Shattered wrists and science fairs

A column by NPR’s Giles Snyder for The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Note to self: don’t call your wife while she’s recuperating in the hospital because you ignored her warning to check the ink in the printer the night before your son’s Science Fair project is due.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but yes, I called my wife while she was confined to a hospital bed.

Before you tag me as the worst husband ever, let me explain – I was backed into a corner and seemed to have no other option.

I had to place that uncomfortable phone call after a series of events that began last weekend, when my wife slipped on the ice while walking our huge dog Rodney.

Actually, she slipped twice.

She could have walked away from the first fall with little more than a knot on her head and her dignity bruised, but then she fell a second time and shattered her right wrist.

It was a long weekend that featured an ambulance ride to the emergency room amid excruciating pain, pain medication that didn’t work, more excruciating pain, a hospital stay aimed at making the pain bearable, even more excruciating pain and finally, surgery to immobilize her wrist.

And, more excruciating pain just to top off the weekend.

My wife now has a contraption bolted to her forearm that would only look normal on Frankenstein’s wrist. Instead of a cast, she’s got pins screwed into it and a fixator bar. The whole thing is held together by bolts. It’s going to be quite the conversation starter for at least the next two months.

The surgeon (when did they become mechanics?) put my wife’s wrist back together Sunday morning. By the middle of the afternoon, she had recovered enough to begin worrying about our 15-year-old son’s science fair project, which was due the next day.

She was specifically concerned about the ink cartridges that always seem to fail just when you need them most. But when she said I should check beforehand to make sure our printer was in good working order, I replied, “we just bought cartridges for that thing. You need to rest. I’ll take care of everything.”

Fast-forward to later that evening when I was pacing the aisles in Wal-Mart frantically trying to track down ink cartridges…

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