One Broken Thumb-Up: Veronica Farrell

Two weeks ago one of those things happened that you really don’t expect to happen. I broke a bone. My thumb to be exact. My right thumb if we’re going to get really specific. I broke it at swim practice. Now, before you all start thinking “how on earth do you break a bone swimming,” I broke it against the wall on a butterfly finish.

Yes, I am right handed. Yes, writing left-handed has been a challenge. No, I don’t know how long I’ll be in this brace. Yes, it hurts – a lot.

Life does not stop during a service year. I’ve never been so far from home and even though I absolutely love it out here in Colorado, it’s tough when life just keeps on happening. Besides breaking a thumb just under two months out from the end of this program when job and apartment hunting are stressing me (anybody have connections with a job opening?), two days later I got jalapeno juice on my face and spent 10 minutes soaking it in a bowl of milk. My car has broken down twice. Walgreens has failed to fill all three of my prescriptions on time at least once, one of them two times. Denver Health did not get me seen within my two week referral window and gave me misleading information, sending me back to urgent care for resources I was told I could no longer receive upon my arrival. Life happens, right? Excuse me, shit happens.

I love to be active and independent and this broken thumb is seriously getting in the way. Even though the rest of my fingers are fine, I still can’t grip anything and I have a brace that goes ¾ of the way up my forearm. I can’t use a can opener. I have to cross my left arm over in my car to start the engine. Bags have to be opened with my teeth. I have to button pants and blouses with one hand. If I’m using my good hand to hold something, I can’t open a door. I can’t properly scrub the left side of my body in the shower. And much, much more.

It’s been a bummer, but I’m so grateful to be living in a community that supports me. My roommates have put my hair up, brought me water, fed me medication, researched ways to cure jalapeno juice burns, and even clipped my fingernails. This experience has also made me even more aware of my privileges. Despite being college-educated the health care system is extremely frustrating and circuitous. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the time to make calls to clear up information and have helpful conversations with medical professionals. Program Director Rebecca Crummey has checked up on me numerous times and my supervisor has made sure to emphasize I can take time off. Not many individuals have bosses that demonstrate such a level of concern.

Now that I’m out of college, “life” is no longer just a pushed up deadline, last minute reading assignment, surprise short answer quiz, or keynote speaker cancellation. Suddenly, in this year far away from home, not only am I working my first 9 to 5 living in a house with people who used to be total strangers, I’m dealing with some new “life” circumstances. The past two weeks, I’ve been reminded often of meeting people where they are. Life happens. It happens a lot and it’s not always fun. Think twice before making a judgement on someone’s situation or how they’re handling it!

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