Hand Surgery Next Week and Need Some Advice, Please

lynninnewmexicoFebruary 10, 2014

I recently ruptured the ligament that holds my right index finger in place on my hand. For those of you in medicine, it's at the metacarpal-phalangeal joint. For those not in medicine, it's at the joint between my right index finger and my hand. As like most of them, it was a stupid rather than a dramatic injury. I was attempting to unscrew a jar lid and felt a sharp, burning pain at the joint. That's all it took.

(Sigh) In the whole grand scheme of things, this is not a major event. Cancer is major. A broken leg is major. This will be a day surgery that, per my new hand surgeon, should only take ninety minutes or so. The problem for me is that I'll then be in a splint for the next 6-8 weeks and I am right-handed! Our kids both live out of state now. DH has a busy family practice and his office is a 30 minute drive from our home. All of our siblings live out of state. My one best friend lives an hour away. The other watches her two and three year old grandsons during the day and some evenings. So, I'm going to be taking care of me, the house and the dogs everyday, M-F, from 7AM-7PM.

I'm trying to quickly come up with things I need to get done before next Monday morning (2/17). Can you help me plan, please? The only things I come up with is to make and freeze some dinners and to get the house clean. Both kind of tough because my hand is splinted and hurting, but they will get done. What am I forgetting???

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If you don't already have someone to clean the house then you need to do that for sure. Also arrange through your vet or local SPCA or highschool or your church to have rotating young people come to care for the dogs. You don't need to have a possibly rambunctious pooch cause you a serious set back.

That takes care of pets and cleanliness...you got the food and DH can always bring something home from a gourmet takeaway...or you could get a local caterer to prepare meals for a week and deliver...we have several in our area that do this and they are geared to your diet. GOOD LUCK!! c

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:22PM
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Relax and don't worry about it too much. You will adapt and not notice you are doing things to compensate while you are healing. I had nerve damage in my hand and it stayed swollen the size of a softball for 4 months before they figured what was causing it. My wrist doesn't rotate or bend anymore because of it but I do things now with it and don't even realize that it doesn't bend.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:25PM
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I had a similar surgery and recovery many years ago when my kids were 1 & 4 years old. DH was at work all day and I had no other help. It wasn't so bad, people manage after losing a hand/arm, at least my injury was only temporary. Luckily you don't have to worry about changing diapers one handed or trying to feed the baby with your left hand!

- Front closing bra
- elastic waist pants
- plastic bags to cover arm during shower
- have DH open any jars or foods you might need!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:36PM
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I agree with above... you will quickly learn to compensate. I couldn't imagine how I would be able to perform everyday tasks when I broke my right arm and wrist which resulted in a frozen shoulder and lots of PT. But most days I showered, washed and blew dry my hair and applied make-up. Though DH was home 4-5 days a week and did a lot, I still drove, ran errands, continued with our daily walks, and even moved from one house to another including cleaning the house we were leaving (w/DH's help!). It is really quite amazing how we learn to compensate; you'll become adept at using your left hand, toes, teeth, and whatever else is handy.:) If you can get help with housecleaning, prepare meals in advance, and anticipate any other needs, that would be helpful. Just try to slow things down a bit and rest with plenty of reading materials. Best of luck!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:42PM
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Instead of trying to tape on a plastic bag, go to a medical supply store and buy a rubber 'condom' (that's what DH called it) for your hand/arm for showers. Much easier. DH dislocated and broke a finger back around Thanksgiving and had a cast for a few weeks. I had one I had used on my leg when I had knee surgery but it was too big so we found one for arms. It has a tight fitting flange you slip over your hand so you might need help with it.

This post was edited by outsideplaying on Mon, Feb 10, 14 at 18:57

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:55PM
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One thing that might be hard is putting on/fastening bra…maybe do it before DH leaves for the office?

Do you have easy to maintain hair…having that as simple as possible might be helpful.

They will release you from Post Op with instructions, of course, but probably not helpful hints.

If I think of more, I will add them later. Sorry you have to have the inconvenience of this, Lynn

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:12PM
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I broke my right wrist (in 3 places) and had to have surgery to put in a plate and pins in September. At least you have advance warning! I found the hardest things to do were my own personal care. I do recommend the plastic sleeve for you arm, it was a lot easier than a trash bag and a rubber band. I got pretty adept at applying makeup left handed, but blow drying my hair was hard. I bought one of those hair dryers with a round brush on the end, and that helped. My daughter put a jar opener under a cabinet for me. She also got me a small shopping basket that I could carry things around in, similar to the ones in a supermarket but prettier! I found the easiest way to put on a bra was to pre-fasten it and step into it and pull it up. I couldn't use a front closing one because of my cast.

Don't forget as you prepare food in advance, that it won't be easy for you to cut your own food! I broke by wrist while out of town. When I got back to the hotel after having it set and casted at the emergency room, I had to ask the hotel waiter to cut my food.

Good luck. And you will become pretty good at accomplishing things left handed.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:22PM
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I'd plan for the first week to be rough, what with pain and being groggy from pain killers and not knowing how to do things with your hand all wrapped up.

Have some meals in the freezer, get dog walkers, plan to make things as easy as possible for yourself that week. That could mean eating a lot of take out or using paper plates or not cleaning at all. Whatever it takes to get you through.

Good luck with the surgery!

By the second week, you'll have a better idea of what you can and can't do. Then you can discuss with your husband what you can do, what he can do and what you'll ignore or hire out until you have completely recovered.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:22PM
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I smashed my right thumb and i'm right handed. Here are the things that were toughest for me:

Putting on pierced earrings - wear one pair for a few weeks.
Zipping a zipper on jeans - avoid zipper pants, at least at the beginning
Tying shoes - get used to only slip ons
Buttoning buttons, especially tiny ones.

These are all 2 handed activities that were tough. It was pretty easy to adapt with the rest of life.

Hope all goes smoothly.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:19PM
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When I broke my right wrist a few years ago, I found the cast cover to be very helpful, but still needed someone to put it on and take off because my arm was too tender to manage the elastic alone and with just one hand. So you might need to plan to shower when your husband is around.

I had my hair cut a little shorter just before the surgery.

Cleaning the house and cooking dinners in advance would not be my priority. Sandwiches, take-out, and frozen dinners will suffice.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:20PM
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Maybe kennel the dogs for a few days so you don't have to worry about taking care of them initially? Yes, you'll feel better if the house is clean and in order beforehand. Then, forget about a bra, put on your expando pants and nosh on comfort food to "get your strength back".....a box of chocolates would be very helpful! Seriously, hope everything goes well.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:47PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I'd contact a high schooler and have them come over every afternoon for an hour or two to help you take care of things...whatever it is that you need.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 9:46PM
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Definitely get a dog walker for the first week! Mine saved my life when I broke my leg with 3 dogs at home, our house on the market and my husband overseas--I couldn't drive because my vehicle is a 5 speed and I broke my clutch leg, so she picked up groceries, walked the dogs and--when a blood clot from my leg caused a pulmonary embolism and I landed in ICU, she took my dogs home with her until they flew DH home.

So...make sure you have important numbers (drugstore, doctor, taxi etc) on speed dial or by the phone. Using the phone book is a pain left handed. If you feed your dogs canned food, remember the can opener won't work for you!

Buy a bunch of gel ice packs & keep them in your fridge vs the freezer--they're softer & more flexible that way and don't hurt bruised post op skin. Find out what pain med your doctor is prescribing and if it's narcotic or opiate based, get lots of high fibre foods.

Stock up on videos or books for your reading device and hit the sofa for the first 3 days. You'll find the pain will increase if your hand isn't elevated, do you might want to make sure you have a sling or two on hand.

Finally, I always find that anesthetics make me loopy and prone to overdoing it for about 3 days. So, no matter how energetic you feel DON'T decide to start your spring cleaning.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 10:18PM
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I never would have guessed one could do so much damage in opening a jar. you poor dear Lynn!

Without reading anyone elses response I'm going to say you're forgetting that your injured and you need to take care of yourself. Granted being a woman/wife/mom/grammy, I know how impossible that can be. Maybe you're actually lucky in that you only have yourself to take care of during the day and your hubby, I'm sure, can take care of himself when he's home and give you a bit of a break.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 11:12PM
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Definately buy paper plates. Hope all goes well and you can check back in here with one handed typing.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 11:29PM
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Ouch! I hope your surgery goes well, and your recovery is quick and uneventful.

Having had more than one foot surgery, I can wholeheartedly recommend XeroSox (cast cover, waterproof). I linked a site below with descriptions, etc. I couldn't access XeroSox's own site on my iPad (no flash player).

It might be a little tough getting it on over your cast, one handed, but it's doable I think, and definitely will get easier after the initial days post-surgery. I got mine (1/2 leg version) when I had both of my feet operated at the same time over ten years ago. I used them the day after my surgery, and every day after that until the Dr gave his ok to get my feet wet. I showered with them on, and they kept my feet completely dry. I used one of them when I had another surgery almost two years after that surgery, and again this past December after yet another surgery (bone spurs, and a toe needing to be "de-rotated"). As before, I showered every day after my surgery without worrying that I'd get my foot wet. It kept my foot nice and dry.

Keep crackers, juice or ginger ale, a water bottle, and even a bottle of stool softeners by your bedside those first days (at least) if you'll be taking any pain killers. I'm always concerned about the possibility of stomach upset, or constipation when I have to take pain killers so I always nibble on a few crackers and take a stool softener, whenever I need to take a pain pill after surgery (I switch to Motrin as soon as I can, which actually relieves the pain better for me anyway). Keeping those things close at hand (along with magazines, my iPad, TV remote....) at least meant I didn't have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to get them if I needed them.

Here is a link that might be useful: XeroSox

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 12:37AM
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Lynn so sorry to hear this. My daughter had two major surgeries on her hand two weeks apart and she was unable to drive or do anything with the hand for 3 months. The first day I brought over a walker with a basket and told her it would be helpful getting clothes, makeup etc. for a shower and toting things around the house, she laughed at me. Two days later she was using it for everything. She could push it with one hand and even bring her food over to the table to sit down and eat. When you can't use one hand, some sort of push or pull cart is so helpful. By day four she was cooking with one hand even though the other one had rods sticking out of it. I then brought my grabber scissor like thingee that picks things up off the floor etc. She loved that. In fact she still has it lol. I think you'll do okay. I do agree someone to help with the dogs. She has four cats so I was over there most days doing most everything. Iron anything you'll need now as you won't be doing that for a while. Buttons will be hard to close so sweats around the house will do. Oh and have your dh open any bottles of water you may want during the day. Make a list of what he has to do before he leaves. Good luck and take care of yourself.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 3:59AM
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I second the suggestion of buying a stool softener in advance. And start taking it early after the surgery before you realize you have a problem.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 8:20AM
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Lynn, I have few suggestions but I want to send you the best wishes for a speedy recovery. I'm so sorry this happened to you. DH has been dealing with a bum wrist that he seems to keep injuring. His Dr is a cyclist who is going through the same thing.

Good luck with your surgery and consider yoga pants for awhile.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 8:42AM
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Function over fashion, elastic waist pants.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 12:58PM
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Ask for and receive as much help as possible. Don't try to do everything yourself. Allow the house to get a little messy. Allow DH to do a little extra. Eat take out and enjoy it.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 1:09PM
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I knew that I could count on you all to help me make a list of things I need to do and buy before my surgery. Thank you!!!

I hope I didn't come across as whiney and needing sympathy. Having worked in medicine for many years, I totally know how minimal this kind of surgery is compared to having an amputation, cancer or some other major thing. I was just panicking, worrying about what I might be forgetting to do in time. I really feel much better now, with your great ideas. I seriously would not have thought of 3/4 of them until after my surgery!

Trail: good idea about my dogs! I'm calling my housesitter who lives just down the road and asking her to walk my dogs. Ronin, my 90-pound Doberman can be especially energetic and playful. You're right, I don't need him accidentally causing me any setbacks. Will talk to DH about take-out, too.

Insteng: OMG, yours sounded much worse than mine! If you could do it, I can surely manage, too. Thank you :~)

Chispa: another one! Your timing, with little ones, was much worse than mine. You are amazing! Great ideas, all. I hadn't thought of any of those . . . except having DH open all of my jars (LOL)!!!

Funnygirl: good advice. It will be a good opportunity for me to slow down, as I tend to pack too much into each day. That, in itself, is a positive. Thanks, and I am adding "gather together some good reading material" to my list.

Outsideplaying: I had no idea they made anything like that! I ran it past DH last night and he's going to get one for me . . . and he loved your hubby's name for it. Too funny!!

Lizzie: good idea about the bras! And, yes, had my hair cut shorter recently to just 3" below my shoulders. It looks cute enough now just finger combed and air-dried.

Camlan: forgot about the grogginess that comes with the strong pain-killers and asked DH if I'd be on them. He said absolutely, for at least the first few days. Am taking your advice to make and freeze meals so that he can quickly and easily make our dinners those first post-op days. DH is an excellent cook, but won't have time to make anything decent when he gets home from the office. Last night I made 4 individual Shepherd's Pie, and froze 2 for later. Today I'm making my homemade meatballs and will freeze half in spaghetti sauce and half in a stroganoff sauce. Thanks!

Jshore: I love your idea of a small carrying basket for around the house! That makes so much sense and am definitely going to get one. Good to hear it is possible to put on makeup with your left hand (LOL). And, thanks for the reminder about not being able to cut my food easily. I hadn't thought of that one either, but will cut things smaller when making my freezer meals. Your own recent wrist fractures and surgery were major, with the plate and pins! You're right, at least I have the luxury of planning this surgery and 2 month recovery. You didn't, poor thing! Thanks for sharing your ideas and support.

Jmc101: more things I hadn't thought of! I need to get all my sweats and my new yoga pants clean and ready to go. I'll tell DH he needs to start practicing putting in my pierced earrings. You're right, that 's something I won't be able to do for quite a while . . . and I always wear earrings :~(

Graywings: Hmmmm, I hadn't thought about my hand/wrist being too tender and needing help getting the cast cover on. Good point! DH & I are really cutting down on our carb intake in a major way, so I'm trying to avoid sandwich meals and store bought frozen foods, but we may have to resort to both. Reminder to myself: stock up on canned tuna, those low-cal, multigrain sandwich rounds and Lean Cuisines.

Joanie: I'd miss my furbabies too much to kennel them, but you're right, I do need to get my housesitter to come walk and feed them for me. I LOVE your idea to just forget the bras and wear "expando pants"! Comfort foods. OMG, yes! You've reminded me to make my favorite comfort food now, my homemade chicken noodle soup . . . and a box of chocolates. Yumm!

Annie: that's a great idea! I'll talk to my friend see if she knows of one who's dependable and can come over after school for a couple of hours. She could do up the dishes, set the table, start dinner. She could even walk and feed the dogs. Thanks for that idea!!!

OMG Baroo2u, what a nightmare that was . . . you poor thing! All great ideas and am putting every one on my list. Had totally not thought of getting more gel packs or putting them in the fridge instead of the freezer! Thank you!

Justgotabme: you're right, I need to make sure I'm taking care of me. DH will spoil me when he gets home. Sadly, no grandbabies yet, but you gave me a great idea. I can try and play on DS's sympathies and tell him the thought of a grandchild would make me feel soooo much better . . . so get off the stick, will you?!? (LOL)

Natesgram: good idea! My dishwasher is broken and DH and I can't agree whether to get it fixed (him) or buy a new one (me). I've been doing dishes by hand for the past month now while we debate it. Paper plates, cups, bowls . . . now on my list!

Cat Mom: thanks for the link to the XeroSox site. That's exactly what I want for my arm! Am putting everything else on my list, too. Forgot about the crackers, but they are great for queasy stomachs.

Yayagal: Oh gosh, your poor daughter! I hope I'm not stuck at home unable to drive. That would kill me. I like your idea of the grab scissors. I should be able to find a pair at Walmart or Home depot. Good idea about having DH open my water bottles and get other things ready before he leaves in the mornings. Thanks!

Golddust: thanks you. Yes, yoga pants! I bought one pair recently but good idea to buy a couple more. They're nicer looking that my old sweat pants.

Well, this post took me forever to type with my bum hand, (LOL) but I did want to thank each one of you for your great suggestions. This impending surgery threw me for a loop. I guess I just was a bit stunned and couldn't think straight about what to do and what I might need. I feel much better and more prepared for it now, though. My sincere thanks!

This post was edited by lynninnewmexico on Tue, Feb 11, 14 at 15:14

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 1:55PM
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((((Sending healing thoughts Lynn))))

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Lynn, enjoy the spoiling while you can. Though my hubby does pretty much spoil me all the time, it's nothing like after the two times I was hospitalized. Granted it's not something you want to do just for the extra attention, that's for sure. I hope you heal extra fast. And become a Grammy too boot! Ha ha ha.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 2:42PM
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When I broke my arm, the first thing I did was to buy clothes that I could get dressed in by myself so that I could go to work. When I had checked my closet, I discovered that all my tops either fastened in the back or, if they buttoned in the front, had long sleeves that couldn't fit over the cast.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:00PM
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Lynn, sorry to hear of your plight. Never would have thought of such an injury from opening a bottle etc. I have wondered what manufacturers are thinking when I attempt to open something from the pantry. We are retired so hubby is usually here to open what I can't.

Do take care of yourself and try to let us know how you are doing.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 6:16PM
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Sorry to hear about your troubles.

Here is what came to mind:

Loose elastic pants you can get on and off alone (leggings are too tight to do with 1 hand)

If you drink diet coke, make sure it's canned and not in a bottle, so you can open with 1 hand. If you drink coffee, might need pre-ground so you can make with 1 hand.

Socks and slippers that you can get on and off with 1 hand. Socks can be hard sometimes.

Set your computer mouse to "left click".

get one of those MTWTFSS pill box things so you aren't trying to twist open the RX bottles. This is also a good double-check to remember if you did or did not take a dose. I also advise charting when meds were taken. It can be confusing to remember, especially if on more than 1 or if they are narcotic type pain meds.

Do your "errands" now with help. Stock up on TP, paper towels, dog food, toothpaste, laundry and dish soap. This way you won't run out for a while.

And download some nice videos or get netflix on your computer or tablet. So nice to read/listen to in bed.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 7:32PM
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I have saved my best advice for last....

You will forget something pretty significant in all this planning. Give yourself permission to say "it's ok" and then ask for help.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 7:40PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Lynn, everyone has given you such good suggestions. All I can add is hugs from here in northern VA. ((((Lynn))))

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:10PM
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I hope your surgery goes smoothly and you have a speedy recovery!


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Thanks Ladies! Am rushed for time but wanted to say that DH has ordered the cast cover that Outsideplaying and Cat Mom suggested. It should get here on Friday. Thank you for that one, Ladies!!

Have made and frozen 4 dinners so far: Shepherd's Pie, Spaghetti and my homemade meatballs, Meatball Stroganoff and (today) my homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Thanks to Joanie for reminding me to think about comfort foods. I made my own personal comfort food: my homemade Chicken Noodle Soup this afternoon! Thanks to Jshore's suggestion, I'm making sure that everything is pre-cut into small pieces as I won't be able to cut things for at least the first week. I had NOT even thought of that before she suggested it!

I have my list (thanks to you all) of things to do and to buy in the next 4 days and am checking them off one by one. I feel so, so much more prepared because of you all. I am usually a super-organized person, but have found that in stressful times like this, I do need a little help from my friends. Thank you for that!

I'm off to go iron 3 or 4 shirts for DH. By Sunday, I'll have a at least a week's worth ironed and ready for him.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 9:49PM
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OK ... having been there and done that, but it was BOTH wrists encasted once, and a few other non-working hand episodes.

You will develop some left-handedness before this is over.

1 - Find a house cleaner and a dog sitter for at least the first couple of weeks. Even if you just hire the neighbor's teenager and supervise them, they can do the toting and tugging.

2 - Rely on pre-made dinners, frozen foods and takeout for a week or two after the surgery. There are decent if not gourmet easy-cook stuff.

3 - Have your DH open all packets, cans and jars you will use for cooking BEFORE he leaves for work.

Get one of those strap wrenches for opening jars.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:18PM
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Reading through all the posts I don't see the 1 topic covered that my DH ran into when he got his knuckle replacement done & he's right handed!! The pre moistened bathroom wipes ARE life savers!!!

Ditto on the stool softeners & lots of water.. Lots of luck !!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:31PM
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I am glad we've all been able to provide some useful suggestions!

It might be a little tough getting the XeroSox's on one handed, but you can take it slow manuevering your hand inside it or just wait to shower until evening, when your DH is home, and can help. After the first few days, it'll be easier (when you can tolerate a little more pressure as you slip your hand thru the opening).

I think you will do just fine! :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 11:43PM
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Wishing you all the best for surgery and recovery Lynn.

I have had 3 events in the last few years where I was not able to do things I normally could. Since I live alone I am very grateful for family and friends and a paid employee to cover all bases.

Most topics have been covered I think so I can only add to allow yourself to reduce your expectations. If one tries to have everything perfect, or even usual, it can be very frustrating. Just do your best, ask for help when needed, and let yourself relax and enjoy the quieter time. You will soon be able to do what needs to be done but, for now, allow others to do for you.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 5:03PM
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Lynn, you sound very organized to me and I sincerely hope your surgery and recovery go as expected. I still can't get over the freakish way it happened.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 5:26PM
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I just thought of another helpful thing I had when I broke my wrist; another of my thoughtful daughter's ideas. A "Sticky Pad", which were originally meant for use in the car, naturally adhered to my granite in the kitchen and held jars and medicine containers in place so I could open them one handed. I think they sell them at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Again, best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 9:24PM
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Good luck! Sounds like a real annoyance, but hopefully soon over.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 12:35PM
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I haven't read all the responses, but if you're going to be home alone, be sure they send any meds home with easy open lids, not the kid proof ones. Hard enough to open with two good hands!

Hope your recovery will be swift and full.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 10:44PM
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