“Dem’s the breaks!”

My last month can be summed up by the digitised voice in the old Mega Drive game, ESWAT.

In a moment of desperate bad luck, I fell in the street and broke my left arm. As ever, it wasn’t quite that simple…

I’d been invited down to the .net awards on the 18th November, held in London. A lot of my friends and industry piers were going and I took our contact James from the D&AD. I met up with Phil Sherry at his hotel, had a beer, met his boss Mikey, then proceeded to meet Colly, Dan Donald, AlunR et al at a pub close to the venue, which all happened without incident.

We went to the awards, hosted by Zeldman (shorter in real-life), had a few free beers, met fellow front-ender and VW camper van nut Ian Lloyd for the first time and a lot more lovely people. The actual awards were a bit of a non-surprise, to be brutal. End of the night, get our coats and head back to the hotels. At 11.30pm.

Mine and Phil’s hotels were in walking distance of the venue, so we set off to have a final beer at his hotel as Phil and Mikey were catch an 8.30am train back to the North East.

The drama happened as we were running to cross over a junction before the lights turned red. Stumble, fall, hand out… and I knew straight away I’d broken my arm. It really was as simple – and as stupid – as that.

Lying in the road, with people yelling to get up, I lay there with my arm over my chest well aware that it was broken, and insisting that I needed an ambulance. Long story short, I spent the night in St. Thomas Hospital, on morphine with a few x-rays to show off my talents. I came to at around 7am, and saw Phil still with me by the side of the bed. I thanked him, but told him to bugger off and catch his train.

It was a pretty bad break, as you can see. I must have fell with some force, as it’s broken in 3 places, and I acquired a massive cut and bump to my left cheek. The cheek is still numb now, and it took weeks to actually feel my teeth again. The staff wanted to operate on my arm, but couldn’t tell me when they’d do it. Maybe on the friday, maybe saturday. I wasn’t too pleased with this, as all my gear was in my (unused) hotel room and my train back was at 2.30pm, so I asked if I could head home, since I didn’t live in London and had no family close by to help me out.

So, arm broken and in a sling with a backslab, still under the influence of morphine, probably smelling of beer, with a bleeding cheek, blood-matted beard and wearing a snug fitting OrangeBus shirt Phil had fortunately given me much earlier in the night (my coat and shirt had to be cut off to get at the arm), I gingerly walked to my hotel and picked up my stuff.

I also finally made the call to my wife. Any man who’s got himself in trouble while away from home will know this feeling. However, I’d not been able to call her earlier as I’d managed to lose my phone somewhere between busting my arm and having the x-rays in hospital. The day before, while at Preston station waiting to catch the train down, my iPhone had crashed, and my wife said I could take hers, so I could still be contactable. On the train down, my iPhone started working, so I left hers in my bag at the hotel.

“Yeah, er, hi Idoia. I’ve had a bit of an accident, and I’ve broken my arm…”

To be fair, she took it very, very well and was really concerned.

After chomping two Ibuprofens, I walked to the tube station and made the two changes to Euston. I had to hang around a bit in Euston, so forced a sandwich down, and when the train was ready to board, I asked a member of the train staff if I could sit in 1st class, as my arm was evidently broken.

I sat down and promptly fell asleep. When I woke, there were three rather cautious looking fellow passengers on my table, giving me the eye because I looked a right state! They did ask what happened and warmed considerably at my tales of stupidity.

Idoia met me at Preston station and we drove to Blackburn hospital. After waiting for about three hours there, I got a bed and was in for the night. The staff knew about the break, as the staff from St. Thomas in London had rang ahead and probably warned them “watch out for this idiot coming in with a broken arm!” I’d also been given a CD with the x-ray scans on, to hand over at the hospital.

Saturday comes with a visit from the orthapedic doctors, who confirm that I’ve really buggered that arm up and warn of paralysis or lack of feeling in the arm as two possible side effects of surgery. After having nil by mouth since 2pm on Friday, it turns out they’re not operating. The day was passed with snoozes and some movie watching and online chatter thanks to my iPad and 3 mifi, which were still in my bag from London. Without these, I think I would have gone mad in hospital. Nil by mouth that night, hope they operate on sunday. Sunday comes, with a visit from the anaesthetist. This is good, means I’m having surgery.

I remember passing out at 11.30am in the operating theatre, and awaking as I came back to my bed around 2.30pm, in pain and groggy. I had massive pins and needles for the next few days, and basically a lot of pain from the metal work.

So what did they do?

As you can see from the x-ray, they’ve plated the radius with six screws, and pushed a wire through the middle of the ulna bone, and basically threaded the broken bits of bone onto it. According to someone who knows how this is done, it’s not a delicate manouvre, and it’s a good job I was out like a light for it. It would also explain the marks I have on my upper arm that look like it’s been in a vice. The doctor pointed out that the wire is left long, so that they can pull it out again…

I went home the next day, with a bag full of drugs and an appointment to come back in two weeks. When I went back, they took the bandages off, the orthopaedic doctor took a look at the arm and fresh x-rays and was very pleased with what he’d seen. No need for a cast or more bandages, leave it uncovered, and start moving it around.

How are you doing, Jake?

Well, I was back in work two days after surgery, although due to the Tramadol wasn’t of too much use. The arm was never in plaster-cast, only bandaged after surgery, and I’m sure has healed a lot quicker due to the metal holding everything tightly in place. A month after the break, and it does hurt a little. I can touch the arm on the break points with no real harsh pain, but the scar is still quite sensitive, feeling like someone’s put a car battery jump start on at my wrist and forearm. Mobility’s pretty good, although I can feel a bit of muscle wastage already, and stretching feels funny. Pretty sure I bust my little finger as well, to be honest, as that’s hurt like mad since. I can also feel the tip of the metal wire if I lean on my left elbow, which smarts! Importantly though, I can type, hold and drink a glass of wine, and playing video games seems to be just fine!

“So what have we learned from all this?”, the anaethetist asked me after consulting me on Sunday morning.

“Walk, don’t run” was my reply.

How did you get those x-rays?!

While waiting to see the doc, I asked the nurse if there was a CD (the one I’d brought up from London) in the files, and could I take a copy as I had my laptop with me, hence the high quality pics!