How do you cope with a broken wrist?
September 26, 2005 9:57 PM   Subscribe

How do I temporarily get about in life one handed? I have six weeks until the cast comes off my left hand.

So I broke my arm (radius bone) right above my wrist. (I fell from a four foot platform standing straight up and caught myself with an outstretched hand). I'm right handed, which helps things, as I can still write and do most of my school work (I'm a senior in college). However, having never broken a bone before, I'm rather anxious about doing anything with my left hand (my thumb is imobilized, my fingers have limited mobility). So, how do I adapt to using one hand only for the next six weeks? (I've already noticed that my typing with one hand is speeding up.)
posted by Hactar to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You will discover talents you never knew you had. You'll be grumpy for a week or so, because it's frustrating to have to do everything so slowly, but then you'll get over it. You'll learn how to use your chin and elbow to help balance and triangulate things.

I broke my dominant arm one summer and spent a sweaty six weeks learning how to do everything in reverse. Moment of triumph: negotiating a very messy meal with left-handed chopsticks.
posted by tangerine at 10:11 PM on September 26, 2005

I second what tangerine said - you'll do a lot better than you think. I was temporarily a left-hemiplegic a few years back... I was able to borrow some items from the hospital to help with food preparation - an electric can opener that could be operated with one hand, a board with spikes to hold a potato in place for peeling, a board with a rim to hold the bread in one place while it was buttered, etc. Elastic shoelaces were useful too.
posted by Pigpen at 10:36 PM on September 26, 2005

I broke my left hand, but was left-handed. From what I remember, other than writing right-handed, I got used to it pretty quickly. I think you don't really need to worry about it. Be careful driving -- it is more dangerous with only one hand. I didn't do it much.

The more you can use your fingers, the easier recovery will be. But without a thumb it's generally just balancing stuff.

Your cast is good for clubbing folks that bother you after the first couple of weeks.

For the most part it will all come pretty naturally. It'll be inconvenient, but we are very adaptable creatures.
posted by teece at 11:09 PM on September 26, 2005

I can't find it, but I know someone has posted this question before, except about his right hand. Anyone?
posted by abcde at 12:09 AM on September 27, 2005

I had a bad break arm with resulting nerve damage that left me one armed for almost 6 months. It's not easy at first but you get used to it.. the little things annoyed me most like how akward putting on socks or buttering toast became!

In the long run though it's not all that hard to adapt - especially as you can still use your other hand to block/hold things in place from the sound of it.
posted by Leud at 4:21 AM on September 27, 2005

I broke both wrists several years ago (also in college), and felt completely helpless. Actually had to have my roommate zip up my pants and tie my shoes, etc...

Building on what everyone else has said, though, you'll quickly learn to adapt. One of the things I picked up quickly was the location of all the handicapped-accessible doors on campus...the ones with the little push plate to open them. That might be a thought if you're still nervous about using either hand.

Sounds like you're not worried about school being a problem, but I wouldn't hesitate to let my professors know what happened if you run into any problems. I ended up having to take one multiple choice final with a big Sharpie marker because it was the only thing I could hold between both hands and use with any degree of accuracy.

Also, when this is all over, think about asking your doctor for some kind of physical therapy (don't know how bad your injury was). It's a royal pain (literally), but made all the difference in my recovery. I can't recommend this highly enough. It's more than worth it if your injury is serious enough to raise questions about your ability to return to 100% on your own.

On a lighter note, I had to have the pins in for so long that I got really good at making up stories about how it happened. You can only tell the "I broke them on a jetski" story so many times before it gets really old, so I had a lot of fun making up stories to tell complete strangers. Spent quite a while one night telling a girl how I was injured in the running of the bulls.
posted by richmondparker at 5:15 AM on September 27, 2005

abcde: Is this the post you were referring to?

I posted in that thread originally, and much of what I said there, still stands. Since I'm permanently one handed (well, 1.5 handed I guess since I only have gross motor skills in one hand), I would say my biggest piece of advice is to not be discouraged. Things will take longer to accomplish (even if you think they won't), you might feel frustrated that you can't do some things you normally do; but this is where you learn to adapt. I use many tricks through each day, and sometimes you look silly doing these little tricks, but after some trial and error, they usually work.

For example, I live in an apartment- and my keychain has a set of 4 keys to enter the building. Since the keys didn't come on a keyring, I had to put them on myself (a formable task for people with even 2 hands!). So, I adapted. I took a pair of tweezers, wiggled them in between the two metal loops of the keyring to create a gap between the two rings and slid my keys on that way. Your mileage may vary, but don't be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to adapting to a two handed world. Good Luck!
posted by carabiner at 5:59 AM on September 27, 2005

You'll find most things are not that hard. Since it's your left, and non-dominant hand, you will probably find that the most difficult thing to do is bathe. It's hot, uncomfortable, and cumbersome to have a plastic bag rubber-banded over your forearm, and it makes washing the opposite arm a bit of an adventure.

Honestly, having your right arm in a cast may be worse even if you're right-handed, because you need your right hand for the gearshift when you drive.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:35 AM on September 27, 2005

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