My situation was unique in that my doctor had said I could go back to work by week 3, but my husband was going out of town on a business trip. Since I broke my right leg, I canít drive - and even if I could, how would I get my scooter into the car, out of the car, down or up stairs? - it just wouldnít have worked.
If you know something is coming up, have your surgeon write you a Work Ability Report that covers as long as you need. If you can work from home, have him state in the report that you will work from home during your recovery time. This protects you and your employer (you for getting your full paycheck and your employer from not having to worry about workerís comp if something stupid happens while you are there). DO NOT - I repeat - DO NOT go back to work until the date your surgeon says you can return, which is on your Work Ability Report. Give yourself an extra week or so - youíll thank yourself later.
If you have a bathtub you may be scared to get in there and have a shower - donít be. I found the bathtub was much, MUCH easier to get in and out of than my momís freestanding shower. If I had to use a freestanding shower again, I would have made sure I got some kind of ramp could have used to get over the lip, because crutches are scary enough without adding a wet floor into the mix.
Get yourself a bath stool or better yet the extra-wide 2 seater one that has a back. If you donít have a handheld shower, you can get an inexpensive add-on such as the kind you use for pets (this is the one I have). There are also ones that slip on over your tubís spout although they donít work with square spouts and spray everywhere if youíre not careful. A rubber tub mat is also helpful. If you can replace your shower head with one that also has a handheld shower, I think that would work best.
Use Dove soaps - or some kind of super-moisturizing soap. A bar of soap is easier to handle and doesnít make everything in the tub slippery like body wash can. I like exfoliating cloths too. There are pockets for shower curtains are SUPER handy. You can get them at Target.
Leg Covering for Bathing
I really should have bought the Curad covers. The ones with rubber seals are more expensive and they are SO TIGHT - really hard to get on. Supplement your cover with Glad Press N Seal if you have to. Itís only for a couple of weeks until the stitches come out - if youíre lucky like me and have an AirCast. If youíre in plaster, get the Curad.
Dove Soap, a sink, a washcloth & towel and knee scooter gets me through most days. I shower twice a week to wash my hair. The rest of the time I soap up in the half bathroom, to keep fresh.
* Put Crystal deodorant on first and let dry. Then use your regular deodorant over it. Youíll stay stink free up to 24 hours longer than usual.
* Get yourself some hair turbans so you donít get stuck off balance by a heavy wet towel on your head.
* Wrap a towel around your waist when sponge bathing to catch any drips, because towels on the floor + crutches/scooter = bad.
* Keep a cane near each toilet to help you get up. Youíll probably end up using it later as you start putting weight on the injured leg.
* Put your orphan socks to use as toe warmers.
Stars are a challenge and I chose not to use crutches on them. I live in a four-level townhouse where the lowest level is the garage. Get some kneepads and wear them when using the stairs. Your knees will thank you and you will save wear on your clothes.
After much trial and error I found this to be the safest way to go up and down stairs:
Put the knee of your injured leg on the first step. Place your hands flat, shoulder-width apart, on the step above. Using your good leg, push off from the floor keeping the knee in line with your shoulder (or just close center). Move hands up to next step. Move knee of injured leg up a step. Your good leg is probably almost straight now. Bring foot of good leg up to the first step, press off and repeat.
You can scoot down on your butt, but itís easy to lose control and whack your bad leg. I usually just reverse the process of going up the stairs when going down.
Your arms will hurt as you use new muscles, but it gets better after the first couple of weeks. If your good knee starts to hurt, check your alignment: knee-hip-shoulder it keeps you stable and makes you use your quads instead of your back.
If your wrists hurt, make fists and push off with the fist, keeping your wrist straight Engage your shoulders and core muscles. I think ďElephant FeetĒ when my hands are in fists, and it lessens the stress on the carpal tunnel area.
Yeah, youíre gonna crawl. Get used to it. Itís humiliating, and you may just lay down in the hall and cry a couple of times. If you feel like crying, then cry. Youíll feel better in the long run. Crying also helps you accept what youíre going through, and work through it.
* Get rid of all floor rugs. Wall to wall carpeting will be your friend.
* If you have knee pain crawling, get some kneepads to use at home. Or just get them to start with like I should have.
* Knee pain is usually exacerbated by poor alignment. Go slow, concentrate and engage large muscle groups.
* Try really hard not to twist your good knee when moving around. Especially when using a knee scooter. It wears down the meniscus and causes pain.
* Toilets: open the lid, back up to the toilet, reach down behind you with a hand and lower yourself down. Getting up: reverse the process or use a cane.
* Grab Bars: There are plenty of nice ones out there that donít look like grab bars. Be kind to yourself and install them where you need them. (I didnít, and wish I had.) When you are healed, remove them, patch and paint the holes.
* Unscented moisturizers: delay the onset of funky smells from your Aircast.