KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Painful Day at Work

Ed on the bed that he designed and built for usPainful for my husband, Ed, that is—not for me.

He is a cabinetmaker (there he is in the photo at the left, on the bed he designed and built for us) in excellent physical shape and is quite strong. He was lifting a huge sheet of wood at work today—knows the proper way to do it to avoid damaging his back—when the wood suddently shifted, making his left elbow "feel like scrambled eggs," and he struggled to set the sheet down without dropping and destroying it. (It was obscenely expensive pear wood.)

He called me, and I insisted that he just not shrug off the pain but instead tell his boss that he needed to get to the local hospital to have it checked out. Turns out that he tore the ligaments to his bicep. A surgeon is now looking at his arm and says that if Ed were, say, 70 and retired, the treatment would be just to rest the arm. But because Ed's 44 and does a lot of heavy lifting at work, the surgeon's recommending surgery to repair the damage.

The tricky thing is that Ed's job is in Southampton, home to the filthy rich who can afford the kind of cabinetry he creates, and that's over an hour's drive from here ... and he drove our old stick-shift Toyota to work today. He insists he'll be able to drive himself home, especially because his right arm (his shifting arm) is just fine. I want to drive out there, with an in-law, in our van so that the in-law can drive the van back and I can drive the Toyota home with Ed in it. We'll see how that discussion turns out. The smart money is on me.

Updated 3:45 p.m.: Ed's trip to the emergency room and the upcoming surgery should be covered by workers' compensation, so we won't have to pay the $100 ER trip deductible and the $500 hospital stay deductible that our own insurance policy would mandate. But he can't have the surgery—and the MRI that the surgeon wants before surgery—until it's approved by workers' comp.

Ed's arm's in a sling, and I browbeat—er ... talked—him into allowing himself to be driven home. His parents are driving their car out there, and one of them will drive their car back and the other will drive the Toyota back. I text-messaged him several times in the course of our discussion and included mentions that my brother, our 23-year-old daughter, his parents, and several friends said that he should listen to his wife. And besides, my brother and daughter texted him too. ;-)

The surgeon told him that his type of injury is rare, but in Southampton, where he works, the surgeon does at least two surgeries a month for people with the same injury. That's because the "trade brigade"—which is all of the tradesmen like Ed—is so large out there. There are enough millionaires out there to need the services of a great many tradespeople.

Updated 3:45 p.m., April 29: Ed's surgeon tells him that the procedure he'll undergo will entail using chitin screws to reattach the biceps ligaments to the bone. The ligaments will then eventually regrow their own attachments to the bone, and the screws will eventually be absorbed by Ed's body. Chitin screws are available because of research on horseshoe crabs.

After surgery and physical rehab, his arm should be back to near normal strength within 6 months. We can't afford for him to lose much time from work, so other than recuperation from surgery, he won't take any time off. He's right-handed, so there's still a lot he can do at work, especially if the other cabinetmakers move large things around for him.

The surgeon who'll do the procedure once repaired a broken arm for singer Billy Joel. That's cool.

Updated 9:05 p.m., May 1: Ed's wearing an arm brace that looks like the one here, except he doesn't have the shoulder strap. It has a locking device at the elbow, which keeps him from bending his arm any way that the surgeon doesn't want him to. As he heals, the surgeon will unlock it progressively a little bit more each time, so that he can move it. This is a good thing. Otherwise, I'm sure he'd have been trying to do foolish things with his injured arm this weekend. As it was, he was doing everything humanly possible to overwork his uninjured arm, I guess to reassure himself that he can still do plenty of things. (I admit to doing just about the same thing last summer when I broke my right arm.)

Updated 1:55 p.m., May 4: Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 9. The orthopedic surgeon, a very nice guy, isn't willing to wait the 18 days or so that it will likely take for a response from the state workers' comp board, so he's going to do the surgery Tuesday and duke it out (if necessary) with workers' comp afterward. The procedure will be considered ambulatory surgery, so I'll have recuperated enough by then from the miserable cold I have to drive him to the hospital, wait through the procedure, and drive him back home again. The only downside is that the hospital is in Southampton, where Ed works, and is just over an hour away from here, so we'll be leaving at the crack of dawn, because surgery will likely be scheduled early in the morning, to avoid the commuter traffic.

Updated 12:55 a.m., May 12: The operation went well on Tuesday; the surgeon was pleased. Ed had told the surgeon that I'm a medical copyeditor, so after the procedure was done, the surgeon came out and showed me diagrams of what he did to Ed's arm. Ed is taking pain medication and a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory, so he's feeling pretty good. The surgeon wants him off work completely for two weeks. The boys and I will get spoiled by having him around all of the time. He's such a sweetheart that they would love to skip school for the whole two weeks just to have more time with him. Many thanks to all those who sent healing thoughts Ed's way.



Fat Pants said...

I wish Ed a quick recovery.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thanks, FP!

TFLS said...

Boy can I relate! The screws they used to re-attach then ligaments in my ankle were surgical steel - and my body didn't like them. Those chitin ones sound much better. Fair warning though - the recovery will take some time. My ankle took months. And it will hurt - so tell him he has to take pain meds. Men are notoriously bad when it comes to caring for themselves.

My heart goes out to both of you. Prayers and good thoughts are winging your way. I'm so sorry you and your hubby have to deal with this.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thanks so much, FLS. The thing with Ed is that he is good at taking care of himself, but his AD/HD makes him go insane when he has to sit still. He was born to be in motion constantly, doing physical stuff, and I was born to sit. Yet we're good together. Go figure!

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