What I’ve learned from broken bones and painkillers

Thanks mostly to a potent mix of stupidity, tequila, and my own interminable love of over-enthusiastic wrestling matches, I’ve managed to break a bone. (I did tempt fate that night by saying I’d never broken one before, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the outcome, really.)

Not being one to ever do anything the half-assed way, I of course managed a really nasty, painful break in my right wrist. After seven hours in the ER, three different sets of x-rays, and numerous doctors dropping by to poke me about, stick needles in me, and ask me quite seriously if I’d been assaulted, they sent me home in a cast that runs from my fingertips to my bicep, with a handful of painkillers and no assurances that I wouldn’t need to be back for surgery in a week.

The ensuing week has been a bit of a mess, but it’s taught me all sorts of valuable lessons already.

1. Flat-rate is still best-rate.

I’ve briefly mentioned this before, but I still do believe that charging flat-rate for the majority of my work (I switched over almost a year ago and haven’t looked back) is the best choice for both me and my clients. While it’s presently taking me a little longer than usual to get my work done (typing emails is slow, coding websites is painful, and resizing elements non-numerically is almost impossible), I don’t believe that my clients ought to be penalized for what ultimately boils down to my own lack of foresight. Usually, this functions in the reverse for me—I’m not penalized when I manage to get something done more quickly than expected, so I don’t mind that it doesn’t work out in my favour right now.

2. I really, really love being a graphic designer.

During some of my more intense moments of panic, I started trying to come up with suitable alternative careers. (You know, in case I get bone necrosis and the damned thing never works again. Thanks, Wikipedia, for constantly feeding my paranoid hypochondria!) I originally went into design as a way to more effectively pay my way through university, then fell in love and never looked back. (I’d still like to finish my university degree—if I ever win the lottery—but I’d be more likely to study design now.) While there are all sorts of industries I’m interested in, there’s nothing I can think of that’s as creatively stimulating, dynamic, and challenging as what I’m presently doing.

3. I have the greatest clients, and friends, in the world.

This may just be the Percocets talking, but I don’t think I would have managed to fight through this week were it not for the massive amount of support I’ve received from the people in my life. I’m generally on the “ragingly independent” side, so it’s hard for me to ask for help with anything. Some things, like putting my hair in a ponytail, are impossible to do, while other tasks are just frustrating and time-consuming. I’m also quitting smoking, as nicotine reduces blood flow and slows healing significantly, so on top of being in almost constant pain and crazy frustrated, I’m cranky and suffering withdrawal symptoms!

But my friends have cooked me dinners and helped me with all the tiny daily tasks I’m finding so challenging, have entertained me for hours in the ER when I thought I’d go insane, have left drawings all over my cast, and have made me feel loved and like I’m not alone at all. My clients have been just as supportive, in different ways, making allowances for the fact that I need a little more time to complete tasks, and either not caring or not noticing my painkiller-induced loopiness.

My super-sexy cast, complete with "pain killer" monster. Come on down and sign it: I've got scented markers and lits of extra space!

In short, I may be in a giant cast, but I’m the luckiest girl in the world.