Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cast off

After three weeks I got the cast off my broken hand on Friday and I can use both hands again. It has been an incredibly interesting experience. I took down notes of events throughout the three weeks that were interesting so I could write this blog entry once I could type again.

The word that can best describe the three weeks was "Slow". Everything, and I mean everything took twice to ten times as long to do. Being that I injured my primary hand my left hand was forced into service. I was surprised how quickly I was able to learn how to use my left hand to grasp and manipulate objects. After only a week and a half I was able to manage (not great, but doable) using a fork with my left hand, using scissors, brushing my teeth, and some basic writing. I found that the best way to write with my left hand was mirrored and in reverse which while cool becomes very cryptic if you are sloppy and I had to use a mirror a few times. I also very quickly learned how to use a right handed mouse in my left hand, in the same fashion mirroring the events that my hand should perform, not swapping the buttons.

Meanwhile with my right hand it felt like I was learning how to use it from scratch. After I got my cast even though I had three fingers "free", moving them or really doing anything would result in a lot of pain, and pain for the next five minutes at least. I very quickly learned not to use them. My first accomplishment note for my right hand was the ability to take off my glasses. The first few day my list was little things, but I soon I was able to master buttons and after a week I had acquired the "strength" to pull off my wedding ring on my other hand which is a bit loose to begin with. As the swelling died down I was able to bend the three fingers and finally start using them to type. The lack of strength in my right hand was something that would frustrate the hell out of me all day long as I would crash into my new limitation. I could place my hand on the object, but couldn't actually do anything. From not being able to open windows, doors, eating, typing, opening any packaging, to tying my shoes (My wonderfully supportive wife did that that the first week until I found out how to tie them with one hand) it was slow going. I had to re-learn and re-acquire the strength to do everything and anything with my right hand.

On the computer I very quickly learned a ton of application shortcuts and my bash profile now has dozens of two and three letter aliases (using mostly keys hit with my left hand). The first week or so I had very few compile errors as anything I wanted to code would take forever to type and I would sit there in my head running through the code I wanted to type at 100 miles an hour as I touch typed with my left hand and ten words a minute. Very quickly I learned to sit and think about any problem and explore as much of it in my head before coding anything because coding was just taking ten times as long. A real big plus was that I have a Kinesis Contoured keyboard. On the Kinesis keyboard the return key is on your right hand thumb and not your right hand pinky. After I got my cast off it took another three days before I could even get back the strength to push down the enter key with my pinky on my MacBook keyboard.

As you can see in the photos I got some art on my cast. With my new found situation of not being able to do much I found myself having the ability to spend lots of time drawing on my cast. All the art was drawn with my left hand. The first one I drew was the tail that wraps around and goes into my fist the first night I had the cast. Then a day or two later came the green raptor near my fingers. This was when I had to keep my hand above my heart to prevent lots-o-pain so it was drawn in that location so people could see it. The second one (week 2) I drew was the baby velociraptor scratching its head with its foot. This was when I was holding my hand mostly at a 90 degree angle across my chest so it was facing out. The second one is much better then the first as I understood the medium better. The second one was also drawn upside down from my perspective so everyone else could see it right side up. The last one I drew on the third week was the T-rex and this was when I had my arm at my side most of the time and so it was facing out. This one is definitely better then the other two.

Here is a photo shortly after I got my cast off. The whole right side of my hand is very swollen and green. Lots of pain and aggravation still, but at least the cast is off. An interesting aspect of breaking a bone in my right hand was that my fingernails on my right hand seemed to stop growing while I have cut my left hand fingernails twice. Not something the doctor tells you about. Almost a week after the cast came off and the green is still with me (not as much) so at this rate I figured that will stick around for a month or so and I was told I have three months until it fully heals. On my palm it is a big green circle in the middle which when pressed hurts like hell. Yesterday I tried to kill a bug that was flying around with my hands... it was a really stupid idea. As you can see I can type again and life for the most part is returning to normal. While setting the bone shifted so I no longer have a knuckle and my pink angles slightly to my ring finger, but nothing serious, really just cosmetic.

This experience has been a very interesting one. I was surprised just how much I was able to do with my left hand when given no other option and the process of relearning how to use my right hand was also a bit of an eye opener as I struggled to do the most basic tasks. But this is definitely something I hope never to repeat.

3 comments:

Deena said...

Wow. Great notes!

mskim said...

What bone did you break? My right hand was also broken (hamate bone i think) and after having the temporary cast i refused to have the three week one and wore a brace instead. I only took the brace off yesterday and my hand is a bit stiff and it feels weird to use it but it's nothing like what you describe. How long was it before your hand was really normal?


(i know this is a really old post but you are still blogging so figure you will see this comment)

Benjamin Meyer said...

@mskim

More details and pictures about which bone are in the : previous entry

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