August 3rd, 2010 / 3:04 pm
Random

On (Not?) Taking For Granted

Turn a key. Empty an ice cube tray. Open a bottle. Hit a forehand.┬áThese are actions I took, as the saying goes, for granted. But for the past month I haven’t been able to do those things because of a very painful injury of my right (dominant) wrist. Neither my twice-weekly physical therapist nor my orthopedist can tell me when it might heal; until the pain goes away, the treatment is immobilization, ice, anti-inflammatories, splint, and 14-hour battery patches that pulse medicine into my tendons. No tennis, no piano, no gardening. Driving, cleaning self and home, typing and hand-writing are necessary but very uncomfortable and clumsy.

It could be worse. Is worse, for so many. This is, presumably, temporary, and everything else about my body and my life is fine.

I was all geared up for an active, healthy, productive summer. I moved from a 5th-story loft to a house, close to the ground, apt to fly out of the door at any moment to participate in some active, healthy, productive activity. And write. I would write so much!

Here’s some poetic injustice: all those active, healthy, productive activities are now impossible or painful, whereas most kinds of indulgence and debauchery are totally doable. I can’t chop up vegetables, but I can fry up chicken or order pizza. I can sit at a bar and drink alcohol. I can have most kinds of consensual sex. I can get a pedicure. I can watch tv and order shiny objects from websites.

Just before my injury, I was newly liberated from a fraught romantic entanglement and ready to move into the new place. Free! Independent! I gamely packed and lifted boxes by myself since my romantic entangler was not around to help as planned. And that’s how I injured my wrist. Lifting boxes. Exercise in self-sufficiency: fail.

Hard work and self-reliance not only didn’t pay off but also became nigh impossible. Taking all those activities for granted didn’t cause my injury and giving thanks wouldn’t have prevented it. I take plenty for granted now, and I’ll take everything for granted again. Those things WERE granted to me, until they weren’t.

We’re told not to take things for granted. This is misguided. Plenty is just granted to us, good or bad. If anything, we should take more for granted. Not everything operates under our locus of control. Sometimes we do the right things and get hurt. Sometimes we can’t do anything to make ourselves better. We just have to wait, do nothing productive, indulge ourselves for awhile. Recognizing that we are not autonomous–that is liberating.

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14 Comments

  1. Sean

      As a runner, I agree with RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) and advil, BUT you might want to doctor shop a bit. My running injuries I usually see 4,5 docs before someone ever has a clue or useful treatment. You stumble on the right doc and might get better quick.

      I worked for years as an RN so will give you an inside tip: Doctors often don’t know. They guess.

      So.

      If not, at least you can drink.

  2. Jackson

      I broke my left (dominant) elbow on friday. Now I’m in a full arm cast. We should be friends.

  3. davidk

      I fractured my left (dominant) wrist falling off a museum installation. I’ll never take Franz West for granted.

  4. Ted

      More like this, please, Amy, thank you.

  5. Sean

      As a runner, I agree with RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) and advil, BUT you might want to doctor shop a bit. My running injuries I usually see 4,5 docs before someone ever has a clue or useful treatment. You stumble on the right doc and might get better quick.

      I worked for years as an RN so will give you an inside tip: Doctors often don’t know. They guess.

      So.

      If not, at least you can drink.

  6. Jackson Nieuwland

      I broke my left (dominant) elbow on friday. Now I’m in a full arm cast. We should be friends.

  7. davidk

      I fractured my left (dominant) wrist falling off a museum installation. I’ll never take Franz West for granted.

  8. Ted

      More like this, please, Amy, thank you.

  9. Catherine Lacey

      I had a hand injury 2 years ago prevent me from writing for about 3 months. Best thing that ever happened to my writing, really. I had to slow down and edit everything with my left hand (my non-dominant hand). I became the most brutal editor in the history of one-handed grad students.

  10. Amy McDaniel

      thank you for the wisdom. i want to be all of your friends

  11. ce.

      I was just about to say something very similar. I sliced some tendons in my right (dominant) hand my last year in college and needed reconstructive surgery and PT for 6 months.

      Not sure if Sean remembers that, but he was one of my profs that semester. It slowed down my writing to the point where I even developed a different rhythm to my words and syntax and more control in general over what was making it to the page. Remembering that makes me want to always write in a cast.

      Regardless, hope your wrist gets to healing soon.

  12. Catherine Lacey

      I had a hand injury 2 years ago prevent me from writing for about 3 months. Best thing that ever happened to my writing, really. I had to slow down and edit everything with my left hand (my non-dominant hand). I became the most brutal editor in the history of one-handed grad students.

  13. Amy McDaniel

      thank you for the wisdom. i want to be all of your friends

  14. ce.

      I was just about to say something very similar. I sliced some tendons in my right (dominant) hand my last year in college and needed reconstructive surgery and PT for 6 months.

      Not sure if Sean remembers that, but he was one of my profs that semester. It slowed down my writing to the point where I even developed a different rhythm to my words and syntax and more control in general over what was making it to the page. Remembering that makes me want to always write in a cast.

      Regardless, hope your wrist gets to healing soon.