35 Days of Olympic Canoeing in Plaster

I could never believe it could happen to me. Never say never, right? Today marks the 45th day that my leg is in a plaster cast and I am tied to the bed for most of the time. For the first 13 days which I spent in the hospital, I could not even get a shower… but I tell you about that later. The day after tomorrow, however, this injured left limb of mine should finally be released from its plaster of parish – and strangely though it may sound, I look forward to it with mixed feelings.

18052055_10156250108223916_31709303_oControversially, as much as I dislike having a plaster on my leg, after a while I started getting attached to it in a way (at least, to the last one) and believe that it protects me, to the extent that I doubt whether I would be able to have my leg around without pain once it is removed. Like as if it protected me from pain. Which is absurd, of course: otherwise I would not have asked for my second plaster. There was a temporary in the hospital, following the surgery, which was only a half plaster, not a full, round one.

And yet, going with this to the bathroom was a suicidal mission. It was quite memorable, that I sweat more in those five minutes, while I tried to make it from my hospital bed to the toilet, and back, than if I did a 30 minutes weightlifting exercise. First, I had to do it on one leg, with one single crutch under my left arm, while holding the little plastic container, in my right hand, which collected my blood – and, as we know well, it is strictly prohibited to put any weight whatsoever on my injured leg fresh out of surgery.

Enough said, each time I made these few meters back and forth from the bathroom to my bed, I was greatly relieved I did not break anything – including myself, again… 🙂

plaster1The first “real” round plaster was placed on me the day I released from the hospital. It was still wet when I left. A real, “old school” plaster of parish. Heavy, hard and placed on by a single person. Both this man and I tried our best to press and pull my foot back, so that the angle my ankle and foot are as close 90 degrees as possible – without much success… I guess my ankle was fixed in around 110 degrees in this cast.

I had this first plaster for 13 days. By the end it was very inconvenient, and worrying.

Consequence #1: when you carry this amount of unexpected weight on a limb that was unmoved for 2 weeks, and your muscles already started weakening – the weight would still have to be carried… by other parts of your body. And they gradually start to hurt, all the time. For instance, the left side of my hip, the ligaments connecting my leg to my hip, and my right foot, ache every single day from the excessive stress they go under. You are trying to move around on crutches, serve yourself not to feel useless, of course. While at the same time, as the days slowly go by, you realize the pain is getting stronger and sharper in these parts of yours, which are now under heavy duty.

Consequence #2: in the traditional, “old school” plaster my leg was always swollen to the extent, that my toes turned purple in color once I let my leg in a vertical position. Of course, this resulted in a considerable amount of pain as well. The sharp pain was especially typical around my ankle, where the ligaments were damaged and majority of the blood gathered. These together were worrying, so I decided requesting a change.

Consequence #3: sleeping is nearly impossible in any other pose than on your back in this item – do I need to say anything more? Feels as heavy as concrete while you sleep.

Two weeks after the first plaster was put on and almost four weeks after the injury, I was back in the hospital. It was great to meet familiar faces, among them my friend, the Biker. It was less attractive however, to hear the saw, that was used for removing the plaster of some other patients. There was a small boy, who also had a plaster removed from his arm. Poor soul might have thought, that he’ll be able to move his arm just like he could prior to his injury, once the plaster was off. He returned crying from the room.

IMG_20170426_094201Once my plaster was off, my leg was not a nice sight to behold. Even worse, the men performing the change of the plaster assessed that the angle of my ankle and foot closes is not satisfactory: so they decided to press my foot back to 90 degrees. I grabbed the bed I was lying on and tried to pull my foot as hard as I could, but the three of us only managed to get my foot back to around 100 degrees… More sweat, than actual results, unfortunately…

plaster2Well, at least I had the option to change to a new plaster during the process. This time I had the opportunity to try an orthopedic resin plaster. They informed me that an x-ray would follow the process and if there is a problem with the bones, I would lose the money I paid for the plaster. Fortunately, this was not the case and I received a much lighter equipment.

The weight difference between the traditional plaster and the orthopedic resin is significant. The latter is so much lighter! Although none of them are water proof, due to its lighter weight, the resin plaster makes it also much easier to move around. Huge advantage, a relief on crutches and in the bed both, but especially when taking a shower!

Speaking of which: taking a shower was the most complicated process I had to perform in a plaster! It needs to be a carefully thought over process not to lose one’s balance and cause further damage. It is also physically demanding – especially for the healthy limb again, and may lead to either cursing, or hysterical laughing at your own clumsiness…

The first time I managed taking a shower on my own against a bathtub, two weeks after getting in-and-out of the hospital, I felt like an Olympic champion in the men’s Canoe Single event. Not only because of the presence of water and the achievement itself, but rather the pose I had to strike in order to manage this feat. With the injured leg in the old, heavy plaster of parish, hanging out of the bathtub, covered in a towel – just in case, so that it won’t get wet – and kneeing on the other, healthy leg… I surely looked ridiculous – and still do ever since – but trust me, especially the first time: I felt like Attila Vajda. 🙂


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