My Own Apartment: A Fractured Wrist and Challenged Independence by Erin Letson

If you visited my apartment in July, you might have noticed a list scrawled on a yellow notecard on the fridge. It read as follows: Open salsa. Put pillowcase on big pillow. Fix pot. Empty recycling bin.

The list summed up all the things I needed someone else to do for me because, in the middle of June, I fractured my left wrist. The list looked like it was composed by an eight-year-old; it was written with my non-dominant, uninjured right hand.

The story goes like this: My American cousin was in town to celebrate his 19th birthday and wanted to go dancing. I took him to a bar in Kensington and stayed reasonably sober and, I thought, responsible. As the night carried on, I found a swell dance partner and during one of the last songs of the evening, I overestimated my spinning skills and busted a move that threw off my balance. I fell back, and when I looked at my jumbled wrist post-landing, I knew I had done some serious damage. Instead of eating poutine after his first night at a bar, my cousin had to spend eight hours with me at the hospital as more than one attempt was made to set my bones right.

Thankfully, the injury was not that terrible. Although I'm a leftie, I do a lot of things with my right hand – texting, chopping, mousing – and aside from the first couple of days, the pain wasn't an issue. I even grew sort of fond of my blue cast as a symbol of mystery and badasser-y, not to mention its usefulness as a conversation starter (hello, office and subway strangers). And who can knock forced ambidexterity practice?

Of course, my not-right wrist cast a shadow on my independence. At first I donned a heavy plaster cast that stretched from elbow to knuckles and had to be kept elevated, making me feel like I was lugging around a newborn child (not that I'm going to even pretend I know what that feels like). I couldn't shower, wash my own hair, or prepare food, and my hour-long commute to work on public transit seemed like a bad idea. I decided to stay with my parents as I awaited my follow-up appointment at the fracture clinic and, unsurprisingly, almost immediately craved the city, my social life, my own apartment.

I was lucky and didn't have to wait long to get those things back; all it took was a much lighter fibreglass cast. And while my bike spent the season collecting dust and I became reliant on smoothies and canned pull-top soups for sustenance, not that much changed. In some ways, I'm even grateful for having to figure out how to do things with a bodily limitation and work through the healing process. It has given me a glimpse to those around me who have suffered much more severe injuries and many more limitations. (Which also reminds me I'll be forever grateful that I didn't break both wrists at once.)

Now that I'm back to almost-normal wrist capacities, I can properly wash dishes, touch up my roots, open salsa. And that's another thing to be thankful for after six weeks of challenged independence – the newfound glory in completing the most mundane of tasks. I'll take it.


This is fourth in a series of posts about moving into your own apartment. You can find the others here.

Erin Letson is a Toronto-based writer and editor who blogs about digestive health at Fix My Gut ( You can follow her on Twitter @erinletson.


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