A handy guide for the unfortunate soul who managed to break both wrists, at the same time.
Leaving the Hospital Blues
Cheer up. The worst is now behind you. Surgery over. Pain under control. It might have been your head or your spine. In seven short weeks the casts will be off and life will resume.
Fun and Interesting Fact #1
We are all born with a natural instinct to fling our arms backward to stop a fall. This is known as the Moro Reflex. Babies are born with it. It is our bodies automatic response to a sudden loss of support. Nature intended our arms to reduce the likeliness of serious impact thus protecting our brains and backbone.
Fun Fact #2
The arm is the second most common bone to break (after the collar bone) and the wrist is the most common part of the arm to break.
You are now at home having been given this basic medical advice.
- Don’t lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee
- Don’t get your bandages wet
- See you in seven days to get your staples out
- Take tylenol 3s for pain.
Your arms are wrapped up to your knuckles and those swollen fingers pointing out can’t grasp or hold a thing.
Immediately get yourself a caring, compassionate and very patient caregiver. This is a 24 hour job, especially if you have a small bladder and require middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. This treasured caregiver will be your hands for the next four/five days for EVERYTHING.
Just some of the countless caregiver job duties:
- Undo your fly; pull down your pants and underpants; wait for you; pull up underpants, pants and zip up fly. Repeat 10 – 15 times per day, depending on liquid intake.
- Brush your teeth
- Comb your hair
- Open all doors
- Hold the damn coffee cup which you are suppose to be able to hold
- Hold the too drippy wet facecloth to wash your face and under arms
- Manage all cooking, cleaning and shopping
- Be courteous in the middle of the night when you are cold and the sheet/blanket has slipped off your shoulders and your poor fat fingers can’t grab hold of it to pull the said sheet/blanket up over your cold shoulders.
First Week Complete – Staples Removed
Fun day #1 activity:
You get to stylize your new fiberglass casts. Be ready for this. The nurse will ask you to choose the colour of fiberglass you want to wear. My hospital choices: dark and light green, pink, red, purple, mauve, yellow, dark and light blue and brown.
(Side bar topic – I would love to know the type of individual who would select a brown fiberglass cast. Really? Are they depressed? goth? a civil servant who wants it to match their sweater vest?
I imagine this brown loving individual to be very steady and reliable with a keen sense of duty and responsibility. They probably take their obligations very seriously….. hmmmm…. Further note to self – Look into brown loving individuals as potential back-up caregivers)
Fun day #2 activity:
Get a manicure and consider coordinating your new cast to match the nails.
Living With Two Fiberglass Casts
Fiberglass is murder to wear. It is extremely rough- like a nail file or rasp. It cuts into your poor skin. It snags delicate clothing with sweaters and lingerie. It is like living with an angry cat.
Extremely Valuable Tips that no one tells you:
- Purchase some Coban self-adherent medical wrap and secure this dressing around your thumb where it meets the fiberglass. Chafing reduced.
- Run to Home Depot and purchase a bidet insert for your toilet. Do this before day two and you and your treasured caregiver will have averted a very nasty experience. (Note – – this tip may save a marriage) Fortunately those Tylenol 3s are mildy constipating with is a blessing in disguise. For only $69.00 CDN you can purpose a small insert for your toilet which gently sprays water and cleans your anal area. No plumbing is required. Brondell – “PureSpa” is the brand name I personally am familiar with. Yabba dabba doo!
- Purchase lots of hand sanitizer and sterilized wipes. It will be seven weeks before you can thoroughly wash your hands again. (Think about that, will you)
- Purchase dry shampoo. Showers and washing your hair is beyong exhausting without the use of hands.
- Spend the money and purchase two thick plastic cast covers from a medical supply store. They are outrageously expensive and have no design features. Mine were not even tapered nor did they have any thumbs or fingers – just wide stump endings, slippery as heck when wet and soapy but seven weeks is a very long time to not enjoy a thorough cleaning.
- Purchase several rubber gloves in size extra large and cut slips on both sides to allow them to slide up over the casts. These are handy when applying moisturizer on your face, or doing other messy wet jobs. (See point 3 above and cringe again)
- Purchase some reusable straws for your beverages until you can lift a cup of tea/coffee.
- Wear loose fitting elasticized pants for quick accident-proof pull downs.
- Save all thick elastics and use these when showering with your stupid plastic cast covers. You can create a thumb which is necessary if you want to hold anything like soap, shampoo or a face cloth.
- Before entering the shower and donning your thick plastic cast covers with no fingers – pour shampoo onto a facecloth and have this waiting for you inside the shower. Rub the soapy cloth over your wet hair and use as a body wash. It is much easy to hold when wet and lighter. Also when it slips repeatedly out of your grasp and falls onto your toes it doesn’t hurt as much as a shampoo bottle.
Positive Outcomes About this Whole Experience
You will meet a tons of friendly super-talkative strangers who will laugh and want to talk about your situation.
Lots of neighbors and friends will step forward with concerned good wishes and prepared meals. You will feel loved.
Negative or Not-So-Fun Facts About this Whole Experience *
- Over 80% of all fractures in people over 50 are caused by osteoporosis.
- 1 in 3 women will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime.
- 2 million Canadians are affected by osteoporosis
- Women are 4 times more likely to have osteoporosis than men
* taken: from Osteoporosis.ca
Post Script – for posterity
These dates are being included here because shortly my personal experience will largely be forgotten and I will fumble over what year it even happened
- Broke wrists: Canoe Lake, Sat. May 11, 2019
- Surgery on both wrists with hardware: Sun. May 12
- Staples removed: May 22
- X rays and first fiberglass casts: June 12
- Casts off: June 28
- Last day of physio: August 16