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Thursday, 13 March 2003


So snowboarding at Squaw Valley was a lot of fun until I broke my wrist. It was the last run of the day and I was only a couple hundred meters away from the bottom of the slope. It was also quite dark already and I just couldn't see that bump and the next thing I know is me lying on my back looking in disbelief at my left hand which suddenly stuck out of the rest of my arm at a weird angle. It hurt like nothing I have ever experienced before. I immediately knew it was broken but I just couldn't believe it.

Anyway, a skier arrived and asked me if I was okay and when I told him I wasn't he called for help. The Ski Patrol arrived and took my glove and wrist protector off, which hurt like hell. Then they put a splint on my arm for protection and drove me to the first aid station with a snowmobile. Everybody was being awfully nice and funny which really helped make me feel comfortable. I was in a lot of pain though and said fuck a lot because it was really the only word that seemed appropriate for this situation and it also made me feel better for a fraction of a second after I said it. One of the ski patrol guys said he wasn't offended at all as people in Australia (where he was from) say fuck all the time :)

They x-rayed my wrist. It hurt a lot, especially when they moved my arm to get pictures from all angles. I honestly was surprised by how much it hurt. I kept waiting for the shock t come and take away some of the pain as it had done when I broke my ribs 7 years ago. But the shock didn't come. The x-rays showed them that they couldn't do anything about it and that in fact it was very likely that I would need surgery to get it fixed. One of the bones in my forearm (the radius) was completely snapped in two. So they sent me to the nearest hospital for further treatment. They were really nice and made sure the hospital knew all about my case before they sent me there.

Pooh, Michi, David and Chad drove me to the hospital. We didn't have to wait very long but for the umpteenth time that day I had to give people my personal information and info about the accident. They kept asking the same questions over and over again. I wonder if they also do that if you're in more distress than I was...

Anyway the orthopedic came and first tried to stretch my arm by putting my fingers in fingertraps and putting weights on my ellbow. The purpose of this was to see if the bone pieces would stay in place on their own. I'm glad they had given me pain medication by then. Anyway, the stretching and pushing in the right place didn't work so they said there was no way I would get around surgery. Fortunately they were able to do it right away. The bad news was that a little bone near the wrist (maybe a part of th joint?) was pretty much completely shattered into small pieces. The orthopedic didn't think he could do anything about it because the parts were too small to put pins through. He said I would need to see a hand surgeon back in San Francisco about this because he was no hand specialist himself. Great, I thought.

Pooh and Mikey came in to help me change into one of these hospital gowns and to keep me company until they were ready for me. I chose local anaesthisia rather than general. Whatever they gave me, they said it would make me a little tired but also happy and a little chatty. Turned out I totally passed out from the stuff (go figure). I vaguely remember talking to them, but I have no idea what I said and later I forgot to ask the doctor if I had done anything embarrassing. Oh well, probably better if I don't know ;)

My friends insisted on waiting for me until the surgery was done even though they had a lot of trouble fining a hotel room because it was so late. Really the first thing I remember after the doctor said he would give give me that sleepy stuff was my friends waiting for me in my room. It was great to know they were there for me. Thank you again guys!!

I didn't sleep all that much during the night which was partly because they came checking on me every two hours to take my temperature and blood pressure and stuff. But also because I had to go to the bathroom a lot because they gave me fluids (among other things) IV. Everybody kept telling me that whoever put that IV in my arm pit didn't think because the regular place for that is the back of your hand as it'll bother you less there. Ah well, it was only there for the night so it wasn't that bad. Although my armpit still hurts a little today.

Anyway, whenever I needed to go to the bathroom I had to call a nurse to help me untangle me from all the stuff I was hooked up to (oxygen, blood oxygen monitor and pressure stockings) and hook me back up when I was done. I hated having to call them for that all the time but better than having to pee in a pan I guess...

In the morning my doctor came by to tell me that everything worked out fine and I now had a etal plate and a couple of screws in my arm. The best news was that even the little pieces of bone next to my wrist had just fallen back into place when he opened it so I wouldn't need a hand surgeon after all. So that was really good. Later that morning my friends came to pick me up and we drove back to San Francisco. In the evening we played a couple of games and watched some TV. Before going to bed Michi bathed me, which took about an hour. We're getting better at it though and now it only takes us half an hour. I just hope that I'll be able to do it myself soon. Michi takes such good care of me but I feel bad for exploiting him like this.

Currently I try to take as few of the pain pills they gave me as possible because I don't want to have to deal with withdrawal when I stop taking them. On Thursday I'll see an orthopedic here in San Francisco. I hope the swelling will be gone by then so he can replace the splint with a real cast. I'm hoping that this will be the first step towards more freedom of movement and maybe I can even get rid of the sling later because that really strains my neck. Also I can then have all my friends doodle on it.

Okay enough for now. Writing this entry took me two afternoons. Maybe I should write shorter entries until I can use my other hand again...

I'll upload my x-ray pictures later so you can admire my work (destroying my arm) and the doctor's work (rebuilding it)...

[Archive Link]  Posted by Edda at 01:00 CET


[Comments Link]  1. Posted by rob on 13 March, 2003 02:28 CET

Wow, sorry about that. Good thing that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but still; no fun. But at least now you can make up stories about how you broke it. ;)

Thanks for going to all that effort for us!

[Comments Link]  2. Posted by stefan on 13 March, 2003 10:20 CET

Argh, get well soon! Hope you will enjoy snowboarding in future in the same manner and didn’t get a trauma.

[Comments Link]  3. Posted by Esther on 14 March, 2003 03:46 CET

Thank you guys! I do indeed hope I won’t be afraid to snowboard again. But I had so much fun (before I broke my wrist i.e.) that I’m pretty sure I’ll go back. I guess it’ll be awkward for a while though…

[Comments Link]  4. Posted by Stefan on 14 March, 2003 22:22 CET

From what I understand you had your wrist broken despite a protector you were wearing? That really gives me second thoughts about snowboarding which I sweared I would only do again with wrist protectors on…

Hope you get better soon!

[Comments Link]  5. Posted by Esther on 14 March, 2003 22:34 CET

Well actually the wrist guard did protect my wrist from getting broken. My forearm broke exactly at the spot where the wrist guard ended. Apparently there’s this big discussion among doctors about the pros and cons of wrist guards. They are not sure if they should recommend wearing them or not…

[Comments Link]  6. Posted by Stefan on 15 March, 2003 16:27 CET

Well, then I guess one should get a decent cast before snowboarding ;) Say Hi to Michi! Does he have a blog btw?

[Comments Link]  7. Posted by Lena on 15 March, 2003 16:57 CET

The hole schmidt family is hoping you get well soon!
I have nearly broke my upper arm, by trying to get down the slope in 15 minutes, there was a big stone on my way, but I get through this with a cuple of bruises.
Get well and have a nice time in america.

[Comments Link]  8. Posted by hoss on 6 January, 2004 01:23 CET

Sorry bout that dude, I know how ya feel. I broke my arm pretty bad too but mine was completely broken in half, both bones. I have 2 metal plates and screws. It took about 3 or 4 months to go back to full activity. still hurts everyday though, dont worry dude youll get through it. ( I broke mine skateboarding)

[Comments Link]  9. Posted by Nathan on 2 February, 2004 15:08 CET

Same thing as Ester happened to me skating. I started wearing wrist guards after I broke my wrist before. This time when I stacked it, the wrist guard broke my arm instead. I snapped both bones on top of where the wrist guards ended.

6 weeks in a short cast for a broken wrist or 10 weeks in a long one for a badly busted arm, I know which one I’d choose next time……..

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