Friday, August 28, 2020

What is the Sound of One Hand Washing?

                                                Part 4 of 4 

Surprise!  I decided to finish my broken arm story after all.  It seems I felt a little bit more like writing after getting some things off my chest in my previous rant post. As for the future, who the hell knows.  It seems that Herr Newsom has just posted re-opening guidelines that pretty much guarantee California stays shutdown for the next 75 years.  So no promises about future content.  Enjoy this one while you can (or if you can). 

Part 3 is here. 

So I had to wait for an orderly to come wheel me out.  First we stopped by check-out so I could pay for the E.R. visit.  I dunno, but somehow I got my debit card out of my wallet.  Note: I used a debit card cuz I knew I wouldn't be able to sign my name on a credit card receipt, but I could use my left hand to tap in my PIN number.  Then he wheeled me to the 24-hour pharmacy in the hospital.

It was kind of funny….they had all these chairs for people to sit while waiting, and three out of every four chairs were taped off with yellow tape.  Social distancing, you see.  Fortunately it wasn't crowded.  I just stayed in my wheelchair anyway.  It took awhile but they finally had my drugs for me.  Then I had to wait for a pharmacist to "consult" with me.  Then, they wanted me to sign some kind of waiver since they were giving me narcotics.  But I couldn't sign to get the drugs for my broken arm because…..I had a broken arm.  The pharmacist signed for me.  I guess that is ok. 

Then we headed to the exit and I tried to request a Lyft with my one good hand.  That was not easy to do.  And then there is the address for where the Lyft is to pick me up.  This is always problematic at Kaiser.  It is a big place, it has several addresses, and I never know for sure where to tell them to show up.  I was sure I told Lyft the right place, but then I got the notice my ride was there and I didn't see the Lyft vehicle.  

Now I should mention that it had taken so long for me to see the doc a second time and then wait for the orderly to pick me up and get my drugs, etc, that it was now dark.  I had really wanted to get home in the light.  Damn. 

Although I didn't feel it was necessary, the orderly insisted on staying with me until he could actually put me in the car.

Since I couldn't see the Lyft car that was supposedly there, I knew I had to try to reach him.  Ordinarily, I would have just texted him with further instructions, but one-handed that was not really something I could do.  So I actually had to call him. Using your cell phone to make an actual telephone call, who'da thunk it? 

I got thru to him and I told him where I was.  I told him that he had to come in the circle (actually a semi-circle) at the hospital front entrance.  Could he see that?  He didn't sound like the sharpest tool in the shed.  He grunted, "I don't know," and then he disconnected.  I could only hope he'd show up in a minute or two.  He did not.  So I tried to call him again.  This time I got voice mail.  I left a message, but I called again.  It sounded like someone picked up but there was no voice on the other end, finally it disconnected again. 

According to the Lyft app, there was no ride pending.  So I had to start over and request another ride.  I guess I described my location better, or maybe this guy was just smarter than the other guy because he actually found me.  The orderly helped me into the car and we headed finally headed home. 

I'm not sure exactly when, but at some point in the evening I received a notice from Lyft that I was being charged $5 for a no-show, as if it was my fault the first driver didn't pick me up.  I was pissed, but I had more important things to worry about.  Note:  I never did complain to Lyft to get that charged removed.  I figured I would have had to have complained in a text or an email and it was way too much effort to bother for the lousy five bucks. 

The Lyft driver took me home.  In my haste to go to the ER hours earlier, I had neglected to take an activator for the giant gate that encloses my townhome complex.  I did have a key to the gate that you can walk thru, but I couldn't open the gate so the Lyft car could drive through.  And opening the big heavy "people gate" in my condition was no fun at all.  But I somehow managed to do it, and hobbled to my unit.  I was able to walk, but it did hurt to walk, my leg was still bothering me quite a bit. 

Now I came to the front of my house, in the dark.  And there was all my stuff from the grocery delivery that I had scheduled that day, which hopefully you all remember.  He had followed my instructions perfectly and set everything up against my front door. 

Which made it almost impossible to get my key in the lock to open the door.  Especially with only one hand.  Especially in the dark.   Actually the first problem was finding the right key.  I have three keys on my key chain that are the same design, only one of which opens my front door (like most people, I have several keys on my key chain that I have no idea what lock they open). Of course I could use the flashlight on my cell phone. But with only good hand, I have no idea how I used the flashlight on my cell phone and held onto the key chain.  I had to use the process of elimination to test the three keys that had the right design to see which one was the right key for the lock. In the dark, it was almost impossible to put each key in the lock!  My voice notes don't relate how I used the flashlight and the key chain one-handed but somehow after much time and effort, I found the right key. 

As I mentioned earlier, the lock is all the way over on the right side, fairly high up.  In the dark, it would always be a challenge getting the key in there.  But now, I had to reach over and try not to trip and break my neck on my groceries (which by the way, were awfully difficult to move out of the way with only one arm).  It took me forever but I finally did it, then I had to get in the house (in the dark), climbing over the groceries.  It was quite an ordeal. 

Then I had to turn on the A/C, the lights, my PC (which I didn't really need to do) and then figure out how I was gonna get my damn groceries inside. 

Well, most of the groceries were spoiled.  All the frozen stuff was long since thawed out.  But it didn't matter, as you might remember, my shopper had made all substitutions on my frozen meals and didn't pick one that I would eat (like with the Lyft charge, I never complained about the lost money there). He didn't make any of my requested substitutions.  Some refrigerated stuff (like salad), I stuck in the fridge hoping it wasn't ruined (actually a lot of it was still usable).  There was little non-perishable stuff because I had cancelled that.  

Oh, and there was a 24 pack of bottled water sitting on my porch.  There was no way I could move that inside.  I just left it on my porch for days (weeks), until I started bringing it inside one bottle at a time.  Initially I couldn't even bend over to get a bottle at a time because for the first week, it hurt like hell (in my leg) to bend down to reach the floor.  So for a week, when I dropped something, it stayed dropped. 

One thing I really felt like I needed to do was….wash my hands.  I had been at the germ-infested hospital for hours and what do they always tell you…wash your hands when you've been out. 

But I couldn't wash my hands because one of them was bound useless by my side.  I was looking at who knew how many weeks before I could properly wash my hands.  I figured I was sure to die of COVID. 

What is the sound of one hand washing?  In the coming days, I somehow managed to master the art of washing my left hand one-handed, without any help from my right hand.  

I had gone way too long without eating (or taking my meds) so I somehow ate.  There was no way I was capable of figuring out how to prepare a meal so I ate some stuff that I could just open the box and stuff in my face, no cooking involved.  

I made the mistake of lying down on my couch to eat and watch TV.  Like most of my house, either intentionally or by happenstance, the couch is set up for a right handed person.  I once had the brilliant idea of putting a big coffee table in front of the couch.  Although I was able to climb into the couch, the coffee table made it well-nigh impossible to get off the couch.  I am not exaggerating, with my right arm being useless, it took me at least 20 minutes to get off the couch. 

I didn't make that mistake again, I didn't get back on that couch for another month, until I had better use of my arm.  I watched TV from my chair and also I did a lot of TV watching from my desk, on the PC.  When I wanted to lie down and watch TV, I had to use my tablet.  The trouble with that was that it was difficult to hold the tablet comfortably since I couldn't use my right hand. 

I had the hospital gown on for two or three days, until I finally figured out I could slip it off without taking off my immobilizer.  I had to kinda/sort put it back on whenever I ventured out to pick up my mail.  Very awkward. 

And of course I couldn't shower.  I mean I didn't think there was any way I could get the immobilizer back on if I took it off.  Now I did hear from Orthopedics the next day, setting up a telephone visit with an Orthopedist for a week from the accident.  A telephone visit?  How would that work? 

By the time of that e-visit, I was really ripe.  I mean, I couldn't stand being around myself, I smelled so bad.  So I was actually glad I didn't have an in-person visit with the doc—I was sure that no Lyft driver would let me in their car! 

The e-visit turned into a video visit when the doc heard me say that I couldn't shower and that I didn't think I had the immobilizer on right.  Remember, they left my arm at my side because I screamed when they tried to put it on my chest.  He looked at it and explained to me how it should look, and insisted I would be able to put it back on if I took off (and explained how).  By this time I tested the arm and I could actually get it across my chest without screaming in agony. The doc also told me I could take a shower (even if it wasn't easy to wash under either arm—at least I could get some water under there). 

By the time I had my first real visit the following week, I no longer stunk.  And much to my surprise, I was actual able to get dressed enough to go out and go to the doc.  I had to wear a button down dress shirt with my sweat pants, so it was another weird look (also getting socks on and off was a challenge too). 

I had a devil of a time learning to use a fork left-handed, and brushing my teeth left-handed, but I got better as I went along.  I found meals I could make and it was a lot of boring, monotonous stuff. 

As I write this now, I am much better but still not near 100%.  The doc says that I will never be able to lift my right arm completely over my head straight up in the air.  I am still in Physical Therapy.  I go in every other week, and I do my exercises every day.  But I am still in a fair amount of pain (depending on what I am doing) and I don't have the range of motion I want.  I can't put my right arm behind my back, for example. 

People have been suggesting I go to Vegas.  But honestly, I am in no shape to pack and unpack for a Vegas trip.  It'll be awhile. 

And that's about it.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


  1. drivers do this all the time because theyd rather get $5 for nothing, than actually have to drive u somewhere

    1. As usual, you think the worst of people, Tony. Do you know that the drivers get the full $5 on cancellations? I'd bet that Lyft or Uber gets part if not most of that.

      I think the drivers would get more money for taking the ride than for cancellations, especially since in most cases, the riders would complain and get a credit, as I would have done if I hadn't been incapacitated.

  2. Well thanks Rob for bringing the broken arm saga full circle! You know you are at a low point in your life when the simple act of taking a shower in a proper manner is the best thing that has happened to you in X number of days. I am glad to hear that you are recovering!

    1. Well taking a shower could have been the best thing that happened to me in awhile IF I wasn't in the shower alone.

      For example, if the owner of the key that I is in the picture I am using in this post had been there with me, that would have been a hell of a time.

    2. Oh.... good point Rob. The shower scene in the mid-70s movie Kentucky Fried Movie comes to mind. That would be the scene with the lovely Ms. Uschi Digard and the squeaky balloon sound effects!

    3. Uschi starred in a lot of Russ Meyer films. Such as Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens in 1979.

    4. Actually I am quite familiar with Uschi Digard. She was definitely one of a kind. OK, maybe TWO of a kind.

  3. My Grandfather lost his hand in a hunting accident when he was in his mid 20's. It was his right hand and he was a dairy farmer. However, after a few years he relearned how to do almost everything with one hand.

    1. Interesting story, let's hope I never have to find out how he did it!

    2. My grandparents lived thru the great depression. All they said was, "it was hard". He never ever said anything about losing the hand except to be careful with firearms. He was going thru a barbed wire fence pulling the shotgun thru when it caught a barb and went off. I suggest unloading guns when transporting them. The point is that life is getting easier for people and they don't appreciate it.

    3. Yeah, it's a damn shame I didn't live thru the great depression. I'd be so much happier in this house arrest now.

    4. That is a good one. I never thought of it like that!

  4. All of this from a missed step. Wow. I am glad you are feeling better.

  5. Thanks for completing the story, Rob. Not knowing the final outcome was like an itch I couldn't scratch.

    I definitely would have given that Lyft driver a low rating at the very least. Instead of just saying "I don't know" and canceling the ride he should have told you that he couldn't find you and was going to do that. Big time dick move to just cancel especially a pickup at a hospital. Couldn't have been that hard to click that single star left handed.

    I don't know about Lyft but I drove for Uber briefly and if a ride canceled due to some fault of the rider I got the full $5. My guess is he knew there were other rides pending in the area and just didn't want to bother looking for you when he could just accept another ride and move on. If it's a driver with enough rides a single bad review won't hurt their overall rating much.

    1. Interesting. I assume Lyft is similar to Uber so I guess I owe Tony an apology, he might be right.

      As for rating the driver, I don't recall that I ever had the option. How can you rate a driver for a ride you never took? If I was given the ability to rate the driver I certainly would have given him the lowest possible rating but I don't think you can rate a driver if he never gives you the ride.