I’m going to make it

Sitting across from Jen in the restaurant, she admired the glorious colours of my arm.  The bruising is starting to fade, but still impressive. Then Jen looked at me, leaned back and she asked if I could knit. This is a full week after the accident -I think she was afraid to ask me before that, and I get it, I’m a little edgy. I pulled my knitting out of my bag  (I’m still dutifully carrying it around, though I can only manage a row or two before I get a weird cramp from holding it strangely) and spread it on the table in front of her.

She took it all in. Big needles, big yarn, it’s actually very pretty (pattern – Love and Darkness) and then a look of horror slowly dawned on her face, and she said “Is this it? In a week? Is this all you’ve knit in a week?” I nodded, and Jen slumped back in her chair. “Wow.” She looked at the knitting again. “Two more weeks?”

Two more weeks.  Back at the fracture clinic on Monday, I’d stomped in with an attitude that I’d hoped would be convincing. I’d tried to sit there looking exactly like someone who should have their cast off immediately, and during the x-ray I’d confidently said “I think it’s going to look great.”  When the doctor said that he wanted to leave the cast on two more weeks, I realized my bravado had been a failure.  Two. More. Weeks.

Sigh. On the upside, today I tied my shoes, and figured out I can drive a car.

Two. More. Weeks.

94 thoughts on “I’m going to make it

    • Ditto!
      BTW, in the language of those of us who are chronically ill, and unable to do a great deal we used to do, “pace”, as in “pace yourself”, is considered a 4-letter word. (Just a little black humour for your day.). Nice concept, good advice, but annoying to live with…
      So, hang in there, and be kind to yourself. It’s a gorgeous day here in Kingston, probably in Toronto as well, enjoy the cooler sunshine while it lasts!

      • You got it!!!!! I too cannot do what I used to do, especially in the time I want it to be done. I have really had to learn that awful word. PACE.
        I hate it. But if I want to be in great pain I have to use that word. I am sorry that you have had to learn that word too. Linda

    • My husband fractured his scaphoid by dropping a tractor tyre on his hand shortly after my daughter was born. Turns out something else you can’t do with a broken scaphoid is hold a newborn baby. Also turns out his scaphoid wasn’t actually broken, as confirmed by an MRI a few weeks later. Hope you get equally good news soon.

  1. You knit a great amount with your arm and hand immobilized. You should be very pleased. With my right hand and thumb in a cast I knit a Shawl, for my grandmother Teddy bear. It took me 4 weeks to knit a garter stitch scarf it was 29 1/2 inches 75 cm long by 6 inches 15 cm wide.

    With my left hand and thumb in a cast I was able to knit even less. I couldn’t even purl.

    This will be behind you soon, right now it seems like forever.

  2. I’m looking at that knitting and thinking, that’s gorgeous. You got that done in spite of a broken wrist. That’s amazing. That’s a lot. You rock.

    (I’m hoping to be able to drive again next week. Right now my broken rib says not to mess with it. I feel your pain.)

    • I totally agree with you– Stephanie, you got a lot done in a tight spot, and it looks beautiful!

      Also? I’m so sorry for both you and Stephanie: I hope your injuries heal quickly and smoothly with no setbacks, and that you’re back to all of your usual activities very soon.

  3. The two weeks may well be long, but the knitting will grow over that time. I once told someone with chronic fatigue that if he kept knitting one row a day, all he complained he could manage, he’d have a sweater done in a year. A year later he showed me a beautiful sweater. Chin up, Stephanie; if you can tie your shoe laces today, and drive a car, who knows what you can do tomorrow.

  4. Your current knitting only seems big compared to knitting with cobwebs and hat pins. Try using size 15 needles or larger, with super chunky yarn or even rope. Keep reminding yourself that patience is a virtue. Two more weeks really isn’t so long, unless you’re a preschooler waiting for Santa — or a mom pregnant with twins!

  5. Oh Stephanie! Hang in there–I have had my share of casts, just remember: canned air (the stuff you use to clean your computer keyboard) is your friend. I hope you get good news from the fracture clinic.

    By the way–your knitting is lovely! All I dared knit was garter stitch.

  6. I saw on the twitter feed on your website that you were having trouble with your bra. You need to find the biggest lecher in a local outdoorsy club (mine was a canoe club) and you need them to explain to you how to unhook a bra with one hand. It is truly a Life Skill. You basically need to put your index finger flush along the loops (finger facing straight up towards your neck), then get your thumb flat on the loose hook bit (the bit with extra hooks you don’t need), and slide/push the hooky bit directly towards the loops with your thumb.

    • My mother taught me to put it around my middle upside down with the hooks in front, hook them up, twist it around so the hooks are in back, pull the bra up, then put my arms through the straps. Reverse the process to take it off. I have always done mine this way.

  7. When I fell and broke my left wrist nine years ago, I was in a cast for over a month. At work I was right in the middle of producing quarterly financial reports on HUGE Excel spreadsheets. I was reduced to doing all that with just my right hand. I commiserate with you.

    If they send you to PT/OT – Go! and do everything they tell you. Don’t run the risk of a permanent disability.

  8. I have a couple suggestions that might still be useful. I’m hobbling around with a cane, after a bad fall. I have 2 hands when I’m sitting down but only 1 when I’m moving around. I wear shorts, sweatpants, shirts with pockets so I can carry stuff in the pockets. I can carry smallish stuff in my mouth or put larger stuff in a ziplock bag to be carried between my teeth. I can carry some stuff tucked under my arm.

    Hope this helps and hope you find yourself with 2 hands again in 2 weeks.

  9. First — Sue T is right! Obey her.
    Second — I have managed to develop over the years a “benign” (HA!) tremor and a mysterious elbow problem (not related) that have joined forces nonetheless to move me to rip a dozen WIP’s, give away yarn as though it were candy on Hallowe’en, and grieve righteously. It appears that I may never knit again in any serious fashion. So, I feel for you, I do. But not as much as I pity myself (oh woe!). It could be worse, darlin’ so hang in there. And do whatever the PT tells you to.

  10. This is sort of like reading a comic book where Superman is exposed to kryptonite and loses his powers. It always comes out okay in the end–

  11. When I had hand surgery I had a friend who could use a sewing machine sew my bras closed then just went on and off over my head. Can any of your girls or your sister help with that?

    • I don’t know how mobile your arm is, but I went with that “on and off over” the head with athletic bras, no fastener of any kind, just an elastic stretchy thing. Nothing to get caught on the hooks when tossed in the laundry, either.

  12. I feel for you Stephanie! I fell last week and broke some ribs, ripped a calf muscle and banged up my left arm around the elbow. I hate taking pills and am on muscle relaxants to keep me from tensing up around the ribs I fractured. Heal!

  13. I’m so sorry, Stephanie! I don’t know how to make it any easier-watch Slow TV on Netflix? The one where they go from sheep to sweater in Norway?

  14. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! My son (10ish) broke his arm earlier this summer, his cast is off now. Hope that yours will soon be off, too!… my son was a bit grouchy while the cast was on. Go easy on yourself!

  15. I have a cast on my left hand…my hand is broken. It has been 3 1/2 weeks since I could knit. Today they told me it would be on 2 more weeks. I am slowly going out of my mind.

    Maybe it’s not as slow as I thought?

  16. I am not a doctor (despite having a PhD) and this is totally based on my own experience, but if you have access to a martial arts studio that does kung fu, go there and get some dit da jow (linament) for those bruises if you don’t have broken skin. Rub some on in clockwise circles, or stroking it toward your heart. I’ve healed some pretty spectacular bruises with the stuff. I don’t know how it works but it does. You just can’t use it on broken skin.

  17. I remember. I mean I remember the hope and the moment it was crushed and I was told to keep the cast on. One of my most vivid memories, actually, that’s how much it hurt after all the optimism. (It was my foot but still, the hope is pretty much the same). So I feel for you. Each day brings you closer to freedom though. And the pattern does look great. I wonder what your speed normally is, must be really impressive, because this looks ok for weekly progress for me, I would be satisfied with this. With your hand fractured it’s actually beyond impressive for me.

    On the other hand seeing other people knit like the wind (for you it’s just temporary obstacle so you’ll be back flying in no time) is dispiriting sometimes. Everyone seems to knit faster than me. Buuu. How do you actually do that, on purely technical level, is there some other technique? I mean I’m continental, which is supposed to be faster.

    • hi, Hannah, yes, there is a technique to knit faster than continental, called lever knitting, and it’s what Stephanie uses.
      You can find videos of Stephanie demonstrating lever knitting on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P51GByV0H2w for example.
      Stephanie teaches a class called Knitting for Speed and Efficiency, which includes lever knitting. She is scheduled to teach the class next week and you can find a link to details on her main page under “Where’s the Harlot.”
      Hope that helps.

  18. When my husband broke a bone in his wrist he took homeopathic symphytum (comfrey) and he healed two weeks quicker than the doctor said it would take to heal.

  19. For whatever reason, the universe wants you to take some time away right now. Just to step back. Maybe to observe? Maybe to reflect? As much as the universe annoys us when it does not follow our plan, I find it is usually best to concede. Listen to the universe!

  20. Perspective, Steph, I was relieved when I saw it was “only” two weeks for you. A scaphoid fracture can take 12 weeks to mend instead of the standard 6 weeks for a bone. That had worried me. Knit when you can, rest when you need to. Remember you’re loved.

    • Yes, 12 weeks is about right for that type of break – I fractured both the radius and ulna in my right arm just above the wrist AND broke a chunk away from the side of the scaphoid bone. Was in a cast forever (plaster too, not fibreglass), during the peak of summer in Christina Lake BC – daytime temps 35-45C most days. My hand and
      lower forearm looked like hamburger when they changed the cast. Then it was physio for several months to unlock the frozen wrist & hand joints. Ugh. And I’m right-handed. Thought I was going to end up a leftie permanently. 2 more weeks is not much in the big picture. Think of all the new and improvised maneuvers learned along the way.

  21. And here I thought wow, look how much she knit (as a person who only got a few rows in, but also had a multi-day headache). We all have our normal though, and I’m sure yours will be back soon. It’s only temporary, right?

  22. I do feel sorry for you.

    However, if it were me, the knitting would be worsted or heavier yarn in plain garter stitch! Wishing you a fast heal, I’ve had injured (not broken) hands/wrists and been unable to knit, not fun.

  23. Argh. Two more weeks? This is suckage of the highest degree. That said, only two more weeks. 14 days. This can be done. After all, it’s already been at least a week, so… if you’d been told three weeks, then you’re 1/3rd of the way there.

  24. Actually, that isn’t all the knitting you’ve done in a week… you have also been knitting your bone and will “cast off” that project in two weeks! 😉 See how much you are accomplishing?
    (I know, that doesn’t help, but I couldn’t resist)

  25. Dear Steph,
    I have deep sympathy and empathy. I’m going through my own issue right now and reading about yours has done 2 things for me:
    1- it has made me realize that no matter what plans you make, the universe will make sure that you are where you need to be, dealing with what you need to deal with (even when you think you know better)
    2- getting slapped out of my Princess Pity Party chair at the head of the table was not a bad thing.
    Continued healing, love and blessungx.

  26. Steph, with your arm in a cast you’ve managed to knit more and more beautifully than I have in the past 3 months. We’ve been going thru a thing and I barely have the attention span to READ and that’s life threatening to my friends and family. I’ve been watching BASEBALL GAMES… on TV!! It’s been a crappy summer.

    Hang in there… 2 more weeks.

  27. That must of been so painful. I know i couldn’t knit for along time after I’d gotten my hand operated and it was really depressing. Love what your knitting even tho it’s taken you a while to do it. Great job!!

  28. I notice your cast is only up to the elbow, as was mine for the same type of injury. What they didn’t tell me for far too long is that every time you rotate your forearm from the elbow (think of the correct position as thumbs-up, and the wrong position as palm down) your tendons attached to your two forearm bones pull on that break and risk pulling it apart, slowing healing. I won’t tell you how long I was in that cast because you don’t want to know, but just know that as soon as I conscientiously restricted my hand position to thumbs-up, it really was only two more weeks.

  29. Tying shoes one-handed is a real accomplishment. (And I spent 35 years as a PT.) I had to learn to do it with each hand in 2000 when I had 3 wrist surgeries with 9 weeks of disability after each one. I admire the fact you can knit now. Once I could knit again (6 months later) I could do 3 STITCHES, then 5, then 10, and then a whole row. It took over 3 more months before I could knit 1-2 hours. You’re getting there– keep your sense of humor.

  30. i’m so sorry for all that has happened & i’m hoping that the following won’t sound like a criticism.

    but i’m astonished that, in this day & age, anyone is still getting a full rigid cast. The contemporary approach is a first-rate sports injury orthopedic physiotherapist plus a removable 3/4 cast.

    the cast is taken off for infinitesimally minimal physiotherapy by an expert. This consists mostly of vibating the injured part so slightly that the vibrations are not even visible. They – the vibrations – help to restore circulation to the traumatized zone, which in turn speeds healing.

    the physio also instructs in exercises that – for a hand or wrist or elbow injury – are easily performed in a bathroom sink filled with ice water & ice cubes. Following which, the 3/4 cast is tied back on.

    a 3/4 cast is also taken off for showering or bathing, even if someone else has to come help with the soap & scrubbing.

    i suspect that a physiotherapist would say, Show me how you knit without the cast. She or he would watch which muscles are engaged & would be able to direct which knitting actions would be harmless as well as which knitting movements could hurt the injured tissues.

    a knitter would then be free to take off a 3/4 cast & knit for as long as she felt comfortable.

    a 3/4 cast holds an injured limb as firmly as does a full cast. It is just as therapeutic. The wonderful difference is that it can be untied & taken off for careful half-hours of freedom now & then.

    here in my town, any patient can request a 3/4 cast. This does not require a doctor’s prescription.

    • There are also some studies (beginning with why cats purr) that speculate that the vibrations strengthen the bones. They are testing it on seniors who have bone loss and fractures. Can’t remember where I saw this.

  31. Oh! Ugh. Bummer! But hang in there! The kntting looks good, don’t count stitches. Read more books. Go to more concerts…

  32. I sympathise. I fell off my bike in 2015 and had a cast on. I am in the UK and we are not allowed to drive with a cast on . It invalidates the car insurance.
    The knitting looks amazing. This is my first comment having read the blog for ages. Thank you for the inspiration to knit more and challenge myself. Also thank you for putting into words how amazing it feels to become a granny. I was 2 months ahead of you. It’s such a joy.
    Katharine

  33. Thinking of you today, the first anniversary of your dear mum’s death. However you spend the day and whatever you feel will be right.

    Sending you love and hugs.

  34. You reminded me of a time in my life – I wasn’t knitting then – but I’ll tell you anyway. It was the summer of 1990. I was getting married that September. My fiance was leaving for Japan and Hawaii on a business/pleasure trip. I was living in NJ and working in NYC, taking the bus. One evening in the subway, coming home from a law school buddy’s apartment, my foot rolled over in an indentation in the platform. I heard a crack. I was taking the train home that night and watched my foot and ankle swell all the way home. At the hospital, after x-ray, they said nothing wrong. A call from them the following morning instructed me they had made an error, I had a fractured fifth metatarsal, a tiny bone in the foot. They plaster casted me from toes to knee. I still took the bus to the city, using crutches and then taking a different bus crosstown. I was planning a wedding. The fiance left for his trip. I could not drive my stick shift car because I could not feel the pedals through the cast. Two weeks into it I visited the doctor and begged him for a removable cast. He said no. I had a sobbing meltdown in his office. He still said no. I graduated to one crutch, people on the buses were very nice to me, I walked around the city with the cast and one crutch and did what I needed to do to plan the wedding. It was small, elegant, in my parents’ yard with a tent and other nice accoutrements. The husband turned out to be an A-hole who I later divorced. He gave me a son who I love dearly. When I read your story I get scared that I will somehow hurt my hand and be unable to knit. I knit daily and it keeps me sane. You will get through this. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. Have a cup of wine for me. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  35. Oh! The agony of it … all.

    Sometimes the universe steps in and adjusts our abilities for a while. Once over I think I appreciate what I can do so much more. I hope you will heal up, get up, and continue on … after you are well healed! Meanwhile audio books!

  36. I feel your pain! I got medial epicondylitis several years ago, (usually called golfers elbow) but for me it was knitters elbow. I had been knitting daily & it was my sanity saver. I knit through the pain until I couldn’t stand it & finally went for treatment and a long bout of physical therapy. I pretty much couldn’t knit for a year until I spent hours studying the Priciples of Knitting, watching podcasts & slowly practicing alternative ways to knit. Also had to figure out new ways to distress! Was it worth it? Yes! But it sure sucked in the very long process. Hope your healing is waaaaay shorter than mine & you’re back to full knitting soon!

    Connie

  37. NO COMFREY!!!! I checked to be sure if I recalled accurately the advice against taking the stuff by mouth, as tea or as a green, and indeed, comfrey is not safe.

    Lovely plant, just don’t consume it. Not good for cows, either.

  38. All the best for fast and complete healing. Time just slowed down for you, but it will speed up again and you’ll be able to laugh without tears or curses. Promise!

  39. All the best for fast and complete healing. Time will speed up again, and you will be able to laugh without tears or curses. Promise!

  40. It could be worse. One of my friends spent several weeks in a cast with a sprained wrist; the doctor told her that sprains can be worse than fractures.
    (I broke a couple of ribs once. You get a “rib belt”; I described it as a cross between an Ace bandage and a long-line bra.)

  41. Our service is really lousy today and can’t seem to do anything with instagram so I’ll comment here if that’s ok? Honestly I don’t see why sheep’s wool would be considered a nono in the vegan world as it’s very necessary that sheep be shorn every spring…can you imagine wearing long underwear all summer?? You can’t imagine the critter infestation in unshorn sheep. I’m a sheep producer, also vegan, and some of my fleeces are too nice not to be used, and I for one would rather use natural fibers than manufactured.

  42. I have had my left arm casted from fingers to above the elbow three times for breaks or surgeries–each casting was 12-36 weeks. Knitting was impossible because of the angle of the cast. Spinning kept me sane, using a modified long draw for woolen yarn. There was a profile of a spinner with one arm years ago in Spin Off that detailed how she did it that was helpful. Sorry, I can’t point you to which issue! Anyway, play with it and you’ll figure it out.

  43. ‘Way back then . . . I got so frustrated at double points I decided I was never going to knit anything with double points and gave most of what I had away. So why did I let myself get caught up in the new flexible double points? Well, my local yarn store (in truth, not so local, but I had to go to that town on another errand, so as long as I was there anyway, it’s good reason to stop in just to see what’s new). They had a knitting sample using flexible double points that anyone could try. so I knit a part of a round, and then plopped down my money for a set of my own.

    Turns out a set is three, so the stitches are divided on two needles and the third needle is the one that works the stitches. I’ve had a little trouble keeping from losing a stitch at the end, and I’m wondering if things would go a little more smoothly if the stitches could be divided on three needles, with a fourth needle to work the stitches. But to get a fourth needle, I’d have to buy another set, and they aren’t cheap.
    My experimental piece with ribbing looks like a sweater cuff, but it may turn into a small baby cap if I can figure out how to shape the crown.

  44. Hang i there! For me, the crazy-making thing was having to ask my hubby to help me pull up my pants (under and outer). Try it with one hand and you’ll see it is a two-handed thing. Eventually, these things heal and we go back to knitting normally.
    Julie in San Diego

  45. My deepest sympathy on your injury. I have had to go through two months-long bouts without knitting since I took it up several years ago. With the first one, I had a bad reaction to a vaccine which caused a fever of 104.7 F. This basically fried my brain- I was so stupid for months afterward. I couldn’t really knit, because in addition to the lack of ability to think and understand the pattern, I was also so exhausted all the time. It took me a good 2.5 years to come back from that. Then, in 2016, I had a series of accidents- I busted up my tailbone pretty good on a tile floor. An inability to sit translated to no knitting. Then, just when I was getting my ability to sit back, I burned my entire right arm and torso- second degree burns kept me from knitting for months. This eventually healed enough to knit with, though still sensitive, and what did I do? I tore the ligaments in my right ankle. At least once the immediate pain was relieved, I was able to knit with that one.

    All this to say, this too shall pass. I hope it passes quickly for you. I went stir crazy all those months.

  46. sorry to hear things aren’t going your way, Stephanie. At least it’s providing good fodder for your art (writing), I felt like I was there at the restaurant and doctor’s office with you.

  47. It’s hard to be patient, but eventually you’ll heal and will be knitting again.
    Hmm, that looks like another one of your super special baby blankets. Maybe another grandie is in the works?

  48. Dearest Stephanie, Just catching up with the blog and so sorry to hear about your troubles! I hope that you heal fully and quickly. Do your PT! Two years ago Middle Son and Oldest Son got on the hour long ferry ride to the island to go mountain biking. Middle Son went flying over the handlebars on a dirt road downhill and knew something was wrong immediately. Oldest and his friend got Middle to the island clinic where a lone nurse was on duty because all other staff was at the scene of a car accident. She put the left arm in a sling with ice packs and drove them to the ferry. Then they drove to the local hospital where they finally called us. X-rays showed BOTH wrists broken. An unthinking doctor said to our tired, hurt, and probably in shock Middle, “how ya gonna wipe your ass?” . A bad day for the medical profession if you ask me.
    Long story short, the right was a hairline fracture and the left required surgery with a permanent plate and pins. It was the first week of summer vacation and he had just moved out on his own. Oh, that was hard! Middle needed our help for a while, but one of the first things he did that really sustained him was playing chess with his best friend. He recovered relatively quickly at age 21, but felt tightness in the left for a full year afterwards. The first few weeks were not at all easy. It is so hard to not be able to do things for yourself, never mind not being able to do the things that bring you pleasure and relaxation! Hang in there, you will heal and be knitting again. Be good to yourself in the meantime! Sending healing thoughts!

  49. Hello Harlot! I have a question that is completely off-topic (so sorry to hear about your arm. I have been lucky {?} in that none of my orthopedic adventures-and there have been many- have never interfered with my knitting! Anyway, I did some fiber stash diving today & came across an especially gorgeous and equally vm-y mohair fleece. I googled about how to deal with it & came across your instructions on how you wash fleece (back when you were working on Joe’s Ganesey-I still love the squirrel deterrent device) and was wondering if you have altered your washing process over the years, and, if so, what those changes are. Thanks so much should you reply! I know you get a ton of questions, but, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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