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There should have been some kind of ceremony — drum rolls, little men in feathered hats raising trumpets and blaring away — something. Instead, it was just the technician, dressed in black scrubs (appropriate?) at the door yelling “Ann Eyerman, cast off. Eyerman, cast off.” And that was it. A few loud swipes with her drill and my red-companion of the past six weeks was gone.

I thought the whole red-cast experience would open real life changes for me. I was ready for an epiphany but either I had my eyes closed when the big opportunity presented itself or a broken wrist just doesn’t constitute a life-changing experience. I did learn some things about living with a red-cast. So here’s what I learned.

TEN THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY BROKEN ARM

Number One:

Never ever forget to say your prayer to your guardian angel when you step out of the house — or maybe even just getting out of bed warrants a prayer at this age. Obviously, after my encounter with the Columbus, Ohio sidewalk, I now know for a fact that even us cloven-footed Capricorns need some outside, heavenly watching over. I won’t forget again…promise!

Number Two:

As tiresome as it may be, pick up those big feet of yours. Shuffling feet are magnets for all those hazards that line city sidewalks and cat-cluttered houses. Dangers abound — that innocent looking little branch over there, those bits of gravel and clumps of dirt, forever hungry cats mewing around your feet, uneven sidewalks — ALL, every last one of them, a minefield ready to put you back in that cast. It’s time to bend knees and do a hup-one-two-three. Think John Phillip Sousa, the Ohio State Marching Band, bootcamp…

Number Three:

Be very particular about the color you choose for your cast. It’s going to be your constant companion for a very long time. I learned this from Ruby on my first visit to  the fracture clinic at St. Joe’s. This tiny person came up to me and pointed at my white-plaster cast I had brought back from the states. “Ugly!” she said, then at her tiny pink one, “Pretty.” She was right. Besides, bold colors are more effective at fending off rush-hour crowds swarming towards you.

Number Four:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T that Left Hand. I will never again think of it as the “other” one. It has seen me through numerous blogs, laundry, what I hesitate to call “cooking”, cat-feeding, wine-bottle-opening, illegible note making, garden watering and even scooping poop.

Number Five:

Appreciate the versatility of the human body. Arm pits do more than sweat! They carry books, dirty clothes even a thermos upstairs leaving the left hand free to hold on to the ever-important railing. As well, teeth are excellent tools for gripping velcro on ice packs and tearing open Houdini-proof packaging.

Number Six:

Positive Fashion Thinking will get you to believe, truly believe, that you look fab-ab-ab-abulous in those stretchy, elastic-waisted pants, the bra-less, too-big shirt and velcroed sandals (with socks, of course). Once you learned to pull up the pants so they weren’t crooked, they didn’t look bad at all. It’s all really about the right attitude.

Number Seven:

Make your life as easy as you possibly can. Even if your eco-friendly self has avoided using the dishwasher for five years, Load It Up, it doesn’t make you a bad person! Yeah, yeah those ready-cut vegetables are more expensive, so what? You want to risk cutting off a finger too?  And, best of all, tell yourself it’s an absolute necessity that you have miracle-worker, Maria, come in every three weeks to attack cat hairs.

Number Eight:

When your doctor says, “Shall we get the government involved?” Answer, “Yes, please.” And, then, don’t get all squeamish about a stranger coming in to give you a shower. Get over it. My back has never been so clean in years! Thank you Alem…and the Ontario government, of course.

Number Nine:

Do not be shy about using your casted-arm to get seats on the streetcar, subway or bus. Just stand in front of your selected candidate, stare and then, when they look up from their texting fingers, wave your arm in their face and say, “Please, I need your seat. Thank you.” Not a one dared to refuse — which actually surprised me.

Number Ten:

For heaven’s sake, if you need something, ASK FOR IT! I actually learned this a long time ago when my friend, Christina Baldwin, included it in her book The Seven Whispers. But when you’re a red-casted, one-armed woman in need, it becomes essential to open your mouth and say, “Please”. Folks are not going to call up and say, “Ann, could I come over and change the litter?” No, you have to humbly ask for that as well as other things. People are incredibly generous — if they know what you need and that you would welcome their help! I have been blessed over and over again during this six-weeks of the red cast with the goodness of people. (Correction: Renaldo just called and asked if he could come over and clean the litter! Amazing.)

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