passed out, I remember telling my son (who thankfully was not injured though riding shotgun) that “everything was OK, because I only broke my arm.” My right forearm at this point was in the shape of an “S”.
Long story short, my left arm is gradually healing but will likely have limited range of motion for the rest of my life. My right arm OK as far as the elbow goes, but even after three months, my fingers are numb and two of them are sort of locked in place.
I’m working with a physical therapist to recover as far as possible, but for the time being my right hand is pretty much out of commission. Unlike my heart attack (which I had in 2017), this injury it’s really changing the way I think about a lot of things. Here’s what I learned:
1. You’re not allowed to complain.
Even though your healing process (which I hope is what is actually going on) may be insanely painful, even friends and family have limited patience with complaints. Like me before the accident, people fear it’ll happen to them and truly don’t want to think about it.
2. There are always people who are much worse off.
One of the first people I talk to after I started getting back in contact with my friends was a concert pianist who had had both his forearms burned to stumps in an electrical accident. He’s now a highly successful screenplay writer by the way.
3. Society has high expectations.
In our society, it’s pretty much assumed that you will rise above any challenges that you might face. Many people seem vaguely disappointed if you’re not turning your disability into something positive.
4. Recovery is a series of small victories.
I never thought I’d be proud of being able to put on my own socks, and slowly and painfully tie my own shoes. Even though it takes five times as long, it’s a great pleasure to be able to shave, brush my teeth, and take a shower.
5. I have a lot to be thankful for.
All things considered, I got off pretty light. I came out of it without any injuries to my spine, my legs, or my head. Above all, I’m incredibly thankful that my son wasn’t hurt as in “not even a scratch.” For this I will always be infinitely grateful.
I’m also incredibly grateful to my friends at Inc.com for allowing me to continue to post using speech recognition. It’s a very laborious and time-consuming process, especially when my right hand is a ball of searing pain.
By the way, because my left arm and hand can use a mouse, I can still do computer animation, because it doesn’t really require any typing. That’s a real blessing, because all my other hobbies require manual dexterity. More on this in a future post.
I hope this column doesn’t seem like I’m complaining. I did think, however, that I needed to explain to my long-term readers (some of whom have been following me since 2007) why I’m not posting as frequently as in the past.
After I wrote this, I heard the news about Tiger Woods’ car accident. If you’re the praying type, please pray for him.