All Change: What the Well-Dressed Arm is Wearing for April

I’ll spare you the goriest photo featuring stitches and bruises. I sent it to Octavia, but she a) is a doctor, and b) while I was still digesting my breakfast, sent me a photo of dead rat her cat had caught .

Once again the NHS did its stuff beautifully. I arrived at the fracture clinic and was despatched almost immediately to x-ray. Then a short wait and I saw the consultant, this time in shirt and tie and minus his blue scrubs. He was smiling. In moments he removed the smelly old plaster, and my new lizard skin was revealed. Though I suppose that should be old lizard skin. Suddenly the dinosaurs seem like near relatives. He showed me the x-rays; a sort of t-bar plate with lots of screws sticking out of it so it made me think of a broom. Everything seems to be healing nicely. He wouldn’t be drawn on whether I shall have a lump on my wrist or what degree of moevement I can hope to achieve in the future. But I am not a trained journalist for nothing. I asked a different question. Pushed, he said we could hope for 80-90% of my previous rotational skills.

Back to the waiting room where a small child looked worriedly at my exposed arm. There was a list of things to be done.

The Checklist

The Checklist


I had just about got my phone out when I was called to the plaster room. Ruth, the staff nurse who attended to me, is the daughter of a seamstress. It showed. I shouldn’t be surprised to see her fronting her own craft show on tv one of these days.

underdressed

underdressed

She had to make me a new cast; one that could be removed for physio, and maybe even in the bath. There was lots of wrapping, the cast was set with a crepe bandage around it to keep it in shape over my arm. Then the bandage was removed and the now rigid cast cut open. Ruth edged it with pink moleskin. I had to keep trying it on. We were joined by a first year nursing student called Golddust. When Ruth was happy with the result, she wrapped red tapes around it that fasten with velcro. These are to be my route to occasional moments of freedom to practise my exercises. Next stop, the physio.

But the consultant reappeared and said he wanted more x-rays. He’d been looking again, and there was something he wasn’t sure about. By now I was feeling like an old hand in the fracture clinic. I navigated my way round to x-ray, gave my paper to the right person and took a seat.

And back to the consultant again. This time he called me just as I had opened my book. It seems they are not altogether happy with the position of one of the pins. It’s not entirely clear in the x-rays, but it may be nudging the bone. In which case it will have to come out. Another op in other words. Oh well, one step at atime.

Rory the physio took me through my baby exercises and helped me put my cast back on. I have to go back in three weeks.

So far, so good. And now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to do the washing up and then have a twenty minute rest.

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29 thoughts on “All Change: What the Well-Dressed Arm is Wearing for April

  1. Seeing your poor arm made me a bit weak in the knees. I do ok with that stuff if someone is a stranger but you aren’t a stranger and I hate you are having to go through this. But I must say that is a colorful cast and bandage! I wouldn’t have missed the pictures for anything, I was curious! I know you aren’t thrilled with more surgery so I have my fingers crossed that it will work out that they don’t have to operate again. At least your arm is going to get a tiny bit of freedom and fresh air.. 🙂

  2. Very impressive that you could use the camera whilst your other hand was being tackled. Is it blue because that won’t show the dirt so much 😛

    Fingers crossed no further operation is needed xxx

  3. Gosh Isobel…..you’re doing so well with camera phone and keyboard. I bet it felt really good to get the old cast off and the new one in place. Hope you won’t need another surgery but at least they’re CHECKING via x-ray and found the one pin that’s not quite where they’d like it to be. That’s a good thing…….

    Pam

    • I am so pleased to be able to take some photos even if it is just with my ‘phone. The iPad is much easier for typing than the laptop I find. Yes I am impressed at the thoroughness. Maybe I shan’t need another op, but as the consulted explained, he was just preparing me in case.

  4. DSM for Services to Blogging Isobel, taking those pics while having your poorly wrist re-dressed! 🙂
    I hope you don’t need another op… but in the meantime, don’t forget the exercises! xx

    • I already had my ‘phone on my hand so it was easy. Also I thought I would forget what they had done and I was quite interested in the whole procedure.
      No fear I shall forget to do my exercises, though I may have to wait until MasterB is out or asleep, I want my wrist function back!

  5. In my defence, the photo I sent was not of a rat; it was a shrew, but there was nothing in the photo to give a sense of size. The plaster looks good.

    • As shrew? Seriously? We have shrews in se17? Who knew! The Grey Ninja might prefer it to be talked up as a rat. Next time you’ll need to put a ruler beside it so we can see the size.
      My dressing is quite groovy isn’t it!

      • I’ve looked up a picture of a shrew; it wasn’t a shrew. They have a long pointy nose. I think it was a small mouse. But it might have been a tiny baby rat.

        • Come to think of it, MasterB caught a snouty shrew at Mother’s when I first took him there. I got it away from him and it escaped. Same story with the frog. If she is catching mice or rats that is a good thing. Just not birds. Please no birds.

  6. Hi Isobel

    Just browsing for old time’s sake. Sorry to hear about your accident. I’ve gone back through your blogs to see the cause. Outside an A&E is a good place to pick to have an accident. Despite the date of that blog, I take it that no Guinness was involved in the accident?

    True broken wrist story. Mrs M had hers about 10 years ago. Visiting a junk yard, she saw a plate she liked the look of, reached down, overbalanced, put out her hand to break her fall and broke her wrist instead.

    The friend who was with her drove her to A&E and phoned me at work. By the time I got there, she was off being processed but the doctor who had seen her brought me up to speed. She said that is was a messy break, which would probably require pinning and a bridge, and that there was a chance of loss of mobility in the wrist. I asked her if Mrs M would be able to play the piano after it healed.

    She must have been having a stressful day because she lost it a wee bit, telling me that my wife was in considerable pain and that she did not think that I should be trotting out tired old jokes. I explained that Mrs M was a piano teacher.

    She apologised immediately and took a yellow marker. She drew a large asterix on Mrs M’s file and told me that meant that they would make every effort to ensure that Mrs M got back the full use of the wrist. It took some months but she did.

    I am sure that they will do the very best for you, given your work, and that you will recover all your former keyboard skills.

    • Thanks John. I needed this. The consultant remembered what I had said about writing, and when the physio asked what he did, he noted my answer and replied that getting as much function restored as possible was obviously a priority.
      I have been lucky in my life not to need much attention in hospitals. Reading the papers, it is easy to get the impression that our health system is disastrous and the sooner it is put into private hands the better. However, I defy any other system in the world to have given me better treatment than I have so far received at St Thomas’. It makes me proud of the NHS and determined to fight for its survival. By chance I met a man this week who worked for insurance claims in the US. He was full of admiration for our system, and appalled at the way it is being slowly privatised. He explained that in the US, someone in my position might have had to wait longer than the window of opportunity to get the op I needed while the insurance companies argued I didn’t really need it. My chances of restored full function would be considerably less.
      Btw, every now and the I get notification of a new post on your page, but when I click the link, I am told it doesn’t exist.

  7. This is a fascinating serial & although we wouldn’t have wanted anyone to be able to tell it, thank you for sharing all the bits. I love the care & expertise of the seamstress. These are the stories that should be told. If you want to practice washing up – I’m happy to leave you my plates!

  8. Hi again Isobel.

    I prepare all my posts for the Chariot in private mode on my own site and then post them there. I’m guessing you are getting the notifications of the private ones.

    Hang on in there for further notifications. I am finally writing the last chapter of the Holiday 2008 trip and I will publish that on my own blog. Might do it on MyT as well just to tidy up there. The deadline is September 18 2014 just in case my country no longer exists thereafter.

    Sorry to read that you are a bit down today. Mrs M was the same at the start but this will all be behind you and you will be back in the saddle before you know it.

  9. Late to the party here but have to say the blue slip-on cast is a brilliant. Might we say couture versus my black off the rack? The position of the screw is scary and I hope it is just a bad angle on the xray. But they tell me, once healed, if the screws move they can be removed with no bad outcome. That was after they asked “did we tell you what to look for if a screw has moved?”

    • So what should I be looking for?
      I haven’t shared my exercises with you yet. There is one I cannot manage yet, but the two main ones both involve supporting my wrist on a chair Armando letting it flop of the end, making a fist and then straightening my fingers and raising my hand. I was terrified the first time I removed the cast. I thought my hand might just drop off. My confidence is growing now, but I ache after the exercises. So back on the pain killers.

      • Screw-wise: a soreness in the area, difficulty in bending the joint – that would be after it is healed, not right now. Of the hundreds of fractures my surgeon does each year, one or two might need attention, they say. I know what you mean about the hand falling off – once I started “strengthening” therapy, mine finally began to feel like it had rejoined the team. Yesterday I repeatedly opened clothespins with my thumb and little finger (then ring, then middle, then index) – there’s something you can look forward to!

        • Thanks for that. I think the exercises are going quite well I seem to be able to raise my hand more easily. But the rotational one defeats me at the moment. Next week maybe. My smart new cast is starting to look rather scruffy. Are clothes pins what I call clothes pegs? Things you hang washing on the line with.

  10. Clothes pins/pegs: what you have on your masthead with your three sheets in the wind. Are you rotating to a palm up position? I am told that is the most difficult and while for me the movement is good when the therapist gives it a good twist the effect is, well, refreshing.

    • Had a go with your exercise and found it hard. Then, just to test, tried it with my unbroken wrist and also found it hard!
      But yesterday managed this exercise for the first time:
      Clasp your hands together and support your forearms on a table.
      Put the back of one hand on the table and then turn your hands and put the back of the other hand on the table.
      Repeat as often as you can without pain.

  11. Brave one you to try it with real clothes pegs. I think mine were calibrated – I used the pink ones for the little finger and the more butch blue ones for the index finger.

    Congrats on doing the palm up. “Without pain” being a relative term. As my therapist says, if it is less than a 7 on a pain scale, stick with it. For when you are grasping your own wrist and turning it into the palm up or paw down position.

    This has become my go-to activity whilst on the bus or sitting in a meeting. Bend, wince, and count to ten.

    Next time I am in the neighborhood we will have to arm wrestle. Or thumb wrestle. Or take cheer in being able to raise glasses.

    As they say in the South – it is a long row to hoe. Best to you.

    • They were very stiff pegs too! I shall try with more gentle ones.
      Confidence has been key for me. Initially I was so scared of doing more harm than good. But seeing results fairly quickly has helped. I have just eaten breakfast using both my knife and fork. My wrist aches quite a lot after exercising, so having more or less weaned myself off painkillers, I am back on them again.
      Next time I am at the hospital I should be booked in for ‘proper’ physiotherapy. In the meantime, having Octavia as a medical consultant close by offering me reassurance and advice has been marvellous.
      When are you next this side of the pond?

  12. I have Confidence in me…whoops short Julie Andrews moment.

    And cheers with the painkillers – whatever works is fine. I feel more ache after the physio than I did when the bone was doing its best healing.

    I think I’m getting along so very well and discover whoops can’t pick it up or turn it. Doing maybe 2 kg lifts right now.

    We’ll be back to your side in the usual time – late in the year. By then we will both be able to remember just how out of the ordinary this winter was. That is what really amazes me – life since the 31 of January has just been odd. I still go to work and all, but it is not the same.

    And a big YAY to Ocatvia.

    • I am possibly a bit too full of myself regarding the exercises. They are going well and I wish I could be seeing the consultant this week not next, as I feel I am about ready to get rid of the major protection of the cast, and move to something lighter and freer.
      Maybe next time you are over we can all meet up and and wave our wrists around. 🙂

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