On being a one-armed coder

by | Jul 14, 2013

To pay the rent while looking for a job in programming, I took a job washing cars. It’s easy work and I’m good at it, but on the third day I broke my elbow.



It happened at bike polo that night. After colliding with 2 guys in a scrum and hitting the ground pretty hard, the pain in my elbow kept getting worse instead of better. After 20 minutes I was shaking uncontrollably. A visitor from Texas, Dominic, kindly escorted me to the emergency room, where he got to enjoy the beauty of Canadian healthcare.

So now my left arm is splinted up and I get to enjoy a month at half speed.

Splint selfie

Splint selfie

Some stuff I’m grateful for:

  1. I was wearing my helmet for a change. I hit my head quite hard. 
  2. The break is not very bad – the bone is still aligned properly.
  3. It was my left arm.
  4. I sold my motorbike 3 weeks ago and replaced it with an automatic station wagon with power steering. Nice timing!
  5. My boss wants me back washing cars when I’m better, though I had only been at the job 3 days.
  6. I now have another month or so to continue working on projects and looking for a job in my field, with a decent enough labor job waiting if it doesn’t work out.
  7. The bike shop boys are perfectly happy to have me hanging around being useless.

Some stuff that really sucks:

  1. The good attitude ends right here. Seriously, this is bs. I’m sick with a cold and can’t even do something like swim or ride bikes to distract myself. I’m at home laptopping, which also sucks. Typing one handed is straining a bunch of different muscles, and the cold fuzziness make it tough to concentrate. I’m miserable. 
  2. This post was going to be a lot more interesting, but long-form typing is way too annoying right now.

How I’m adapting:

Button down shirts. One-handed egg-cracking. Letting the roommate handle dishes. Cmd-c and -v even more than usual. Showers aren’t happening – saran wrapped baths maybe every other day. Coffee is done by boiling on the stove instead of using the French press. Drinking endless water in the hope that it’ll magically cure me. Reading some reference material that I’ve never gotten around to before. Finishing up some contract data entry work. Making a website using CakePHP for practice and maybe profit. Tomorrow, hanging out at the bike shop for one-handed tube patching and customer greeting.

Being sick and unemployed just isn’t a good enough excuse for idleness. There’s a ton of stuff I can do to be useful to my friends and improve myself, so I’m slowly, painfully, miserably doing it. But yeah, for the record, I freaking hate this. Never break your elbow.