My husband comes with me to the "clinic", the orthopaedic casting clinic at the local hospital. This is where, I am to discover, my surgeon spends two days of his week, consulting, casting, and splinting for trauma and non-trauma patients alike. I feel like a trauma patient.
When my surgeon sits down across from my husband and me on our cold metal chairs, he peeks at my file and gathers his thoughts for a brief moment before he says: Why aren't you in a cast?
I, um, I don't know. What? I splutter. I um, have a few questions. I have my sheaf of papers, articles from medical journals, a list of questions one is supposed to ask her surgeon. I kind of hold them up and wave them in front of his face. I have lost my nerve completely.
Listen, he says, you don't have time to fool around. If you can't decide on surgery, you have to be put in a cast today, now. I'll get John to come and cast you.
He stands up and leaves the room. Enter John.
So, um, what kind of cast is it? Can I get it wet?
No, said John, but you can pay extra for a gortex one if you want; those you can get wet. They're 75 bucks.
Well, how long am I going to be in it?
6 months, John responds casually.
Oh my god, I think to myself. I am left-handed. How will I drive? How will I write? How will I teach? How will I cook? How will I dress myself? How will I do anything? I'm bloody well going to shower.
Gortex, please. Can I have the black wrap, please?
The casting process itself takes only 20 minutes or so, and my husband and I are back in the car making our way home. I can't remember if we speak. The list of activities and responsibilities that I now feel I can't do or fulfill seems to be growing by the second, by each intersection we pass. My surgeon came back briefly to check the cast and was gone as quickly. I don't know how I see him again. The cast completely immobilizes my forearm, wrist and all but the tips of my fingers. I can't hold anything with this hand. I can't do anything with this hand. The cast feels very heavy with its layers of gortex and stiff, hard black fibreglass. It's hot.
When we get home, I go straight to the bathroom. I pee. I pull some tp from the roll with my right and pass it to my left, as usual. Then I stare at it. How am I going to...? Oh my god.
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