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.
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.
My right hand was a LARGE shadow of its former self. It was VERY swollen! It still is swollen but I am starting to see veins and tendons which I think is a good sign. Ice and elevation are the name of the game. My left hand is getting a workout but getting increasing assistance from my right. Remedial everything – getting dressed, eating, opening things, hair care, etc. I sometimes forget that I shouldn’t use my right hand too much, then “ouch” – I remember.
Before now, for arm exercise, I was just raising and lowering my arm with some occasional bicep curls. Oh, and wiggling my fingers. Therapy means, among other things, bending the wrist, forwards and backwards and from side to side. It also involves squeezing the fingers into a fist. One word describes all of this – Ouch!
Ice and elevation are still in play. I wrap my hand at least twice a day and sleep with it at an angle, propped by pillows. I am typing with one hand, slowly adding the other one. I am starting to feed myself with my right hand again. It sounds strange and looks stranger, but I am not quite ready for the “real thing” yet. Mostly I am trying not to get too impatient with the process. Recovery is a slow, steady journey and it has to be. Otherwise, it doesn’t have the desired result, full function and use.
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.