When I was younger, I sustained multiple fractures of one ankle. This article shares my experience wearing a bent-knee cast.
Temporary walking accessories: bent-knee cast and crutches
When your leg is in a cast, you need a sense of humor and lots of patience!
Wearing a bent-knee leg cast may temporarily change your lifestyle, but it needn’t immobilize you. You can adjust to the limitations it imposes and may even acquire a new level of patience from the experience. I know, because in the late 1970s a multiple ankle fracture forced me to slow down for three months.
These days, casts are lighter—and an injury like a shattered ankle may no longer require rigid casting. A cast may not have to be worn for such a long period of time, and it may be removable when resting.
I wish I could blame my broken ankle on a daredevil feat, such as skiing, mountain climbing or some other athletic action that was totally foreign to me. Answering the question, “What happened to you?” with the wimpy, “I slipped while running to get out of the rain and fell on my ankle,” just didn’t do much for my (admittedly, wimpy) image.
After my tumble, I awoke from surgery to find my right foot and leg encased in a rigid bent-knee cast that felt like hardened concrete. The surgeon explained I was not allowed to place my foot on a walking surface for three months, so all the work he’d done pinning together the bones of my ankle would not go to waste. I'd have to get around on crutches while my bones healed.
The day before I was to leave the hospital, a nurse trundled me off to the physical therapy lab in a wheelchair. There I was given a lesson in the appropriate hop-step technique required for movement with crutches when one leg cannot be used.
Believe me—it is not as simple as it looks! For one thing, putting your weight on crutches imposes a physical insult on your armpits—that is, if you use the crutches the wrong way. I needed lessons for the safe way to use them in order to avoid damaging a nerve in the underarm area. I was instructed to move the hand rests further down each crutch and to place the top of the crutch at an angle several inches below the underarm before moving.
Now, this was a totally unnatural state of affairs. If humans had been meant to move about in such a fashion, we would have been born with thick calluses on our upper sides. Use of the crutches produced those calluses, of course, but first I had to endure blisters.
The most difficult aspect, for me, of mastering the use of crutches was learning to hop up and down the lab’s practice steps—four steps up to a wide platform, four steps down the opposite side. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Not if you haven’t tried it with one unusable leg! I had a bit of trouble with those steps and probably took longer learning the hop-step than the average person, but finally “graduated” from crutch class.
You must learn to use crutches properly before being released to go home.
Back home again....
“D”-day arrived. I was discharged from the hospital, and some of my family arrived to drive me home. They invited me to stay with them while I was on the mend, but an independent woman such as I would (naturally) insist on going straight home to her own apartment.
Need I tell you that my apartment was located upstairs? Up twelve v-e-r-y s-t-e-e-p steps? Concrete steps with large open spaces between each one? When I first encountered those steps with my crutches placed as I’d been taught, that staircase seemed about a mile high.
The offer was renewed for me to stay three months at a single-floor dwelling, but must I remind you that I was Independent Woman? I was also quite stubborn. Swallowing my pride, I sat on the second step from the walkway and “bounced” my way backward and upward on my own bottom, finally reaching the top. It wasn’t a dignified homecoming. (I felt sure my neighbors were watching this performance behind slightly-opened drapes.) Still, it got me to my front door and into my own abode.
I vowed silently that I would do the hop-step properly from then on when traversing the staircase, and I did, but it was always scary hopping up those steps. Hopping down them seemed easier, probably because those open spaces weren't right in front of my eyes.
Once inside my apartment, I got settled in and promised to phone my family if I needed anything. After they left, I looked around and realized I’d have to adjust the way I did almost everything. Moving was slow, so everything I did happened more slowly than was normal for me. Also, I had to exercise caution not to lean and become over-balanced, because the last thing I wanted to do was fall again.
I had to tape a large garbage bag snugly over my cast to keep it dry before I could take a bath. That also meant sliding over the side of the tub and leaving my "wrapped" leg propped and dangling over the edge. The bathwater couldn't be run until I was in place, and it was necessary to let the water drain before I made the reverse moves to get out. I had to add fifteen minutes to my personal hygiene schedule so I could lie down and rest after these bathtub maneuvers.
Some tasks, such as grocery shopping and laundry (no washer and dryer in my apartment then) were beyond me. I had to accept the help of my family for these things during the three months I wore the cast.
In fact, this is why you need patience in such a situation, especially if you’re as dogged about doing everything for yourself as I was back then. I had to learn to accept help gratefully and graciously without protest. This was difficult for me at first, but I came to understand that people who offered to help genuinely wanted to make life easier for me during this trying time. While the phrase, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” may be true most of the time, the reverse is in order when you really need help. Let other folks enjoy that blessing by accepting the help they freely give.
The car I owned at the time had a standard transmission, and I couldn’t use the clutch while in the cast, so my boss kindly offered to let me ride to and from work with him each day. Since he didn’t live too far away from my apartment, I didn’t consider this a major imposition. He was also gallant enough to walk up and down the staircase each time--just in case I stumbled.
At the office, I let coworkers bring me supplies, make photocopies for me and bring a lunch tray to my desk. Everyone was incredibly helpful, and no one appeared resentful of the extra steps they took for me. Again I realized that most people are glad to help someone who obviously needs it.
At home, I didn’t have the luxury of something being brought to me. After spilling coffee on the carpet a few times, I admitted defeat regarding movement of food or beverage while on crutches. I gave in and ate my meals sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter for the duration of cast time.
For once, I had an excuse not to go Christmas shopping (proving there is, indeed, a bright side to every dark situation). Can you guess I don’t have the shopping gene? I ordered gifts, cards and wrapping supplies from a mail-order catalog. (If I were out of commission during holiday shopping season nowadays, I’d shop online, which I do anyway for everything other than groceries.) While people who could use both feet fought their way through the crowds of shoppers at the mall, I relaxed. That Christmas also brought me the most unusual gift I’d ever received—a hand-crocheted cast warmer from one of my sons!
The most frustrating issue with which I had to contend was the inability to scratch my leg beneath the cast. Anyone who has ever worn a rigid cast for any length of time knows it’s an unwritten law (one of the permutations of Murphy’s Law, no doubt) that skin trapped in the warm moist environment of a plaster case will invariably develop a maddening itch. The corresponding law of nature is that trying to ignore the itch will cause it to increase tenfold. In desperation, I looked about for something harmless that I could insert inside the cast and use to scratch. (The surgeon had warned me about this possibility and said, "Don't do it.")
Ignoring his advice, I poked a plastic drinking straw inside the slight opening as far as it would go, but it still wouldn’t reach the itchy spot. I stretched my two fingers holding the straw a bit further…and dropped the straw down inside cast! Now I had an itch that hadn’t been scratched plus a “foreign object” inside my cast. Raising my leg and shaking it wouldn’t dislodge the straw. The cast was fairly snug, so that straw had gotten stuck inside, and that added to my discomfort.
Can you imagine how embarrassing it is for an adult woman to call her doctor and confess that a plastic drinking straw is trapped inside her leg cast? By the time I made that phone call, the edge of the straw was contributing to the itchiness beneath the surface of the cast. I felt like screaming from frustration.
A trip to the doctor’s office was required, where the existing cast was cut off (and the straw exposed), my leg examined for damage and a fresh cast molded onto my injured limb. Might I add that the doctor did not offer to let me scratch my leg while it was exposed, but frowned when I suggested it?
When the cast finally came off for good, it was a day for celebration. I had to use a cane for about a week, but soon was able to walk unaided. For a long time afterward, I was very aware and appreciative of being able to do simple, ordinary things, such as carrying a cup of coffee from the kitchen to the living room without spilling it.
I must credit this experience--unpleasant though it was at the time--to providing the impetus toward improving my less-than-stellar degree of patience. Like any other positive change I've attempted to make in my life and personality, developing patience requires (1) awareness of the need; (2) mindful practice; and (3) periodic "trait checks" to be sure I haven't regressed to my formerly impatient state. I don't claim to be the most patient person in the world these days, but a degree of formerly lacking patience was added to my arsenal of coping mechanisms during that three-month period when I was trapped in a bent-knee cast.
See? If you look diligently enough, you can find a positive aspect to many situations that seem completely negative upon first assessment.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 Jaye Denman
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on May 25, 2014:
Hi, Bill - Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry your leg didn't heal properly, but I don't blame you for opting out of surgery when given the choice. While a cast seems like a 'foreign body' in the beginning, one does become accustomed to its feel, weight, texture, etc. so that it isn't a constant irritant. I hope your continuing treatment, including longer term use of a cast, will heal your bones properly.
One thing that you can do to offset the 'couch potato' effect is to try isometric exercises, including contracting and loosening the muscles of the leg within the cast. Otherwise, those muscles may atrophy.
Bill on May 25, 2014:
I slipped down a flight of stair and broke by tib and fib of my right leg. It was a pretty clean break. The doctor had an X Ray taken of my leg he gave me a choice I could either be operated on and put pins in and put me in a cast for around 3 months or he could set my leg without an operation and most likely I would be in a cast for at least 4 months and potentially much longer. I decided to not go for the operation. After a good 4 months in a long legged cast the doctor found my leg was not healing correctly and he would have to break my leg and reset it. The doctor explained that it is possible I might have to in a long leg cast for at least a year if not longer. I found after 6 months of being in a cast you do begin to become quite use to being in a cast. Some of the problems I found you do become quite out of shape being in a long legged cast you become an immediate couch potato. In looking back I am still glad I didn't have an operation and had pins put in my leg even though I know I will be in a long leg cast for a very long time and the doctor might have to break my leg again.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 19, 2014:
Anon - Sorry about your broken leg, but I'm glad you're making progress toward trading a cast for a splint. I hope your bone heals well. Thanks for reading and sharing.
Anonymous on April 19, 2014:
I have a broken leg now... I have the cast on for more than three months I have my second cast on one more to go then I hopefully get a walking splint. HIP HIP HOORAY!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 28, 2014:
Melisa - Thank you for writing and sharing your experience. I'm so sorry about your accident and fibula break and glad you found this article helpful.
You're so right that being in a cast presents many challenges, and caring for a six-year-old certainly adds to yours. I understand how difficult it is to ask for help (or even accept it) when you're accustomed to being independent. That was also a problem for me. However, people offer to help because they truly want to do something to make this time easier for you. Accepting your husband's or someone else's offer of help not only may make some aspect of your life less challenging, but will make the person who offered the help feel useful.
The proverb, "It is better to give than to receive" is meaningful here. By accepting help, you are "giving" the other person an opportunity, and he/she is able to give you the help you need.
You have five more weeks wearing a cast ahead of you, but they should become less frustrating as days go by. Try to look at it this way: you have some unexpected vacation during which to catch up on your reading or anything else you can do while wearing that cast.
Best wishes for your recovery....Jaye
Melisa on February 28, 2014:
Thank you for this! Although I know that I am not alone in my experience, there is nothing like reading or listening to someone else's experience with managing life in a cast. I broke my fibula 14 days ago as a result of a car accident and today I completed my first week in the cast. I've been struggling emotionally as my support network is next to nothing and I've a 6 year old who has been quite challenging. My husband helps as much as he can, but I'm still having a hard time asking him for help with things that I did independently prior to the injury. My weekly morning routine requires that I bring my daughter downstairs for the bus to pick her up. But getting downstairs and getting her to cooperate is a huge challenge. I feel as if I've used every body part possible to compensate for the one body part I need the most and it's just incredibly aggravating. I can't drive to work because it's a 40 mile commute each way and there's no way that I'd be able to do it. Because I'm a teacher there's no way to modify my work schedule or even have anyone pick me up. It's just not a possibility. I'm just trying to get through the next five weeks, one day at a time. I look forward to the day when this cast is finally removed. I think I'll kiss my ankle million times.
I truly enjoyed your writing. Thanks, again for the support you provide!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 08, 2014:
Hi, Sasha - I'm not a doctor, and you should mention the continuing pain to the doctor who set your broken ankle. However, I remember that when my cast was removed there was some discomfort walking right at first. You may have to use crutches or a cane for a bit longer. But do let your doctor know about the pain. Best wishes! Jaye
Sash kay on February 08, 2014:
Hi I broke my ankle and now the cast has been removed for 2 days but I still feel pain when I walk is that normal
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on January 23, 2014:
Christina - Bless your heart (as we say here in the Deep South)! You've really got your work cut out for you while wearing a cast and caring for three children under six--not to mention the home schooling. I doubt you have much opportunity to prop your foot up during the day, but I wouldn't worry about everyone staying in PJs when the stairs seem too tough to negotiate. Give yourself a break (no pun intended).
Your foot and leg will have to regain strength once your cast is removed, but you may be surprised at how quickly you're back to your normal routine. Believe me, you will certainly appreciate being able to walk with both feet in shoes and on the floor! You used the right word to describe your experience (and mine): humbling. Wearing a cast definitely gives one a new perspective.
Thanks for your comments, for sharing your story, and I wish you the best of luck....Regards, Jaye
Christina on January 23, 2014:
Hi. I am currently in a cast myself. I have never broken a bone in my life until now. It has been a month and a half and it has been very humbling indeed. I broke the 3 metatarsals in my right foot (no driving for me). I can completely relate to your cast experience (except I don't work but have 3 children under 6yrold). Between trying to homeschool and figuring out if its worth it to climb the stairs to the bedroom and get dressed today or just have everyone stay in their pjs to deciding how badly do I really have to use the bathroom that caused my breakage in the first place, I can relate. My story is not very exciting either. My wonderful 2 yr old left a flashlight under her shirt on the bathroom floor, and I stepped down onto it (whoever thought it was a great idea to have a step leading into the bathroom needs their architectural skills examined), and I rolled my foot in half. I see that you are still responding to this great article! I have another month of this cast to go and not sure what happens next. I think I thought I would be running as soon as I get this thing off, somehow, I doubt it :) Thank you so much for sharing your experience and I had a laugh with the itching story.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on December 27, 2013:
Dear Pat - Thank you so much for your comments and sharing your experience. After all you've been through with surgery and wearing a cast, I do understand how you feel. After your cast is removed, you will be so joyful that you're back to "normal" and--no--you won't take normal for granted again. Wearing a cast teaches you patience, but it's nice to get it off.
Best of luck - Jaye
Pat on December 27, 2013:
I have a broken ankle broken on both sides that needed surgery so i have 8 screws two plates in my ankle with a cast on ,it feels sweaty underneath N i am scared of infection but believe it is probably just sweat,ur story made me teAr up because right now minus my cast not being over my knee which would really suck i understand completely what you were going threw,it is so hard to do nething ,bathroom ,showers,food ,makes you sad realizing you took for granted being able to do all of your ordinary activities ,if all ends well which i pray it does i am promising myself to make the most of life ,what a real eye opener
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 28, 2013:
Thanks, Au fait...I'm glad you've never needed a cast, and I hope to never need one again. If I do, however, I'll remember your tip about the gauze-covered hanger.
C E Clark from North Texas on April 28, 2013:
What an ordeal! I'm so lucky I've never broken a leg or arm, etc. Hope I never do because this sounds awful. I don't think I would manage as well as you. I'm upstairs too, 21 steps up, and they're tough enough as it is. Hopping up and down them is not an option.
Next time you might try straightening a wire hanger and wrapping one end with some gauze so it isn't so sharp.
Well written and very educational. Voted up and IU.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 16, 2013:
Thank you for reading my account, Willie, and I'm glad it gave you a bit of cheer on a sleepless night. Pain does make it hard to sleep. Sounds as though you've had a tough run with first the hip surgery, then the knee. I hope you heal fast and completely, leaving you with just a memory of these problems that grows dimmer with time.
It helps to remember what is important and to hang on to a sense of humor when things are difficult, doesn't it?
My best to you...Regards,
Willie Mills on February 16, 2013:
Wonderful writing -you mahe your tale of misery appear just another part of life's journey.
I came across this site by accident while browsing 3 days after breaking my patella (knee). I am not in a cast but in a knee brace - finding sleep impossible ( hence this post at 04.00 GMT). In March 2011 I broke my hip and following unsuccessful surgery to pin the fracture had a total hip replacement in September 2012 from which I had been making a great recovery until latest setback. Like you I have found that even in the darkest times I have learned more about myself and my priorities.
Thank you for cheering me up.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on January 30, 2013:
Hi, Ana...The key to overcoming any adversity--from minor to major--is to never give up. Thanks for reading and your feedback.
Ana Mkd on January 30, 2013:
Such a wonderful text and so inspirational! Never give up!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on November 24, 2012:
John...Then I'll just enjoy the remark! Thanks....Jaye
John MacNab from the banks of the St. Lawrence on November 23, 2012:
The 'young lass' description still holds true - by at least 5 years.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on November 23, 2012:
Thank you, John. Your remarks about my writing are very kind (and I enjoyed the "young lass" bit , considering I'll celebrate my 70th birthday next summer).
Your experience with broken bones was much worse than mine. I only stayed in the hospital briefly after surgery. My social life did grind to a miserable halt for the duration, and the holidays were more endured than celebrated that year. Aren't we glad those days are behind us?
Thanks for reading....Jaye
John MacNab from the banks of the St. Lawrence on November 23, 2012:
I don't think you need any advice on becoming a better writer, Jaye - voted up and funny. Your article reminded me of my crutch episode. I broke my right femur and right wrist when I was 19. In those days when you broke a femur you lay in hospital for 3 months with your leg suspended on slings. My right wrist in a cast for 2 months - need I tell you that I'm right handed?
I broke my bones in August and they let me out on December to celebrate Christmas and New Year - have you ever tried using crutches when you're as drunk as a puggy? (No, I don't know what a puggy is)
Nice Hub, young lass.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on November 21, 2012:
Hi, Rhiane...Thanks for your comments. I salute you for learning to carry a glass of water while on crutches without any spills. That's a feat I never managed to achieve. Sorry you missed the netball finals. I'm glad you're on your way to healing of two fractures. Thanks for reading....Jaye
RhianeMiler on November 21, 2012:
I know exactly what people are feeling in they have broken their ankle. I did in p.e playing netball i have two fractures, i miss out on the netball grandfinal but im cheering my team on :) i've had the cast on four nilly 3weeks in a couple days, best of luck to eveyone else who is having trouble.
P.S I have mastard the task of carrying a glass of water while on crutches a proud moment if you ask me ;)
great writing everything you said i could defently relate to!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on November 16, 2012:
Hi, Kelliy....Don't apologize for venting. When one is wearing a leg cast, the frustrations engendered by the situation provide ample reason to vent. I do understand. Even though my ankle break happened years ago, I vividly remember the months spent wearing a cast and getting about on crutches.
I'm so sorry you re-broke your ankle and extended your cast time. Patience is difficult under the circumstances, I know, but anything that helps you relax (soothing music? watching funny movies while lying on the sofa?) should be used to reduce your tension and let you endure your leg's "imprisonment" until it heals.
It's good that your boss modified your work tasks for the duration of your cast-wearing. Once your bone heals, you'll get back to your regular routine and will probably enjoy it all the more for your enforced inactivity.
As for keeping your home clean during this time (including dangerous wet-mopped floors), it's okay to relax your usual standards while you're on crutches. A few dust bunnies are preferable to falls and potential injuries that might extend your healing period. If you can afford to have a maid service do the heavy cleaning once a month until you're literally "back on your feet--both of them", that's a good option that will keep your home clean while keeping you safe.
Hang in there, Kelliy! Your cast time decreases every day. Before you know it, you'll be looking back on this experience instead of living it.
kelliy on November 15, 2012:
This is pretty helpful - I can't believe you are being generous enough to keeping helping those casted still!! Your "independent woman" comments really struck a chord with me....people know better than to offer assistance to me, but now I wish they would offer! At least as often as friends tell you to "take it easy"! Taking it easy still involves keeping a job and eating and clothing thyself in clean garments and living in a clean house.
I have been trying to avoid cutting off a second leg cast - after falling and rebreaking a leg because I removed the first cast prematurely in my kitchen. My intial cast and crutches didn't seem designed for wet floors, and after several good mild-concussion falls I was struggling not to become an shut-in my truck. (It seemed like the only safe place, but I should be grateful I can drive!) It hurt, but until I fell again and rebroke the ankle, I felt a little safer...and had a little control back again.
As of today, I realized I had to find a little support as I called the Ortho Clinic and tried to talk them into "taking a look" with a new x-ray a week after the second break. They aren't negotiators, and did not find it amusing. The young lady I spoke with at length should go provide some backbone to the UN.
I've been trying to see this as a growth-building exercise in patience and empathy, while gleefully parking in the best spots....but the joy wears off when you struggle back with 3 lousy items in your shopping bag and raw ribcage/pits.
Freud would see this repeated casting as some kind of envy issue, but I seem to take out my frustrations on it as well, the cast is certainly strong enough to jabs at should my frustrations reached that level...kind of reminds me of "diary of a mad black woman" when she was pushing her crippled ex-husband around.
Its hard watch yourself becoming unreasonable, but comforting to know I haven't completely fallen over the edge in less than a month. I know there are people with so much more, and I am certainly not suffering, but my work requires me to be mobile, and useful! My kind boss has certainly found many modified work tasks for me, but I miss interacting with the teams and being physically active.
Thanks again for sharing your story - and those of your readers. Sorry to vent, all the best to my fellow castmates!!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on September 30, 2012:
Hi, rajan...Thank you for sharing your own experience with a leg cast, similar to my own. You are so right that months in a cast require some mind distraction in order to cope with it. I'm glad your pain was limited. If the steel rod doesn't move, you may never need to have it removed unless you just want to do it. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 30, 2012:
Jaye, this was just like reliving my own experience. I broke my tibia in 3 pieces and there was a transverse fracture in the middle piece as well. This was about 2 years back. I had a steel rod inserted, which I have to this day, though the doc said it can be removed after 18 months from surgery. One of these days I'm going to get it done.
I've been very lucky in that, except for the initial 6-7 weeks, till the soft cast with the calf supported by steel plate was on, there has absolutely been no pain whatsoever. I wasn't allowed to put my foot on the ground for 7 months.
I can really relate to all your experiences of hopping, itching, walking on crutches, then with a cane, having bath and the lot.
I agree one needs to take one's mind off the problem to make the ordeal easier to bear.
Voted up, useful, interesting.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on September 17, 2012:
Hi, Jessica...I'm sorry your little girl broke her leg and hope it heals quickly. Maybe something in my story will be helpful to her while she wears her long leg cast, and she may get a laugh or two as well. Tell her "hi" for me....JAYE
Jessica on September 17, 2012:
My six year old daughter fell off her scooter and broke her tibia. She has been in a long leg cast for five weeks now. I am going to share your story with her. Thank you :-)
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on August 27, 2012:
rayvonne....Anything "foreign" to your body is going to be irritating right at first. Try to be patient, and--believe it or not--you'll soon grow accustomed to how it feels. After that, if it feels hot or you get "itchy" inside the cast, your best course of action is to distract yourself from the way it feels. (Eat some ice cream, listen to music, watch a movie, etc.)
prince....Sure, it's "only" a cast, but some people are chafed or annoyed by a cast when it's encasing their leg or arm. Just as some individuals have a higher pain threshold than others, so are some individuals bothered by wearing a cast more than others. If you're wearing a cast and feel that it's "no big deal", that's great!
prince on August 27, 2012:
its only a cast-.- rediculous and not bad at all
rayvonne on August 23, 2012:
i just got my cast on today and it sucks so far
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on June 15, 2012:
Julia....Bless your heart (as we say in the Deep South, USA). I'm sorry the walking cast didn't work out and you had to graduate to a full plaster cast on your leg. Eight pins sounds like a pretty bad break.
I know you aren't happy about the new cast and the restrictions it places on you. However, if your bones don't mend properly, the pins may work loose, necessitating more surgery. (And you don't want that, I'll bet.)
Even though you find it difficult to believe now, you'll become accustomed to the weight and awkwardness of your cast, and it won't take very long. This is not to say you won't wish for it to be gone before it is, but try to remember the cast is protecting your bone while it heals.
As I told a young girl who recently commented on this hub, a broken bone when healed is actually stronger than the original bone.
That said, I hope your leg heals completely and that you break no more bones. When I broke my ankle years ago, it happened because I slipped on wet grass while running in the rain. Such a mundane mishap!
How much more exciting that you can answer the question "How did you break your leg?" by answering, "I broke it skiing."
Julia on June 15, 2012:
Hi-I just came upon your piece by accident, and by coincidence...I just had surgery to put eight pins into my leg when it didn't heal correctly after I broke it while skiing in March. Even though I broke the bone, the doctor didn't think I needed a permanent cast and gave me a walking cast/brace thinking six weeks with that and my crutches would be enough. Needless to say, I'm sitting here on my couch with a full cast on my right leg--the old-fashioned kind of plaster topped with a layer of fiberglass to protect it. Even though I'm used to my crutches, my cast is driving me mad. It weights a ton and just moving around is impossible.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on June 12, 2012:
Hi, Senuri....Thanks for reading my article about what to expect when wearing a cast. First, let me tell you that I am not a doctor. However, I am familiar with how skin reacts to being encased in a cast for weeks or even months.
Some modern casts are classified as waterproof, but even those have cloth interiors so it's necessary to keep water from getting inside the case. An ordinary plaster type should be kept dry inside and out until it is removed by your doctor.
Covering your cast thoroughly with plastic while you're in the shower (or hanging it over the edge to keep it out of the water if you bathe in a tub) is the best way to keep it dry.
So, what can you do if the plastic slips off and your cast gets wet? You can dry it on the outside with a hair dryer set on low, and even hold the dryer at the edge of the cast and direct low heat inside just in case water seeped inside. Don't worry about not knowing if the inside of your cast got wet enough to be harmful. You will know pretty quickly because it will SMELL yucky! Worse than a wet dog....Then your mom will need to let your doctor know, and that will likely mean a change of casts.
If it doesn't smell bad, don't worry about it. Actually, any cast will smell a bit after you've worn it for weeks just because that part of your body is enclosed, perspires, hasn't been bathed, etc. No problem. Just think how much you'll enjoy an unhampered bath once your fracture has healed and the cast comes off for good!
As for your skin peeling, that's normal even if the interior of the cast stays dry. The cast is protecting your broken bone while it heals, but there will be some temporary skin discomfort (peeling, dry skin, itching), so just expect it. The main thing to remember is NOT to stick a sharp thin object down into the cast to SCRATCH the ITCH!
I know it's difficult to refrain from doing this (an itch wants to be scratched), but you might break the skin and cause an infection if you do. An infection that's covered by a cast can go unnoticed unless it becomes very painful, and can be dangerous if the infection gets into your bloodstream. That's why you should never try to scratch under a cast.
If you develop an itch under your cast, try to distract yourself by reading, listening to music, playing video games or working on the computer. If the itch persists, your mom can ask the doctor to prescribe some medicine that might stop the itch/scratch reflex. However, an itch caused by the discomfort of a cast usually doesn't persist for a long time. You'll start thinking of something else and forget about it.
When your cast is removed, expect the skin that was
covered by it to look dry, peeling, scaly...even cracked. It is normal for your dry, dead skin cells to be sloughed away by washing and drying your skin every day. Skin that can't be reached for cleansing when it's covered by plaster will accumulate these "dead" skin cells on your outer skin layer, the epidermis. Expect to be a bit surprised at the appearance of your skin when the cast is removed. It may even be tender and sensitive for a while. Just treat it with care, and it will soon be back to normal.
Of course, if you sweat a lot under the cast, which will make moisture accumulate under the plaster, you could develop a bacterial or fungal type of infection. Try to stay cool while you're wearing the cast to prevent a lot of perspiration.
The best thing about taking your cast off--other than feeling FREE again--is that your fracture will have healed. And a healed fracture is usually stronger bone than it was before it broke. Isn't that amazing?
Best wishes, Senuri...You've already finished ten days out of 42 (6 weeks), so you've only 32--barely over a month--to go before you can say "goodbye" to that cast and get back to your normal routine. Keep your mind busy, and the time will seem to go by faster.
senuri on June 12, 2012:
I'm 13 and I twisted my ankle 3 months ago.The doctor put a cast, but because it pained a lot my mom took me to another doctor.He said that he can't see a fracture and it should be a sprain. He gave me exercises. 3 moths after I went to that doctor again because the pain was there. Then he told that there has been an fracture and he hasn't seen it before. So i had to to a MRI. The results said there's an fracture. So he put a better cast and asked me to return from 6 weeks. Now it's 10 days. I just took a wash with 2 polythene bags covering the cast. Maybe water went inside, the skin under my foot is kinda peeling off. Is it something to worry or is it because I haven't washed it in 10 days and the dead skin is peeling off? please reply.
Suzie from Carson City on April 17, 2012:
Well Jaye....I never thought about the extra"cushioning" I have...but I hope not to have to test it!!
"Wet" definitely wins out over BROKEN!!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 17, 2012:
Hi, fpherj....Casts are certainly not "fun" accouterments for our limbs, are they? It was many years ago when I broke my ankle, and running on rain-slick grass caused me to slip that day. After that experience, if I got caught outdoors in the rain, I walked carefully through it and got soaked. Wet clothes are so much easier to handle than broken bones, a cast and crutches!
I am definitely not complaining, but I've fallen several times during the past few years without breaking any bones. Maybe the extra weight makes me bounce rather than crunch!
Take care....No running in the rain!
Suzie from Carson City on April 17, 2012:
Jaye....OH dear... casts !! Arghhhhhhh! Never a leg, but an arm! I can't gripe about a thing you wouldn't understand and relate to......as I do you! I swear, if I EVER break another bone...I want to be PUT TO SLEEP until it's ALLLLLLLLL over. Peace!!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 08, 2012:
Hi, Evelyne....Thanks for reading and your comments. I'm glad you're halfway through your cast ordeal. Maybe the next three weeks will go faster...with a party waiting to celebrate both your birthday and the cast coming off.
It's heartwarming the way people are so willing to help when one is hampered by a cast. It certainly teaches a person patience if she or he isn't ordinarily accustomed to waiting for someone else to do things that aren't possible when wearing the cast.
You will be so delighted to get that "foreign object" off your wrist, won't you? Have a good party!
Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz.com on April 08, 2012:
I am on week 3 of 6 weeks in a cast. Stupid home accident and I dislocated my wrist plus a fracture. thank god surgery was ruled out. I am pretty good at accepting help even if independent and i need so much help. My casted hand is useless, including the fingers. The way the cast is on my arm swells up as soon as i put my arm down by my side so I have to keep it propped up all the time.
I can't cook, clean dishes, wash hair, clean, laundry. Friends, family and coworkers have been wonderful. But it is weird to have a coworker zip up your coat or have friends come over to wash your hair in the kitchen sink lol. I don't need someone every day but at least 2x a week I need help for basic home chores.
So far itching has been tolerable and panic attacks stopped (its like claustrophobia for me). My BIG problem is that i normally sweat a lot through my palms and feet. My trapped sweat palm makes it very unpleasant. I do the hair dryer thing but as soon as it dries it gets moist again.
But the worst part is over, hopefully second half will be easier. I am getting the cast off 2 days before my birthday so I am planning a birthday and cast off party with my friends :-)
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 26, 2012:
Bless your heart, Lily! I'm sorry you're feeling a lot of pain after your ankle surgery. I hope the pain won't be with you very long. However, I can just about guarantee you'll itch under the cast until it's removed! (I won't give away your "straw" secret.)
Best wishes for a complete recovery. Glad you got a laugh from the article. You, too, will probably laugh about your current situation--years from now.
Lily on March 26, 2012:
Hello! I have had surgery to my ankle bones and have to wear a cast for 3 months. I'm experiencing lots of pain and discomfort. I try to stay positive but I do get my days of frustration, especially with the pains and inability to sleep comfortably. Your article made me laugh and I wanted to say great job :) I have been using a straw as well to scratch the itches hehe but don't tell anyone! Take care and all the best :)
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on January 29, 2012:
As far as character building, I'm sure that the months I wore that bent leg cast taught me patience in a way I'd never had it before. The medical profession has improved so much in its treatment of broken bones since you and I had ours, and the convalescence is not so uncomfortable.
Similar to the after-effects of your femur break, I developed arthritis in the ankle that was broken. However, since I now have arthritis in many other joints, it's all one and the same to me these days!
As you pointed out...it's all character-building!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my hub, Tony. I've read some of yours, but I can't bake bread (no, really, I can't!) and nearly all your other posted recipes contain meat (which I don't eat), so I'm waiting for you to share some veggie side recipes on HP.
Do you cook a wonderful eggplant parmigiana or a meatless pasta e fagioli, by any chance? (Actually, I make a terrific pot of fagioli myself, but I know there are as many recipes for that great bean-and-pasta soup as there are for the Cajun-style foods that I know so well. (I make a mean maque choix that spreads the lovely aroma of garlic throughout the house and tastes magnificent! Perhaps I should share it on a hub, eh?)
Tony Mead from Yorkshire on January 29, 2012:
Never had a leg pot, but when I was 18 I had a motorbike accident that ended with me having to spend 4 months in hospital with a broken femur. In those good old days they just hung you up on traction like a side of beef. It left my leg about 3/4" shorter which now as I'm getting on a bit relates to lots of back ache and limited walking. These life experiences are character building I always think.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on December 25, 2011:
Thank you so much, rutley, for your kind comment. You are a good writer, and I'm enjoying your hubs. I hope there will be a lot more to come.
rutley from South Jersey on December 24, 2011:
Jaye you're awesome and thank you so much for all your wonderful comments to my hubs. I can only aspire to be as good of a writer as you!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on June 10, 2011:
Thanks, quester! I'm glad it happened when I was younger!
quester.ltd on June 09, 2011:
Going up those stairs must have taken courage - good job surviving!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on May 22, 2011:
It's been a long time ago, but I still recall with clarity how scary that staircase was--especially going up the stairs!
You're so right about how much we appreciate everyday things after being denied them for a while.
Thanks for reading....JAYE
toknowinfo on May 21, 2011:
Thanks for sharing your story. Certainly looks like you went through a lot. And that staircase sounds scary with crutches. It is amazing how ordinary things become precious when get them restored to us. I am glad you recovered nicely.
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 07, 2011:
Hi, Keith...I'll bet you were young when you broke your ankle, because the bones of youth knit faster. If your cast had a peg on the bottom, that means it wasn't bent-knee, so you could walk on it, right? Otherwise, the vision of you hopping to the phone box is really hilarious!
Ironically, when healed, bones that were broken actually become stronger. Hence, you were able to play soccer sooner than your doctor recommended. The flip side is the likelihood of arthritis where a bone has broken in later years, especially in a joint such as the ankle.
(I'm glad those guys who were going fishing managed to get you back home after you got lost! Imagine wondering around lost and drunk for hours while wearing a cast.)
Thanks, as always, for stopping by. JAYE
attemptedhumour from Australia on April 07, 2011:
Hi Jaye, yes we have to get on as best we can and smiling helps.
I fractured my ankle playing soccer. I was in a cast with a peg on the bottom. I got really drunk and staggered out from a party to a phone box to call a cab. When i got through they said where are you. I hadn't a clue so i went to find out but couldn't find my way back to the phone box, or the party. Luckily some guys who were going fishing dropped me right at my door. When the cast came off the doc said no soccer for four months. I played three weeks later. Cheers
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 06, 2011:
Thanks, citychick....Many things in life that might otherwise be stressful lose that power when viewed with humor. (Here's hoping you never need this info, either.) JAYE
citychick from Ulster County, New York on April 06, 2011:
Great hub, Jaye! Once again, you poke a little fun at life, no matter how harrowing it might be. Might I add, though, that I hope to never have to use this information :)!
Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 06, 2011:
Hi, Tina...I hope you never have any broken bones to make a cast necessary! Thanks for reading this hub and for your comments and vote. JAYE
TinaTango on April 05, 2011:
Great article! Thank the good lord I have never had to use a cast in my life, but indeed I would imagine that it will use a great deal of patience and humor! Voted up.