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The following story is true to the best of my memory. At the time, I thought I was the only one with this desire. (Boy! Was I wrong.) It has been 9 years since this took place, so I may have left some things out. I didn't add anything that is untrue. However, it is entirely possible that I may have mixed up some memories and got them out of order. (email@example.com)
It was the fall of 1988. My roommate and I had just finished moving out of an apartment. He went his own way and I moved onto the campus of my new school. That is when I literally had a box of Plaster Bandages fall on my foot at work. So excited by what I just found, I stashed the case aside and managed to get it home. (Yes. I stole it). I regret it now, but I was young then and didn't know any other way to "legally" obtain them.
The case was 4 inch plaster bandages from Johnson & Johnson. Up until this time I had never seen real Plaster of Paris bandages. My previous castings (and there were many) always used Powdered Plaster of Paris and Fiber-mesh drywall tape, but that is another story. I still had a week left on the apartment lease. In fact I still had an old couch in there that I needed to throw out. What a perfect opportunity! I spent the rest of that week planning the perfect weekend at the apartment. No one could find me there! My plans included making a shoulder spica including my head.
I had, in the past, made several crude shoulder spicas out of the fiber tape and Plaster of Paris. The problem with the fiber tape and Plaster of Paris routine was that it is very hard to apply the plaster on your own back. Getting the tape there isn't a problem but covering it with plaster is. It usually had holes in the back leaving a weak cast in that area. Using the real thing would eliminate one step and I pictured a perfect cast with no holes.
The weekend finally arrived. I arrived at the apartment early Friday evening. My friends and relatives thought I was helping my old roommate and my old roommate was long gone. So I had a perfect alibi.
I wasted no time getting started. I began by putting on a long sleeve cotton shirt. I was also wearing an old pair of sweat pants. This material works great in place of stockinette. I didn't use any additional padding at the time. (Actually, Until I found the internet sites I didn't know I was suppose to.) I then began wrapping myself from the waist up to the armpits and over both shoulders. This stuff worked much better than home made material. I was even able to get the back covered fairly well. I decided to let that dry a little, while I got something to eat. (Yes. I brought food for the weekend!) Just as I started to eat is when the heat from the cast started to hit. Anyone who has casted will know this feeling. It is great.
Add More Plaster
Before I continued with the shoulder-spica-head thing, I decided to put a cast on my leg before I was unable to reach it. So, starting with my foot then my entire leg, I put my left leg in a full long leg cast with my knee almost straight. This turned out so well that I decided to go ahead and make it into a hipspica. (Before this however, I did decide to take my last BM for awhile. Boy am I glad I did that!) Completing the hip spica was easy. There was only a little space between the bottom of body cast and the top of my leg cast. That completed, I was now in a cast from my toes on my left foot to my neck.
Speaking of my neck. Isn't it about time I took care of that? So I did. I wrapped my head in plastic wrap, to keep the plaster out of my hair, and proceeded to wrap my neck and head with the 4 inch bandages. I included my chin, just under my lip and all away around to my forehead. It looked like one of those vintage Minerva casts. I tied the head into the body cast by occasionally wrapping the plaster under my armpits in a crisscross pattern.
That done. I wobbled into the kitchen and put together a little something to eat. It was very interesting to eat when I couldn't open my mouth very far. As well as Drinking when I couldn't tilt my head back. All these difficulties made it that much more interesting.
I decided to try laying down on the couch to see what that would be like. So I wobbled over to the couch. By the way, if you've never been in a hipspica, walking is very interesting. The only way to do this is to lean your upper body back and stick your casted foot forward. Using my good hip as a pivot point I managed to get around. I felt like one of those "Weebles that Wobbled but didn't fall down" Although I knew falling is something I could do.
Where was I? Oh Yeah, I wobbled myself over to the couch. Stood somewhere near the middle, faced the couch and leaned forward. (Thump!) It wasn't graceful, but using my arms, I was able to slow my decent. Since my face was now smashed into the couch cushion, I decided rolling over would be a good idea. (Wiggle, groan, push, aaahh.)
There, now I was on my back. Let's turn on the TV and relax. TV? Arrggh! I had forgotten the TV! Just as well I guess, since all I could see was the poorly textured apt. ceiling anyway. Ok, I'll settle for a nap. ZZzzz.
I woke up about an hour later (it's now Friday night about 1 am) and decided to go public'ing. (That would've been interesting. Don't you think?) No, actually, I decided to go ahead and start on the shoulder spica. After all, that is what the weekend plan was. OK, how do I get off the couch!? (Did I mention it was a OLD sunken down couch?) I managed to roll over onto my stomach and pushed myself up swiveling my casted leg over the edge. Then using the arm of the couch I pushed myself up the rest of the way. There, that was easy.
Even More Plaster
I wobbled into the bathroom and started phase two (or was it phase three?) In the bathroom there was a large full length mirror. Which made it very easy to view my cast. I also had brought along a hand held mirror so I could see the back of my cast. Checking things out I noticed the cast looked pretty good but it starting to develop some major stress fractures around my left hip area. I determined it was due to a lack of proper support. I decided the only way to get that support was to cast down my right leg and put a brace between my legs. I would only go down to my knee so I could still get around.
It was at this time that I realized I also had forgot to bring some form of brace for my planned shoulder spica. So I had to look around for something to use as a brace between my legs and another as a brace for my shoulder spica. I didn't have to go far since I found what I needed right in the bathroom. I pulled two shelf supports, each about a foot and a half long, out of the linen closet. I would probably loose a little of my renters deposit. But that was no big deal to me at the time.
Casting my right leg was very fun considering I couldn't bend over nor look down to see how I was doing. But by using the mirrors and going by feel I managed to connect my body cast down to the knee on my right leg and added another layer over the cracking left leg. Then I used the shelf support and casted that between my legs. It went between each thigh which was probably too high up. But something is better than nothing.
Not wanting to stop there. I finally put plaster on my left arm! (It's about time!) I made a LAC with thumb spica. (I went all out on this one.) I grabbed the other shelf support and used that to hold my arm directly in front of me just below shoulder level. In another half hour, I had myself in a Body cast; 1-1/2Hipspica w/ LLC on the left and to the knee on the right; Shoulder spica on my left arm w/ thumb spica. My neck and head where completely immobile with only my mouth, nose and eyes showing.
It was now 3 or 4 am and I was getting tired. So, once again I wobbled to the couch. This was a little more difficult since I lost the use of my right hip. But I managed. Falling on the couch was no where near as graceful as the last time. This time, I stood at the end of the couch and fell backwards over the arm. Using my right arm and the lower part of my right leg, I pulled my self the rest of the way on to the couch.
It didn't take long to fall asleep. (The ceiling was pretty boring). But I kept waking up every 30 min or so. I think it was because my neck was a little jammed and not very comfortable. (Did I mention I didn't use ANY padding?) I managed to sleep until 9 am Sat. When my stomach told me it was time to get up.
If you thought getting onto the couch was ungraceful, you should have seen me try to get out! To paint a picture, I was laying on the couch with my left side at the foot and my right side up against the back of the couch. No remember my LLC and shoulder spica were on the left so they were hanging over the edge. I had planned on rolling over on my face again and just pushing myself up like the time before. However, if I tried to roll to the left, I would've fallen off the couch. So I tried to roll to the right. But my left arm stopped me by hitting the back of the couch. This process of trying to roll to the right had slid my body closer to the edge. So when I went to lay flat on my back again...Thud! Off the couch I fell and onto my left side.
My back is now up tight against the foot of the couch and my left arm (in a LAC spica) is stuck right out in front of me with my elbow on the floor and my hand in the air. Now, I couldn't roll over backwards and my spica cast was making a pretty darn good kick stand in front of me. (Did I mention I was hungry?)
I managed to push myself away from the couch using my right foot and right arm. That done I was able to roll onto my back. I pushed myself away a little more. Then I rolled on to my right side and over until my left arm was again acting like a kick stand. I was now lying on my right shoulder and right hip slightly facing the floor. This time it was ok. At least I had my right arm under me now and I could push my self up. (Did you know that a full body cast is very heavy? I didn't at the time.)
I finally managed to get myself pushed up so I was now resting on the forearm of my left LAC. Using my right leg (mostly my toes) and right arm I turned my self so I was facing the couch. Well, actually, I was facing the floor since my head was still in the cast. But what I mean is, my head was pointed towards the couch and my feet were pointing away from the couch. (Just picture me in the position to do a push-up.) While pushing up with my right arm, I pushed forward with my right leg. I repeated this until my face was planted in the cushion of the couch. A few more pushes and I had my left arm resting on the couch. (Now picture me still doing push-ups with my hands on the couch and my feet on the floor.) At least now I was a little closer to getting on my feet.
I don't remember how long it took me, but I do remember being very hungry by the time I was standing again. But I had to do something first. So I went to the bathroom (Yes, I left that uncovered.). While there, I checked the damage. Sleeping on my back, while it was wet, had caused a lot of cracks but it seemed to be holding ok. I also noticed the reason for the pain in my neck. The neck area of the cast didn't hold up too well and had caved in at the base of my head. It was obvious that I needed to cut that part off. (Darn! That was the best part!)
Before I removed it however, I decided to enjoy it long enough to eat a bowl of cereal. I was beginning to wish I had removed the neck and head portion on the cast. I got more milk and cereal on and in my cast than I did in my mouth. I did discover that a shoulder spica made a great holding platform for stuff like my bowl of cereal. Just remember, it'll probably fall off when you move. Oh well, I'll clean that up later!
Time to take some off
Using tin snips and a utility knife, I cut the cast off at the neck and removed my head from the cast. Just the cast, I left my head attached to my body. With my neck feeling a little better I spent the remaining part of the morning walking around and trying different things.
Throughout the rest of the day I slowly removed little by little of the cast. I started by removing the body cast down to the waist. My entire upper body was itching like crazy. (Did I mention that pieces of plaster fell IN the cast when I cut the head portion off?) I trimmed the LAC up and made it look nice. I also kept the hipspica on for a while longer. Eventually I got down to just a LAC and a LLC.
Anyway, I cleaned up my mess and later decided to go publicing with just the LAC. (I didn't have an crutches at the time). The rest of the weekend was not very eventful. A few more casts but nothing like the first. I look back at it now, almost 10 years later, and realize how alone I felt. I sure wish I knew then what I know now!
Thanks for letting me share this with you
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