A Minor Incident But Big Thoughts

I unwrapped the ace bandage and took a morning look at the progress. Swelling down. Tenderness at the wrist still sharp. Hmm. My PT mind wondered if I cracked the scaphoid bone or the distal radius. But I’d wait to get an X-ray. Those things don’t show up for a week or two. The black and blue was now turning into a river of sick yellow trailing down my forearm. Range of motion was better, but it hurt a lot. Maybe a 6 or 7 on the pain scale especially in the morning. Don’t push it. Put the support back on. It’s only been a few days. Probably strained the ligament. Might be six weeks. 

There is so much you do with a wrist. How awkward to wash your hair with one hand, or even turn a page in a book with the left hand. Or tear open a package, let alone velcro or a sealed plastic bag. Forget twisting the lid on a jar. Or hanging up clothes. Most of mine are on the floor right now. And typing! I’m correcting more mistakes than I’m hitting right with my left hand hunt and peck for this post. I think of my brother who has lived with one arm since age 2. How much more energy he has had to use in this life to negotiate all of this. 

But the worst pain is questioning my aging process. I had just gotten my new ebike. Even this was humbling–to admit I needed a little boost up the hill or I would strain my back as I did last summer. It was only my second time on it and I already loved how it rode so smoothly even with the battery boost off. The winding bike trails in the nearby subdivision were perfect, newly paved and with just a few other bikers. But as I sped up going down a hill and hit a turn with an abrupt edge, I was suddenly falling to the right, landing on my wrist, my shin, and then somersaulting into a tuck and roll. When I sat up, I knew my wrist had taken the worst of it, but although shaken, I was pretty happy that nothing else seemed injured. I told my husband I just needed to sit still a minute and assess. That’s when all the doubt began.

Should I be biking on an ebike knowing I have osteoporosis? Why had I lost control? I’ve never had a bike accident as an adult. Was it because the weight on the back of this bike from the battery threw off my sense of balance? I so wanted this explanation. Yet I had to consider–was I losing my sense of balance in general? 

There is such a disparity of feeling so young and vibrant flying down the trail and the paradox of knowing your body is not so young, not so vibrant. Should I accept my age or fight it? Should I be safer or just go for it. I can’t help remembering that quote by Hunter S. Thompson–

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

I tend to side with Thompson on the whole. But when I’m in pain, I consider some sort of compromise.

It’s just a wrist. It’s getting better. I know I’ll get back on that bike and go slower until I get used to it. But who am I now? Is being 70 years old a concept that limits or frees me?