Help me bathe!
June 19, 2008 3:00 PM   Subscribe

I broke my ankle. This is not a medical question.

I have a simple fracture to my right ankle. I'm in a boot rather than a cast, am allowed to stand on it as long as it is in the boot. I am not in pain.

I do, however, smell, because it is really hard to take a shower (can't stand on it without the boot). Any advice? Shower stool? Partner? Getting in and out of tub? Shower or bath? Also--that boot's gonna be nasty after a month. How do I wash it? It doesn't seem to come apart.

(for those of you who know something of me, no I did not do this figure skating ;)
posted by nax to Health & Fitness (25 answers total)
Wrap it in a plastic grocery bag and hold it away from the water (or even outside of the shower curtain if you're steady enough) and shower to your heart's content.
posted by amyms at 3:09 PM on June 19, 2008

get a plastic lawn chair for your shower to help you shower (hopefully it fits, otherwise a stool works) and try to wipe down the boot with a rag and some bleach or other, nicer smelling, cleaning solution.
posted by wangarific at 3:10 PM on June 19, 2008

I had the same thing a few years ago after surgery. I took the boot off, put on the waterproof sleeve thingy, and sat on a tall bucket. Then I just had to lift my legs up a bit and swing them over the side of the tub. A cheap stool would probably work great too, if you put some rubber feet on it.
posted by sanka at 3:10 PM on June 19, 2008

Best answer: When I sprained my ankle, I just took baths with my foot propped up - it was pretty simple, but a bit awkward. Having an intimate (or shameless) assistant definitely helps here - MuddDude had to help be get in, help me sit down, prop my foot up gently, fill the tub, scrub down the parts of me I couldn't reach, then help me back up.

Since you have a boot, can you get in the tub, sit down, prop your foot up, take the boot off, bathe, then reverse? Or do you have to wear the boot 24-7?
posted by muddgirl at 3:10 PM on June 19, 2008

Seconding wangarific. Plastic lawn chairs fit nicely in a tub, and washing your boot down with a 10% bleach solution will kill the ickiness.
posted by puddinghead at 3:14 PM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: Muddgirl-- I can take the boot off. It totally didn't occur to me to take it off Just Before Getting In the Tub. Duh. (Also, love the boy version of your name)

The main problem is standing in the tub. Scary. Keep 'em coming! I love AskMe!
posted by nax at 3:15 PM on June 19, 2008

I'd do it amyms's method but perhaps a hefty trash can liner or something a bit stronger than a grocery bag and using a couple of rubber bands around the top to make it water proof.
posted by bitdamaged at 3:18 PM on June 19, 2008

medical supply stores sell shower benches for disabled people. they're sturdy and helpful. alternatively, one of those plastic garden chairs would probably work.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:30 PM on June 19, 2008

Sit in the tub. Get a Water Pik or something like that so you can bathe yourself while seated. If you take the boot off, be very careful - wrap it in a thick towel so you don't bang it against the side of the tub and re-injure it.
posted by charlesv at 3:47 PM on June 19, 2008

I was in this exact situation for a month or two after I broke my ankle - and that was after 3 months in a cast. I found that sitting in the bath was the easiest option - particularly if I wanted to wash the knackered leg too. If I was in a hurry I'd just wear the boot, inside a large plastic bag taped up, in the shower.

I never did find a satisfactory way to tape the bag up to keep all the shower out, but this didn't seem to cause any problems.

Good luck!
posted by prentiz at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2008

When Mrs. Advicepig sprained her ankle, I bought her a beautiful 100% plastic chair from IKEA and a handheld shower head. It was surely the best present I've ever bought. I also got a little diverter so I could continue to use the normal shower head.
posted by advicepig at 4:11 PM on June 19, 2008

I would use a cable tie (or two or three of them in series) to cinch up the garbage bag around your leg. You can cut it off afterwards with a good pair of scissors or an electrical diagonal cutters (preferred).
posted by Class Goat at 4:13 PM on June 19, 2008

I broke a knee last year and had to wear a full leg cast. To shower, I wrapped the leg in a garbage bag and "sealed" it to the leg with duct tape. Unless you shave your legs, taking the bag off could be painful, but being able to shower was worth it, for me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:35 PM on June 19, 2008

I had surgery on my ankle a couple months ago. I taped a plastic grocery sack over my whole foot with some clear duct tape to cover the bandages and propped it up on the edge of the tub. We have one of those shower heads that is detachable, so I used that to wash my hair with. It was a big pain in the ass, and I was super glad when I got rid of the bandages.
posted by chiababe at 5:07 PM on June 19, 2008

I had foot surgery a couple of months ago and had to keep my foot totally dry. I used DryCast and it worked great. I actually got it from my mom who used it a few years ago for a broken ankle. It fit easily over her cast and then later over my bandaged foot. It was a LOT easier to use and a lot more reliable than the garbage bag-tape method. I showered with it and took a couple of baths. The shower was much easier for me to negotiate on my own and I think it will be for you too, if you're keeping the weight off your foot while it's not in the boot. Good luck and I hope you heal up fast.
posted by Kangaroo at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2008

My friend broke her leg in six places - as to how she bathed during the cast/boot period, it was with the very helpful assistance of her mom. It was all pretty scary, because if she slipped again it was probably game over for the leg, but they managed. I believe she said she sat on the edge of the tub, then scooted over to the shower chair with some oversight from the aforementioned partner. When she had the cast on, they did sponge baths. During the boot period, it was back to regular showers, but still seated. I vote for you to request the services of the assistant of your choice. [grin] Good luck, and safe healing!
posted by Liosliath at 5:42 PM on June 19, 2008

When I broke my leg, they gave me some sort of plastic wrapped with a gasket on it so I could take a shower with the cast on. My foot did get pretty stanky at the end of the several weeks, though. I distinctly recall when they took it off there was flaky dead skin everywhere in there.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:29 PM on June 19, 2008

One of these:

I took mine off whenever I showered (i stood on one foot -- seriously).
posted by SirStan at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2008

I had a broken foot a few years ago (a fat guy jumped on it at a concert).......

I had the boot, too..... I would take it off just before I got into the shower (I didn't have a bathtub at the time) and I used a walker to balance myself on.... I mean, I put the walker right in the shower (I didn't have a gf at the time either (nor someone shameless)) and carefully balanced myself with one hand while I washed with the other......

Sure, it took me 20-30 minutes for a 5-minute shower, but I was clean!

(And man, those pain pills would make me sweat!)

I found it was helpful as far as the stink went if I took my boot off a few times a day and let my foot air out, propped up on a nice comfy pillow.

Also, investing in some foot powder is a must. I didn't realize this until six weeks after the injury, but after I did, the stink was greatly reduced....... I think I just used plain old Dr. Scholls foot powder. Just sprinkle some in your boot/sock whatever every morning.

Hope you heal fast! (Broken feet are no fun)
posted by peewinkle at 7:29 PM on June 19, 2008

thinkingwoman writes "medical supply stores sell shower benches for disabled people"

Around here the Red Cross lends out this kind of equipment free of charge.
posted by Mitheral at 7:44 PM on June 19, 2008

Did they provide you with a liner sock for the boot? When I broke my ankle they gave me two liners so I washed them daily and alternated. If they didn't, get some loose tube socks - keeps the sweaty, stinky in check and is far more comfortable in a boot in warm weather.
posted by leslies at 8:33 PM on June 19, 2008

The trick to garbage bags is tape it or rubber band it in one place, and then do it again, above a towel around your leg. You can never get it completely waterproof, but the towel will catch the drips.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:00 AM on June 20, 2008

Last year, when I was dealing with a treatment for a ruptured achilles tendon (a partial tear, in the CENTER of the tendon, as opposed to on one of the sides, go me), I had a soft cast to immobilize my ankle for a week. CVS sold me, for $5, what is basically a garbage bag sorta thingy with an elastic-band at the top, adjustable with a wee tension grip thing , like you see on stuff-bags for a sleeping bag. The bottom of it had the same thing. I ended up putting a Glad bag over my toes, sliding the sleeve over it, and fastening it in place.

Then afterwards I'd wash my foot.
posted by mephron at 7:34 AM on June 20, 2008

Oh, nax, my sympathies!

I broke a bone in my foot last week. As it happened, I was able to borrow a pair of crutches even before I saw a doctor. I take off the boot and hop to the bath on crutches. I have a little stool in the tub, and a shower hose hookup, so I sit down to "shower."

To get in, I put one crutch into the tub for balance and lean in to sit on the injured side, then slide in and lift the other foot over. Getting out, I swing both feet over outside of the tub and do a three point balance to stand: uninjured foot, crutch in one hand, and other hand on the side of the tub.

Hope you heal quickly and easily!
posted by jaruwaan at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2008

There are funky devices that go over casts as well as boots (for sufficiently small boots/large devices) that do really well in keeping the water out): when I broke my ankle, I used one of these.
posted by paultopia at 2:40 PM on June 20, 2008

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