Saturday, March 17, 2012

Broken arm: Practical aspects, Installment 1

Hah, I'm back!  I first thought that after posting that I'd broken an arm that there would be little to talk about until I was sufficiently healed to return to the ice.  Since then it's occurred to me that although many adult skater blogs report injuries that force the blogger to temporarily leave the ice, few if any post details relating to the practical aspects of either coping and and managing their recoveries or the frustrations encountered during those episodes.  Typically the blog goes silent for a while and then suddenly springs back to life after the blogger is fit enough to resume skating.  What I sense here is what environmental biologists and merchandisers refer to as an "unoccupied niche".  For the next six to eight weeks I'll will endeavor to provide tips for the practical side of injury management plus a rant or two as I inevitably stumble along the road to recovery.  Although all of what I report will be new to me since this is my first broken bone, no doubt a lot will be predictable to those who've already been through the process.  So, enough with the introduction.  It's been four days since my fall.  What have I learned so far? 

(1).  The main thing which the ER staff stressed to me, the rookie owner of a brand new cast, is that although good hygiene requires frequent bathing or showering, optimal cast management demands that the cast stays (wait for it) "bone" dry.  I don't know about your ER but mine, when I asked for advise on just how one goes about resolving this mutually exclusive set of parameters, mumbled something about a kitchen sized trash bag and duct tape.  Now friends, don't get me wrong--I love duct tape.  Duct tape has saved several boat races for me over the years and indeed if the crew of the Titanic would have had access to a couple rolls of the stuff the outcome might well have been different.  However, standing around buck naked attempting to duct tape a large plastic bag to yourself leaves a lot to be desired (it also leaves a lot to the imagination).  I did this exactly one time and although I was successful in keeping the cast dry I knew there just had to be a better way.

While e-mailing a sailing friend, who I will call Isle of Wight Len, I vented about my struggles with the bag, the tape and the hygiene thing.  IoW Len ships high end golf clubs all over the globe and suggested that I go to an office supply store and get a roll thin plastic shipping wrap.  Len said he'd never had a problem with wetness invading his packages and as a bonus the wrap form-fits around odd shaped items and sticks to itself.  Now this sounded like a huge step up from the bag and duct tape, but being inherently lazy I decided to go a slightly different route.  Why drive all the way to an "Office Despot" store when you can just go downstairs to the kitchen and steal your bride's roll of cling wrap?  Yeah, it's a little thinner than Lennie's shipping grade stuff but I figured it'd do.  I also ditched my old friend Mr. Duct Tape for a roll of thinner, more manageable Mylar shipping tape which we had kicking around.  My result?  A much easier time of sealing the cast from the shower water. N.B.: I had Diaristwoman help during both the wrapping stage and the taping to shut off both ends, but in a pinch I think I could do the wrapping by myself and skip the tape since the wrap does a good job of sticking to itself.  After toweling off, the easiest way to remove the wrapping is to simply cut it off in a straight line with scissors.This may seem obvious to all you Grand Masters of broken bones but to us bone novices this is big.

(2).  Now for a rant.  This subject applies to men: dealing with facial hair if the arm you've damaged is also attached to the hand which you've used when shaving for your entire life.  I don't know about you, but the thought of approaching my face with a scary-sharp tool in my untrained hand while looking at a mirror image of myself gives me the vapors. I broke my arm on Tuesday.  Since Wednesday I've repeatedly tried to convince Dairstwoman that giving me a wet shave every morning is part of her wifely duties.  She isn't buying it.  What to do?  After a bit of rumination the light bulb went on--I'd go to my local red-neck barbershop and get a shave every few days!  My town still has a barbershop, as opposed to a "hair cuttery" or a unisex "salon".  Sounds like a plan doesn't it?  So I went to that aforementioned establishment yesterday with the expectation that getting a shave would be a snap.  Can you believe that two of the three so-called barbers on duty refused?!  One said "I'll shave yer head but I don't feel comfortable about shavin' yer face."  I felt like saying "It ain't me head what wants shavin', nipper."

I was gobsmacked!  What do they teach people at barber's academy these days? How do students escape with certificates without being able to demonstrate the full set of skills?  I didn't want leeches or a blood-letting, just a shave!  As a kid I remember when seeing men reclined in barber chairs with hot towels over their faces and then being lathered up was unremarkably common.  A skilled barber with a straight razor would give a man a close shave without so much as batting an eyelash.

Finally the remaining barber allowed as how he'd give me a shave and I left the shop stubble-free.   Trouble is the barber who knows how shave only works part time.  Must be nice to be independently wealthy.  I still haven't discovered a good fix for this problem.  I've never liked electric shavers but I may have start."Shave and a haircut--two bits."  Bah!  Hum Bug!  That barber shop had better hope that this doesn't get out or they just might loose their life time subscriptions to Guns & Ammo and Police Gazette...

End of rant, your normal programming will resume shortly.


  1. I remember when I broke my arm as a kid (and had a cast from hand to shoulder) we would wrap it in plastic shopping bags so I could go swimming! We likely did the same to bathe, I'm guessing I took baths instead of showers and my Mom washed my hair for me. Since I didn't have to go to work, I probably didn't bathe daily- kids can get away with that.

    As for shaving- my husband uses an electric that has lotion in it, so it doesn't dry out his face. That may be better than a regular electric one. Or maybe look for a "salon and spa" that offers mens services- there are a few around here that will do a shave, but are decidedly girly salons, not barbershops.

    I thankfully didn't have to deal with that- when I hurt my wrist I just didn't shave until I could use the arm somewhat (yuck) and stuck with pants and sleeved shirts. But legs are more resilient than faces!

    Good luck with the recovery!

    1. Nothing against girly salons if they can get the job done! Actually this morning I decided to give left handed shaving a try. I'll post about my luck with that went I get a chance.

    2. or you could just grow a beard.

    3. I did that once when Diaristwoman went home to Sweden for a month. Upon returning she immediately made it clear that hated the look and to be honest, my bread is scraggly at best. Also during the first week or so the itch of the stubble would be worse than the broken arm.

      Growing a beard back then did have some positive aspects: I bumped into an individual whom I don't care for and hadn't seen in a while and he walked passed without recognizing me, and of course I didn't reveal myself to him. Later someone blew my cover and he came over and said "With that beard I hardly recognize you." I thought, but didn't say " Actually, I was sort of counting on that!"

  2. I had to keep my foot dry for a week while testing a taping method to see if an orthotic would solve my problem. Long story short, my podiatrist gave me a plastic thingie to put around my leg with a double elastic closure that kept it perfectly dry. I think it was called a "cast protector" or something equally obvious. I still have the bag at home and can give you brand specifics tonight if you want to get one. It was really simple and required no taping or cutting. I am sure they must make different shapes and sizes for various cast types and locations.

  3. Please do. I'm all ears. Thanks in advance!