Monday, January 14, 2008


Wet dark green algae on stone at this time of year is a problem. On Saturday J slipped and fell down some steps and broke her arm. Breaking an arm is a generic term, covering a full smash up of everything available to chipping the end off a bone. In this case J put down her hand to take the impact, which consequently went from the heel of the palm through, and I'm guessing here from a diagram I've just googled, the carpals and straight up the radius; the shock dissipating a little beyond the elbow but, and here's the destructive bit, chipping a bit off the wrist end of the radius - a distal radial displacement. You come out of hospital with a plaster cast (in the UK - I gather, surprise surprise, we're a bit retro in these things) and your arm in a sling. And we call it, because we English don't like to seem intellectually pretentious by giving things their precise names, a broken arm.
The National Health Service may occasion a bit of waiting around on hard chairs, in a queue, with darts on the telly, but once you get to where the action is it's impressive; as things always are when you get to watch a team of experts doing their daily work.
So, J is on her back on a high bed with a cylinder of "gas" and an inhaler on her right, and me holding her hand. At this point the doctor, a well built bearded man in glasses, is slowly seeping Novocain round the radiocarpal joint. Having given a minute or so for this to start working he probes for the fracture itself, and feeds the anaesthetic between the bone and the chipped off bit. Meanwhile he describes another anaesthetic procedure which is available, just to pass the time for us, I guess.
When J says the area is numb, the other two in the team arrive, the plaster nurse and a woman not in uniform whose job it is to pull from the elbow end. The doctor then gets J's hand and wrist and twists the hand hard downwards and backwards pressing, I guess, with his thumb on the bone chip and pushing it back into place. This is obviously what he's doing, but it looks like he's trying to twist her hand off. Meanwhile the plasterer winds a thin fleece bandage round her forearm from the elbow down, and then starts with the wet plaster bandage and, the magic bit, between them, swiftly but unhurriedly, they produce an arm in a plaster cast that is holding, so the subsequent X-ray reveals, the chip back on the end of the bone in exactly the position it was before J fell on it.
By this time I worship the pair of them, and I don't want to leave the woman pulling from the elbow end out of it either. I know they're only doing their jobs - but they are so good at it, and so kind, friendly, matter of fact while they're doing it.
A chairman of a bank, or a supermarket checkout person, a council executive director, a gas meter reader, they're only doing their jobs, but I don't feel the same about them.
Now it's four to six weeks to heal.


Pedro Terán said...

How's she doing?

Jago said...

She's doing well, and managed to make bread yesterday - and she says she's touched that you should enquire.

Bliss said...

Glad to hear she's better. Give her a big hug from Spain :-)

jago said...

She is smiling, she says she's never had a bliss hug before, especially from Spain. Thank you