Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week nine: the short cast comes off and a final word on the subject of home made cast sheaths.

I was supposed to get the cast off earlier than this, but my surgeon had a family emergency and so my appointment was put off a week (groan).  So nine weeks to the day of me breaking my arm, the second cast came off and I'm now sporting a removable brace.

Jeremy is the med-tech who fashioned my green cast and it turns out he was also the one who got to cut it off.  Jeremy is an ice hockey player so at least I had another skater working on my behalf.  The tool he's approaching me with is a medical grade version of the Fein multimaster I have in the garage!

He first scribed a line the length of the top of the cast.

And then did the same along the underside.  After several passes on both the top and bottom the saw was through the hard shell of the cast but not through the heavy knit cloth glove which protected my skin from the rough fiberglass surfaces of the cast.

He next popped the cast open by working along the saw cuts with this spreader tool.  Squeezing the handles causes the head of the tool to expand which in turn widens the saw kerf.

Finally a quick bit of work with the scissors on the under lying mesh glove and the cast comes off.

Here's my new friend.  Black is always in fashion.  This brace has a thin, removable steel strip running the length of the lower side.  Yes, my arm is emaciated and was covered with scaly dead skin.  Sorry, no pix of that.  Interestingly, my wrist and hand are still somewhat swollen after nine weeks.  I have perhaps a tenth of the movement and flexibility of my opposite hand at this point and movement is still painful.  My surgeon gave me a prescription for several weeks of physical therapy and after getting the new brace I stopped at their part of the office to schedule my first session.

I noticed that they have a picture of Edvard Munch's "the Scream" hanging on the wall.  Clearly the PT techs enjoy their work. (Ve haf vays to make you flexible, old man.)

Lastly, the blurry photo above  is a belated final comment on the subject of shielding a cast while showering.  We needed to help the in-laws and this entailed spending  a few nights with them.  Earlier in the day I reminded myself to pack my store-bought cast sheath but of course I forgot to do so in the heat of packing.  The next morning I discovered my omission and figured I'd have to drop back and use plastic wrap as I did at the beginning of this adventure.  However my mother-in-law is an industrious and inventive woman and instead of giving me plastic wrap and packing tape, rooted around in the kitchen cupboards and produced the two gallon size zip lock bag and rubber bands which you see on my arm in the photo above.  This bag (10 inches by 18 inches) completely covered my cast and worked just as well as the purpose made product.  The rubber bands do a good job of sealing the open end of the bag and eliminate the tedium of one-handed manipulation of tape.  Keep this trick in mind if (a). you are as forgetful as I am, or (b). your local druggist doesn't  stock cast sheaths.  The only drawback of the two gallon bag is that it doesn't provide the mitten-like thumb of the sheath and is a tad more awkward in use but that's a small disadvantage which is completely out weighed by not having to make an early morning trip to the drugstore before showering!