April 12, 2010

the jointed brace

i saw the orthopod today and he was pleased enough at the way my elbow is healing that the nurse removed the splint and i got to scratch my skin for the first time in two weeks.

just removing the splint felt weird. my arm felt so naked! i had to place my left arm on a pillow and, supporting it with my right hand, walk to the xray room. then after the doc's exam, he had me lose the pillow and support just the hand while we walked over to the therapy room.

my arm hurt a bit and ached a bit more, like when you bang your funny bone and the "echoes" continue. i felt very fragile, especially when dr w told the therapist that my elbow was still unstable.

dr w assures me my edema doesn't seem to be any worse than anyone else's with the same injury. the therapist placed a stretchy tube of material over my arm. it provides minimal compression but seems to be a good first step. then she helped me put on my glove so that any edema didn't back into my hand. she helped me back into my zip-front top and then put this contraption on over it.

she told me the four buckles lock into place like ski boots do. since i don't ski, that meant nothing, but rik recognized the idea. there are two buckles above my elbow and two below, locking my arm into a 90 degree angle. in two weeks i will return for a checkup and to hopefully have the angle increased from 90 degrees to a wider angle. thus, incrementally over the next 4-6 weeks, my arm will be allowed to straighten out to its full length.

i will wear the brace 24 hours a day for the first week, even in the shower. (we'll continue to put a plastic garbage bag over it to keep it from getting wet.) i will be able to wash my arm gently with a cloth and put lotion on, an important part of lymphedema skin care. after a week, dr w wants me to try sitting on a bath bench and cradling my naked arm against my belly while showering. i am so thankful we re-did the bathroom last summer! the walk-in shower, second, hand-held shower head and teak bench have all made this unpleasant experience a bit easier.

i will wear the glove during the day and bandage at night to maintain compression in my hand.

from the doc we went to costco. look, when you need toilet paper, you need toilet paper! we also picked up fresh mushrooms, dried cherries, maple syrup, smoked salmon, tissues, vanilla, salty marcona almonds, dishwasher AND dishwashing liquid soap, "he" perfume and dye free laundry detergent, gassed up the car and each had a hot dog for lunch. i also found a cute purple cotton jacket-y thing that buttons up the front so i will have a third clothing option for the next six weeks.

because the brace weirded me out for the first few hours. i felt a bit like dr frankenstein's monster. after all this i did a little sleep therapy (i.e. took a long nap) and woke up more in touch with everything. by the end of the day i was able to wrap my brain around the concept. and of course rik has been very patient with me as i adapt to each new change.

tomorrow it's off to the dermatologist to have the bumps on my head biopsied. these days when asked what i do for a living, i answer: "i'm in health care management -- my own!"


  1. I recently come to your blog through Google, i am really sorry about your cancer :(

  2. Anonymous9:26 AM

    As my friend Janey says: the older one gets, the more life becomes a series of maintenance routines. If she read your blog, I'm sure we would add: Cancer makes it even more so.
    - Betty Johanna

  3. Jill,
    I like that job title, "health care management"! Awhile back, I mentioned how many medical appointments - I think I totaled up all my appointments last year (http://deeupdates.blogspot.com/search/label/appointments%20for%202009) - and concluded that I spent the equivalent of one month "working" on my own health care.

    Great turn of phrase. May I borrow it?

  4. dee, please feel free to use this phrase any time you like!