It’s been seven months since my bike crash. June 5, 2016 is a date that will live in my infamy. It took 4 months for my concussion symptoms to go away. One day I just woke up and realized that the headaches were gone and the activity didn’t cause dizziness. It took 6 weeks to repair my hamstring. My elbow, unfortunately, never recovered and actually got worse.
The break in the bones healed perfectly. The range of motion never returned. After about 2-3 months I knew I was in trouble. No matter what I did I could not extend or bend my let arm in any semblance of normalcy. I returned to the doctor through the fall. Surgery was put on the table in October. I balked at first thinking that I could eventually make this work. I tried therapy and used a brace that forced a range of motion. Nothing I did would stick.
25 years ago I broke my right elbow in a bike crash. I know what you’re thinking. Dude has no luck with his elbows and is probably mental to keep hopping up on the bike for more injuries. I went to the emergency room and the ortho on call basically said start moving it as soon as you can. Where it is in 6 months is where it will be…forever. I worked hard and eventually got the thing to straighten through unorthodox measures and self flagellation. I figured I could do the same with the recent injury. No dice.
It just wouldn’t move. And the movement I forced hurt. So it basically hung at my side in this awkward 45 degree angle.
Late November back to the doctor I went. I decided on the surgery and got assigned another doctor. He looked at my X-rays and CT scan and said “let’s get an MRI”. I wasn’t happy. Money was leaking like a sieve out of our account and into TOA. He said we gotta do it. I said fine but you gotta do this thing by the end of the year as I’ve met my deductible. He said he had a place on the schedule at the end of December. But go get the MRI. Which as you know is another week to schedule. Time was running short but it worked out. Oh, and he wanted an EKG on the arm because, you know, numbness.
The MRI and EKG was done the same day. EKG was fine. No noticeable nerve damage except, you know, finger numbness. Rolled back down to the doctor’s to discuss the MRI. I swear I am sick of driving to TOA. Anyway he said there are plenty of reasons to have the surgery based on the MRI. He saw a rather large bone fragment and plenty of scar tissue. He also wanted to move the ulnar nerve.
Cool. A week later I was in the surgery center getting a blessing from my priest waiting to be called back.
They have me get into the groovy hospital gown and start the IV. A nurse came in and started shaving my arm. “What is this scratch?” I looked down and said I had moved some brush the day before. She said well you have a scratch right where the incision is to be made for the ulnar nerve move-deal. “The doctor won’t operate with these scratches.” They took a photo and send it to the doc. I laid there for 30 minutes staring at the ceiling pouting because there was no way I was coming back any time soon for the surgery. I just couldn’t pay the deductible. A week later and we would be in 2017.
The doc came in and said he preferred not to operate. We are talking a scratch of minute proportions. I mean, you’d get a worse cut with paper. But, he said he understands the financial deal too. So we finally negotiated to nix the ulnar nerve move-deal and just hammer the arthroscopic hole punches to scrape out the trash. He could work around the scartch. I was cool with that.
5 minutes later I was floating with a sedative and only remember moving into the operating bed then waking up in recovery trying to figure out how to get dressed. My wife said it was humorous. I do remember the doc coming in and I asked him can I start moving the arm. He said “yep.” I don’t remember getting home but I do remember standing in the bathroom and trying to straighten my arm in front of the mirror.
I couldn’t believe there was little pain!
Over the New Year’s weekend I steadily kept moving the arm. I was thrilled that I had gained an extra 10 degrees movement without even trying. I strapped my arm in the brace and forced it up and down. The pain has been far less than before the surgery.
The only issue has been fully straightening it out, Superman-style. After about 20 minutes in the brace my pinky starts getting numb, then the ring finger, then it’s uncomfortable and I have to back it off. My range of motion has been so much better though. Pretty exciting.
Yesterday I had to get my bandages changed and begin supervised therapy. He cut away the blood caked bandages and I looked down and saw what looked to be a stitch. “Did I get stitches?” He started counting and said “I count 11.”
“Seriously? I thought they’d put a band-aid over the hole. And how did two holes end up with 11 stitches.”
Laughing he said, “dude you’ve got like 5 holes. Your medical sheet shows you were on the table far longer than usual and they had to remove a lot of bone chips and scar tissue.”
I had no idea.
I went to the doctor today and showed off my Superman move. He was mildly impressed. I asked how many holes he punched and he said 6. 6 freaking holes. He said there was a lot to remove. He’s not a big talker but he said he was pleased with the results. See ya in 4 weeks.
So I have a couple weeks of therapy daily multiple sets of exercises. It feels better with stitches, soreness and swelling than it did without. I finally think I am on the correct road to recovery.
Side note: The day after surgery I received a letter from the insurance company stating they would not be covering the ulnar nerve move-deal. So I lucked out because we didn’t do it anyway but thanks assholes for sending the notice AFTER the surgery.