A Broken Wrist Demands Adaptation: Dealing With The Risk of Rare Injury

September 1, 2015

Many rare diseases can cause injury-like symptoms, disjointedness or actual broken bones. Joan Friedlander takes us through her experience with a broken wrist to demonstrate how you can care for these often unexpected challenges.

by Joan Friedlander

In January’s post, “Can You, Should You, Dare You?” I wrote about how much mental and physical energy it takes to heal a body that has been compromised by disease for a number of years. I received a direct reminder of that truth when I slipped on an ice patch in February, which landed me with full force on my right wrist, resulting in a fracture that required surgery.

It is now several months since surgery. It was three months before I could reasonably write with my right hand (of course I’m right handed) and use it to carry out most of the tasks of living again. It is not completely healed and in the evening it sometimes reminds me, “we’re not done yet.” But, those first few weeks? Exhausting.

I live by myself and had to quickly learn how to adapt to my broken wing. I was so lopsided in my posture – with my right arm in a brace and a sling, needing to rely on my weaker left hand and arm to do everything – that all “normal” activities took twice as long to accomplish. By the time I finished getting dressed, eating breakfast and cleaning a few dishes, I was already exhausted. And I needed to eat again!

At the same time, it was marvelous to notice how my body instinctively adapted to its limitations and “told” me to what it needed.

Most Difficult and Exhausting

  • Washing dishes
  • Washing my hair and taking a shower or bath (imagine a bug flipped over on its back with legs a flailing)
  • Writing checks and addressing envelopes

Creative Adaptations

  • A few days after the surgery I asked a friend to come by and cut up a bunch of vegetables so that I could just open containers and grab what I wanted for my meals. (I was, at least, able to drive my car and do my own shopping.)
  • After a couple of exhausting showers and baths I figured out it would be more comfortable to wash my hair in the kitchen sink. This way I could rest one leg on a chair and my right elbow on the counter next to the sink. Much easier on the body.
  • When it was OK to start to use my right hand just a little bit, I slipped my forearm into a dishwashing glove and secured that with an old headband to keep the water out. Before then, I used a big garbage bag secured onto my forearm with self-sticking ace wrap.
  • A friend suggested that I switch to on-line bill pay so I wouldn’t have to write as many checks. I know, what was I waiting for? Done.


I still wear a wrap around my wrist to protect my scar and offer some light support. One day, when I noticed the ace wrap was dirty and fraying, I designed a leather wrap to replace it. It is equally as supportive but nicer looking! Many people think it’s just a piece of jewelry.

When it Comes to Healing, the Body is Truly Smart

Just like when I was pregnant, immediately after surgery my body “told” me what to eat. It craved protein and lots of ph-balanced water. I bought home-made nutrient-rich bone broth from a local vendor and otherwise ate lots of soup loaded with plenty of chicken and cooked vegetables. This is not my normal diet. When it was done with the acute phase of healing, those cravings went away.

  • Trust the body
  • Accept your Limitations
  • Ask for and accept help when and where you need It

What about you? What kind of adaptations have you made? What has your body shown you?

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