Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Saga of the Broken Arm

I haven't written in a while, but I have a good excuse: I was in a serious bike (as in "bicycle") accident and have been mostly out of commission.  I'm much better now, but here's how it went down:

April 5: The weather was nice so I decided to go for a bike ride in the park. My neighborhood links up to a great local park with a hike/bike trail, but I didn't even get that far.  On the little sidewalk that connects to the trail I took the hill too fast and hit my front brake harder than the back brake and tumbled forward.  My right elbow hit the pavement with my full weight.  I was sure that my arm was dislocated.  I managed to get to my phone and call the Parents, who live only a few miles away.  They found me and got me to the hospital, where I was drugged up, gave my medical history to at least four people, and got some x-rays taken.  After about three hours a doctor finally came to talk to me.

"Pieces.  It's just in pieces."

The force of the impact had shattered my humerus (upper arm bone) just below the ball socket.  And it was also dislocated. The muscles, tendons, and surrounding bones were fine, but the one bone was shattered.  Unfortunately, because of the location, they couldn't set it, cast it,  or really do anything but put it in a sling to immobilize it and give me lots of pain meds.

By the way, I've not seen the x-rays to this day, as I have a tendency to get queasy and black out at such things.

April 6: I went to see an orthopedic surgeon, who told me that I would need an operation.  he said it would be a very routine outpatient procedure and I'd be home before noon on the same day.  Unfortunately, he needed to wait for the swelling to go down, which means I'd have to walk around with a broken arm for a week. Upon hearing the news, I nearly passed out. 

April 13: Early morning surgery.  Before taking me in, they gave me four shots in my neck to numb the arm.  It was not pleasant.  The anesthetic really did a number on me and it took all day to wear off.  By 9:00 PM the feeling was returning in my arm and thus began The Most Horrible Night Of My Life.  The pain was relentless and no dose of percoset could stop it.  The pain was so much that the percoset didn't even knock me out like it usually did.  The next few days were better, but then, anything else would be.  To close the incision that runs from my armpit to the top of my shoulder, they used staples.  Literally - metal staples.  Thirteen of them right in my skin. 

April 19: Follow-up appointment with the surgeon.  We took more x-rays and I actually looked at this set.  They had pinned the shattered bone together with a metal plate and nine screws.  It's an impressive piece of engineering. At this point I was doing fine - until they decided to remove my staples.  The nurse got about nine of them out before I started to pass out. 

That same day, I signed up for physical therapy and have already had three sessions.  My therapist gave me a bunch of exercises and I've already seen some improvement.  I can now get dressed by myself, tie my own shoes (all of which are major improvements).  I cannot sleep in a bed, drive a car, put on a t-shirt, or reach above shoulder-height, but it will come.  I may never do yoga or swim freestyle again, but I'm working towards conducting and playing the piano.  It's a slow process, but I'm improving every day.

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