Broken left arm
September 6, 2006 8:56 AM   Subscribe

I broke my left arm going over the handlebars of my bicycle after an encounter with a speed hump this weekend. Luckily I'm right-handed, and although advice from here helps (especially the shoelace tying one), are there any other tips with coping?

I never realised that blowing your nose was so much easier with two hands (I'm going straight into the sink, one-finger on each nostril now). [sorry if that's a bit off, but it's heaps easier than a tissue one-handed]. Any advantage tips are much appreciated too. I plan to carve a pool cue groove in the plaster for deadly shooting at the next meetup.
posted by tellurian to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
FOOSH, or Fall On OutStretched Hands, as I discovered when I fell out of an apricot tree, often results in two broken arms. Consider yourself fortunate that you can wipe your own ass.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:10 AM on September 6, 2006

I actually broke both wrists a while back in a similar accident (jet ski), so I can sympathize. The first tip that comes to mind is to reiterate what has already been said: learn to bring your arms in when you fall or bump into things. This is probably second nature to those of you who do martial arts, but I had never realized how much more sense it makes to allow your torso to absorb impacts...

Also, I found that washing my hair was much easier in the tub where you can just submerge your whole head to rinse, also don't have to worry as much about getting your arm wet.

Depending on how long you'll be in the cast, I'd also suggest that you start having fun with your responses to "how'd you break your arm?". I got so tired of telling people the jetski story that I came up with lots of more interesting tales. Running with the bulls in Pamplona become one of my favorites. It sounds cheesy, but you'd be surprised how quickly you'll get tired of explaining it to everyone.
posted by richmondparker at 9:55 AM on September 6, 2006

i've had 4 broken arms (write your own i-have-4-arms joke) and most of what you really need to know is common sense: keep the cast dry; don't stick anything in there that might break the skin or get lost inside (and you will be sticking things in there -- i recommend cocktail stirrers); try to flex whatever muscles you can so you don't totally atrophy.

on a less practical level, try to find some way to enjoy your cast, since you'll be stuck with it for a while. i had my most recent cast illustrated by a co-worker, which was nice because it gave people something to ask about besides "what happened?"

be prepared to get that question a lot. it drives me crazy. i have fun making up improbable explanations to see what i can get away with -- skydiving accident, shark attack, etc. my favorite is "i got it asking nosy questions."
posted by sonofslim at 9:55 AM on September 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Having nearly done this myself recently and currently taking care of Mr Gomichild who has a broken ankle, much sympathy to you.

Are you able to sleep OK? Both of us found this to be the biggest challenge - getting comfy in bed. Also that memory of me hitting the ground kept coming back when I was trying to relax. It's said sleep and rest is important to heal but it was difficult not to think of what happened and have all my nerves on edge when I did.

I tried to make sure that I had lots of cushions around me to sleep, and tried to breathe deeply to drop off and think happy thoughts. Mr Gomichild is lucky because he doesn't remember actually flying through the air and smacking into the ground so he didn't have this issue however.
posted by gomichild at 10:11 AM on September 6, 2006

Slow down. Then, move a bit slower. When my hand was broken (right hand, and I'm mostly right handed), I found I could do much more than I ever thought I could if I slowed way down, and thought my way through things before starting.

In fact, the only thing I couldn't do was drive my truck, which was a stick. Even managed to wash my long hair one handed, although rinsing took a *lot* longer, and there may still be some soap in there, years later.

At least you don't have to explain that you broke your hand punching a tree.
posted by QIbHom at 10:47 AM on September 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Broken left (non-dominant) elbow here. Sleeping can indeed be hard -- I found the most comfortable position to be arm bent about 90 degrees (if that's possible for you), pillow on chest, arm resting on pillow, another pillow beside arm to keep it from sliding off first pillow. I found it possible to shower by wrapping a trashbag around my cast, then sticking my arm outside the shower curtain for the duration of the shower. This may be harder if the curtain is on your right when facing the showerhead. It will also get your bathroom all wet.

Maybe it would help if you mentioned some specific things you were finding difficult, and all of us experienced broken people can share tips.

Miscellanous recommendations:

If and when your doctor recommends physical therapy, do it and be hardcore about it. PTs can do amazing things with really messed-up pieces of bodily equipment.

If you are on strong painkillers, watch lots of VH1. VH1 goes great with strong painkillers.
posted by escabeche at 11:52 AM on September 6, 2006

I love you all very much. You are a bunch of loonies. All of you. But I seriously love you all. But you get no ticks, because you all loonies. If you need a tick - email me, you loonies [no spam, just tick].
posted by tellurian at 12:02 PM on September 6, 2006

So....... that's a yes on the strong painkillers?
posted by escabeche at 12:06 PM on September 6, 2006

You might notice that the fingernails on your left hand stop growing. That's a reminder to make sure you're getting a lot more calcium than you normally do.
posted by cmonkey at 2:53 PM on September 6, 2006

When the cast itches, which it will, avoid poking things in there if at all possible, you could get infection where you can't see it. (Or put your eye out. Or something.)

The resident expert on casts recommends canned air. It will dry out the cast and cool the itchy spot.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:58 AM on September 7, 2006

Thanks QIbHom, that's a real good tip. I had been trying to do everything at my normal pace and was getting frustrated.
PS. Off the painkillers now.
posted by tellurian at 12:28 AM on September 8, 2006

I did that, too, tellurian. Always glad to share my goof ups with others .
posted by QIbHom at 7:56 AM on September 9, 2006

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