robyn sullivan violins

hand-made violins, violas, and cellos

A One Handed Violin maker is like…

So I was having a great time making my latest violin. I was even putting extra hours in at the shop for the first time in ages.  On Saturday July 3 I finished the rib assembly and had put in and trimmed the first set of linings.  A perfect pausing point, because my boss would be returning from camping on Monday and I was anticipating going back to doing repair and restoration.  Well, plans have changed.

I ride my bike to and from work.  My husband and I only have one car between us and his workplace is farther away so he has it 95% of the time.  I like biking to work, it’s only a 3 mile ride and is a nice ride especially when the weather is good.

My usual commute route is split between a lovely bike and pedestrian path along Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee streets.  On this particular Saturday I was faced with heavy car and pedestrian traffic.  Summerfest, the huge Milwaukee music festival was in full swing and people were also flooding the downtown area for the holiday fireworks that would be happening later that night.

I made my way through the street traffic and got on the bike path.  Now instead of cars there were people in my way.  The only predictable traffic pattern people follow when they’re walking is to consistently get in the way of those trying to get around them.  So I decide the best way to get around the crowd of people in front of me is to hop onto the grass and ride around them.  When I went to get back onto the paved path I saw too late that the concrete was a good 2 inches above the grass.  My front tire was almost parallel to that ledge and caught it.  I however kept going without my bike onto the path and onto my left hand and face.  Thank goodness I always wear a helmet.

I called my husband to pick me up.  My bike was busted.   I was on the side of the path bleeding and cradling my left wrist and no one batted an eye or offered to help for over 20 minutes.  Finally a Summerfest employee offered me a ride in his cart to a spot where my husband could pick me up.

Thankfully the ER was slow that day and I got in and was given x-rays pretty quickly.  Fractured radius and ulna just below the wrist.  Well crap.

I was pumped full of morphine, cleaned up, splinted, wrapped, given a sling, a copy of my x-rays and info for a doctor to call for follow up treatment.  Happy Independence Day!

I showed up for work the following Monday.  My condition was quite the surprise for my boss to come back to.  We talked a bit and my boss said that I should go home and rest, but we would brainstorm and talk on Tuesday and come up with something for me to do.

I went to the orthopaedic doctor the next day and exchanged my clunky ER splint for a purple waterproof cast.  The doctor forbid me from trying to do anything with my left hand, no more biking or running for at least 3 weeks and that triathlon I had signed up for in August was out.  Violin work would also obviously be out.

So my boss and I have worked out a deal where I still come into the shop every day for 3 hours of one handed cleaning and organizing.  I’m pretty sure he’s more upset about my broken wrist than I am.  I’ve resigned myself to my predicament and I’m just rolling with it.  Six weeks of my life in the grand scheme of things isn’t much.  It’s annoying to be incapacitated, and really annoying to take the stupid bus to work, but I’ll heal and things will go back to normal soon enough.

The best analogy I’ve thought of for my current situation is this: “A one handed violin maker is like an Iphone with no reception or  wifi.”

1 Comment

    Let’s see, “A One Handed Violin Maker is like….”

    …a dog walker with no feet.

    …a night watchman in sunglasses.

    …a ballpark vendor with a peanut allergy.

    …a violin maker with three kids and a husband overseas. (Wait, you’re still probably getting further on your instruments than I am!)

    Hope you heal soon, Robyn!

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