Cast Life Part 2- Tips to Getting Through the Five Weeks!

 

After waiting three hours in the walk in clinic, the x-ray confirmed a tibia fracture, just above where he wore his ski boot.  The doctor referred us to a fracture clinic closer to home.  I went to pick up the other kids at the ski hill after my husband arrived to relieve me.
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We all went home to rest that day
and planned on going to the other clinic the following day.  We found out another major ass kicker! You could not go to this “fracture clinic”  in our area, unless you were referred by a local ER.  LOCAL.  We were in a different region, an hour away, so basically that was a waste of time.  I could have cried.  No one has the time to waste, let alone, put your child through another three-hour ER wait.  We had no choice.  We got to love the politics of Canadian health care.

Bright and early the next morning, armed with games, iPad, and snacks.  We headed to the local walk-in that was affiliated to the main ER.  We were told that the walk-in would refer us to the main ER, without having to wait with the seriously sick people.  After the two and a half hour wait, the doctor advance triage us to the main ER to get his hard cast. No wait.  Thank goodness.

We arrived at the main ER, was quickly seen and casted.  A long cast.  Totally immobilized from upper thigh to toes.  Our son picked a wonderful flourescent green color to suit the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day.  The “lucky” day of breaking his leg.  We paid an extra $95 to get a “fiberglass” cast since that was lighter.  He was scheduled to have the cast on for four weeks…. FOUR weeks.  However, we were so lucky that our fourth week fell on Easter weekend, so they gave us an extra week…. FIVE WEEKS!! BAH!!!!  This was definitely going to be a challenge.
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After getting the cast, we headed to the store to purchase his crutches.  I use to work in the ER, but I totally forgot how to “instruct”  a child to use crutches.  It seemed easy enough, but of course, nothing is that simple.
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It had been a long day, he was drained.  We treated him to a lunch and headed home to practice using his crutches.  He was definitely was a good sport.  We arrived home, and he wanted his older brother to sign his cast first… as much as they fight and bicker.. deep down inside.. somewhere.. there has to be love..

The Challenges

His Two New Best Crutch Friends 

Rant:  He could not get use to his crutches.  Even though he they were his new best friends. They hurt his armpit.  They were awkward, he couldn’t get up or down the stairs, he could not stand the slow pace, everything was always in his way, little toys, clothes on the floor…  Everything threw him off-balance, he was not fast enough,  he didn’t know what to put first… the list was endless.
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Rave:  My patience.  Simple resolution:  take it day by day.  I padded the armpit part of his crutch with some tea and tape.  The rest:  was taken day by day. There is no sense panicking and rushing to get him to do everything at once.  He eventually got the hang of it, and was as fast on his crutches as some of the kids were walking. He did make me, and I am sure all his teachers cringe when crutched down the halls at 50 miles per hour.. but how can you stop that??!

Monday came fast.  Three days post injury.  My five kids usually take the bus at 735am.  They wake up at 7am.  It is always a mad rush, every. morning.

Jimmy is always the last to get ready. Therefore, I opted to drive them to school… for the next FIVE weeks!!!  I am fortunate to be a stay at home mom.  If I were not, it would just be earlier wake up times.

I brought him to school, and walked him to his class, because I had to carry his backpack. I brought him a pillow for his leg to be elevated and that was that.  I also gave him some anti- inflammatories before school so that hopefully it would alleviate his discomfort throughout the day.

Rant:  Stairs.  Stairs and crutches simply did not go well together.  Watching him go up them made me cringe, watching him come down them made my heart drop every time. Thankfully we lived in a bungalow side split, and only had a small amount of stairs.
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Rave: My heavy lifting and working out made carrying him up and down the stairs the first few days a breeze!  Eventually he got the hang of it!

Rant:  He was not allowed out for recess.  Which meant the fifteen minutes in the morning, and the forty minutes at lunch was spent in the office. Boring!  I felt bad for him!

Rave:  The office did let him bring a friend up and they played board games.

Rave:  I signed him out every other nice day and spent one on one time with him.
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Rant:  Springtime=Bikes.  Our youngest was just learning to ride bikes with training wheels, and our other was learning to ride without training wheels.  You could see the sadness and jealousy in his eyes.  He just learned to ride without training wheels last year, so all that independence was waiting to be unleashed.
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Rave:  Dibs on wagon rides!  Who doesn’t like a wagon ride?!  However, mom could not pull fast enough!

Rant:  No baths.  Only showers.  Even that was a challenge.  So, we did shower every third day, instead of every second…. and a nurse bath in between.

Rave:  Our son would rave all day about it because getting out of bathing is a bonus for him.  However, there is no rave to a stinky kids/cast!

Rant: Hockey.  This boy loves, loves, loves hockey.  He eats, breathes and sleeps hockey. He, as well all most kids in Canada has dreams of being a NHL player.  He knows all the NHL players by name and statistics.  He is also not shy to give you his honest opinion about how one of his favorite stars played.  He just finished a season of house league in the finals, and was about to start a tournament.

Rave:  He has asked to try out for the “Select Team”.  Nothing raving about this, except the honor of being asked. We had to break the news to him that he was asked to play- but with that being said, it is like offering a kid candy, then not giving it to them and eating it in front of them.  Double whammy.  He was devastated.  He really wanted to play on the select team.  His was torn, and so was my heart.  His father had tears in his eyes when the league contacted him.  The silver lining is that we had many heart to hearts, and lessons of patience.

Sleep

His leg had to be elevated for the first week.  We had some foam cushions from an old pottery barn baby chair that we dismantled and used for his leg. It worked perfectly.

Jimmy has had the bad habit of “rocking himself to sleep.  He would go on all fours and just rock back and forth for comfort and it put him to sleep. Hopefully this habit will be broken by the end of the five weeks.

He was also the type of sleeper that would flop everywhere.  Thank goodness he had a queen sized bed.  I made sure he had lots of pillows, and made sure he was tucked in and comfortable.

Bathing

The orthopedic tech at the hospital told his not to invest in the cast cover for the shower. He said it was expensive, and not worth it.  After having two or three showers- covering his whole leg with a huge garbage bag, then taping it all over.  I decided it was not worth wasting my garbage bags, or my time wrapping it.  It wasn’t even working!  I ordered a cast cover for the full leg on Amazon and it worked wonders.  It was about 30 bucks, but I got to shower him more frequently, and it was quick and uneventful.  I had to make the hole a little big bigger because it was so tight, but it sure did not let water in.

Here are the other things that helped us survive the

FIVE weeks of CAST LIFE.

Comfort

As much I am an “anti track pant” sort of mom, but I guess we are in the era of comfort.  I mean, I do love my tights, and my thirteen year old son pointed out that tights are to women as track pants are to guys…. I guess.  So, off I went to buy more “track pants”… I had to look for the “old school” track pants, the ones without the “skinny legs”.

Itch

Ohhh the cast itch!!  It was so bad at one point of time that he woke up in the middle of the night and cried.  He felt helpless.  I could just imagine, your leg- but you can not do anything about it. Healthcare professionals always advise against sticking anything down the cast. I guess in fears that it will get stuck, or if it punctures anything…   Well..  I disregarded that.  If it itches, it itches. You have to scratch it.  I found some sites that said to blow a dryer on the site on the cool setting.  I did not personally try it.  I- being that bad mom that I am, gave him an “itch stick”.  I taped the end of it so that it was not sharp.  It was the stick that held my orchid up.  He would of never been able to live without that.

Medication

For the first week, I made sure that I offered medications, and medicated him before school. I am an advocate on comfort.  You can not crutch through life in pain and discomfort.  It is mentally and physically draining.  I am not advocating “pill popping” on a regular basis.  However, I am an advocate in comfort.  If there is something in my control that I can help, I will. We know that it is during the first week, you are not use to the added weight, you move wrong as you are not use to the cast, and swelling occurs.  So I gave him motrin to help subside some of that pain.

Support 

Of course as a parent, it is obvious that you give your child support.  This is a tough time emotionally and physically. Physical challenges you can deal with, but the emotions are tough.  Sometimes you do not always detect what they are feeling, and sometimes they are overly sensitive.  That was for sure the case in our situation.  It was very difficult for me to assess the situation at all times because of the three younger sibilings. They always require additional attention, and so often I forget that Jimmy needs that extra hand.  He was always very independent.

Support from family and friends. Sometimes this is beyond your control. You can not force others to think of your son in tough times.  However, you sure know who your true supports are when they come through for you during the times you need it most.

Family who would always call, and wish him well.. friends that would come visit, and offer to be with him.  Those people are priceless in your hearts and they could never be replaced.  Words of encouragement, thoughtful treats of ice cream, small gifts, hugs, and words of wisdom always meant a lot.

From our own experience with our son, we will now make this extra effort to show our support. We know that it meant a great deal to us.

How To Help A Friend Feel Better!

Send or bring a card

Everything is electronic these days. Making a handmade letter or card and putting a stamp of it…. priceless.  Some of his hockey friends made him picture cards telling him to feel better.  Score!
Here is a cute homemade card! http://pin.it/oA1nCta

Small thoughtful gift

Our neighbor sent over a gift bag with some treats, magazines, and small toys with encouraging words. Love!

Call

Our far away family members called and made an extra effort to ask how he was doing, what he was doing, and how he was doing it.  Made him vent and rant about his days.

Things to Do!

Ice Cream Date:  Take the kids for an ice cream treat!

Movies:  Go see an old or new movie in the theatres.

Go to a Drive In:  Nothing better than sitting in your own car and watching a movie on the big screen outside!

Science Center: Pull the wagon through the science center with lots to see and do!  But go early to avoid crowds!

Aquarium: Pull the wagon through the huge fish aquariums.

Hockey Game: Get seats to see the OHL! Tickets were much cheaper than seeing the NHL! And we got glass seats!

Zoo: Pull the wagon through the zoo!

Picnic: Pull out your blanket and pack some peanut butter sandwiches!

Play Dates:  Schedule lot of play dates with friends.  We did this on a normal basis, but making the extra effort was helpful.  We all know that good company always lifts spirits.

Easter Egg Hunt: I had booked an Easter Hunt months ago, and I took him-  he had anxiety about not being able to get the eggs- but I told him that he just had to point and I would run.  I took him in the wagon, and pulled the wagon and I ran!  The other kids were looking at me like I was crazy.
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Mini Sticks:  He loved to play hockey, so mini sticks and a ball on the floor was ideal for him.

Hikes:  Fresh air.  Fresh air is so rejunventing for the mind and body.  That is why I was such a strong advocate on taking him out during his lunch hour.  As a family, I love to hike.  I love chasing waterfalls, I love seeing new local sites.  We went on a two hour hike, and pulled Jimmy via wagon.  He got in and out as he pleased, and his little siblings fought for a ride- but they all took turns.

Ball:  He and his dad often played catch in the back yard.  They made it a weekly competition to see how many balls they could catch before one missed.  Simple game.  It is always the simple things that always takes the cake.

Indoor Plasma Car:  We have three plasma cars for the kids.  This was one of the best investments I have ever made.  Guests enjoy using it, and the kids love it.  It was great for Jimmy and his cast because there was plenty of room for him to plop his cast leg on and still steer.

Nerf Guns:  We had a lot of fun utilizing his nerf guns.  He was stationary as we ran around him or just practised shots.

Exercise 

Due to The cast, movement and normal exercise was very limited.  It was now spring, everyone was running around and getting fresh air.  At school, Jimmy was confined to the office at recess and lunch breaks.  He was apparently high risk and teachers were unable to give him one on one supervision.  I felt bad for the poor guy.  They at least gave him a friend to bring to the office so that he could play games together.

On certain nice days I would go to the school at lunch, sign him out and take him for a walk or lunch.  Just to break up the monotany.  It also offered us some great one on one time that he hardley gets when his sibilings are around.

As a parent, you try to protect your child as much as possible.  You don’t want to be that “helicopter mom” and not let your child experience and learn from life.  It is never easy.  You always have to make rationale choices that are best for everyone.

You always will have a broken heart.  It is nothing worse then seeing the sadness, the agony, the anger, and face of defeat on your child.  There is only so much you can do.  You want to do everything in all of your power, but most of the times it is not that realistic.

Enjoy, have fun.  Let him do as much as he can, and whatever he can.  Just because he has an injury doesn’t mean you stop doing things.  Life is as simple as you want it to be. Good Luck!

10 thoughts on “Cast Life Part 2- Tips to Getting Through the Five Weeks!

  1. Yeah my 8 year old has the same injury from a bike fall but the break is worse the cast will be on for 7 weeks. How is hockey for your son and does he limp?

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  2. Thank you for sharing yours and your son’s experience! My 4yr old just got the exact same injury and cast from an unfortunate trampoline mishap… I am thankful for the tips for our future activities! We are also Canadian can you share with us where you got the waterproof cast cover from? I have only been able to find ones up to the knee for kids… Thanks a million!

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  3. Thank you for your article. My 5 year old has same cast length from same bone form ski accident. So tough to keep him still… my heart aches for him! Good idea on the mini sticks. We have no crutches as he’s too young and doctor said no. We’re carrying him everywhere or wheeling.

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