Prattle & Jaw

Copy, blogs, and bits and bobs

Olecranon Fracture: Part Ten

Someone on Twitter asked me today how my elbow was and I realised I never updated this after I had my metal work removed. So here I am. 

I had my metal work removed in December. This operation was in a different hospital than that I was original operated in. A shame, but that's the way things work.

I was told that having the metal work removed was standard practice by my original surgeon at Bispebjerg Hospital, but as the appointment came closer and I had my first check ups, I was told it wasn't in fact standard practice, and they typically only removed it if it was causing problems. I did have problems, but they weren't life-changing, only uncomfortable: I could feel and see the wire on my underarm, and as a result I couldn't lean on my arm - or my elbow for that matter. It felt tight in my elbow, and every now and then I felt a pain that felt like something catching on something, I presumed muscle on metal. They seemed a little frustrated to do the operation, particularly the surgeon, but operate they did. They managed to take out the wire, the pins and the screws, which was great to hear as originally they thought they'd have to leave in the two little screws.

I left the hospital a few hours later, 100% flesh, blood and bone. It felt good.

I had some expected stiffness, and some awesome stitches (14 compared to the original 21), but within a few days I could brush my teeth. After a week, I was almost back to normal. The only thing stopping (my post-accident) full motion was the incredibly tight stitching!

At Christmas, my aunt, a doctor, removed the stitches. A day or two later I was back to normal. I should point out that before this operation all swelling in my arm had subsided and I had no numbness around the scar. It did, however, hurt as I mentioned before. Doing something repetitive, e.g. some forms of exercise, occasionally gave me an excruciating sharp pain that shot through my arm. Since my metal has been removed, I haven't had any of this discomfort. It's wonderful!

Now, a few months later, and I'm still doing my exercises. I should think I'll be doing them for the rest of the year, easing out another mm here and there. I feel a little numb around the scar, but I've no pain, rarely any weird cracking, zero sharp pain, and zero catching pain in my elbow. I'm extremely happy I had it removed. 

I'm basically back to normal – albeit with about -10% extension and about the same flex. I can live with that. The only negative now is that I'm overcompensating with my shoulder so have had some issues with my rotator cuff – but nothing that can't be fixed. I'm working on adjusting myself constantly, and remembering not to over stretch my shoulder. 

I've had a few people reach out to me asking when they'd be able to move their arm, and telling me how horrible it is and how helpless they feel and I hope they believe me when I say that it will get better. It's silly though – I know they won't: I certainly didn't when numerous strangers told me it would get better. I panicked. Thought my break was somehow worse. But it wasn't. It took time, but here I am. Pretty much back to normal. Except now I'm a lot more wary when I pass between a bicycle and a parked car. 

I've added some lovely photos for the curious. I can't figure out how to add captions, so the first one is same day of op, the second a couple of days later, and the last, moments after my stitches were removed in the kitchen of my parents' house. 

Olecranon Fracture: Part Nine

A short post here to say that today I'm having the metal removed from my elbow! I'm very excited, but also a little nervous about the procedure. 

I thought I should share a photo that shows my full range of motion, 14 months after the accident (almost to the day).

These were taken after an evening of watching TV, so no stretches beforehand. I'm pretty pleased with the progress, but am still very much aware of it when working out; not being able to fully extend or fully flex means that I compensate with my shoulder which then causes problems there, or, alternatively, it simply means I can't do certain exercises well. Could be worse, but I'd rather have my old elbow back. 

I also can see and and feel some of the metal, and the fact that it's all still in there means that I can't mentally move on. This isn't over yet, in some way, and I think that having it removed will mean that I can lean on my elbows again (imagine!), and, more importantly, that I can finally put this all behind me. Roll on 2017. 

Anyway. There you go. I'll do an update on how the op went and any physio I have to do after. Won't be nearly as bad as before as no cutting and reattaching tendons etc., but there will no doubt be some. Am very curious to see how things are in another year's time. 

Until then! Merry Christmas! 

Zion Canyon and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

A very early start today. The plan was to get up really early, about 4am, in order to get to Zion National Park before anyone else. This would mean hiking up the road to the trailhead (the park's shuttle service doesn't start until 6am), but then having the hike all to myself.

This didn't happen.

I did wake up at 4.30am, but managed to linger in bed until 5-something. Then I took the drive slowly, as it was still pitch black (and pitch black it really is in the middle of nowhere). I ended up getting the 6.30-ish shuttle, which was nice because it meant I didn't have to hike up the road, but a tiny bit of a shame as I was not alone. Anyway. I started out, not really knowing if I'd be able to complete the hike. The hike, you see, is a fairly strenuous one. First of all, you have to push through a lot of switchbacks. Incredible views make it manageable, but then you come around the corner and see the final 800 metres which clings to the very top of a narrow ridge, in some places just a few feet wide, with just a chain to cling to. Sometimes. 

Yeah...no

Yeah...no

As I came to the stop before the final ridge, I seriously considered not doing it. The first 10 metres or so were along a steep slope, which didn't look very enticing. I ate, I drank, I clenched, and I went for it, and to be perfectly honest, that was the worst bit. At least, in terms of my nerves. There were sections with alarmingly close drop offs, no chain, and worst of all - people coming the other way (who gets the chain? WHO GETS THE CHAIN?!). 

Here we go...

Here we go...

That's a really small river down there

That's a really small river down there

Oh good, a tiny chain

Oh good, a tiny chain

Boy-oh-boy was it exhilarating! Once I got to the final plateau, I was a bit sad to see it fairly busy, but I was completely high on the fact that I had done it. We all talked, congratulated each other, and had a good laugh – mostly centred around inappropriate jokes about falling to our death. 

Yes, get closer to the edge, why not?

Yes, get closer to the edge, why not?

Not a bad morning

Not a bad morning

The way back was much, much better. I also had the privilege of happily passing terrified looking people clinging to anything stationary asking, "How much further?" and "Is this the worst bit is the worst bit over will I make it?" Bless them.

Down. But not too far

Down. But not too far

I actually stopped a few times on the way back - I didn't want it to be over. But over it was, and on the other side I talked to a few people I'd talked to on the ridge, joking and agreeing how happy we were that we set out early; there were a lot of people out there by now. Of course this goes to show that it's not all that bad, but it's not nice when you have to pass a group of people who refuse to let go of the chain on a section that's just a few feet wide. 

An awkward chain situation just waiting to happen

An awkward chain situation just waiting to happen

I'm thrilled I've done it. I pat myself on the back. Not literally. 

Hiked that, I did

Hiked that, I did

The hike down is pleasant. Good mornings are said over and over as I pass other hikers, and when I reach the bottom, I fall in to conversation with a couple from North Carolina who I met up at the top. They had both started out, but within just a few metres, she had decided not to do the final stretch, but he had pushed on. I passed her and exchanged a few nervous 'oh shits', before I moved on. I talked briefly to him at the end of Angel's Landing (the landing?), before he said goodbye and made his way back. We talk about Brexit, how Americans travel so much within their own country (I say I don't blame them - they say they don't have cool castles and Stonehenge), and how people know about Zion. They give me some tips on what to do, and I make my way back to the car. After a brief visit to the visitor centre, I make my way to another short hike. At least, I think I do. After much driving I stop for lunch at a Thai place, of all places, then realise I'm going the wrong way. Seeing as it was so dark on my way in, I'm completely disorientated. I curse myself repeatedly and grudgingly turn around. Not so bad really. But it's a nice drive, and I have nice views. 

It's a good little hike.

Nice hike. Note tiny bridge to right hanging over nothing

Nice hike. Note tiny bridge to right hanging over nothing

It leads to a great view. 

That's a canyon that is

That's a canyon that is

My time in Zion is at an end. I begin my drive back to Kanab, rather sadly. There's so much more to do, but holy moly, do my feet hurt. The weather is beautiful, the music is country, as I see signs for a state park, I think 'why not?' 

I turn on to a small road, which to me, is heaven. It's the first time I've driven on a small road this trip, and I can't drive slowly enough. This whole trip has felt different to me from the last ones, and I think part of the reason why is because I'm kind of pushed for time. This means sticking to main roads - no exciting forest roads. This road, however, while not a forest road, is unmarked, and empty. I turn the AC off, roll the windows down (roll? Do people still say that?), slow way down, and enjoy it. 

Yes please

Yes please

After a while, I wind up at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and what a lovely place it is. 

Sand

Sand

Crazy colours and stuff

Crazy colours and stuff

Lots of sand. I climb to the top of the highest dune, and sit for a while and contemplate stuff like, "Should I have a burger for dinner, or not?"

Once decided, I head back to the lovely drive, and this time, I pull over, and get out to enjoy the view. I'm not in Arizona, but this is the highlight of my trip (well, this and The Wave). These quiet moments, with spectacular scenery and a hot breeze on my face. I'm going to miss it. 

Country

Country

Reluctantly, I get back in the car, and head towards the motel. I manage to drop my camera on the tarmac as I get out of the car, but as far as I can see, no damage is done. Phew. I pack a bit, then head out to The Rocking V Cafe, just around the corner, for dinner. I have an incredible meal of salad, fish tacos and local craft beer. The waitress, Jessica, is so goddamn smiley that I have to bite my lip not to laugh. It's one of the best meals I've had out, and I leave, full and very happy. I do like Kanab, 

I sit outside my room for a bit, enjoying the evening sun. I'll be sad to go, but I'm also really looking forward to seeing my family again. I miss them so very much. 

Now I'm back in bed, packed, watching an NFL game. Or trying to, anyway. It's that or Pearl Harbour. 

Tomorrow I head back to Phoenix for my 7.30pm flight back to London. I'll try to break up the drive as much as possible, stopping first at Page, then for lunch at Cameron Trading Post, before pushing through the last three hours to PHX. It'll be a dull day, with no internet, so there'll be no update until I'm back in Copenhagen. I'm sure you'll live. 

I'd just like to add that now Parks and Recreation is on. This is full circle. I started watching this on my first solo trip to Arizona. What does it mean? Probably that I watch too my TV. 

Goodnight. 

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.