The broken hand: the immobile arm

Nov 05, 2013

Part of The Broken Hand series

The Immobile Arm

Have you thought about what life is like when you can only use your left arm? Have you tried to put on socks with only one hand? Wash yourself? Wipe your butt? Eat your food?

I had never thought about any of that. Yet, I had the doctor’s instructions to keep my arm immobile for several weeks, supported by evidence that I tried to move my arm, it hurt like crazy, so I was better off just keeping it in the immobilizer.

Life is surprisingly livable with one hand when you have support at home. My work involves computers, so I thought I could type with both hands after a few days. No luck. As soon as I tried to move my upper arm even a little bit into a typing position, it signaled to me in the form of insane pain, “too early. Chillax, don’t do it.”

Typing with my remaining good arm was possible, but I got tired after a few hours, probably from a mix of physical and psychological stress. I could read all I wanted, and I could type a bit, but not really work in the traditional sense. I had to find something else to do.

Fortunately, I had a few activities planned before the accident that I never had found time for: watch all the WWDC 2012 videos, and read a C++ book and do its exercises. I did exactly that, and gained a lot professionally. As strange as it sounds, breaking my arm was good for my career as it let me find time for these two things. And god bless the Kindle, as it is a great device to hold even with one arm. I also got an iPad Mini during that time, which is equally great.