So I left the hospital, armed with a large quantity of co-dydramol and with my arm in a cast and a sling. Jamie kindly drove us all home and we picked up a takeaway on the way. My left arm had a baptism of fire whilst it tried to learn to do all the things that my right arm had taken care of all my life. It was an interesting process . . . I’ve attended so many courses where I’ve been asked to write my name with my left hand (it’s becoming pointless as I’m getting good at it) and whereas it’s second nature with one’s dominant hand, it’s an entirely different process with the other. You have to think about what you’re doing, as your hand has no memory – so to speak – of carrying out the activity. This was my experience with a useless right arm. I was fortunate, though, to have my children home for the summer, and along with my left arm, they seriously stepped up.
The day of the operation arrived and that was one long day. My sister kindly delivered me to Haywards Heath, accompanied by my children and little did we know that we would spend several hours in a waiting room, watching daytime TV with no access to a remote control. Eventually, they gave me a nerve block, which is one of the most surreal experiences ever . . . I had no idea how heavy my arm was until then! My arm was numb, impossible to move and not like my arm at all. It was like some dead appendage hanging from my collarbone. So anyway, the op began and I was surprised to feel the knife. Apparently this happens sometimes . . . some know-alls have announced to me that ‘everyone feels something’ when you have a nerve block but this was pain. Enough to make me cry so they gave me a choice: a general anaesthetic or pure oxygen. I opted for the latter; although a nurse friend has informed me that it must have been something else that I can’t remember, as they don’t just dish out pure oxygen. Unless you’re Michael Jackson I guess. But then he probably didn’t get it from an NHS hospital. Anyway, whatever it was, it was rather lovely. They told me it wouldn’t take the pain away but I would stop caring. They didn’t tell me it would make me talk like a runaway train to the poor doctor who sat next to me for the duration, but there we are.
I had thought, up until that day, that the pain of my wrist snapping was possibly the most pain that I could withstand without just dropping dead from it. I wonder what they say to men in this instance, but when you’re a woman who’s experienced childbirth, medical professionals use that experience as a yardstick for measuring your pain. When the paramedic who rescued me asked, ‘On a scale of 1-10, with childbirth as 10, what . . .’ without hesitating I replied, ’11!’ before he’d had a chance to finish the question. So when the nerve block started to wear off that night, despite having had a nightcap of ibuprofen and co-codamol, I was shocked that my pain threshold could actually rise to 12. My poor children were kept awake by my groans of pain and when dawn broke at around 5am, seeing as they had sat with me for half the night and had lost all hope of returning to sleep, they made me some scrambled egg on toast, the taste of which I can almost taste now, it was so appreciated. I had barely eaten the previous day, due to the op so I was pretty hungry. I had borrowed a bread-maker for the summer and amazingly, I could still manage to use it one-handed. And what with the home-laid eggs from my funny chickens, it was no ordinary scrambled egg on toast.
I had to wear a splint and a sling still, as although I had a metal plate inside my wrist to hold the two halves together, it was still broken and needed to heal. I say ‘plate’ but actually, having seen the X-ray, it kind of resembled a brush . . ? But anyway, as one does, I put my faith in the medical profession and assumed that this was what a plate looked like.