Monday, September 5, 2011

She's only got one arm

[in 2001, I broke my arm right before Kathy and I went on an 8-week European camping/backpacking trip. I was thus exempted from all kinds of unpleasant duties because, "I only have one arm!"]

This weekend, my sister Kathy was in a bicycle accident. She badly broke her arm, and banged her face up as well. Thankfully she was wearing a helmet, or it could have been very very bad indeed.

She is scheduled for surgery (to reset and pin her arm) on Tuesday... her birthday!

Sadly, none of our family live in Boston, but our brother Will and his (awesome) wife Jeanene will fly up to be with her.

This is Kathy's story of the accident:


I was biking home around midnight from a friend's party. She doesn't live too far from me (about 1.5 miles), so I thought it would be faster to bike than take the subway.
On the way home, I was going down a small hill (so I had some momentum) and saw a car stopped in the middle of the road. Since there was no traffic, I just decided to go around him. However, I did not realize that the T-tracks for the subway line were SO deep! Not like normal train tracks.

My bike caught in the groove, and my bike stopped. I didn't. I flipped over the handlebars and I must have reached out my arm to stop my fall. I also have a cut and bruise on my chin, so I must have hit that too, but no head wounds.

My adrenalin must have been pumping, because I immediately jumped up so that I wasn't in the middle of the road and moved my bike over to the curb. I assessed my own damage and could tell I had a broken arm. It didn't hurt, but I couldn't move it. I felt surprisingly calm. I called two of my friends who I was with at the party but they did not answer. I didn't know if my injury was serious enough for 911, but I called them next.
Good thing I did because suddenly I started to black out and I couldn't think clearly, I had enough sense to tell them I was in a bike accident, had a helmet on, and my approximate location--I didn't have an exact location.
At that point I thought I was going to faint. I was disconnected from 911...I didn't know if they had enough info from me, so I tried calling again, but I couldn't see the numbers on my phone. I felt sort of desperate now. I couldn't see/think straight...I just kept praying to stay calm.

Thankfully, my sight started to come back and I saw some bright, flashing lights go by. I figured it must be the ambulance looking for me. I limped over to the road to flag them down. The EMTs were so nice. They strapped me to a board with a neck-brace because they weren't sure if I had a neck or back injury. They even loaded my bike into the ambulance with me! They didn't want me to lose it on top of everything else.

They took me right to Beth Israel's ER and the barrage of attention and questions began. By then I felt so grateful, that I calmed down and had a nice time. I think the hospital staff quite liked me too because I was so thankful and cheerful, and was even cracking jokes with them (unlike most of the other ER patients who I could hear screaming profanities and other less pleasant things.)

At that point my friends, who I had called earlier, came to the hospital and stayed with me until 2:30am! So sweet of them.
I then spent the night getting an MRI, x-rays, and various other medical treatments. Around 3 in the morning the orthopedic came to check on my arm. Since it was so badly broken, he wanted to align it immediately--at least somewhat. They gave me some Fentalyn (a very strong drug) and strung my arm up for a 1/2 hour so the bones could go back into place naturally. Then the doctor did the rest.
Man, that was painful!
But even then a couple of the nice ER staff came round to hold my arm and offer moral support! Once the temporary cast was on my arm did feel better.
I then slept until morning (just a couple hours), and left around 9:30am for home. The taxi let me put my bike in the trunk, so I am home now with all my belongings.

The surgery to pin my arm and reset it is scheduled for Tuesday, since the expert orthopedic is out of town for Labor Day. However, it is more likely that the surgery will be on Wednesday. Hopefully the surgery won't be too bad. I had such a great experience in the ER, so I am hoping this second visit will be as gracious and good.

This morning I washed my hair, made breakfast, learned to dress myself...and other tasks. It is amazing what one can do with one strong arm and a good set of teeth. I feel like this is a form of culture shock--how can I best adapt to having only one arm and another gimpy, painful one.


She's so brave! I wish I were there to help her, like she helped me when I had a broken arm. I hate how far away we live from each other. Someday.... someday we will all live close to each other.

[me, Kathy, and Will -- August 2007]


  1. Nice picture of us :-)!

  2. Great heart...knowing that you have braved Camiguin's bike trail, back then...God is faithful so that you weren't badly hurt...just a broken bone...hehehe..praying for your quick recovery..Pastor Nas & Mina

  3. Oh man!! That sounds awful... and I'm so glad she wasn't hurt worse!