Prattle & Jaw

Two blogs about a whole lot of nothing

Olecranon Fracture: Part One

I've decided to keep track of my progress after my elbow break. Party because I think it'll be a good way for me to, well, keep track of things; party because it might help with the frustration I'm going through; and partly because someone who breaks their elbow might find some comfort in reading that they're not the only one who thinks they’ll never bend their arm again.

It's approaching the two month anniversary of my accident, and I'm incredibly frustrated, sad, and concerned about my elbow mobility. As it is now, I lack 30° when extending my arm, and 45° when flexing. I can't brush my teeth, wash my hair, eat, etc., and trying to use my crooked arm normally to do simple things, like pick something up off the floor, is incredibly awkward. The surgeon seemed really quite apprehensive when I asked him if I'd be able to touch the back of my head, but the physiotherapist said it's too early to say. Healing takes a long time, and she rarely sees such serious cases leave her centre. My first group therapy session was last week, and while I was by far the worst off, I did see improvement within the hour. That of course stiffens back up again over the day, but the fact is that it can move more. And will move more. 

OK, so back story. 

On October 19th 2015, I was cycling home from work at about 4.30pm, wondering whether we should have cold sausages for dinner or if I could be bothered to cook the salmon in the fridge. I went to overtake another cyclist, and at that exact moment, the powers that be decided that the woman in the car alongside us would swing her car door open, putting it directly in my path. Although a split second must have passed, I remember thinking three things. 1) this is going to be more that just a tumble; 2) there's absolutely nothing I can do to avoid this; and 3) Nooooooo. I don't remember the accident at all, but I did hear my head (in a helmet), hit the ground before rolling to a sitting position smack bang in the middle of the bike path. I knew instantly that something was wrong. Fast forward to hospital, and yes, broken elbow. By now they had given me some drugs - no idea what - so the news didn't really bother me too much. Bit of a shame, but broken limbs are never that bad, right? Op, cast, cast off, good to go. At least, that's what I thought. 

I had four hours of surgery, and two nights in hospital before I was sent home with a lot of morphine. I slept a lot for the first few days, then just looked forward to getting the cast off. Let me give you a general time frame. 

 

October 19th 2015: accident 

About 4 hours after the accident. Still pretty positive - enough to think that I should take a photo of it all. Wedding ring was some serious work to get off, but off it did come, thanks to a persistent nurse

About 4 hours after the accident. Still pretty positive - enough to think that I should take a photo of it all. Wedding ring was some serious work to get off, but off it did come, thanks to a persistent nurse

The break

The break

October 21st: surgery. More complicated break than originally though. The olecranon had broken into two different pieces, as well as being detached from the ulna. Nerve block, full anaesthesia, and lots of morphine. 

Two pins, a tension band, and two screws, which are quite rarely used in broken elbows

Two pins, a tension band, and two screws, which are quite rarely used in broken elbows

My cast. Solid on the underneath, soft on top. First time in a cast for me, so learning how to shower and so on was interesting. Sleeping was a nightmare

My cast. Solid on the underneath, soft on top. First time in a cast for me, so learning how to shower and so on was interesting. Sleeping was a nightmare

November 4th: cast off

Having my cast off was awful. No one told me I wouldn't be able to move my arm. It was such a shock I had to put my head between my knees!

Having my cast off was awful. No one told me I wouldn't be able to move my arm. It was such a shock I had to put my head between my knees!

November 10th: ergo therapy appointment. Got a load of exercises to do 3 rounds of 10 reps each, 3 times a day. 

November 19th: first physio. Basically said follow the exercises, what you're feeling and the limit of mobility is perfectly normal, don't worry. 

November 23rd: second physio. Same as above. Also said that until the x-ray on the 4th to check if the bone has healed, I couldn't put too much pressure on movement. 

December 4th: follow-up x-ray. Bone had healed, but the surgeon's face was pretty upsetting. He didn't seem to be overly enthusiastic about the future. Had my work Christmas party that evening so got drunk. 

December 8th: ergo therapist, referred back to physio. 

December 10th: first group physical therapy session. 

And here we are. I can see minor, minor improvements from last week, but the idea that I'll be able to eat an apple with my right hand one day seems more like a daydream. I don't see how I'll get any further. It's really hard. I'm used to be very active, but haven't done any exercise since the accident. I could probably get back in the gym now, but between a one year old baby, job, and things taking three times as long as before, I just don't have the time or - more importantly - the right attitude. Christmas is just around the corner so it seems a bit futile now anyway. At least I have my NYE resolution cut out for me. 

So that's where I am now. Feeling pretty sorry for myself if I'm honest. Group physio is every Tuesday and Thursday, and I'm looking forward to this week. I really hope there's at least a a degree of improvement, although I'm trying not to get my hopes up. Millimetre by millimetre, it'll come back. I hope. 

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.