Friday, August 14, 2015

Forty Years of Ugly Elbow Syndrome

Forty years ago this summer, I jumped off a swing at my grandparents' house and landed wrong and broke my arm.

My doctor had a goatee, and back in the 70s, a goatee really meant only one of two things: Mad scientist or escaped Nazi war criminal.

I do believe he was both.

Forty years ago sometime this week - I can no longer remember if it was August 13th, 14th, or 15th because I'm old and have destroyed a lot of brain cells, but anyway it was somewhere around today - I had the cast on my arm removed after six long weeks.

I have a great photo of me
sitting shirtless on my front porch
with my arm in the cast, but
I'm at work and it's at home
so you'll have to imagine my
lopsided pigtails and missing front teeth

So my arm had been encased in plaster for a good chunk of the summer, not getting any sun, or exercise, or ventilation.

I went to the doctor's office with my mom on the day it came off. I lay on a table, and Dr. Hussussian (great mad scientist name, yeah?) took a little power saw that looked like an electric pizza cutter and sliced the cast down the middle, destroying some of the signatures from friends and family I had spent the summer collecting, but what did he care, he had a goatee and probably had a good evil laugh over it later, seated around a table with his henchmen.

But I digress.

Anyway, when my arm emerged from its plaster coccoon it was white and shriveled and bent at a weird angle. Also, it was set off nicely by two long rows of stitches around my elbow.

My mom nearly fainted.

Needless to say, after a few days my arm regained its color and general form. But I still have the scars from the stitches. And to this day I can't fully bend or fully straighten that arm. I seem to have suffered some kind of nerve damage, because while I have full sensation in my right arm, it can't really feel pain, which isn't as much a plus as you might imagine.

When I started third grade a few weeks later, I had to sit out an entire semester of gym while my arm recovered. Whatever budding athletic ability I might have had (it wasn't much, but I really enjoyed gymnastics) withered during the interval, never to return. And I learned to self-identify as "the kid with the funny arm."

When I had my own child, I never let her jump off a swing. Ever.

The moral of the story is: Sometimes you can't identify the forces that end up shaping your life. But sometimes you can.

Happy anniversary to my janky right arm.


  1. Happy breakaversary? Happy Wonky Elbow Day? Happy Glad Monkeys Didn't Cart You Off With Such A Weird Arm Thingy Day?

  2. He might simply have been the mad scientist who took the billy goat from Snuffy Smith the other day, the one that was being discussed into the ground on the Curmudgeon. And then he made it into a goatee.

    Ha ha. Anyway.

  3. There's something great about having a mad scientist for a doctor. I just wish he'd given you a bionic arm instead of one that has the super power of scars and not being able to feel pain properly. If you're going to go through all that you should get something cool out of it.

  4. Ooh - I had a mad scientist looking fellow who did the procedure on my scalp four years ago. He, quite luckily had a new fellow working with him for my viewing pleasure. A gorgeous young man of Italian descent. It was so damn pleasant.


You're thinking it, you may as well type it. The only comments you'll regret are the ones you don't leave. Also, replies to threads make puppies grow big and strong.