Saturday, April 22, 2006


I took this photo last year. The EXIF data shows the photo was taken on April 27, 2005, the day the cast was removed from my injured arm. I took a photo of my reflection from the bathroom mirror. You can even see the white specks of toothpaste on the glass. I was always messy, moreso when I was forced to use my left hand, after I shattered my right arm bone. The atrophy because of five months of not moving the arm is evident. At the time the photo was taken, I couldn't lift my arm, or bend my elbow.

A bicycle accident caused this. 3 a.m. in Krus na Ligas, UP Campus, and I was drunk. I rode my bike home. It was dark and i failed to see a small hump on the road, and lost control. I fell down, and felt a sharp pain on my right arm.

The alcohol-induced stupor helped numb the pain. I did manage to remember my first aid training from 10 years back, and started assessing the extent of my injury. I jabbed my thumb at the ends of my fingers. I can feel the tips of my fingers. Good sign. My rolled my wrist. So far so good. I tried to bend my elbow, and felt a sharp sting. I reached over with my left hand and tried to feel my right elbow. I was on a dark sidewalk and couldn't see what was wrong, but I could feel a bit of bone sticking out, some wet blood dripping out. I used my left hand to raise the right hand and clasped the left sleeve of my t- shirt, crossing the injured arm in front of my body. Despite the injured elbow, the fingers on my right hand still had grip. I used my left hand to apply pressure on the open wound and stop the bleeding.

"Okey ka lang?" Asked this stranger, cigarette in one hand. He was smoking in front of his garage door, across the sidewalk where I fell down. "Hindi po. Pakitawag po ako nang taxi, at patago nang bike." He threw down his cigarette butt and went to the corner fetch a taxicab. I took the cab, careful to keep a finger jabbed in my elbow to prevent blood from dripping out. Funny how I was still concerned of the taxi driver's seat cover.

Photo shows the six-inch scar on and above my elbow.

I had an operation to reset jigsaw-puzzle arm bone. The orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jose Bayani Aliling, told later that he took more than three hours to reset the bone. It took four stainless-steel spikes to keep the bone fragments in place. He also gave me a plastic cup of bone bits that were too small to reset.


I always considered myself an active person. In UP, I was part of the dragon boat team, climbed with the mountaineers, jogged around campus, rode my mountain bike, played frisbee in the sunken garden. Because I couldn't use my right arm for a while, and couldn't participate in the activities I used to do, I decided to take photos instead. I had always enjoyed taking snapshots, but never took up the hobby seriously until I had too much time to fill because my injured arm prevented me from participating in the activites I loved to do.

Five months in a cast. A few more months in rehab. The arm isn't 100% yet. The right arm is still a bit smaller, less flexible, less stronger than the left. But I can use it well enough. Now, almost a year after my cast was removed, I've managed to run again. I can toss a frisbee, although my forehand flick isn't very impressive. I've regained most of the flexibility back. I ride my bike again, although much more carefully. The arm has improved since I took the photo of myself at the top.

I think the pictures I've taken have also improved a little.



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