In June of 2018, I was involved in an accident where a vehicle merged into the bicycle lane without looking or signaling and sideswiped me off my bike. I used my arm to brace myself from the fall which resulted in a TFCC tear which was confirmed by MRI.
Since I dd not want to have surgery, placing a cast on my arm and immobilizing it was my best course of action. However, little did I know, the cast would be on my arm for about two months. At that time I was also attempting to train for the 1/2 Ironman World Championships in South Africa, so it was debatable whether or not I would be able to race.
For the whole course of my casting treatment I flew multiple flights and was home only briefly for doctor’s appointments to check on my progress. The amount of flying was due to the nature of my work and also because I had summer vacation planned as well. Here are a few things that I learned during my whole casting treatment and things that you can expect as well.
1. Yes, you can still exercise with an arm cast.
I still ran and cycled with my cast on, but no swimming. I had to train somehow for the my race and didn’t want to be sidelined by this injury. I didn’t have as many quality workouts as I wanted to and couldn’t swim either but something was better than nothing. However, don’t expect the cast to smell nice and fresh. The cast will stink a lot and will take a long time to dry from your sweat.
2. Yes, you can also fly with your cast as well.
I had my cast put on 24 hours before my flight and still was able to fly. The doctor’s ordered the cast to be split into a bivalve cast which allows some room for the cast to expand. The technician took a cast saw and split it into two then wrapped it with coban so that I could remove it in case my injury swelled during the flight. I also popped a couple of ibuprofen before the flight which can help reducing swelling as well. I didn’t have any issues with the swelling during any of my flights so I was pretty lucky.
3. Showering is still possible, but with some difficulty.
For the first couple of days I resorted to holding my arm up out of the shower so the cast would not get wet. I can tell you it got pretty old quick and my arm always got tired a few minutes into the shower. Towards the end of my treatment I discovered that you could get a shower bag for different types of casts. I highly recommend getting one of these and you can find these easily on amazon.
4. Don’t expect to drive easily with a cast
Driving became a little bit more difficult for me. I drive a manual car and it gets pretty hard to shift and hold the steering wheel at the same time while you’re in a cast. However, it can be done with a little bit of practice. If you have a leg cast you’ll be out of commission.
5. Typing becomes super annoying
I relied more on dictation during this time period and I found it very helpful to use Siri or Google Assistant. The typing was both annoying on the keyboard as well as on my iPhone as well due to the restriction of movement in my digits as well due to the way I was casted. My work emails became much shorter as did my text messages as well during this time period.
6. Other things that requires two hands become much more challenging as well
I couldn’t eat steak because I couldn’t hold a fork and a knife and cut my steak at the same time. I couldn’t cook in the kitchen because that would require me to hold the pan and use the spatula as well. I relied a little bit more on easier to make foods and going out to eat during this time period and due to my decreased activity.
However, eventually I was able to heal and get my cast off so it’s not the end of the world. It did take some time but eventually hopefully you’ll be back to your old self in no time.