Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Wave

There is a really great new toy out there and all the fourth-grade boys in Rees’ class are doing it. It is called the Wave and is basically a skateboard, but an unusual one. First difference is that it only has two wheels. Second difference is that the wheels are not fixed, but pivot or spin 360 degrees, and that’s not all, the board itself has two halves and it can twist in the middle. The upshot is that instead of having to push yourself with your foot on the ground, you can ride the Wave and propel yourself with a wiggling motion that gives you momentum. You never have to touch the ground. It takes some balance and there is a learning curve, but I am impressed that most of these nine- and ten-year-old boys have mastered it.

They love it and it seems so good for them and so healthy. It looks so fun, I thought I’d like to master it myself. Why touch the ground when you don't have to? So one night after dinner, I found myself giving it a try. I started by using Rees as my balance point. That worked okay, but he soon tired of this, so I replaced him with a walking stick. Then, as I got my balance, I no longer needed the stick. I got to the point where I could start off and ride without falling, but didn’t quite yet get that wiggling, propelling motion. I was making great progress and feeling pretty confident when I jumped on and the board slipped out from under me and I fell back. That was when I suddenly morphed into this hard, heavy, brittle adult. I did not bend like the grasses but broke like the ancient oak.

I couldn’t get up right away and felt pain in both wrists and my butt. Left wrist felt especially bad where it had taken much of the impact from the butt. Butt was grateful, but wrist was not bouncing back like I felt it should. Shouldn’t I be able to get up by now? After a bit, I was able to roll onto my front and use my right arm to help myself up. In retrospect, wrist guards seemed like a good idea. Thank goodness I didn’t hit my elbow. Elbow guards a must.

I was wiped out. I was shaking. It was Friday night and the question loomed, what should I do? The first answer was do a little research, go to bed, and see how I felt in the morning. I put together a makeshift splint and read up on broken bones. I didn’t want to repeat the bill from the ER and Kadin’s broken arm. Read that the most important thing is to immobilize the site. Done. Next was to ensure it was not out of alignment. Didn’t seem to be. Then, apparently, there was no problem waiting a few days, it was not an emergency. So, I’d wait ‘til Monday and see how I felt then.

I fear unnecessary medical intervention so for minor or chronic things, tend to try gentler approaches. Still, I had always said, for major trauma, like broken bones, I was glad the doctors were there. Now I wasn’t so sure. I didn’t want a doctor anywhere near my arm, I didn’t want xrays, and I really didn’t want the bills. A cast suddenly seemed a barbaric treatment. It felt like it would be wrong. So if not at broken limbs, where did I now draw the line? Maybe if the bone had been poking out of the skin? Maybe. (I think for severed limbs, though, I would definitely see an MD, but I hope I’ll never find out.)

I did go and buy some wrist and elbow guards and used the wrist guard as a brace. I called my acupuncturist because I had to change an upcoming appointment, and she encouraged me to come in and said she could help with the pain. She had previously given me these medicated bandages that I had never used, so I did now and they felt great. I made an appointment with her for Monday.

Monday I was still in a lot of pain. Appointment went great—$60, about a tenth of the ER bill—but I also made an appointment for Wednesday with my chiropractor. Tuesday, still not much improvement and a physical therapist friend recommended the cost-effective idea of making an appointment with a Physician’s Assistant at her clinic where they could also do x-rays. I called and found out that I could get an appointment and x-rays for about $150 total, depending. So I made an appointment there for Thursday.

Chiropractor took my very tender wrist, felt all around, massaged it, adjusted it—all without any pain—and declared that if it was broken, it was all in alignment and would heal fine. I was so impressed she could do that without hurting me. She confirmed my skepticism about casts and told me about (brutal!) studies where they break rabbit’s legs and cast some and leave others to heal on their own. The un-casted legs actually heal better and faster and the thought is that something about using the surrounding muscles helps the bone fibers to line up and heal better.

In the end, I was able to cancel the physician appointment for the next day. I got off with paying less than $200 and only going to appointments that made me feel good and cared for, not brutalized (I couldn't do anything else that week anyway). It took a good six weeks before I felt I could try to do everything I had done before with my arm, and today, about eight weeks later, I still feel some stiffness in my wrist and twisting is slightly painful, but by stretching it, using it, and massaging it, I think I will heal completely.

And I have been back on the Wave, for one brief afternoon, well protected with pads and guards. There is some ground to make up but I hope to report that I have mastered the Wave soon (though I think, given my advanced age, it is going to take quite a bit of effort and maybe even a restructuring of my brain). Wish me luck!

1 comment:

Cousins said...

I read this awhile ago, but since then I've seen the Wave. I congratulate you for mastering it. I wonder if you would still resist going to a physician if you didn't have to pay for the "privilege" (like here in Canada)? Is it more the idea of medical intervention or the cost? I'm glad I never let economics make the decision to if I should go to the doctor. Like you, I would never go to the ER unless I was comatose or unable to prevent someone from taking me.