As most of you know I have broken my arm. When chatting with Grace and Ellie the other day, they thought it would be fun and perhaps informative if I told you what life is like with my dominant arm out of action.
If I explain first that I have a an upper humerus fracture which is also impacted. Last week I don’t think I could’ve written this post as my sense of humour as well as my humerus bone were both impaired. However 10 days later I am more on top of the situation and I’m functioning reasonably well (doing nothing) albeit very slowly. But as someone said to me, “going it alone is not an option.”
First and foremost you have no idea, until it happens, how much we use the muscles in our upper arms and shoulders. Every time you stand up or sit down you engage these muscles and consequently shooting pains run up your arm and across your back. In the beginning my very patient OH would pull me up so that I did not have to use any muscles; but you soon realise how often this service is required, so you quickly have to re- think. I learnt that if I shuffled to the edge of my seat and then held my right arm with my left, around the break, I could stand by engaging my core and thigh muscles. Consequently I could stand and sit with relative ease. This was vital when going to the loo and probably was helpful with protecting the marital relationship!
As I am not wearing a cast, I am able to take off the sling and shower reasonably successfully. Flip lids are essential as pump action or screw tops involve both a second hand and muscle action. I’m lucky to have short hair, so washing that is not a problem. A non-slip mat in the shower (and possibly all around the house!) is advisable. The hot water of the shower is very soothing on my back and shoulders which are bearing the brunt of this break – the only total solution would be a full-time physio on hand! I experienced this when a girlfriend, who is a physio, came to supper on Saturday evening. She massaged my shoulder blades and neck which was the only time I have been pain-free. I suggested to my LH that he let her tyres down and locked her in our house, but I’m not sure if our friendship could have endured this temporary imprisonment!
The one movement that is out of the question is moving my arm outwards i.e. I can’t do my funky chicken dance! This is quite tricky when trying to wash my underarm and it is also quite essential. Once again a helpful friend suggested baby wipes which have been very useful all round.
Getting dressed is not so easy. I have no idea how people manage without a cooperative husband/partner. There are various items of a women’s apparel that are a complete no-no with one arm – but which cannot be discarded unless you happen to be a bra burning feminist of the 60s. So the bra and knickers are number one on this list. Knickers should be easy to pull up and down. In practice however, down is achievable but up requires you to be a hula hoop champion, wriggling and twisting and even then you can never get them straight so they do become rather irritating. The bra is simple but does require two people therefore, again, I had to rethink and I chose to wear a body. This sits easier however the poppers are challenging with one hand and on one occasion I had to implore my husband to complete the task. He was heard to say, “This brings back happy memories“, but we won and another crisis was averted!
Socks are impossible. So furry slippers are the obvious solution but can be a bit slippery so you need something that has a proper sole. My choice was Mahabis and because they have an indoor and outdoor sole they have worked well. All trousers have to have an elasticated waist as buttons and zips are frustratingly difficult to do up one-handed. For the top half, Grace sent me some zip up hoodies in large sizes so that I could accommodate my sling underneath. This does keep my broken arm warm however it is best to have the sling visible, when out in public, so that people can avoid bashing it. On this note I experienced some intolerance when I went to the theatre to see The Entertainer with Kenneth Branagh, a treat I had been looking forward to for some time. The play was worth the effort. However when I asked one lady to be careful as she shuffled past me to get to her seat, I overheard her say to her friend that I should stay at home if I was worried about someone bashing my arm. I hope she never breaks a bone!
Another tip is to tell your neighbours of your predicament so that they are forewarned in case you get stuck and are on your own, so need rescuing. This happened to me once when I was in bed and I had slipped down so that when I woke up I found I could not sit up without terrific pain and I needed someone to pull me up. Keep the mobile phone close as after a quick call, help was on its way.
Pain relief is available in the form of codeine. However every single person that I have told has advised me to drink prune juice or take Senokot for the obvious reasons. Constipation would not be welcome in my current state. Prune juice is quite disgusting; so I found a slightly more pleasant form – a prune yoghurt. Talking of food there is a strong possibility that you will eat a lot of carbs. Visitors come bearing boxes of chocolates and apart from opening the packaging, the rest is easy with one hand. So with my gym membership on hold and even walking not an option in this weather, the chances are I will still be wearing size 14 tops and ponchos (a current fashion solution) even when I have discarded the sling.
The positives are that I have watched all of House of Cards, The Crown, and Grace and Frankie on Netflix which had been on my list to do for some time and which I can highly recommend. I am now more in the mood to read books as for the first 10 days TV seemed to require less concentration.
However after all of this being housebound I will have to face up two weeks of painful physio. The moral of this story is not to going running on a frosty morning with an eight month old puppy!
This post was written using the Apple dictation facility. Apart from always putting a capital letter after a comma, and struggling with names, it is very efficient and I may not return to typing at all.