Tell me the one about the armless designer

Tell me the one about the armless designer

On May 9, 2017 at 6:59am – I had two working arms. Two minutes later, I didn’t.

Spoiler alert: I’m fine now. So I got that goin’ for me.

Several years ago, I took some good advice and purchased disability insurance. Being self-employed and the sole earner in my household, I needed to plan for the unexpected. So, I pay a bit every month against the chance that one day I might, for instance, break both of my arms. At the time that I bought the insurance I literally had the thought – what would it take for me not to be able to work? What I thought was, “Well…two broken arms would do it”.

Well folks, this actually happened to me that morning in May. I tripped and fell, hard. In the street outside a coffee shop. Nothing demonstrably different from any other fall I have taken in my lifetime, except this time I ended up with two broken arms. A break in my right elbow and another pretty nasty one in my left shoulder.

Holy. Moly.

Before anyone freaks out – I’m good now. I’m about 90-95% back to normal, just working on strength and mobility. For all intents and purposes, I am A-OK.

The first week was especially tough. An immobilization sling strapped my left arm tight to my torso, and a plaster splint from my wrist to my shoulder arrested my right arm at a 90° angle all week. If not for the help of my amazing boyfriend and generous friends and family, I would have been stuck in the hospital during that time, unable to do some of the most basic things like feeding myself or getting dressed. Luckily, that phase only lasted one week.

So how’s that disability insurance working for me?

Well I’m glad I have it, but it turns out two broken arms is not enough for the coverage to kick in. Terrific. So – I worked. With two broken arms. And didn’t tell anyone except those in my “need-to-know” circle.

I didn’t tell anyone because I was worried that well-meaning clients would hold back on giving me work so I would have time to convalesce. It’s exactly what I would have done had I been one of them, but that was the last thing I wanted to happen.

Even with a decent health insurance policy, you never really know what’s going to happen until something happens. I was worried that I could be in for some insane and unexpected bill from the hospital for all this. You hear these stories all the time. So I worked, yes I did, the whole time.

As it turns out, my health insurance was sufficient and I was covered outside of co-pays. Phew. And I got through the following weeks of work too, one step at a time. I rescheduled in-person meetings and begged a little extra time on pending deadlines since I was moving slower than usual. I informed very few clients – very few people in general – of my sorry state. In fact, until the posting of this blog, only a handful of people were aware that anything was awry.

It’s amazing what can be done between turning on dictation and hovering my arm over the track pad. I was able to keep up with everything, if you can believe it. Everything except for this blog. This is the first new post since that day in May. I gave myself permission to let my marketing efforts slide for a few weeks. And I waffled quite a bit about posting this story… too personal? Will anyone care? Does it belong on my professional blog? In the end, knowing my audience is full of small business owners, I thought maybe my story will be of interest. Something bad can happen and your life still goes on, you can still run your business. You can be armless and continue.

Moral of the story? I don’t know.

I do know that I am very lucky and extremely grateful to have have some amazing loved ones around me who were instrumental in helping me through this. And also, that I actually can work with two broken arms if I need to. So I got that goin’ for me. Which is nice.

Rochelle Weiner Carr
  • John Axne
    Posted at 20:55h, 13 July Reply

    Wow! I’ve always wondered iwhat it would take for disability insurance to kick in. Im amazed that 2 broken arms did not qualify. Was it because the length of time to heal wasn’t long enough or that it wasn’t permanent damage?

    Glad to hear you made it through it all. I’m really glad you shared this story. I too am the one bringing in the money for the family. Can’t imagine what I’d do right now I that happened.

    My wife is running for US Congress here in Iowa. One of the big issues here is single family health insurance and one of many reasons she is running for office. This system is crazy for us small independent freelance type of companies. Glad to hear you were covered with the copay too.



    • andiamo2
      Posted at 09:38h, 14 July Reply

      Yes – the length of time was the issue, at least for the policy I purchased. By the time I got it going and it started kicking in, I would have been already mostly healed. It’s really more for a long term disability, not for something like broken bones. Nice to hear from you! and best wishes to your wife, how exciting!!

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