Dealing With a Broken Shoulder

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February 23, 2016

Dealing with A Broken ShoulderFour months ago, my feet went out from under me when I walked on a glazed concrete garage floor that had become wet from rain. I landed on my shoulder and knew from the crack I heard that I'd broken it. X-ray confirmed that I had a fractured proximal humerus bone.


For the next 9 weeks, my shoulder was in an immobilization sling and I had to learn to manage doing things with one arm. It was a frustrating experience. Luckily, I'm right handed and I broke the left shoulder. Here is a list of things I things I did to make my everyday life a little easier while the shoulder and arm were bound. I hope that some of these tips will make someone elses misfortune less troublesome.

Bathing and Personal Care

  • I bought a used plastic shower chair so I could sit while I showered using the sprayer. It was safe and practical, even when I shaved my legs.

  • At The Dollar Store, I bought several washcloth mittens and put the soap bar inside. They were easier to manage than the square open ones and I didn't have to worry about the soap bar slipping away or having to stretch to reach the bottle of shower gel.

  • I didn't want to get the heavy duty $40 sling wet so I bought a cheap $15 one at WalMart and used that one for showering.

  • In the first week I had my hair cut short so I didn't have to contend with it much. Washing my hair was done at the kitchen sink, the height being perfect for me to wash and rinse my head. The shampoo and conditioner bottles as well as the towel on the counter were handy to grab.

  • Being unable to lift my arm even an inch, I couldn't use my usual stick perspirant. I bought several roller ball ones from Avon and it was easy to push the ball into my armpit and roll it around.

  • I couldn't dry my back after showering. I picked up a used terry cloth housecoat at the thrift store, put it on after my shower, then rubbed my back against the wall. It worked well.


  • Going through my t-shirt drawer, I put all the oversize ones to the top for every day wear. It was easier to put on a big baggy shirt than a tighter one.

  • At night, I didn't bother taking off my bra and t-shirt. I slept in them and only changed them when I showered. Not doing anything of exertion that made me sweat or get dirty, my clothes were clean anyway and good enough until the morning.

  • Elastic waist pants were a must because I couldn't tie drawstrings or do up buttons. Rubber soled slip-on shoes were another necessity and I had two pairs, one for inside the house and another for outside. No more walking around in socks for me because I was afraid of slipping.

  • Speaking of socks, these were hard to get the hang of managing on my own. Most of mine were longish and tight fitting. I changed them for shorty ones that I could yank up easily with one hand.

  • My balance was off and I was more comfortable sitting down to get dressed or undressed.

Cooking and Eating

  • Cooking was a chore. Friends helped by bringing over ready made meals but I still had some cooking to do and it was difficult. I kept meals as easy as possible and used the crockpot a lot. The internet guided me to many one pot meals.

  • Instead of buying fresh vegetables that needed to be cleaned and cut up, I bought bags of frozen ones. They're good.

  • I didn't care to go out for dinner anywhere and have to ask for my food to be cut up for me. I stayed at home and mostly ate food that I could either eat with a spoon, pick up in my fingers (like chicken) or that I could cut with my fork.

  • As much as possible, I cooked in large quantity so I'd have leftovers. Second day stew, spaghetti, chili, etc. are as good and even better the next day.

Laundry and General Clean Up

  • I'm a stickler for changing my bed sheets weekly. For a few months, I changed to a bi-weekly linen change. Being unable to fold the large sheets, I put the freshly washed sheets back on the bed. With the open window while the sheets were being washed and dried, the mattress got aired out nicely. Tucking in the bedsheets and blanket at the foot of the bed was impossible. I kept them untucked.

  • I couldn't adequately wring out the kitchen dishcloth with one hand. Instead of regular dishcloths, I used Lysol wipes for cleaning the kitchen counters and stove.

  • Out of necessity, I became less picky about general housecleaning and tidying up. Dishes were left to drip dry. Vacuuming was reserved for walking areas only.


  • I had to allow more time for everything, usually double time, and take rests in between tasks. The short rests were used to read a bit, make needed phone calls, delete old cell phone messages, organize a messy drawer, etc.

  • My pain meds had a child proof cap that I couldn't open single handedly. I kept the bottle lid open. If there are children in the house, the open bottle should be kept in a child inaccessible place.

  • I attached a lanyard to my cell phone, hanging it around my neck and tucked into the sling for easy access kept my phone with me all the time.

  • I often used other body parts to get something done, eg. teeth to open the toothpaste cap, knees to hold a jar while twisting the lid with the good hand, etc.

  • I bought 1 litre bottles and cartons of milk or juice instead of the 2 litre containers. They were easier to manage.

  • I couldn't drive and relied on family and friends to take me grocery shopping. To keep the trips to a minimum, I did a huge shopping every time I went out and stocked up on everything.

  • Whenever I was uncomfortable with pain or simply frustrated because I was working with one hand only, I told myself over and over that this was only temporary. Keeping a positive attitude as much as possible, and it was difficult sometimes, did much to pass the day more pleasantly for myself and those around me.

Source: Living with a broken shoulder

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November 30, 2017

This page contains tips for when your arm is in a sling. Having your arm in a sling can make it hard to get dressed, sleep at night, or even just be comfortable throughout the day. Here are a few tips that may help make life a little easier.

A woman wearing a sleeveless sun dress with her arm in a sling.

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