An Update, Tuesday 16 October 2018, 8½ Weeks since fall.
I’ve been back at work ‘as normal’ for a while now, I’m still taking Ibuprofen at night so I can get some sleep, still getting exercises done and using my arm and wrist as much as I can, and still can’t pick up either my tool case or a full kettle with them!
It hurts to write and to type using my PDA for work for any length of time with its stylus, I can’t undo tight screws or use my crimping pliers one-handed, and I can’t grip the steering wheel hard either. This last one was a problem last Friday when driving in a Force 9 Gale, there was no way I was going to try that one one-handed!
I am reluctant to take strong painkillers at work as apart from the driving part, I would rather not mask the pain for fear of doing more damage without realising it, also working with live electrics and gas you really do need your wits about you all the time. When I got home tonight my arm was quite swollen, I’ll see what it is like in the morning and if it is sore then will go to the Doctors and see what they suggest.
I was advised that after 6 weeks the pain would have almost gone, and after 8 weeks work would not be a problem, well that has not proved to be entirely accurate. I am in pain for most of each day and getting to sleep at night and staying there is a constant struggle, and the resulting tiredness is a problem both because of feeling drowsy and that it’s one of the reasons that I want to ration my intake of painkillers during work hours for fear of having or causing an accident.
Wednesday 17th October 2018 8½ Weeks since fall
Well, I woke up in the Morning and no pain! don’t get me wrong, it’s still sore and delicate but I’m not in pain all the time today, so no Doctors for me today.
A bit too sore by lunchtime, but an application of Diclofenac Gel (Voltarol) took care of that for now.
Friday 19th October 2018 9 Weeks since fall.
Well, a bit of a test today at work, had to work in a confined space and change out and adapt two electric motors and a gearbox on a 3Metre Ironing machine, working from the Right-hand end and with only just over 9″ of room before a 2″ Gas pipe mounted on a wall and some 10″ up from the floor. Ok to sidle past for access, but when you’ve got to kneel down at the front of the machine and work sideways then life isn’t easy.
These motors weigh about 10kg on their own but with an extract fan assembly on one and a 5kg gearbox and shaft assembly on the other one, it was a challenge, to say the least! They came out ok, the drive motor and gear assembly was a bit of a pig as it got caught up on the Chain it drives, this hangs in a loop when not on the gearbox sprocket, so likes to get in the way.
Refitting them was not so easy, after replacing the Fan motor and exhaust fan into the housing, I had to reconnect the motor using my Ratchet crimping tool for 2 connections, to ensure you get a good crimp you have to squeeze the handles fully before the ratchet releases the tool from the connector. This has required using both hands now for quite a while, and would have been hard enough in the confined sideways space without my Right Wrist telling me it was on fire! I did it by pure willpower in the end, and the relief at completion was tempered somewhat by what I knew was to come.
After stripping down and replacing the bearings in the second motor and fitting the new gearbox to it, then the mounting and sprocket/driveshaft assembly, it was time to try and refit it in the machine. Normally I would kneel down end on to the machine and lifting the motor assembly with both hands lower it onto the drive chain then just put in the four retaining screws, balancing the sprocket in the chain, holding the motor up with a knee, a screw with one hand and a screwdriver in the other. Now, however, I had to kneel sideways, lift the whole assembly and hook it on the chain and steady it there with my bad wrist and arm, try and locate the holes that I can’t see because the motor assembly blocks my view and get a screw started so I can let a bit of the weight off my arm, I can’t let go of the motor yet as it is hung on the chain at one end and in my hand at the other, I have one of 4 screws in its threaded hole by one turn and that will not hold it. Cramp in your bad forearm is a bitch. Finally managed to get a screwdriver rammed through a diagonally opposite screwhole and could let go for a few moments to get more screws in, removing the screwdriver to replace No.4 screw last of all. Had to tighten the screws left handed and rejoiced that the electrical leads on this motor had been long enough so I hadn’t had to disconnect it, by now I had been on site for nearly 6 Hours and was in a LOT of pain.
A lot of twisting and awkward lifting, using spanners, pullers, hammers and screwdrivers has taught me that this was probably very close to a step too far. Went through to the site kitchen and filled the sink with Very Warm water and immersed my forearm and elbow for a few minutes, until the pain subsided a bit and went back into the washroom to test the machine. It is a hell of a lot quieter than when I got here but is making a suspicious buzzing noise from the drive end where I have been working, Found the problem to be a much smaller motor for a cooling fan seized up, the motor coil is buzzing in frustration as it really wants to be spinning but it’s bearing bushes are jamming, Ordered a new motor for this and disconnected it, ran the machine again, That’s Better! It took me about 20 minutes to gather all my tools together, take the hammers, drifts, pullers, wood blocks, socket sets etc back out to the Van and then pack away my tool case and do the same with that. Tidied up the area and then refitted the Right-Hand end panel to the machine, this is about 1.2M high and wide and made of steel, and was not easy in the restricted space but went on ok, a quick was up and wrote up the job on my PDA. Just as I was locking up the Customer’s site 3 more jobs came through! It’s 16:10, I’ve had a day from Hell and spent all day at the site and in the same room as I had my fall exactly 9 weeks ago, I’m going home!
Home via the ‘Chippy’ for my Cod and Chips, a proper scrub clean of my arms and hands, sat and ate my Tea with a bottle of Bud, then spread a good coating of Voltarol extra strength on both arms and wrists and changing into my shorts my knees as well. Half an Hour later I felt almost comfortable though I still took a couple of Max Strength Ibuprofen to get to sleep!
Woke up Saturday morning with just a twinge, every week gets better recovery wise and I was told by the Doctor at Fracture Clinic that it will be up to a Year recovery so I can’t really complain too much, I know people who are in much worse pain every day of their lives. I can cope ok at present with most of my job, just don’t ask me to use my 2kg Club Hammer anytime soon, I have enough trouble picking it up!