Asia, India

The Writer That Cannot Write: Breaking Bones Abroad

I broke my wrist in India. I’m not even really surprised.

We all love hating on 2016 and this year alone I have: passed out and thrown up on a plane, had a terrifying bhang trip, got seriously debilitating food poisoning (from said bhang), got slightly depressed at my failing work project, developed trench foot and got left stranded in the Himalayas, witnessed the rise of President Trump (sorry if you like him but I really don’t so he is going on the list), AND now I have only one arm.

Many people have been asking me about the story. It’s actually not very interesting but it goes like this: Last week, Rohit actually had a little bit of free time so we were going to take a quick, short trip to Hardiwar, a holy city in Uttarakhand which I have been dying to see since February. So, I booked some hostel beds and he decided to leave to get the bus tickets and see a lawyer about some personal matters. Before he left I realize I left the battery charger for my DSLR in the US so I ask if he can drop me at the Canon store in my market on his bike.

Having not eaten and needing to be ready in 2 hours for the bus, I’m feeling a bit flustered as we approach the market. Rohit, not knowing which side of the road I need, doesn’t pull off where I thought he would. We sort of start bickering once he has gone too far and can’t let me off safely on the correct side of the street. So at a stoplight, I decide I should get out at the little island in the middle of the road and cross there. We weren’t really arguing about it, though he was clearly annoyed I didn’t say something sooner and I was frustrated I had to dart across a street in India unnecessarily. So I hopped off the bike really fast (it’s a bit too high so I have to really swing my leg up and around), increasing my momentum….

And then I basically tripped on the curb with too much momentum, stuck my hand out to catch myself falling, landed on a rock, and actually heard my wrist go ‘pop!’ Just like that. 

In that moment in which an exceptional amount of pain shot through my arm and into my body, as I stood on the side of the road, clutching my wrist, I uttered 4 tragedy-inspired words to dear Rohit still sitting on his bike:

“Shit, shit, shit, shit!”

And then, remembering that I fell in Nepal a few months ago and also thought I broke my wrist but it turned out to be a mere sprain, I winced and told myself the agony would soon subside and it probably wasn’t a big deal. So, I waved Rohit on (not literally, of course, as one wrist was broken and the sturdy one was being used to hold up the limp one) and said, “go, just go” and decided to walk to the Canon store. *As an aside, I would like to note that Rohit definitely had no idea how hurt I was and later asked why I told him to go. The answer to which is below:

I’m pretty sure I became delirious from the pain. It was so bad I was having trouble making rational decisions. Such as, Rohit, I’m in a serious amount of pain. Drive me home.  Or, when a girl approached me because I must have looked banged up to ask if I needed her to drive me to the hospital, I could have simply said Yes, let’s go now.  But I didn’t. Or, how it took me walking all the way through the market and into the Canon store to realize, wow, it’s still really bad and possible broken. I should not be here at all right now. (The Canon store did not have what I needed).

At this point I realized there was absolutely no way I could get on a bus in this condition. I needed to go home and then to a doctor. So, my phone out of both minutes and data, I had to walk the 20 minutes to my house still clutching my wrist. For the first time walking home from the market EVER, 16 auto rickshaws did not  stop and go, “Madam, auto? AUTO? Madam?” Which is ironic because I happily would have give them 100 rupees to drive me there. No autos when you need them. You’re failing me, India….

When I finally staggered up to the house, my landlord was getting out of his car and asking me to pay the electric bill to which I said something like, “just give me a few hours,” and proceeded up the stairs.This is the only time I’ve been in so much pain I actually thought I would throw up. It’s also the only time the pain has increased this much the 30 minutes after an accident. I chugged some water, called Rohit on the house phone to tell him not to get the tickets, and tried to lay in my bed. That somehow made it worse so I tried laying on the couch. The pain was honestly so bad I couldn’t think.

Rohit came back. Rohit, Rohit, Rohit, who took me to the hospital after I passed out on the plane, didn’t leave me during my bhang experience, brought me drugs and a doctor during my food poisoning, listened to me sob about work, listened to me sob about Trump (someone give this kid a citizen of India award). So Rohit looked at my wrist. Because I could move my fingers and move my wrist slightly, we together decided it wasn’t broken (excellent doctors here). He wrapped it with a bandage (which was so painful I finally started crying) and I managed for the evening, convincing myself it was just a sprain.

Obviously, the next day it didn’t feel much better so he agreed to take me to the clinic where they did 2 X-rays (they wanted 3 but I couldn’t bend my wrist like that) and said it was fractured. The doctor kept telling me how things were done procedurally in the US and Europe for fractures (he told me that in the US they would do a surgery and insert a plate, is that true? Seems like a lot of effort for a little fracture). He seemed really adamant to make sure I knew that “just getting a cast” was still a medically sound practice (why on earth would I choose to have surgery if I don’t need to?). Has anyone else had surgery for a relatively minor fracture? No bones were out of place, just broken…

Medical Accidents Traveling

Anyway, the entire thing: 2 X-rays, pain injection, doctor consultation, cast, and sling cost less than $100USD, which I am totally okay with paying. My new insurance deductible (you know you are an adult when you are excited about your health insurance plan) is $395 so I just had to pay out of pocket. NOT what I imagined I would spend my first $100 on back in India but I’m glad it was affordable. And I’m glad it was my left hand if it had to be one of them….

The hardest things about breaking my wrist? 

  • Eating pani puri: Typically you hold the plate with one hand and eat the delicious little “crackers” filled with water in the other. Rohit lets me eat off his plate in Chandigarh. In Faridkot I kept the plate on a low counter and awkwardly bent over to have my messy snack. Anything for pani puri.
  • Changing: More specifically, in and out of wedding attire. The nice lady at the store had to strip me and dress me over and over. And at the wedding this weekend the bride’s friends were super patient and helpful. Indians are pretty nice. Thank God.
  • Cooking: That’s just not even happening now
  • Cleaning: After 26 years I don’t speak boy so when I got a text Sunday morning that there were “a few dishes left unwashed” I wasn’t expecting my counters to be littered and rice to be everywhere… Luckily, I have maids so the next day they cleaned everything for me.
  • Showering: Step 1- apply shampoo directly on your head, Step 2-attempt to shave your arm pit with the same hand attached to said arm, Step 3-spend the next 3-4 hours in near pain due to the uncontrollably itchy feeling that occurs from moisture in your cast which you cannot, under any circumstances, scratch.
  • Explaining: I still don’t know how to say “I fell” in Hindi…everyone is asking.


And, of course, writing, which is why I came back to India and what I planned to do with myself for the next two months…..One handed typing is not fun.





    Oh poor Gwen, you don’t know how much you need 2 hands. I broke both elbows and they said at the ER , “oh you should be so happy you didn’t break both wrists.” I was ready to slug them but of course couldn’t.

    Get well soon!

    1. admin Author

      Oh yeah! I remember you broke both elbows. I’m just thankful I only broke one. Still the silliest things are a challenge, like toothpaste and locking my door.

  2. Mom

    Years ago there was a movie serial called The Perils of Pauline”. Every week the serial ended in a cliff hanger with Pauline in (you guessed it) peril. You are starting to remind me of Pauline.
    Sorry! Heal fast!

  3. Sid

    Remember when we met in Kasol’s hostel and talked about our totally mirror image like life experiences right now, (me:Indian being in US & you:American being in India).
    Now reading this post of yours breaking your wrist cannot stop me from thinking about how I broke my ankle here just few months ago.

    Kinda funny, but hey! Get Well Soon 🙂


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