I have a small piece of advice for anyone reading this: do not, under any circumstances, no matter the situation or social pressure involved, break any of your bones. Breaking a bone is one of the worst decisions a human can make. If at all possible, keep all of your bones intact and in their locked and upright, original positions.
I know this may not be easy for those more athletically or recklessly inclined, but heed my words; I speak as a grizzled veteran of the skeletal wars. I have seen all manner of bio-structural wounds, from hair-lines to compounds, even a complete shatter. Some of these have left scars, but those are the least worrying of all the after effects.
My list of broken bones, from minor to major, is as follows: toes (phalanges), fingers (also phalanges), nose (nasal bone), ankle (tarsal), wrist (carpal), shin-bone (tibia/fibula) and now elbow (humerus). Two of the prior involved somewhat major surgery to correct. Surgery is also inadvisable; they make you go to, and then stay in a hospital for an indeterminable amount of days. Parts of you get uncomfortably numb and what doesn’t becomes excruciatingly itchy. Other parts they color with funny chemicals, making your post-surgery recovery feel like a drugged out version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where your hand, but only your hand, is an Oompa Loompa. You will sing the Oompa Loopma song and your significant other will probably join in. It’s terrifyingly confusing.
For those of you who remain virgin, broken bones hurt like hell. You’d think your body would have the decency to pass out upon suffering a break, but no, you just get to sit there in agony, feeling stupid and helpless. After a severe break, you can’t really move and will most likely go into shock, so you are limited to whimpering pathetically, crying lightly as to not aggravate the injury further, or trying to be a badass and shrugging off as much pain as possible. Shock normally takes over after a few minutes, leaving the poor selfless paramedics in the direct path of possible regurgitation. I had eaten Mexican food prior to my most recent injury, a poor choice in hindsight.
I have tried in the past to explain the initial pain of a major fracture, but somehow words fail me. It is describable only in abstracts. It is a very badly stubbed toe combined with a scalding burn from boiling water. It is a crunch and a pinch, followed by a poorly injected flu shot. It is a wave of dull and a scream of sharp and as debilitating as the worst odor you’ve ever smelled. It is having your favorite meal spoiled by noisy patrons after being stung by 15 bees. It is fleeting terror of the surreal mixed with teary acknowledgment of reality. It is your stomach leaping into the air while you startle awake from a most unpleasant dream. It is the horror of dead men walking the earth, until the few seconds after they inject the morphine.
And as awful as that sounds, the initial pain passes rather quickly. Deft hands hastily repair your damages, even if their skills come at great cost. The recovery, with all of its emotional punches and unforeseen disabilities is the where the real pain hides. If you are an independent soul, the limits forced upon you by medication, casts, and movement-oriented pain are almost too much to handle. You can do little but live day-by-irritating day, stealing awkward chemically induced naps when you find that one comfortable resting position. Slowly but surely it gets better, but it takes a steel resolve to maintain your sanity when assaulted by itches that are damn near impossible to scratch.
Contrary to popular rumor, the easiest part is the physical therapy. When you finally get to the point that you can rebuild your strength, you are free; the very worst parts of the injury are behind you, only scars remain as discolored reminders. With no casts and greatly diminished pain you are suddenly capable of anything. A feeling of emancipation washes over you, and you will at any cost restore your limb to its former, sexy glory. Joints may be tight, muscles may be weak, but you can easily look past any of these trivialities and bask; bask in the wonderful glow of wholeness and normalcy.
These are the days I crave. The days when I can drive, and run, and type with both hands. The days when my left hand is more than a half-numb crab-claw of frustrating clumsiness. The days when I can hug my beautiful lady with both arms, and no pain. Soon, my cat will bite and scratch both of my hands and afterward a melody will float through the house, in the neighborhood of D minor.
As proof of all advice and anecdotes contained herein, here is the inside of my left arm as of 9/22/2010: