Inez Castor

Before opening my eyes, I knew I was safe in my own bed. There was the sound of rain, the deep bong-bong of the windpipes and the rich smells of cinnamon and clean cat that mean home.

There was pain, but I couldn't get awake enough to do anything about it. Following the initial surgery, when Scott turned my lights off and back on, people expressed sympathy for my raw throat and I didn't know what they were talking about. This time Scott wasn't on duty - I could use the sympathy.

Eventually throbbing pain forced me awake enough to achieve a vertical position and stagger out to the front room in search of light. My right arm was a luminous club in the late afternoon gloom of the bedroom. Since I don't use bleach in laundry, nothing but sheet music ever stays that white.

Cold water in my face woke me and eyeglasses let me see what hurt in

the light of big windows. Sticking out of the end of the white club was a

tight burgundy bud that throbbed with every beat of my heart. I tried

to get a closer look, but my elbow didn't bend much.

A brace modification was definitely in order, but the brace, made of

stiff ribs, padding and wide velcro straps, was tougher than me. After

trying scissors and pliers, I gave up and removed it, practically

holding my breath in fear.

And under that hurtful thing and wads of gauze was my dear little

arm. As the blood rushed into the fingers, I began gently cleaning away

three months worth of dead skin cells.

I dozed through the next couple days, giving my arm air, ice packs,

Reiki, sesame oil and gentle massage. Once circulation was restored to

my fingers, there was no pain. The label on the brace said "small," but

that's a relative term.

Nevertheless, I needed support for a wrist with muscles flaccid from

three months of immobility. I got through those months with liberal

doses of denial, somehow thinking I'd go right back to normal when freed

from my high tech trap. Not happening.

I've been screwed - literally. Despite seeing those four big screws

in the x-rays, I remained blissfully unaware that once they were

removed, the arm would need support and care while bone grows in those

four holes, as well as therapy to restore muscle tone.

I don't know where one ordinarily goes to have a brace fitted, but I

went to the pawn shop. I buy movies there, and the guys are always

working on chain saws or guns. While I tried to hold still and keep my

head out of the way, Pete made room for my fingers and shortened the

brace enough that my elbow can bend.

I wrapped up my first driving excursion by going to the harbor for

the first time since January. I sat there and cried for a long time.

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at