About The Arm

It’s been just about two weeks since I broke my right arm, and I’m finally able to (sort of) type with two hands again! Hooray!

A little more about what happened- I was attempting to ride a prospective program horse for the first time since it arrived at the equestrian center. Anne and I had done a lot of ground work with him during the previous week and decided it was time to get on him and see how he moved. I tacked him up, and Anne prepared to ride one of our quietest, most experienced program horses. We headed outside, where Anne held the new horse while I got up on the mounting block. The new horse seemed startled. Some horses have little experience with mounting blocks (and humans towering over them), which is fine- as long as they learn to accept the block. After a couple of walks up and down the block, the new horse seemed calm enough to mount. I swung up on him and settled myself. The new horse stood still for about thirty seconds. I patted him. He lurched forward, nearly plowing over Anne. Then he went wild. He reared, bucked, leaped off the ground and spun. Anne tried to hold him and calm him down. I tried my best to emergency dismount, to no avail. He threw me off and galloped away, terrified and bucking.

I’d landed on my right side heavily. My right arm was simultaneously numb and on fire. I screamed, “MY ARM, ANNE! MY ARM!”, while poor Anne staggered over to me. The horse had almost trampled her. I rolled over to my back, grateful for my helmet’s visor. It was just after noon, and the sun was glaring at me. Anne seemed frantic. My arm felt heavy. Dead. I didn’t like to think about it being broken, but I was certain it was. The next few minutes were blurry. I sent Anne to Levi’s house, just across the property. He’d just gone to lunch; I figured he’d gone home to eat his usual sandwich. Levi would know what to do. A figured appeared, blocking the sun from my helpless face. I squinted and recognized the mail lady. What is she doing here? She talked to me calmly, assuring me both horses were fine. She also assured me my arm was broken. Anne returned without Levi. No one was home. I told her to get my cell phone from my desk. Damn. Why didn’t I memorize Linda’s number? Anne returned with my phone. I found Linda’s number, and clutching my phone to my ear with my left hand, waited for her to pick up.

Hi Linda, it’s Stephanie. I think I broke my arm. I’m sorry. Can you take me to the hospital?”

By time Linda got there, I had called Johnny and left him a message. Levi had appeared. I was embarrassed and somehow ashamed by all the fuss. Had anyone caught the horses? No. They were grazing on the sensory trail.

I had to sit up. Lightning shot through my arm and I moaned with pain. The mail lady, Levi, Linda, and Anne helped me into Linda’s truck. My phone rang. It was Johnny. My phone was wet somehow, and wouldn’t let me answer the call. I called him from the mail lady’s phone. I told him we were going to St. John’s ER and that he didn’t have to come if it was inconvenient. I knew he had a lot of things going on at work. I apologized to everyone some more. Linda encouraged me to swear. I didn’t feel like it. I just felt sorry.

Johnny met Linda and I at the hospital. The mail lady continued on her route. Anne and Levi stayed at the equestrian center to tend to the horses. Linda swore violently, threatening the horse that threw me. I wasn’t mad at him, just puzzled. He acted as though he’d never had a rider, ever. Bizarre.

I was admitted quickly. There was no one else in the emergency room. Mercifully, my shirt didn’t have to be cut. I was so pleased; it was a purple gingham button down. Levi had complimented me on it when I arrived at work. It was about as western-looking as I got and was useful for work functions like the volunteer training we’d had that morning. Button downs are difficult for me thanks to my broad shoulders and large chest.

I was given pain medication. I heard Linda ordering doctors and nurses around. Johnny looked like this hospital room was the last place he wanted to be- he looked pale and confused.

I went for an x-ray. The x-ray tech was a very pretty girl who was totally unfeeling when I bit back a scream when she dropped my arm to get the picture. She chided me for moving. I was then seated. I tried to be brave and hold my arm in the hideously uncomfortable position she asked for. The x-ray was acceptable. The break was there. I was wheeled back to my room. A doctor came in and told me some nurses would splint the arm. She advised surgery to fix it. I nodded. Linda insisted on a different surgeon than the one the hospital recommended. Johnny and I met eyes, both of us grateful for Linda’s presence. I didn’t know what to do and neither did he.

Before the arm was splinted, it was stretched to help the bones set in the correct place. I cried. Linda held my good hand and told me to breathe. She asked me questions about my favorite horse show I’d been to with Moe and my jumping plans for Colter. The arm was splinted carefully. I felt thirsty. Linda demanded water for me.

I was allowed to go, my right arm splinted and slinged. Johnny drove me home. I slept for a long time.

I spent the next week sleeping on the sofa for many hours a day thanks to the powerful painkillers. I snuggled my cats and Buttons. Johnny waited on me, hand and foot. He helped me drink and eat and get to the bathroom.

I had surgery last Wednesday. I was terrified. The last surgery I had was to remove my wisdom teeth. It was not a big deal. This seemed much more frightening. I cried, even though I struggled not to. I was scared. Johnny held my good hand. Everyone sent their well-wishes and we promised them an update as soon as possible. I received an IV, then something to initiate a nerve block in my right arm. I was wheeled to the operating room. I feel asleep.

When I woke up, my arm was numb. Not like it had been the day I broke it. More like when you sleep on your arm funny and the whole thing is asleep. I felt burning at the back of my arm. My right eye felt odd, like it wouldn’t open all the way. A dour nurse advised me my whole right side would be clumsy until the nerve block wore off. When I was more conscious, she helped me into my clothes. Johnny and I spoke with her and the surgeon briefly, and I was shipped home. At home, I slept. I longed for my fingers and hand to wake up- it was very uncomfortable having them numb.

Around 2 AM,  I got my wish. I woke from my drug-induced sleep to burning, searing pain in my right arm. I cried out, called Johnny into the room, begged for more pain medicine. He said sympathetically that it was too early. I knew he understood the pain- he’d had surgery on both knees- but I was still upset. The pain was awful.

For the last week, the pain has gotten much better. I can now lift my arm up and have been stretching out the cramped bicep. I don’t have a cast, just a bandage. I gather I have a rod, some screws, and a plate in my arm. My doctor told me I should be able to do little things like wash my own hair and lift a drinking glass soon. I don’t know when I’ll be cleared to ride and return to work- hopefully in just a couple of weeks. Yesterday I was able to finally shave my totally disgusting right armpit. Today I can type with both hands. Small victories!

Colt’s owner has been out to ride him a few times; I hear both man and horse are pleased. I am happy. Anne says Moe seems confused about why she is feeding instead of me, but Moe is always confused. Linda reports everything is well at work.

My broken arm is more inconvenience than anything else- and for that, I am thankful!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

5 thoughts on “About The Arm”

  1. Oh, surgeries are horrible. When I had mine, they left me conscious for too long so I had an anxiety attack (nothing new) when they finally put me under. And then I woke up, still in the attack. 🙁
    Sorry that you had to go through this and hope the recovery goes well! Hey, at least that rod is going to be really strong!
    This was a horse that was going to be donated, right? Did the history match up with your experience?

    1. thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing if the rod sets off airport metal detector thingies. 🙂

      This was a horse that we were evaluating for a donation, yes. The horse's history didn't match up with his behavior at all! Owner had him for 10 years (since he was a 2 y/o) & told me she'd trail ridden him all over the place & he'd never been spooky or mean. She said he hadn't been ridden in a while (which is fairly typical of most horses the program encounters- that's why we have a 45 day trial period), but this horse acted like he'd never had a human on his back in his life! It was the weirdest thing! I'm certainly not mad at the horse, or the owner, really, I'm just totally confused.

  2. I've ridden horses just a few times in my life. I am, by no means, an experienced rider like you. It's eye opening that this can happen to you. It also is telling about how easily horses can be spooked.

    I'm glad you had good people helping you after the accident. Sounds like I would like to have a Linda in my corner if I were in the hospital!

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