During the summer of 2004, I fractured my wrist. At the time, I was 40, surprised to have broken a bone for the very first time in my life. Mind you, I previously had been a downhill skier, and I even completed several of the Olympic courses at Lake Placid, in 1980. Not a single fracture. I had also been a cyclist, as well as a runner. Still, no broken bones.
However, a simple puddle of water, on my kitchen floor, proved to be my nemesis. The management of my relapsing-remitting MS had recently required significant infusions of solumedrol, a potent intravenous steroid. Consequently, I was much more susceptible to breaking a bone.
I simply slipped on a small pool of water in my kichen. I landed hard enough, at exactly the right angle, to fracture my right wrist. I felt excruciating pain!
At this time, I was serving as the director of psychological services for an outpatient chronic pain clinic. I lived less than ten minutes from where I worked. Being left-handed, I took comfort in still being able to drive myself to the very clinic where I worked.
I knew that I required immediate imaging of my wrist. The technician positioned my wrist for the necessary x-rays. I wanted to shoot through the ceiling, since my pain was so very intense.
I subsequently learned that I had sustained a Colles fracture. This meant that I broke the lower end of my radius. As a result, I would need to wear a cast for several weeks. I was extremely thankful that this didn’t happen to my left wrist!
It was certainly a challenge to learn how to do things with one hand, rather than two. Previously, I never realized the extent to which I had used both of my hands to complete a task.
Taking a shower proved very interesting, since I needed to keep my cast dry. Not surprisingly, my skin became unbearably itchy after wearing a cast for several weeks.
During this very same time period, I experienced a significant MS relapse. My ability to walk was seriously impaired. I feared losing the ability to walk permanently.
Therefore, I received a weekend’s worth of intravenous solumedrol infusions at a local hospital. This was absolutely necessary to attenuate the severity of my symptoms. I was also working full-time during this period, in an extremely demanding position.
Receiving steroid infusions over the weekend allowed me to go back to work, without disruption, the following Monday. Given that my wrist fracture occurred on a Friday morning, I was wearing a cast when I returned to work the following Monday morning.
I couldn’t believe how many individuals, including my co-workers and my patients, expressed their strong degree of concern for my well-being. Many of them asked what had happened, since I was sporting a brand new cast. I provided a brief summary of what had taken place, simply mentioning that I fell, and sustained a fracture.
I never mentioning that receiving high doses of steroids predisposed me to breaking a bone. My patients were not aware that I had MS. The staggering irony of this event was certainly not lost on me.
I received intense concern about a simple bone fracture, which was visible due to wearing a cast. My wrist fracture was initially very painful, and highly disruptive for completing everyday tasks. However, these symptoms were, after all, only temporary. Yes, my muscles atrophied after I was finally able to have my cast removed. Notably, there was no long-term impact of having broken my wrist.
During this same time period, no one knew about how concerned I was about losing the ability to walk, permanently, due to having concurrently experienced a very severe MS relapse.
My wrist has long since healed, but I continue to struggle with multiple MS symptoms, every single day.