Musings from a broken-wristed Boatwif

There’s a different perspective when one has a disability, albeit a temporary one. Life assumes a far slower pace. It takes twice as long when limited to only one upper limb to get dressed, help is needed for two-handed garments and anything that needs tying or lacing. There are new considerations for choosing one’s clothes: now that the temperature is cooler long sleeves are sought – but not all sleeves will slide over a fat plastered wrist… Blog A01

An array of buttons can prove a frustration: while one hand may perfectly successfully (though oh so slowly) do up shirt buttons the business can take a great length of time. Hence breakfasts have been late in recent weeks… When you can’t even squeeze toothpaste onto a toothbrush you devise a toothbrush balancing strategy and use the operational hand to squeeze out the white stuff…

Thanks be that the Captain is an excellent chef. At table foods that can be easily forked or spooned are welcome – rice and pasta dishes have been frequent menu choices. Had it ever occurred before that the enjoyment of eating is linked to the activity of preparing it for the mouth? Take it from me a piece of rump steak pre-cut up like nursery food into neat fork-size pieces is tasty; but the mind craves the satisfaction of cutting into the meat and creating for oneself the size of the forkful…

A fat wrist plaster and sling is pretty obvious, neon even – and since the unexpected slip on pre-Referendum Day the tell-tale evidence has frequently drawn enquiries. A pleasant lady at a cash till at the Emmaus cafe showed great concern; her pre-retirement work at a medical centre led her to ask about the treatments and where they had been offered.  A receptionist at a country park was interested in the recovery time factor and insisted on introducing her husband, he sporting a matching blue thumb plaster (sustained in goal at a football match). At Salcey Forest some small children raced past down from the tree top ramp, slowed, turned and came back to gaze straight at the tell-tale sling. “How did you break your arm?” was the very direct question from the four year old ringleader. Then, at a social event, a lady showed great interest, shared her experience, a compound fracture acquired during an abortive skiing trip at Aviemore.  How, when, where, laughing gas, painkillers, sleeplessness, confidence levels, recovery – her whole story was gently told. Later came the epilogue, years afterwards the same wrist was broken again, this time while skating. Winter sports are banned for her now…

A few days were spent in West Wales during squally showery weather.  Blog P01   About to leave a shop Broken Wrist was confronted by an incoming customer. “You need a hood out there,” she announced with a backward glance at the sheets of rain spreading flood pools across the pavements. Looking closer at the blue sling now in front of her she swiftly added: “Shall I put yer hood up for you?” and she tugged it up over the head. How kind was that… Such moments during this one-handed episode have made one realise that an obvious even short term difficulty can draw a great deal of concern, sympathy and practical help, yet folk with invisible problems, probably far more severe,  do not gain such spontaneous assistance.

Another lesson learned is that new experiences, however adverse, provide new insights… Now thanks can be given to Techno Son-in-Law on whose insistence the Captain has a smart phone. With time to pass at the fracture clinic he could read a book on screen.  Having escorted and waited for Broken Wrist at her dental appointment – he continued reading his book on screen.  And while waiting for the rain to ease and for Broken Wrist to have a browse in a shop he chose to hang out in a cafe – and read his book on screen…

How do you keep track of time? Many folk these days check their screens, either phones or computers, to find out the time. For one who by long term habit checks the time with a glance at a simple watch on the left arm these weeks have been strange, timeless.  A one day attempt at wearing a watch on the right arm was not a success. Was this watch lookalike an alien creature strapped to the skin? Ripped off the irritant has rested since in a nest of dust on a chest of drawers. Lesson learned: life out of sight of a household clock will continue reasonably smoothly just by guesswork. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s 10.42 am or 2.56 pm or any particular time: daylight (amount of) and stomach (relative fullness) provide sufficient information to get by…

As time’s worn on (five weeks now) there have been adjustments to life in a wrist plaster: selection only of wide sleeves; use of a plastic closed end sleeve with waterproof grip collar on the upper arm for showering; the favouring a shoulder bag with strap long enough to cross the body; imagination used when opening jars (knees grip well) or zips (chin in certain situations).

Currently there’s much media coverage of Dylan Thomas, whose birth centenary fell on October 27th. Who cannot remember with a frisson of pleasure the wonderful lines between sleeping Mrs Ogmore – Pritchard and her dead but wretched husbands…

MRS OGMORE-PRITCHARD: Soon it will be time to get up.

Tell me your tasks, in order.

MR OGMORE: I must put my pyjamas in the drawer marked pyjamas.

MR PRITCHARD: I must take my cold bath which is good for me.

MR OGMORE: I must wear my flannel band to wear off sciatica.

MR PRITCHARD: I must dress behind the curtain and put on my apron.

And so on… Does each night the Captain likewise rehearse his spousal duties?

I must check her dressing needs each morning before going for the paper.

I must hang the clothes out on the washing line because she cannot manage,

 I must prepare food easy to eat – or else cut it up into fork-friendly pieces.

Unless I wish to be given boring domestic tasks I must take her out for lunch.

I must iron all my shirts and all the duvet covers too…

I must chauffeur her to shops and all her social gatherings.

Mrs Broken-Wristed Boatwif is grateful for his continuing attentiveness…

It was five weeks ago when the Cheshire One came to the rescue. Remember the effort and energy expended at Bosley locks and the two swing bridges? She’s back on hand (no pun intended) again for a half term break. She’ll help with the putting on and pulling off of jackets, she’ll lay a table, make her bed – and her two hands were deployed today in mixing bird food at a crafts session    Blog C02  Blog C03     and ‘Halloween haystacks’ at home.   Blog C04      Blog C06  (Ingredients and recipe from Jaq of nb Valerie).

The vine around the pergola needed its autumn trim and her two hands were a great help again. But one thing she could not do for Broken-Wristed Granny was clap for her. Applauding (circus acts) by clapping one hand against a plaster cast just doesn’t produce any sound worth hearing.

In a few days’ time, all being well, the plaster will be removed. Perhaps then Boatwif will (gingerly) applaud the Captain’s saintly patience. And for his part won’t he be glad to reclaim chunks of time and relinquish a tedious array of recent duties…?

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