Saturday, February 7, 2015
Practical Tips for Post-Orthopedic Injury Care
I recently fractured my fibula and sprained several ribs on the opposite side. I think that possibly because I was a medical administrative professional in a prior life and could understand and speak their language, the doctors and nurses assumed I would know more about how to handle all of this than I actually did.
Well, savvy as I was, I'd never experienced a broken leg, or sitting for weeks at a time, and had no idea of how to proceed. I was just as spacey and shocky and clueless (and then drugged) as any other patient in the emergency room. I ended up feeling like I should have gotten a basic care sheet with ideas on how to handle the practical aspects of immobility.
Practical Suggestions for Post-orthopedic Injury Care
Some of these apply to any time you are injured or immobilized for any length of time.
1. Get full information. It helps to have someone with you who can ask questions, listen to the answers and write things down. When you are in shock or pain, you tend not to remember what you were told. Asking these questions will alleviate anxiety when you get home - and that makes it easier to heal.
You may not receive detailed after-care instructions when you leave. If you do, read them carefully the next day.
- from the Emergency Room before you leave there.
Where is the nearest pharmacy?
Are pharmacies open now? (after-hours, on weekends)
What are the side effects of the drugs you are prescribing?
How do I use the tools you gave me? (crutches, walker, cane, wheelchair)
Why are those tools appropriate for my current physical state?
What resources are available to help with my care?
- from the doctors you subsequently see
Formulate questions before your appointment and write them down.
Write down the answers.
What can I do? What are my limits?
How much pain should I reasonably expect?
2. Ask for help. Get as much help and as many helping tools as you can, as soon as possible. Relying on one person to handle your care puts a big stress on that other person. Spread out your care and arrange for respite for your primary care provider. Many people may offer help and care – be specific about what aid you need. Don’t get offended if people don’t follow through or seem to be more interested in their own problems and ailments.
3. If you are unable to lie down and will be mostly sitting, immediately get a doughnut pillow that cradles your butt and relieves pressure.
4. Change position at least hourly. After changing position, massage area lightly if possible. Staying in one position for hours at a time often leads to pressure sores (so-called “bed sores”). Muscles can also harden and circulation lessens if you are not moving around or being massaged regularly.
5. Bone fractures take energy to heal. You may need to eat more calories to sustain healing, and be sure to eat lots of dark leafy greens and calcium-rich foods.
6. Narcotic pain relievers can be enormously useful if they are utilized with caution, care and awareness. They can also be addictive no matter how aware you are that they can be addictive. Your pain may not go away, but you will think about it differently. Use them under medical supervision and in conjunction with other healing methods and other ways of changing your thinking.
Your thinking directly affects your feelings and healing, particularly criticism of yourself or others. When I was critical of my emergency medical care afterwards, I immediately experienced increased pain in my leg. I then blessed them and acknowledged that they did the best they could under the circumstances and that I was grateful for their care. The pain went away immediately.
7. Send loving calming energy to your injured part. Reassure it. Smile into it frequently. Smiling often changes your entire outlook. Changing your posture can also change your outlook.
8. Remember that your worth is not dependent on what you can DO.
9. Patience and gratitude are qualities worth cultivating.
10. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others, and be very kind to everyone.
contains 10 very good tips as well as a description of a much more serious injury and her experiences afterward.