Life Post-Cast: Brave New World, Again

person right hand
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My cast came off! I started therapy. I had lots of questions:
Would I use a splint or brace? (No).
Would I need more time in a new cast? (No).
What would my skin look and feel like? (It was scaly, dry and brownish).
Did I ‘lose’ muscle? (No, just flexibility. My muscles were Very tight!!)
What exercises would I need? (Lots of painful stretches).
How was my range of motion? (Wrist had some. Fingers, there wasn’t much. My fist was non-existent.)

I still had to ice my wrist and hand regularly and both were Very swollen.  I didn’t need the sling anymore except if there was pain.  Mostly, that wasn’t a problem, at least not in my arm. My hand and wrist were another matter.

I tried not to worry about how this would turn out, but I did wonder, a lot, about the end result. Would I get my hand “back” and when? Both in-office therapy and home exercises hurt, A LOT! And this would go on for 12 weeks, three times a week.

I had to keep doing the exercises, regardless of the pain. Otherwise, I might not get back to full function, and that was definitely a concern.

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“A Day in the Life of Me”, Preparing for the Day with One Hand/Arm

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Here is what it was like getting dressed daily using only one hand/arm. First, I slowly put on my underwear. Then I fastened my bra and pulled it over my head and adjusted it. I picked up my shirt and arranged the sleeves. I put one arm in, then put it over my head, then in went the other arm. I rolled up a pantleg with my good hand and stepped through the hole. I repeated this for the other leg. I pulled up each side and straightened everything out.
For my hair, I pulled a tied bandana (headband) over my head, then arranged my hair, and pulled the bandana over my hair. As it was summer, I would have liked to put my hair up in a ponytail, but that was not possible without help.
For my feet, thank God it was summer so sandals were the rule of the day. I wore Teva sandals almost everyday because they had velcro, which I was very thankful for. Now, I do have elastic laces in my sneakers for “ease of operation”.
My right hand and arm were “out of the loop” and still are playing catch up. I am still not supposed to do anything involving any kind of weight on that side. So, I don’t. Someday, soon I hope, things will be back to normal, on both sides, for getting dressed and everything else.

Advantages & Disadvantages

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Here are some Positives and Negatives of having a cast, a.k.a. the use of only one arm
(+ = positive, – = negative):
– A cast in 90* weather ain’t fun because you can’t scratch inside [and no, I didn’t resort to knitting needles].

–> + People help you when they see a cast.

– Your fingers, etc. get swollen if/when they are not elevated.

–> + You acquire a new appreciation for ice.

– Opening things is a serious challenge.

–> + You start thinking of new inventions.

– Typing is hard and takes a long time.

–> + Thank goodness for speech recognition software.

– Lifting things using your fingers is a no-no.

–> + With a cast, there is a broader surface to balance things on next to your body.

– There are a lot of things you now can’t do which gives you

–> + an appreciation for all the things you are usually able to do and used to take for granted.

One-Handed Wonder?

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How does one tie anything with one hand? Using teeth was a no-no from dentists. Oh well. And forget about hair elastics as they were impossible. I started wearing rolled bandanas as headbands. Tying shoes proved to be very hard. Thank God for elastic laces, and that I didn’t have to worry about neckties. Just had to get me some “e-laces”. The search was on.

I was still blessed with one good, -non-dominant-, hand, and trying to keep it that way. I was extra vigilant while walking. And I made sure my floor was clear of “hazards”. No more accidents, please. Again, it was amazing what is taken for granted.

I couldn’t lift, in any way, with the hand or fingers. This made for inventive new ways of doing things. I started balancing things on my cast. I carried little items in the sling. I clipped my keys to loops and rings on my purse, etc. My purse was now a cross-body bag so it wouldn’t fall off a shoulder. I carried some things between my arm and body when there was no other choice. And people do ‘magically’ offer to help sometimes when they see the sling/cast.

I was living a one-handed life, albeit temporary, and appreciating the two-handed life more every day.