Getting a hand in healing journey

Susan Manzke
Susan's new metal brace is much lighter than her cast and allows her to move her fingers.

It has been over a week since I had my fiberglass cast sawed off my broken hand. I was looking for a miracle, that my hand and fingers would come out from the cast moving as they had before my accident. I was wrong.

The first day I could barely move my fingers at all. The X-rays showed that everything was healing properly but the doctor said I would have to do therapy to get all the movement back again. I started it the same day.

Everything was an effort. Even the slightest movement hurt, but I was determined to make the exercise move me forward as fast as possible.

By the second day of exercises, I could notice improvement though it was very small. Now, a week later, I can almost curl my fingers... almost. It hurts when I move them, even the fingers that were not broken. Having my hand in the cast for 5 weeks froze up all my muscles and joints. So, everything must get a workout.

I start with wrist exercises going up and down, and side to side with my hand. After doing those exercises for 20 repeated movements each I start bending my fingers or trying to. My occupational therapist thinks I'm doing a good job. Yet, she tells me that it will take weeks.

A couple of times a day I use two pans of water to help with my exercises. One pan is hot water and the other is ice-cold water. First, I work my hand in the hot water trying to bend my fingers more, and then afterward I switch and put my hand into the ice water and do the same. Going from hot to cold is quite a shock but my therapist says this will help my recovery.

Susan doing one of her hand exercises.

When I'm not exercising, I wear a brace that goes from my fingers past my wrist. It is held on with Velcro, and because of this, it comes off relatively easy. Still, I wince when I put my brace on and off.

All during this recovery time, I've managed to do a lot at home, albeit one-handed. My dog and cats don't seem to mind that I'm a little slower getting their food out in the morning and evening. All they care about is that they have their usual meals. But I can't do everything.

Even though I did not fall on the ice outside, I am especially leery of walking out during slippery weather. My driveway is the worst when it comes to ice. Because of this, my neighbors Dan and Jay have been bringing my mail from my mailbox on the road to my door. I appreciate their help, but I can't wait for the ice to disappear so I can do my chores again.

On the weekend, when travel is good, my daughter Rebecca has come by to give me a hand. Last weekend she couldn't help much because she had fallen when shoveling snow and hurt her shoulder. That day Andy, Rebecca's husband, took over her chores.

Visible on the X-ray is a metal plate that was surgically inserted in Susan's hand that was enclosed in her pink cast.

First, we filled a bucket of water. Andy took that upstairs for my cats. Their water fountain had to be cleaned out and refreshed. Andy then went to the basement to add salt to my water softener. He also refilled the water reservoir that keeps my hydroponic petunias happy.

Bob's sister Ginny has driven me to all kinds of doctor visits. I don't know how many times we have gone back and forth to the east side of Green Bay but she's right there when I need her. Because of Ginny, I've been able to join in on a weekly coffee klatch with my friends at Sissy's.

Other friends have lent me a hand too. Some have stopped by for a visit. Others picked me up so I could play BINGO. I thank everyone for all their efforts. I really appreciate their help.

So, here I am looking at the spring snow and thinking of the days when I will be able to frolic outside again. Fingers crossed ‒ on my right hand ‒ that my exercises will soon pay off.

Again, thank you for the get-well cards and messages I've received through the mail and online. They bring light to my days.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;