How Can One Wrist Be So Important?

So on Wednesday my left wrist was put into a splint due to a scaphoid fracture.

I have the x-rays with me but don’t travel with a CD drive, so I’ll post those another time.

When I put this out on Twitter I got a lot of awesome replies (thanks everyone!) as well as hearing some worse stories (shoutout to @thomasvjames, @ammeep and @evilsnoofy) which made me feel much better about my situation.

So what can I do right now? While I have some use of the fingers on my left hand (not without pain), the thumb and all wrist movement are out of the question.

I wanted to write something down about how this change has impacted me - both initially and over time. This might also be the longest blog post I’ve written - imagine me pecking at the keyboard, because it’s not far off - so I hope you enjoy it!

The Basics

Getting ready each day is a slower task. Meals in general are a bit more frustrating (even after choosing something favurable to my current skillset). Sleep patterns are worse (getting up a couple of times each night is the norm). The discomfort and pain wear away at you, leaving you exhausted at the end of the day - when everyone is contemplating the night life.

All these things chip away at morale. It sucks, and I’m not good at asking for help with these physical limitations. I could do all this stuff just a few days ago, and despite all advice to the contrary I still feel that I can do this if I push myself just a bit further.

Even things I hadn’t thought about - like clapping and washing hands - are basically impossible. It’s been jarring just how much I need to think about this busted limb - to ensure reflexes don’t kick in and I do something stupid to make the injury worse.

Work Stuff

So I’ve been over in SF this week scheming with the Mac and Windows teams about various things. It’s been a blast, but having the injury occur midway through has been a total shock to my system. For the rest of the week I’ve been playing catch-up and still feeling like I’m just continue to fall behind.

I know that sounds unfair to my awesome teammates, but consider these factors:

  • I’ve had to throw away years of muscle memory and touch typing skills, so coding anything now takes much more longer
  • All the keyboard shortcuts I’ve learned which depended on my left hand (i.e. anything using ALT, CTRL, Shift) now need to be remapped (if possible) and finding all the locations to do this is going to be a tedious task
  • Emails, chat, any sort of online communications now take longer - and it feels like I have a finite number of keystrokes I can do each day purely due to knowing how limited my typing speed now is.

At it’s most basic level, my job is to write code using a keyboard - there’s other things I can be doing, but I don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines cheering on my colleagues. I want to be out there, involved with everything that’s currently happening.


I want to use this time to reaquaint myself with vim and VsVim - people have pointed me to some helpful resources - to help with navigating files quickly. I’m also looking to customize ReSharper so the shortcuts are more friendly for my MBP setup.

So here’s my first tip about remapping VS shortcuts:

Under Tools | Options you can change commands from Visual Studio and other extensions. But a limitation of the Mac keyboard is that the right Alt key doesn’t respond to the Alt+Enter context menu that ReSharper surfaces based on youe cursor position (or perhaps this is Parallels making up for a lack of right CTRL?)

To fix this, select the ReSharper_AltEnter command. Under Use new shortcut in find Text Editor, then press the gesture you want, and click Assign. Repeat it for XAML UI Designer and your setup should be like this:

Given how so much of ReSharper’s shortcuts use CTRL, this is going to be an absolute pain to do, so I’m going to just stick to using the Refactor This shortcut (now Alt+Ctrl+Shift+R) for simplicity’s sake.

Non-Work Stuff

While these above paragraphs do make me sound pretty depressied, being surrounded by colleagues throughout all this has provided for much entertainment to cheer me up.

Some examples:

  • people referring to me as “CAPS LOCK”
  • suggestions for modifications to the cast so I could - hold a martini glass, carry a towel and act like a waiter, carry a protest sign
  • as my splint is set so I’m giving a “thumbs up” sign, people will ask me how I’m doing and then follow up with a “I don’t understand, is there some sort of sign you can use?” joke
  • being called out in our Friday afternoon catchup about how I now “can’t give bad feedback” but then turning the tables by demonstrating how (very slowly) I can give a thumbs down.
  • being assigned the disabled-friendly seat at the bar one evening

It’s going to be hard going back to Sydney and working remotely, but the support from my colleagues have been amazing and helped greatly with the adjustment.

What’s Next?

I consider myself fortunate that I was able to avoid a hospital stay and surgery. I’ve been given a tentative estimate of 4-6 weeks in a splint - but I’ll be following up again shortly after I get back to Australia, so hopefully that’s on track.