On January 28, 2020 at about 12.15 pm I set out from home by walk to the nearby CVS pharmacy inside Target Riverwood to get some medicines for my then 11 month old baby. It takes about 16 minutes to walk from my home to the pharmacy inside Target. It was a beautiful day outside and one of my most favorite things to do on days like that is walk. Since our move to the current residence in June, I have walked to this target often for groceries, usually with my baby on the stroller or baby carrier.
My husband’s work requires him to travel a lot, and on January 28th he was out of town and it was imminent that somebody go to the pharmacy to get the medicines because my baby was unwell. So I decided to leave the baby at home with my parents and walk over to get the medicines.
The walk towards my destination was eventless. I purchased the required items, put them in my backpack and began to walk back home. I remember waiting on the footpath at Medlock bridge signal for the pedestrian signal to turn on. Even after the pedestrian signal turned on I waited for the oncoming cars (to my left) to stop before starting to move. This is something I’ve been practicing because I walk a lot with my baby stroller. I crossed half of the road passing cars that were stopped at the red signal. Before I began to cross the next half of the road I looked at the pedestrian signal once more to make sure I had the right of way and then began to cross. Just after a few steps into it I was hit from behind by a car that was turning left. I vividly remember the unsettling feeling of being tossed in air and falling on the ground on my right side with an outstretched arm. I must have shut my eyes for a few seconds after that because when I opened them back I couldn’t feel my right arm and I was in excruciating pain. Even amidst the excruciating pain relief washed over me because my baby wasn’t with me as he usually would be. He was safe at home.
I began to cry for help and a few good Samaritans stopped by, called 911 and tried to keep me calm. What followed were a flurry of events, the police arrived, the first responders arrived, I was put on a full body cast and sent to the ER in an ambulance. Several physical examinations, X-rays and CT scans later I was informed of the extent of my injury; my right arm humerus bone was broken and dislocated, I would need surgery to fix that, My left calf muscle was severely bruised and swollen , left knee had an open wound and my right thigh was severely bruised. After consultation with the ER physician I was sent home with just a sling to hold my broken arm in place and prescription opioids for pain management.
The pain from the broken arm didn’t feel so bad until the effects of the IV narcotics given to me at the ER started wearing off. One must think that a woman who has been through the birthing of a 7 pound baby less than a year ago would be able to manage the pain of a broken arm, but it wasn’t easy and not being able to hold my baby added to the misery. I wanted to continue breastfeeding the baby despite whatever was going on so I kept away from the prescribed opioid pain medication to avoid the adulteration of my breast milk. This meant going through 2 days of continuous pain and discomfort until my surgery.
My ORIF (Open reduction and internal fixation) surgery was on January 30th. 2020, the nerve block given to me during the surgery took the pain away completely for a couple of days. I remember being ecstatic about it, but it came back soon after the block wore off. By now my entire body was aching and the pain from the arm was debilitating. I had to continue wearing a sling for support which made breastfeeding a whole new challenge. My husband had to hold our wiggly toddler in place while I fed the baby which meant he had to take a break from work every time the baby wanted to feed. Our entire household was slowly getting used to the new drill and the whole situation drove each of us including the toddler up the walls and realization dawned that it wasn’t just me who would need recovery but the entire household would.
I needed help with everything from the time I woke up in the morning until I hit the bed at night. The injury left me incapacitated and helpless. I couldn’t perform my duties as the primary caregiver of my child and I couldn’t cook for my family anymore, thankfully my parents who were visiting from India to celebrate my baby’s 1st birthday were able to offer help with the chores around home and caring for the baby. This period of recovery proved to be life disrupting for everybody in the household as all of the others had to stretch their limits to accommodate for additional responsibilities and I was battling the frustration about not being able to do anything.
About a month post my surgery, after my incision wound was completely healed, my surgeon gave me a sign off for physical therapy. He informed me that I would still not be able to carry anything heavy until the bone has completely joined and healed. By now the pain from the injury had subsided but the bruising was still there and I couldn’t move my arm. The incision wound left a prominent scar which meant all my sleeveless clothes will have to be put away forever or at least temporarily until I come to terms with wearing it by exposing the scar. Physical therapy helped me feel confident to use my arm, I continued to take help from my parents and spouse for my daily chores. I worked hard with my therapist to improve mobility and built strength but it would take me months before I could practice yoga again which used to be a daily ritual prior to the accident.
While I was working on the recovery of the physical wounds I failed to realize the extent of trauma this incident had inflicted on my mental state. I would never be able to cross another road without shivering and jolting at the thought of being hit by a car. These thoughts came again at night while I lay awake and my mind was thinking about all the other permutations and combinations about what could’ve happened if my baby was with me, if I’d been run over, etc. etc. These thoughts disappear in the morning until I have to cross another road.
My folks being around during these tumultuous times have helped me immensely to deal with the injury and recover in peace. But they have had to extend their stay indefinitely because of the global pandemic and are at the risk of losing their jobs. It took me about 70 days from the day of the accident to be able to hold my child again. I have been working hard on my mobility and strength and hope to recover completely by the end of the year.