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Taking recycling to the extreme

Enthusiastic recycling might have led to injury, but it also came up with novel ideas

Learning the art of dedicated recycling can be a painful experience and a steep learning curve. 

However, one should not have to break an arm to understand just how useful the practice can be.

But that’s exactly what I did. 

A couple of months ago, making an exuberant change of direction in the kitchen, the foot had it in for the arm. Snagging itself on the leg of a chair, it carried the course change to extremes and sent the attached body slamming into the counter.

It’s not easy to reconstruct the exact trajectory after the disbelief of seeing a left hand pointing unerringly to the north-east, but it would appear that the left arm stupidly put itself between the counter and the body before the latter slid gracefully to the floor. 


That was the radius I just heard, giving up to speed, weight, momentum … whatever relevant physics were in play.

Realizing that some expert care and correction were in order, I carried my arm to the phone and called my private emergency number — my daughter in Parksville. 

“I’ll be right there, Mom,” and she was. 

Miraculously, it was a dead slow night in the Emergency room at Nanaimo Regional Genwral Hospital. Paper work, X-rays and a doctor coming to sit beside me. 

“Do you play the piano much?” he asked. 

In other words, “Not for a while, lady.”

By the wee hours of the morning I’d been put out of it, slathered with plaster, and woken up again. By 3 a.m. we were back in Parksville where I spent what was left of the night with my heavy duty Tylenol close at hand.

So began my lopsided month. 

That mother, ‘necessity’ clicked in almost immediately, and invention became the order of the day. I even compiled my own little glossary of tools for various actions that required the opposing force usually provided by one arm/hand against another, so here’s my Broke-Arm Tool Glossary:

Teeth: vise grips

Chin: C-clamp

Knees: portable, dual-jaw bench vise.

But even these modifications could not defeat the safety measures of the pharmacy. 

When the little gratis vial of Tylenol was empty and I faced an uncomfortable night, a friend had my prescription filled and delivered it. After she left I prepared to take my bedtime dosage. 

A %#$#@^* child-proof cap! 

The push-down-and-turn variety. 

None of the above tools were effective on so small and firmly secured an item. 

A hammer worked!

Both the doctor and the “Care of Your Cast” instruction sheet were most vehement about not getting the cast wet. 

Tricky ablutions. 

The suggestions for showering were to wrap the arm in a towel, secure it, cover the towel with a plastic bag, secure it. Sure, no problem … where is my lady-in-waiting?

Then The News stepped in to demonstrate its combined recycling and post-orthopedic care program. 

Said my pharmacy-delivery friend, “How would one of those plastic bags the paper comes in work to cover your arm?” 

What an inspiration. 

With a whole bagful of those slender, arm-with-cast sized bags on hand, showering became almost the joy it once was.

And it was so simple; pull bag over arm to above elbow; hold in place with an elastic band; to ensure total dryness, put on a second bag in the same fashion — “… singing in the shower …” 

(Note: before applying a newspaper bag, check it carefully for driveway abrasions that might cause leakage.)

I never did do much piano playing, but the typing fingers never went out of action … and I never ran out of News bags!

— Nancy Whelan is a regular columnist for The News.