Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Left Pit: Cockeyed Gratitude

calamaties,  cruising life
Uhhh, that thing's cutting my cast off?  Yup.
This is an ode to those who've broken bones (a new rite of passage for me), or for those curious about how it affects you.  I promise, this my final post on my broken wrist... and yes, it was my dominant hand.  Next post, back to travel adventures!

Funny, the things you learn when a part of your body you normally take for granted demonstrates just how much you rely on it.  My blissful ignorance in this department reminds me of wry joke ... "War is our way of learning geography."  (Cruising, in my unbiased opinion, is a much better way.)

calamaties,  cruising life
Here it goes.

calamaties,  cruising life
Pretty clean line.  No skin cut.  Whew!
calamaties,  cruising life
Then the scissors...

My learnings?
calamaties,  cruising life
Yuck.  Dirty and stinky!  But... Off! Yay!

  • Casts these days, if made of fiberglass (mine was) are not heavy like the old plaster casts
  • I didn't itch, but I did hurt, a lot more than expected
  • Casts stink like old cheese because you can't wash under them
  • It matters less whether it's your dominant hand and more that you don''t have the full use of both hands
  • Particularly tough to do, initially
    • Putting on a bra (mine a back fastened -- then I learned to start the back to the front then slide them around and then slip into the straps)
    • Taking a shower (thanks, Bertie for setting me up with one of those thick plastic cast covers with the broad rubber gasket -- wayyyy better than a dry cleaning or garbage bag) 
      • I was unable for the entire time to wash my left armpit (hence the blog title); Wayne took pity a few times and pitched in and did it for me
    • Opening a can with a can opener
    • Opening jars, though usually I could hold it between my thighs and open it with my unbroken wrist hand
    • Chopping veggies (pre-chopped onions, celery and green pepper had an odd preservative taste)
    • Opening ziplock bags (though I could do it with my teeth filling in for my dominant hand)
    • Writing, especially if filling in little tiny boxes (truly, more a 2-handed operation -- who knew?)
  • For once, was glad our car is an automatic
  • Overall, my cooking suffered
  • Eating with a non-dominant hand isn't hard (tough Wayne graciously cut some of my food for me), but it isn't pretty, either
  • My non-dominant hand became quite capable, given the practice
  • The dremel they use to take a fiberglass cast or splint of is unnerving (the folks using it my did a great job though)
  • Scooters are not ideal for long commutes with lots of busy intersections and bridges (mine's for sale)
calamaties,  cruising life
Not as bad as expected after
2 weeks splint and 6 weeks cast
calamaties,  cruising life
Ugh, lots of gunk and dead skin.
Cleaned up well though.
I really, really miss riding my bicycle - a little less than 4 more weeks and I can ride again
X-rays taking at a hospital are horrifically expensive - still negotiation a $5,100 EMT bill; $2100 was for the x-rays.  I was uninsured when it happened and that caused far more stress than the actual injury.

I celebrated my cast removal by making two unbroken eggs over easy and baking my first from scratch gluten free sandwich bread for Wayne.  The bread, an olive-rosemary recipe from America's Test Kitchen's gluten-free cookbook calls for several minutes using an electric mixer, which I had to mix by hand.  Wayne, aka the bread lover, proclaimed, "It was delicious.  I almost came."

If you've ever broken bones, how did you work around your injuries?

  • calamaties,, cruising life
    At last!  Two eggs, unbroken yolks!
    Location Location
  • We’re temporarily land-bound in Jacksonville, FL. We’re in the throes of planning our next big cruising adventure, to the South Pacific; lots of checklists!   Last weekend we were doing some cleanup and prep work at Green Cove Springs, where our boat is on the hard, for now.  This Galley Wench is looking forward to being able to winch a sail again.  


  1. Don't be afraid of the "Dremel" thing. It does not rotate. It just vibrates. Deb says that could actually be fun! Now the hard part, learning those muscles that have been goofing off the past 6-8 weeks to work all over again. You will get the idea of what arthritis feels like. But work those all you can. I would take three Advil (any generic is fine) twice a day for about 4-5 days. As you use your those stiff muscles it will help reduce the inflammation. You are finished when you don't think about your old break when you use the hand. Ken

  2. Yes, but it does make a wicked noise and gets hot. Ahem, let Deb know.... other vibrational devices are much better for recreational purposes.

    Hand is getting a good workout between cooking, working at West Marine, typing and life in general. Yes, still a little swollen , stiff and sore but definitely getting better. Trust I will be able to winch a sail no problem come December.

  3. Has your wrist tottaly healed?Hope you feel better and dont have any pain.

  4. Hi Alex. Wrist is doing much better, thanks! Today even did some sanding in prep for a boat varnish job. Most of my flexibility is back and just a bit of arthritic-like stiffness in my knuckles. Hoping over time that will go away. Thanks for asking.

    1. Hi Dana.I am glad to hear that you wrist is doing much better.I came across your blog because I am in a cast.I broke my wrist and thumb.3 days ago I had the third cast put on.It is a thumb spica cast.My wrist is getting itchy under the cast.How did you break your wrist?Best wishes and take care.

    2. Hi Alex
      Sorry to hear about the break; broke mine scootering into work - embarrassingly -- hit a curb coming out of a wrong turn and cushioned my scooter's fall agains the curb with my wrist. Just got the you're a.o.k. final Dr visit yesterday. Hope you fare as well. Not sure what to tell you about the itchiness... not something I encountered, though expected it. How did you get your break? Heal well and fast, Alex!

    3. Hi Dana
      I broke my wrist playing soccer with friends.I was running to get the ball,I tripped and landed on my wrist and thumb.Unfortunately,It was a very bad break.Was this the first time you broke your wrist?Take care.

    4. Sorry to hear that Alex. Did or are you going to get surgery? Yes, it was the first time I ever broke any bone(s). I was lucky -- two interns manhandled my wrist into place in ER and I did not need surgery. Splint and cast for about 2 months. Took a long time before they decided surgery was not needed. Fingers crossed you heal as well or better.

    5. In 2 weeks the third cast will be cut off.Then I will have to wear a brace.Luckily,I didnt have to get surgery.Some of my friends signed my cast so it is looking better.How come didnt anybody sign your cast or didnt you decorate it?Best wishes

    6. Yay! Getting the cast off is a big deal. Cool to get the signatures. And thank goodness you didn't need surgery.

      My cast was fiberglass, a material that didn't lend itself well to signing. Was yours plaster?

      Best wishes and happy healing to you, too Alex!

  5. When I broke my wrist and thumb I had to wear a heavy plaster and a sling for the first 4 weeks.The second cast was an orthopedic cast.Now I have a thumb spica cast which is made of plaster.Was your fiberglass cast heavy and uncomfortable?Take care.

  6. Fiberglass cast was quite lightweight. It did hurt pretty bad initially (and I'm pretty tough) as they put it on tightly to hold the bones in place once the swelling went down.

    1. Dana,after you took the cast off did you have to wear a brace?

  7. Hi Dana.How are you?The cast is off.Yesterday I went to the doctor and he cut the cast off.My wrist and thumb healed very well.How many weeks did you have to wear the cast?Best wishes and take care.

  8. Congrats, Alex! Really glad to hear it! I wore a splint for 2 weeks and the cast for 6. You?

    My strength and flexibility keep getting closer and closer to pre-break. I am very pleased.

    Wish you the same!

  9. Hi Dana.The first 4 weeks I had to wear a plaster and a sling.Then I had a thumb spica cast for 4 weeks again and the last 2 weeks I was in a plaster.When I went to the cast room to get the second cast I was surprised of how many colours they had for casts.He asked me what colour I wanted.I went with a light blue cast.Did you choose the colour for your cast?Best wishes.

  10. Hi Alex
    The doc asked me what cast color I wanted, and I said purple. The nurses and I agreed the color he cast me in was blue. No matter, I was looking for something that hid dirt well. Most important, it did the job well without my needing surgery.

    Nice to celebrate having no cast, yes?

  11. Dana,it is very nice to celebrate without a cast.I am trying to be careful not to break a bone again because it is very painful.The most difficult thing to do with the cast was taking a shower.How were you feeling when the doctor was cutting the cast off?Take care.

  12. Yes broken bones really do hurt! Not as bad as the time I herniated my disc, but still pretty bad. A friend pointed me to a thick but flexible plastic/vinyl cast cover which made a huge difference but until my cast was off, I was unable to wash my hair myself. How did you feel when your cast came off? I felt both excited and nervous. That dremel they use to take it off is kind of scary. I was also a little afraid I would would hurt it. Now I don't really think about it. Clambering up and down ladders to do boat work, sanding varnishing, even carrying progressively heavier stuff. But I was on edge for quite a while on what things would hurt. How about you?

  13. When my cast was coming off I was feeling happy and excited.I was 10 weeks in casts and I wanted to get rid of them.My break was called a scaphoid fracture.Which bone did you exactly break?I am so sorry to read that you herniated your disc.How did that happen.Best wishes and take care.

  14. Yes, it is nice to finally be free of the cast!

    Scaphoid fracture sounds exceptionally painful! I broke the ulna and the radius. Clean breaks, but a ligament was pinched between them. They were manhandled into place in the emergency room the day after i broke it; no surgery, thank goodness.

    It's impressive how nicely they've healed. Guessing as you're younger you'll heal even faster and better;).

    Herniated disc was quite a few years ago. Again, no surgery. My family has a weak point in that spot in our backs. Other than that -- pretty darned healthy so in the grand scheme of life, feel pretty lucky.

    West wishes to you, too, Alex - enjoy!

  15. HI Dana.How are you?After your doctor cut the cast off did you need to wear a brace?Best wishes and take care.

  16. Hello & Happy Thanksgiving, Alex.

    I wore the brace for about a month after the cast was off, mostly to make sure I didn't do anything dumb and to reduce the likelihood of overly enthusiastic bone-crunching handshakes for a while. After the first few days with the cast off otherwise I really didn't need it.

    We're getting ready to set sail in the next 1-2 weeks for Australia. Current plan is to spend 2 years doing so. So my wrist's gotten a pretty good workout of late moving and seems to be holding up well. Flexibility is excellent, just still a little stiffness in my knuckles which the Dr said he expected to go away.

    How are you doing?

  17. Hi Dana.I have started physiotherapy.I am wearing a wrist brace too.The flexibility is starting to get better day after day but I have still got stifness which I expect to go away in a few weeks.How were you feeling when you were going to get the cast for your wrist?Best wishes and take care.