Thursday, August 13, 2015

Week five. Yes, I think it's getting better, a little better all the time.

My arm still hurts, mostly in the morning after I've slept on it, but with each passing week I can do things which were off the table the previous week.  In the too much information dept: last week's little victories included being able to once more have enough rotational range of motion to cut my toe nails.  I can now also hoist an ear of corn up level with my chops and gnaw the kernels off the cob.  This week I can put on ( and just as importantly, remove a Tee-shirt unaided)  People occasionally ask me how the broken humerus compares with the broken radius (at least in terms of my right arm I'm becoming something of an oracle).  Let me review;

When I broke my radius I wore a series of casts.  The first one extended from my elbow to my knuckles and pretty much took my right arm and hand out of commission for the better part of five months.

As time wore on the cast got shorter and lighter but my right hand was useless until the final cast went away.  At that point my right arm had lost a lot of strength and it took lots of PT to gain that strength back.  Additionally, with casts bathing and showering are a bit tedious due having to keep the cast dry.  If one is a broken bone novice, as I was, one quickly goes up the cast learning curve with kitchen trash bags, then plastic wrap and duct tape until finally discovering that drug stores stock form fitting cast sleeves with water resistant elastic cuffs.  When the final cast was removed I had one weak, smelly arm.

With the broken humerus I didn't get a cask.  Instead I started off with this soft sling, courtesy of the ER. 

But quickly graduated to this semi-rigid "clam shell" (for lack of a better descriptor) brace.  My orthopedic surgeon supplied this during my first office visit after I got home from the hospital.  As long as the fracture doesn't require surgical reduction most orthopedic surgeons allow gravity and mother nature to take care of the task of bone mending with just minor immobilization.  After the first week I didn't have to wear this contraption while sleeping (not like one gets a long stretch of unbroken sleep, yawn).  Unlike the broken radius, the fractured humerus didn't completely take away the use of my right hand.  I could still write with that hand provided the angle of the document didn't require movement in a painful direction.  I quickly learned to elevate the pad of paper to a comfortable level with my left hand/arm.  I also learned to stand over the keyboard when pushing complex key combinations such as "control alt delete".  I did revert to shaving left handed.  I'm now reintroducing my right hand to that task so far without loosing too much hide. My dancing skeletons shirt once again is proving to be quite popular with x-ray technicians.  I'm now weening myself away from this brace--just have to be careful not to bump the shoulder into things or it's straight to the moon, Alice.

This is the pose that my guardian angel (and long suffering wife) adopt when I start talking about my return to the ice.  Today I had my first session with a physical terrorist therapist.  I'm already at 90 degrees with a lot of the assigned exercises but I have a long was to go before I'm pain-free over the full range of motion.  I'm hoping that the inflammation in my supraspinatus muscle/tendon doesn't lead to a level of impingement requiring rotator cuff surgery. Been there, done that with my left shoulder.   How's that for motivation to keep up with my PT "homework"?  I'm hoping to have a functioning right arm/shoulder by mid-September so that I can race a boat at the Classic Moth Boat Association National Championships.  I'll attend even if I can't race.


  1. Eating corn is super important this time of year! So glad you are on the mend and contemplating skating. Those are some impressive pics of your arm. I hope PT goes well--and that the sailing is a "go!"

  2. Wishing you well - glad things have improved so far.

    I got a similar look from my husband when I returned to cycling to work, after a dooring incident. He accompanied it with an audible grinding of teeth and low moans.

    1. I'm weeks away from seeing what kind of skater I've become. No doubt I'll be a bit nervous about getting out there. My initial goal, assuming I can still skate at all, is to attempt to cleanly do forward stoking for 30 minutes. I know that sounds meager. But if I can do that then I think I'll be able to make a come back. The broken bone isn't the big deal--it's the whack my head took. Cap't hindsight strongly recommends protective head gear.