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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Therapy begins…

person two hand leaning on wall
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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.

Advantages & Disadvantages

joy painting brush
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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.