This winter I have been skiing with a broken wrist. It’s gotten much better, of course, since it was first broken in late October. But it still hurts. A lot.
I broke both the radius and the ulna – the two big bones that make up your forearm–right near the end closest to where my hand is. The ulna break was a clean break all the way through. The radius however, was more “splintery.” At least, that’s how I would describe it based on my x-rays. Splintery.
After some a week of so of complications that required the fracture to be reset (that’s a whole other story), I had a fiberglass and Gore-Text cast for about 8 weeks. It was neon pink, and all my friends signed it. I was actually kind of fond of it, and super nervous about having it taken off. My wrist was still in a lot of pain, and I was terrified of hurting it again.
But the cast came off. The PA used this terrifying saw–it looked and sounded exactly like a mini version of a skill saw. Immediately after the cast was off, I was walked across the hall to the occupational therapist, where she made me a removable splint.
To make the splint, she had to mold this soft plastic material around my arm, and hold it there until it cooled and hardened up a bit. My wrist still hurt so badly that I actually cried a little. Little did I know that I would be seeing this same occupational therapist twice a week for the next several months. She’s now my new best friend, basically.
Anyway, through all of it. The cast, the splint, the OT, I’ve still been skiing multiple times per week.
Early on, the pink fiberglass cast was so bulky that I couldn’t wear a mitten on that side–so I wore a thick wool sock over my hand. I also couldn’t hold a pole (because of the pain), so I skied pole-less.
Skiing pole-less isn’t as hard as you might think (if you’re a skier). In fact, I kind of got used to it. I focused on my technique – my edges, the shovels of my skis, my alignment. I felt a little bit dorky at first with no poles, and sometimes people would ask me if I had forgotten something. But other than that it was no big deal.
The hard part was that I couldn’t use my right hand AT ALL. My fingers had lost all their movement. I couldn’t zip, buckle, pinch, or pull anything. So I needed a lot of help getting my gear on.
It was a big deal for me when I was able to wear a mitten again. Around that same time I also was able to use my hand for small things, which made things a lot easier. Being able to zip my own jacket was a huge milestone.
When I ski with my kids, my husband has to be there too, because I can’t lift our youngest on to the chairlift anymore. This has been a bigger inconvenience than either of us had predicted. It means that our daughter, who is older, now has to ski with her younger brother all the time, unless I sit in the lodge with him or take him home–which sometimes I do.
Now that three months has passed, I’m able to ski with just a thin neoprene brace and a plastic splint on my ring finger (the splint on my ring finger is to help with this weird trigger-finger thing that developed). I can mostly do everything now – poles, zippers, buckles. But it all still hurts, and I can’t bend or twist my wrist much–yet.
The moral of the story?
Ugh. Don’t break your wrist.