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Tears in my Champagne

Rating:; Genre=Non-fiction; Pages=2; Characters=3,200;
This is an extract from a book called "Tears in My Champagne" written by Dianne Weedon

In my view a fairly ordinary book apart from a small section where she described getting a plaster hip spica.

I celebrated the first day of 1979 by getting plastered -- literally. I had been warned that this would be part of the treatment but, once again the details had been a bit hazy. I was wheeled down to the plaster room and there the long slow process began of covering me from below the armpits to the hip on one side and to the knee on the other.

The amount of plaster involved was unbelievable. Layer upon layer built up into an inches-thick casing that would stay with me for six months. As it was going on I was fighting claustrophobia - it was going to be an oppressive shell.

It took six nurses, sisters, and wardsmen to lift the immense weight of me and my plaster back onto my bed. Now heat lamps and fans were played upon me for two days to dry the plaster out.

Doctor Smith’s assistant came to inspect the handiwork and announced that it was not thick enough. Back to the plaster room where several more layers were added and the process of baking and drying began again.

The plaster may now have been technically perfect so far as the medical fraternity were concerned but they had overlooked some very vital details from my point of view.

How in heavens name was I supposed to get to the toilet or even use a bed pan with one leg that could not bend from the hip, and a weight so immense enclosing my body that I could not hold myself up? If they had an answer they didn’t let us know about it. It was left to the nurses and myself to find a way, with messy experiments.

The time came when I was supposed to attempt to stand up. It took two nurses and two wardsmen, with another two nurses standing by, to get me out of bed and onto my feet. It was important, I was told, that I adjust to being upright and to the weight of the plaster and so we would only attempt five minutes the first time.

It was a terrifying experience. Once they had propped me up I could feel the colossal weight of the plaster overcoming whatever little strength I had left. I had no control over my movements and my feet began to turn purple from the pressure on them.

"Don’t drop me, hang onto me!" I begged as I teetered, as vulnerable as Humpty Dumpty. I felt that at any moment I would crash to the floor and shatter into tiny little pieces that no one would ever be able to put together again. We only managed three minutes that time but with practice I was able to stay upright for longer and longer periods of time.

I have always been proud of my ability to eat and drink lying down. When I drank I never spilled a drop (providing I was drinking anything other than water) and I usually managed to get most of my food into my mouth. However now that the cast was on, there was no space for my stomach to expand. I would eat a few mouthfuls and my stomach would hit that hard wall of plaster. My eating was greatly reduced, which didn’t worry me too much while I was faced with hospital food.

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