Getting a Cast Off

There is nothing like getting a cast taken off. In general this is a happy day, but I have had enough casts taken off that I would like to share some tips on how to experience the best cast-taking-off moment:

1. Get excited. Your arm, leg, toe, finger, shoulder etc. has been immobilized for however many weeks or months. Today is the day that it will taste freedom again! Its skin will be able to breathe through the cotton of your shirt, feel the warm air of spring, the cold tingle of snowflakes falling. In your head you are excited to be able to do all those regular things you normally do, but appreciate the small things too!

2. Bring something to wear. I don't mean your best party dress, or a freshly ironed shirt. I mean that once you have your cast off - you'll probably be able to wear that t-shirt you've been dying to fit your arm through. Or maybe you've been wanting to throw on that skirt without having an awkward boot sticking out from underneath. You're finally able to resume life as you've been meaning to, and now is the day to make the switch. Go ahead, jump into those squeaky new sneakers, put on that watch over that wrist!

3. Laugh at the buzzing. The cast technicians will probably use what looks like an electric pizza-cutter. Its blades will rotate to chew through the fiber glass, and there will be a weird vibrating sensation. Don't try to hold it in, it never works. Laugh because it's like being tickled by a giant limb-freeing monster. Or if you do hold it in, let me know what your secret is because I can never hold it in.

4. Wiggle. I know, I know, they will say "I haven't cut it off completely yet! Wait a sec.." But at the first breath of air that touches your skin, you will want to flex your long-unused limb. You will want to just rip off the flimsy and frumpy looking cast, its cotton foaming at the edges like a hungry rabid dog - and this time you know that you will win this fight. There is something about being able to make those minute flexes for the first time that says: wow, my bone is really totally and completely healed. And only I can feel that wholeness! They can have their x-rays, they can keep your old casts, but you? You get to have a whole free limb again!

5. Don't scratch. This is the toughest one. And I almost always fail this step 95% of the time. Once the cast is off it might take you a few seconds to reconnect with that alien looking limb again. It looks scrawny doesn't it? It might look weird because you had an operation. It might look hairier, maybe it's covered in tectonic plates of old flecks of skin itching to be scratched off. I have gone from outright and ruthless scratching, or to the point of sly and discreet rubbing my palms against the newly freed arm. Because before you know it they will come with a wet washcloth and you will ask "is this going to sting?" (for the hundredth time) and they will say "if you didn't scratch, this won't sting." And of course it stings...

6. Smile. ...But you don't care because it's a sting that is like a love-nibble in comparison to the fractured bone you experienced months earlier. You smile because it is a sting that is refreshing, and then it will tingle - dancing its little invisible feet all over the top of your skin, clapping its hands in joyous relief that you are finally free and healed.

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One Response to Getting a Cast Off

  1. GREAT post! As someone who has never had a cast, this is a great insight to help my child through it. Thanks Sandy!

    Sara M


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