Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spiral Fracture of Humerus - Week 7

What a difference a week makes. Well... not really. I've mustered up the courage to move my arm and have done away with the sling. I sleep most of the night on my good side and don't wake up nearly as much as I used to. I may be moving back to bed with the wife. I'm also typing this with two hands although I have to put my keyboard in my lap.

I had my follow up this morning and it wasn't what I was hoping but there are silver linings on those storm clouds. I'm healing and the bone hasn't moved at all since the day I broke it. I can start getting on with my life since I have a lot of hard bone now but I still have to take it easy on account of my stiff elbow. I changed a diaper the other day and can do more of that. I will have to avoid picking up my son though since I'm not supposed to be torquing my arm. Pain won't let me do that anyway.

I've got to wear the Sarmiento brace for another month to protect the bone and prevent stress on the bone. During this time I can lift whatever my arm will allow. The trick will be avoiding pain. As long as it doesn't hurt when I do it I should be fine. Lack of muscle and elbow movement will keep me limited in that department. No physical therapy until after my next follow up. At the end of September I will go in for more X-Rays and possibly a CT scan though the latter will be a bit later since that's more in prep for surgery. Yes surgery. My doc wants me back on the table the first of November to release the elbow.

I was hoping for arthroscopic surgery like they do for tennis elbow and other minor set backs but I have a lot of scar tissue that needs to be removed if I'm going to be able to straighten my arm. It's not going to do it on its own. It would have been nice to be able to do this a month ago but break number 2 really screwed it up for me. They'll have to open me up again like they did the first time and will be cutting away all of the scar tissue in order to allow the arm to hang straight. He will likely remove the two screws as well just to get me as close to normal as possible. There are risks, of course, releasing the elbow. The bone can break again while taking them out I'm sure. Fortunately the risks are small and any breaks would be easily corrected with smaller screws and plates which wouldn't hinder my recovery in the slightest. Sarcasm.

I should be able to get right back to PT after that and should be right as rain before the new year. That means I'll be good to go for Disneyland but not so much for the rest of the year. I should be about 75% though so Jill won't have to struggle with everything.

I only get twinges of pain at the break site when torquing my arm which I don't do too often. I get some elbow pain when bending it and twisting my wrist. I'm supposed to keep doing my exercises to get rid of that. As the arm heals the torque pain should subside. Swelling has been almost non existent since I abandoned the sling.

I still can't do things with my arm like prepare elaborate dinners and such but I've gotten so used to doing everything with one arm I hardly notice. Really, it's all about the emotional challenges. I'm trying not to focus on the rest of the year and instead just take things day by day. I'm going to get better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spiral Fracture of Humerus - Week 6

Six to twelve weeks is what I was told. No, I'm not better but I do feel better. I just hope I'm not at the halfway mark as far as healing goes. I'd much rather be at the halfway mark on the recovery front. I've got one more week before I go back to see if my arm has done any healing since I had the hard cast removed.

I have a love/hate relationship my with my brace. I love that I can take it off and that my arm can breathe for the most part. I hate that it takes me a good day to get it comfortable. Too tight and my arm and hand swell like crazy and the bicep hurts when I move my arm. Too loose and it feels like bone will break again at any moment. Like usual my doctor didn't say one way or another which was better. As always it's "whatever's comfortable." Either way, I want this thing on my arm until the bone is no longer at risk to break. With any luck I'll be able to start PT after my next appointment. I'm still concerned about the prospect of another surgery to release my elbow. I don't want to delay my progress but I don't want to be going to Disneyland with a stuck elbow. I'm going to have the X-Ray the elbow so he can see where the lock is. I'm hoping the surgery recovery would line up with my current recovery so I don't have to take any more time away from taking care of my son.

Fear is a powerful motivator. After the first break I felt fairly invincible and was very aggressive with trying to regain the strength in my arm. I've been told time and time again by my doctor that it had nothing to do with the second break but I'm very paranoid now about using my arm. I know it works because I've certainly jerked my arm plenty of times now avoiding various hazards. There was no pain or very little pain during these maneuvers but they're still plenty scary.

Since I know the muscles that are left work, I've been doing very minute movements. Typically an inch or two here and there. The hard part is convincing my brain that the arm works. I will do this until I feel discomfort in my upper arm.

Lower arm is still a little sore from time to time and elbow is stuck at the same spot but getting a little looser.

Sleeping isn't as bad now. I still have to start sitting up but I  gradually remove pillows until I'm in a more normal position. I can lay on my side but not on the bad arm. I wake up a few time and switch to my back for a little bit but no more sitting up all night.

I remove the sling when I'm sitting. I still need to support my arm when I move about but I can stand and let my arm hang for a bit. This will be tough as long as my elbow is stuck. It will probably be awhile still until I can abandon the sling.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spiral Fracture of Humerus - Week 5

A little from column A and a little from column B. I'm definitely not progressing like I did on my original injury but I knew that was probably going to be the case. Carrying this mostly dead limb around is getting fairly annoying. I start my day in decent comfort but by the end of the day my arm is pretty sore at the elbow and where the break is. After my son goes to bed I can hop in my recliner and relax. This is a big help.

I've got two more weeks until my next milestone. I try to raise my arm under its own power occasionally. I know I can do it because a few bumps have caused me to react by moving it. That hurts of course but not very much. I think more than anything I'm just afraid to move it. I don't feel as invincible as I did before the second break. I'm going to have to get it through my head that the arm can move safely once I get the go ahead from my doctor.

This last week was a slow one. I hope things pick up.

This begins my second week with my Sarmiento brace. I was fitted for a medium but they probably should have gotten me a large. There is still quite a bit of swelling around the elbow so I keep the brace a tad looser so my arm doesn't swell too much. The straighter I can put my arm the less it swells.

I was told I could sleep in whatever position was most comfortable. That of course means sitting up still. For the last couple of days I've been able to lay on my good side with a pillow supporting my bad arm for a few hours. My elbow is still very stiff since I wasn't able to complete my physical therapy. I can gradually straighten it out to about 120 degrees which is a little less than the 125 degrees I could do before my break. I've got a ways to go before I can do 180 degrees again.

The elbow is very stiff and clicks quite a bit when I try to straighten it. I've been told that will improve with use which of course I can't yet.

Showering is easier now that I don't need to bag my arm up. I still need to be careful because I have to go in with my arm unprotected. I keep it in my shower sling very close to my body.

Sleeping is the biggie. I'm hoping to be sleeping regularly in the next couple of weeks. It all depends on my X-Rays in two weeks.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Not All Doom And Gloom

I realize that all of my blog posts have centered around my injury as of late and it's probably made for pretty boring reading. As crappy as my predicament is I've gained a bit of perspective.

As bad as I have it it could certainly be worse. I can't hold my son but I can still hold his hands and kiss his face even when he doesn't want me to. Soldiers deployed overseas don't get any of that. People missing limbs don't get to hug their kids like I'll be able to do soon. I know my situation isn't permanent.

My wife has been the real trooper through all this. She's emerged as a very strong mother and I'm proud of her. I'm sure she'd throw me out if I ever did this again so I'll be very, very careful from here on out.

Graham's gonna be okay. He'll come out like his wife, stronger and wiser.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Spiral Fracture of Humerus - Week 4

Four weeks on and I'm slowly getting better. They took more X-rays today and removed the hard cast. The doc says that he can see hard bone forming on the X-ray which is good. I was hoping he'd say that I've miraculously healed but no suck luck.

My shoulder isn't as sore as they said it would be but my arm is very weak. I have pretty good wrist and hand movement but that's about it. I can lift my forearm about a half inch before I start to feel any discomfort. My arm feels like it weighs about 100lbs. It looks like I haven't lost very much muscle but that's because I'm still pretty swollen. My hand is not which means the brace isn't too tight.

I'm wearing a Sarmiento, cuff brace which is substantially more comfortable and better still can come off for showers. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it on without help and off so that's a bummer. I'll give it a shot then bug the wife. More than anything I just want a clean arm. I'll be in a sling for at least another three weeks which is when I have to go back in for more X-rays.

My doc has always been a tad wishy washy on what I should be doing with my arm. I explained that I'm a very motivated person and that I will overdo it if he doesn't give me specific instructions. No pain, all gain is the advice. I should only move as much as the pain will allow and no to try to work through it. I have to continue using stress ball to work the muscles in my forearm and hand. Lifting my arm requires a lot of effort but the real trick is lowering it. Much like swimming or hiking, I have to stay mindful about the trip back. I can't just let my arm drop because that hurts so I have to be able to lower it slowly. Doc suggested spotting myself using my other arm just to be safe.

My elbow still clicks like crazy. It doesn't hurt but it can be alarming. I was told that it's norma and should subside once I can start therapy.

As always, getting back to normal is the big deal here. I've got at least another three weeks of not doing anything. I can use my hand but without a supporting arm it's difficult. I can clip my son's finger and toenails so I can sort of help. I won't be happy until I can do diapers again. I won't be super happy until I can pick up my son.

I was told that I didn't have to sleep sitting up and could lay however I was comfortable. Comfort was not on the menu last night. I got about 5 hours of sleep. It wasn't really painful but every little movement produced a pressure sensation in my lower arm. I'm going to go back to sleeping upright for another week and see how it goes.