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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

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Gopher Gulch: Holding it all together

 I’m sure glad it’s winter. It’s ordinarily my least favorite time of year, but this situation would be intolerable during the summer. I might have gotten stupid anyhow but was saved from my own impatience by what one local doctor called “a cheap piece of crap.” It must have come from the surgical appliance bargain bin.

What is technically called “exterior fixation” looks like a pair of fancy bridge abutments through each of which two pins the size of 10 penny nails hold my bones together. They’re attached to a three-dimensional bridge with gears, teeth, dials and locks. It all looks very high tech.

On a Friday night exactly five weeks after breaking my wrist, I decided that the next day I’d tackle just a little bit of housework. I was free of pain and House is a disaster. Other than keeping my few dishes washed, feeding the birds and cleaning the litter box, I’ve followed orders to hold still.

No moving fast or ricocheting off door jams. That night I fell asleep planning to vacuum, a simple job that would provide exercise and render the carpet visible.

On Saturday morning I woke to find a crack through one bridge abutment. Standing in mid-crack, like rotting posts in a river, were both pins and the lock between them. This is not a good way to start the day, but it did make me forget all about vacuuming.

A lifetime of Rube Goldberg repairs, of making do with what’s available, is good training, but this was the first time I’ve needed to make urgent repairs to my dominant arm. Sheesh! I’ve just become fairly competent at brushing my teeth with my left hand.

Thanks to Brandon, who delivers my Triplicate in plastic bags closed with rubber bands instead of knots, I had efficient, low-tech repair supplies that I could manage with one hand. A band must stretch just a little to encompass both the cracked abutment and one end of the bridge.

Half a dozen rubber bands provide enough even and consistent pressure to keep the crack from widening.

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of everything falling apart so fast it gets funny. Instead of crying or getting angry, you begin laughing in that over-the-top way that causes bystanders to look concerned. That was my state when I could finally relax — and realized my right arm was being held on by rubber bands.

Needless to say, the vacuuming didn’t happen. I’m holding very still except for giving my exercycle a major workout to retain muscle mass and stretch out muscles suffering from the fatigue of inactivity. The left hand is becoming quite good at carrying the melody line of my life at the piano.

Tomorrow I have x-rays and Dr. Meyers said that on Thursday we can “begin discussing” the removal of this “cheap piece of crap.” Thank all that’s holy for rubber bands and rainy days.

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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