Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Living Beautifully with a Broken Bone

I broke my foot earlier this summer—a Jones Fracture—and had to have surgery to have a screw put in.  I’m currently in recovery-mode and am almost completely reliant on the help of others for most things.  It has not been a pleasant experience (though it has been as pleasant as we could make it).  But complaining about my life right now is not the point of this blog or even of this entry. 

I’m in my third week of recovery, almost fifth week since I broke the foot.  That is a long time to struggle with keeping yourself clean and fresh feeling, especially when you don’t have the balance needed to properly shower while keeping your leg out of the water and you can’t just sit in a bath because you can’t get your bandages wet.  Nor would I be able to get out of the tub without someone helping me.  I’m currently staying with my parents so they can help me.  I could happily go the rest of my life without either of them seeing me naked as a grown woman.

Traditional showering and bath-taking are just out of the question.

What does one do in a situation like this?

The Cerulean and Pink™ Guide to Not Being Disgusting While Recovering from a Broken Bone (w/ Shopping List!)
(Note: If you have one of those fancy stools you can just put in the shower and/or don’t have to worry about getting bandages wet, then a lot of this might not apply to you.)

Removing the Betadine Post-Surgery:
Betadine is the orange stuff you will have all over the area that required surgery.  It is a topical antiseptic the hospitals use pre-op.  It serves no purpose once you're home though and should be cleaned off.  My doctor painted my leg past my knee with the stuff, and it would not come off.  I did a search online and found site after site recommending straight rubbing alcohol.  That didn't work for me at all unless I scrubbed the same spot until it was raw.  The closest thing to me that could possibly help were my Pond's Wet Cleansing Towelettes.  These took it right off with very little scrubbing!

For DAILY body washing:
Scrub!  This can be done with a damp washcloth and a small amount of soap, but that requires a lot of rinsing and rewetting of washcloths.  I don’t have the balance for that, and my good leg doesn’t love holding me up for the amount of time it takes for me to accomplish this.  This will change once I no longer have to worry about wet bandages, but for now I’ve found an alternative to sponge/washcloth bathing that works.  I use makeup remover wipes—the really soapy ones—to scrub my skin.  I follow it up with unscented baby wipes because they remove the soapiness without leaving a residue of their own.  (I’m sure I could skip the soapier wipes and just use baby wipes, but I don’t feel as clean doing it that way.)

It’s important to note that you still need to do a traditional sponge/washcloth bath whenever you’re up to it.  Otherwise you get a weird residue buildup on your skin and your skin can get pretty dry.  At least mine did, but that was also a side effect of the pain meds, so I can’t really say what was causing it.  You will also be much cleaner bathing this way, so definitely make the attempt as often as possible, doing the other stuff in between.

For armpits:
If you are worried about armpit smells or really do have an odor despite washing with the other things, I strongly recommend a wipe down with witch hazel.  You can put a couple drops of essential oil in there too if you want fragrance.  If you’re willing to pay a little more, Sprouts and similar stores carry Desert Essence Natural Cleansing Pads.  These are really for your face, but work really well on your underarms too.  They contain Tea Tree oil and other natural oils that are good for your skin, acting as antiseptics, antifungals, and antimicrobials.  Good stuff all around.  This is what I have been using and have not needed to use deodorant this whole time.  (This works all the time too!  Not just when you're recovering from a broken bone.)

For face:
My face was breaking out even though I haven’t worn makeup since my pre-op appointment four weeks ago.  I’m assuming it’s a reaction of my immune system to the break and the healing process.  I break out whenever I’m sick as well.  I was washing with pre-moistened face cloths, but things were actually getting worse.   I started following that up with the Desert Essence Natural Cleansing Pads and have seen a huge improvement.  That got rid of most of it.  I also did a facial with straight lime juice that cleared up everything that was left.  Just rub a lime or lime juice (fresh, not bottled) all over your face, let sit for a minute or two (no more than that!) and then rinse.  I didn’t use a moisturizer after, but you may need one if you have super sensitive skin.

For hair:
You can just use whatever you usually do here.  You’ll have an interesting time figuring out exactly what works for you to get this done.  This is the only place I’m having a hard time being self-reliant.  My mom is having to wash my hair for me, but it’s a pain, so we aren’t doing it as often as I prefer to wash my hair.  My scalp and roots get oily fast, but we’re only washing my hair every two days or so.  Who is going to see it?  It does gross me out though, so as soon as I’m given the go-ahead by the doctor to move around more I’ll go back to washing it daily.  Right now I just get on my knees in front of the bathtub and hang my head in face-down so my mom can wash it.

For your stanky Aircast or similar protective boot, if you have one:
This was a challenge.  The thing gets so gross, so fast!  My mom was rubbing it down with alcohol, but that wasn’t working like it should.  I started wiping it with witch hazel, and that lasted longer, but smelled funny.  Today I used witch hazel with some lavender essential oil drops added to it on the cloth and it worked great!  The boot didn’t just stop smelling gross, it actually smelled good!

Additionally, you should be doing whatever you can to prevent the smell from starting in the first place.  If you are able to wash your foot, wash it daily with an antibacterial soap (I will be using Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil LiquidSoap once my bandage is off).  Keep it dry.  Wear breathable cotton socks if you can and change them regularly.  Some of the suggestions I saw on health forum said to change them at least twice a day.

The Aircast liners come out and can be washed following their instructions.  I also bought a second liner so I can have one in the boot still while the other is air drying.

That’s really all I can think of for now.  If anything else pops into mind I’ll be sure to add it.  I hope this will be helpful to someone.  :)

Shopping list:
  • Baby wipes (I use whatever hypoallergenic and fragrance-free ones my parents grab for me, but I would get one with more natural ingredients if I were doing the shopping.  It’s up to you.)
  • Face cleansing wipes (I’m using Pond's, but only because I got a smoking deal on them.  Otherwise I would be using Yes to Cucumbers or something along those lines.)
  • Desert Essence Natural Cleansing Pads
  • Witch hazel (Walmart has this for cheap next to the rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.)
  • Lavender essential oil (You can get this at Sprouts or similar stores and most health food stores.)
  • Antibacterial soap of your choosing
  • Hair cleansing products of your choosing (I’m using Yes to Carrots, but skipping the conditioner to reduce oil buildup.)
  • Breathable cotton socks (A lot!  Or you’ll constantly be doing laundry!)

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