Date: 14 April 2019. Broken Arm
Note: This article is dated the day of my accident. Typing with one
hand is slower than a turtle walks through molasses at the North
Pole, thus the delay in posting.
My friends all know that one of my
mantras is to never do anything when tired. That means that at the
first signs of being tired, I quit. Nothing good ever comes when I
press on. Inevitably I end up with poor results. On the 14th of
April I thought that rule no longer applied to me. After all, I'm
experienced AND smart. Except I wasn't.
That is when I hurt
myself. I discovered
once again that I am not invincible.
What happened was this: I'd been running the engine on Seaweed in
preparation for a mini-vacation. One thing I always used to do was
check all fluids on engine shut-down. We always did this on our
40'er and I've gotten out of the habit. By checking at the end of
the day I know that I can get underway the next morning without
I fell into the bilge just aft of the engine, to the
left of the shaft. I landed on my transom
approximately where the BUCKET
↑ is. And no, I don't
know how exactly this happened.
My Mistake: I was goal focused rather
than paying attention to the task at hand.
Seaweed was fully loaded for a planned week-long expedition to a
couple of nearby anchorages. The first night I was to meet a friend
over by the local Elks Lodge in Madeira Beach. A couple days later I wanted to head
over to Gulfport so Skipper could get her nails cut.
We go to the Reef Dog Groomers in
Gulfport. Nail trimming prices are reasonable at Reef Dog.
The folks at Reef Dog Grooming [727-323-7007] are great. The shop is
blocks from the waterfront. No affiliation: I simply like the people
and the place.
In any event, that evening I was getting ready to check the
transmission fluid level. A neighbor telephoned. He invited Skipper
and I to come ashore and relax for a few minutes. That sounded
I put the
Verizon tablet in my purse and slung it over my shoulder. Then I
grabbed Skipper in my left arm and turned to get off the boat --
FORGETTING the doggone bilge hatch was up. Honestly, I was so
focused on the good time that awaited me on land that I was
oblivious to my current situation.
In a moment I went from "all's
well aboard Seaweed" to sitting on my bottom in the bilge! Skipper
was in the bilge too, splayed out on her tummy. It took her a few
moments to gather her wits and come to me.
Fortunately Skipper comes to me when afraid. This was
no doubt scary. For the record, she is fine.
I could not believe I missed a
hatch being raised, especially since I had done the deed. This was a
real shock to me. I was and am embarrassed. How could I not pay
attention to something so important?!?
I was goal oriented versus paying
attention to the task at hand.
This accident was a
I will definitely be more careful in the future.
While sitting in the bilge I immediately started opening and closing
the fingers on my left hand. That side was definitely in serious
pain though moving the fingers was a-okay. I was glad of that.
The gent who had invited Skipper and I up came down to Seaweed to see
what was taking me so long. He helped me stand up and get to shore.
First I took a long hot shower at his house which helped ease the
pain. My arm was Very tender.
A heating pad was located and I
used it. I stayed at the house because I didn't think I could climb
into my bunk. That heating pad was on low most of the night.
The Time Line from break to getting
with a physical therapist. The therapist said that moving my
hand was a good idea. I should not have kept the arm under the
heating pad all that time. Instead, he suggested 30 minutes on
and 30 minutes off of the heat.
There was no bruising at this point, which was
disappointing. To hurt so badly and have no visible injury was
with a doctor who referred me to a local hospital for an
x-ray. She also prescribed pain medicine as the arm was Really
hurting. And finally there is a
confirms that I have broken my humerus in three places. The
bone that runs between your elbow and shoulder is the humerus.
The knob at my shoulder has three vertical breaks (two in the
back and one at the front)
therapist advised me to wear a sling to keep the pressure off
my joint. More exercises are suggested to regain mobility.
Timeframe predicted until healed: 6 to 8 weeks.
So this is my tale of woe. I have
discovered a few things because of breaking my arm. Aboard Seaweed I
have a plethora of hand-holds and grab bars. The decision to have
lots was wise. For instance, above my bunk I have rings.
I am able to pull myself up with
relative ease. The RINGS
↓ give me something to
These rings are the frames from an
older set of gauges. They screwed into the overhead instrument
panel. The gauges were secured in place by the rings. Some ten years
ago new gauges were installed in a better location. I thought the rings might be of use at some
point so I kept them.
Eventually I decided to hang them
above my bunk. Since then I have utilized them to help me sit up.
They are easy to grasp. When the breeze blows or the boat rocks I
hear a musical sound as the rings collide.
The rings are very useful with this
bad arm of mine. What I discovered however is that I could have
benefited from another handle or rail in my cabin. Getting into my
bunk is not easy.
On the starboard side bulkhead of
my forward cabin I have an antique fishing pole.
Rather than the fishing pole I wished for something sturdy to
hang on to. Installing new handrail near that pole is on The List.
Frankly this whole
broken arm thing has been disheartening. The druggies have made
it nearly impossible to get decent pharmaceuticals. I "needed"
Tylenol 4's however due to regulations that was not practical. The
doctor prescribed Tylenol 3's which did not touch the pain. I ended
up taking 1 1/2 pills for each dose, thus running out too soon.
And I was NEVER pain free. That is
my fault as I continued to move the arm. I can now straighten it
out. By day three I could lift my hand to waist high. Gradually
(about 1.5 weeks into this mess) I can actually move my hand to my
Getting back mobility meant I was
repeatedly causing pain. Since 14 April, the longest stretch of
sleep I've had is five hours. I'm tired and sore, plus a tad bit
Skipper has been a real trooper. I cannot snuggle, nor even lay on
my good side as the arm just throbs.
My Skip though, well she's been wonderful. Skipper stays close which
Time does heal all things. The morning of 25 April saw a change for
the positive. As usual I had taken 1.5 pills to alleviate some of
the pain. Incidentally, one pill had zero effect. About an hour
later that morning I felt fuzzy. Being pain free was wonderful
however that buzz was not welcome.
medication blocks the pain without leaving a person impaired.
Still, I took the fuzzy feeling as a sign of making progress in this
road to recovery. Immediately I went back to the prescribed dosage
of one pill. The pain still exists. As I do the exercises to regain
range of motion, a residual ache colors my days.
Side Note: When I don't do the
exercises or leave the arm in my sling for a few hours the pain does
abate. The problem with that is that the joints, both shoulder and
elbow, freeze up. To get them moving again is Very painful. Argh.
Getting old is not for sissies!
Becoming a Grandparent is one of
the rewards of age however. Here's my friend Edwin and his grand
New babies are the absolute best. This child will be a boater. Edwin
is building her a miniature tugboat!
But I digress...
When I first injured my arm I tried to put it in a sling. That
didn't work. The pain was too much. Instead I used a back brace to
support my arm. I wrapped it around my body, with the Velcro center
part at my right shoulder. The stays (rigid parts that support the back)
were under and around my left arm.
Frankly, the back brace was a
MUCH better solution than the sling. I could move my arm to ease the
pain. The brace supported my arm. The shoulder and elbow joints did
not get stiff nor lock up on me.
I am now seeking a wide piece of banding with Velcro to add to my
medical supplies. I'd like the stretchy part to be at least 6" wide.
Such an item would be useful now. Putting the arm brace on and taking it off
are painful experiences. There's simply no way to do it without
That said, it is hard to complain when one lives on a boat in
Florida in the springtime. Life afloat is terrific.
The accident was a direct
result of me not paying attention to the moment at hand.
Instead I focused on what was next on the agenda.
In speaking with others who have
taken a splash (fallen overboard) almost universally there is no
recollection as to how it happened. I know I ended up in the bilge
however I can't tell you precisely how that occurred. Okay, I fell,
but how did it happen?!?
The Fall, a Hypothesis:
I suspect I hit my elbow on the way down. My arm was
bent because I was holding Skipper. When I stepped off into
the hole/bilge, the elbow came in contact with the deck. That
caused me to drop Skipper.
The elbow striking caused
the arm to jam up into my shoulder socket. The ball at the top
of my humerus (upper arm bone) came to a sudden stop at the
shoulder joint. That caused the bone to break in three places.
But honestly I have no memory of anything except
sitting on my bottom in the bilge and reaching out to check on
my Skipper. She was flat on her tummy. Fortunately she stood
up and came directly to me.
I know I
fell. Not being able to remember the
details is disconcerting. The above is conjecture.
One thing that helps is the Verizon tablet. It distracts me.
Unfortunately when I took my tumble the tablet was in my purse. It
has a cracked screen now. I broke my arm in three places, cracked
the screen on the Ellipsis8 and stunned Skipper when I fell. Sigh.
Yes, replacing the screen is on my
To Do list. It is an amazing unit. I am very grateful to the reader
who has provided this gem for me. I had no idea how much fun a
tablet could be. Thank you again Kind Sir.
Thankfully a few things I've been doing paid off. Aboard Seaweed I
use pillow liners made of silk or satin.
For the fellows, a pillow liner is a cover you put over your bare
pillow. Then you add the regular pillowcase.
Because I use silky liners, placing the freshly washed pillowcase
back on was easier. It slid on versus to
be tugged. I'm not allowed to tug anything -- no pushing, no
pulling, and definitely no lifting while I heal.
Side Note: You may have noticed in the previous picture that just above my pillow tucked
into the corner of my cabin is a VHF radio. The first thing in the
morning I turn it on to listen to the Wx (weather) channel. When the
forecast is dodgy, I listen more frequently. The goal is to learn
patterns and be aware of storms.
I also keep a stash of Dollar Tree readers, buying them a half-dozen
dozen at a time. I cycle through them quite regularly. I drop them,
either on the deck or over the side. Some day in the far future
archeologists will be able to tell where Seaweed stayed by the
collection of eyeglasses found in the riverbed!
Every place I sit to look into a
locker, I've got a pair of glasses stashed.
By having glasses plus a flashlight in almost every
locker I can easily see what is there.
The duo (dollar store readers and a Walmart flashlight) costs just
$2. That is within my budget.
Successful boating requires a
level of physical strength and stamina. Developing ways to work around any impairments are
a given, especially as we age. A few things have come to mind as I
recover. This is my list:
Add another hand rail in my cabin to facilitate
getting into my bunk more easily.
Move up plans to redesign the
For the time being I will stop using Algae. Climbing
over the transom is precarious.
I am a bit frightened of
having another fall.
I'm definitely more cautious than ever before!
Watch very carefully when the hatches are up inside
the boat. I was both tired and not paying attention to the task at
hand. That was a recipe for disaster.
When mama isn't happy, nobody is happy. Pain drains
my sense of well being. The lack of rest does not help.
On the other hand (the right one as my left doesn't work right now)
I am living on a boat in Florida. The winds are blowing and I am
recovering, albeit slower than I wish.
Skipper is using her life jacket when she is on the
swim platform. That makes picking her up easier.
An unintended consequence of the
broken arm involves my Skipper. Each morning she goes for her "walk"
on the swim platform. Normally leaning over to scoop her up is a
cinch. Not now though. The solution was to have her wear her pink
life jacket. I use the handle on the back for easy lifting.
The life jacket was actually the second solution. Initially I had
her using a puppy pad. She doesn't like that option but will do so
Another problem I have is that I
cannot pin up my hair. That takes two hands. At this time of the
year the heat is not too bad. Still, if you're going to break your
arm I would not recommend summertime, unless you've got short hair.
So now you know what I've been up to of late. Life
aboard Seaweed is good. Caffeine is soothing.
I put my pint glass into a coffee mug. That makes a bigger base and
nothing tips over.
I've had this Star Trek mug by Pfaltzgraff since 1993. It is a
favorite, bought at K-Mart for $5.
I am blessed. I
have friends and local helpers.
Such is life. Thank you for
Have you ever fallen into the bilge? Among local boaters,
apparently I'm not the only one!
And, what was the result of your tumble?
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