Ana's Arm Story

As I fell I felt it wasn't good as I landed I knew it. A few minutes later I wandered into my backyard where my friends were ironically playing on the trampoline. I had slipped and fallen on some landscape timber and my arm was swelling and hurting. My friend Melissa took me to the emergency room, all the way there I kept saying "my arm hurts" I didn't want to cry unless I had broken it and since the bone wasn't sticking out I wasn't sure. The triage nurse was pretty sure it was broken or at least really messed up since she rushed me back to x-ray. They asked me if my elbow or wrist hurt more. I honestly didn't know. I know when they asked me to straighten my arm to x-ray the elbow I thought I was going to pass out so they decided it was the elbow that broke. I waited in the ER as they called the local arm specialist to come to emergency surgery. Wait a minute all I was doing was putting a few plants out front what's going on. I was in shock apart from knowing my arm hurt and hurt like heck I didn't know much. That and I wanted to wash my hands and have a drink. The arm specialist declined coming back into town on a Sunday night so the leg specialist came to my rescue. Six hours later my radial head was gone. As was a life without pain. I remember waking up in the post op and being told it was a lot worse than they thought and then going back to sleep. So OK I had broken just about every other bone in my body growing up. No big deal. I was still fairly indestructible, a minor set back if that. Yeah right. I took the cast off and had to look at it (did I mention I'm not the ideal patient) ekkkk I called the doctor right away the bruise I saw was my whole elbow (or what was left of it anyhow) they told me that was "normal", and I went back to get it recasted. While free of my constraints I decided it would be smart to see how I could move it. Not a good move. OUCH I would come to learn that too was "normal". Finally I was free to go. Go forth and bend your arm I was told. I was also told "it'll hurt so much you'll wish you were dead" they didn't know me I could handle it. Well, I opted for the do-it-yourself physical therapy for the first few months. I would carry a bucket gradually filling it with more and more water to get the arm straight. Although this method works it hurts. A lot. When I went back for my recheck the doctor told me it wasn't straight enough didn't have enough range of motion so I went to physical therapy. Within a few months I no longer had feeling in my hand. I didn't know if that was "normal" or not so I called and saw the doctor again. He said I needed more surgery. Seems the nerves were all messed up. I said no I can deal with it. I soon realized that when he told me how much it would hurt he wasn't kidding but it had to stop at some point or at least I'd get used to it. A year went by I lived in pain alternating between having it braced, not moving it, my personal favorite the TENS unit, and taking copious amounts of painkillers none of which really helped all that much. A year and a half later I broke down and had the neurosurgery. This will solve it. They did mention shortening the ulna but I said no let's not do that it's way too invasive. Within a week from the neurosurgery it was worse than before. Six months later I went back to the doctor my life shouldn't be filled with this pain. He agreed, so I asked my options again with this ulna shortening he did also mention a cadaver transplant for the missing radial head. Hmmmmm NOT. So with only 8 days to go until the ulna shortening I sit here my arm in a brace killing me thinking this had got to work. I'm lucky now I have a good range of motion, health insurance, and it's not my dominant hand but still I'm hoping on this ulna shortening. I don't know of anyone that's had it done but it makes sense in my head that it should work. I'm hoping and praying.

wow, well back in June i had my (first) ulna shortening. i thought i was ready for it but it sure did hurt, the doctor wasn't kidding me when he said it would be painful. i had a friend come stay with me to help out and boy did i need help. foe about three days the pain was awful, then it got tolerable and i was really hopeful. the first time i saw the x-ray with the plate it was really creepy. really creepy. not to mention looking at the screws and the gap in my bone. i went every six weeks to check on my progress in healing. unfortunately there was none be be had. the bone, although typically slow to heal mine was above average in the length of time it was taking. months passed no sign of healing. well this in and of itself was not great but unfortunately for me my vagabond ulna felt that knot only should it knot heal but it should also continue to migrate. at 2mm i was in pain, but the thought of another surgery was more painful. the migration continued and so did the level of pain. now i was back to the same level of pain as before and my arm had been broken for 6 months. ugh! i went for my typical 6 month check, hoping for a sign of bone union, there was none. knot only that but my doctor looked at the x-ray and told me i needed to be re shortened, a radial head implant and my ulna nerve moved. i wanted to cry on the spot, i was thinking at worst it would look as it had all the other times i had been there. i must have looked really pathetic since he hugged me and told me it would get better. i went back to work to try to break the news to my boss. this would be my third operation in the past 12 months nice use of vacation time. my work took it well, and the next day when my doctor's office called and told me in two weeks they would be doing the surgery i was sure it was just a bad dream. the day came. i was surprisingly knot scared, nervous yes but knot really scared. naive is more like it. everyone remembered me at the surgery center and they wheeled me back to the operating room. the next thing i knew i was in recovery in more pain than i ever thought possible, i couldn't talk but i was crying and a nurse told me that they were getting another doctor to give me a nerve block. as the doctor stuck the needle down my neck i prayed it was just a bad dream. then my body stared convulsions and the injected me, i went back to sleep. i woke up again in post op room still in pain and groggy. the block numbed half my body so i couldn't speak and looked like i had a stroke, this wasn't good. the pain and block combination had raised my blood pressure so much that i also couldn't barely walk. i kept slipping in and out of it. my doctor came in and explained what happened how it took much longer than they originally thought, but that everything looked good. i went back to sleep. finally 9 hours later the wheeled me to my car, every other time i had been able to walk out of the surgery center. this one had really knocked me down. i got home looked in the mirror and wanted to cry. i really looked like i had been through what i had. i put on my jammies and crawled into bed, my friend had me taken my pain pills since the block typically only lasts 12 to 18 hours and they warned me to not let my body feel the pain. they weren't kidding. when the pills would start to wear off i would know it and reach for them. for about a week i basically slept and took pain pills. finally i came back to the human race. i went to get my stitches out. i thought i was ready. my arm was cut in three places bruised all over and had these huge fracture blisters on it from all the swelling. all the other patients just stared at it, like wow that looks awful it must hurt. seeing the x-ray wasn't as bad as before. except for looking at the screw holes in my bone and the new chunk of metal that was now screwed into the other bone. wow, my arm had gone through a lot! the doctor told me this was the first titanium implant he had done (after the surgery!) but that it looked really good and that i should get feeling back in my hand over time. i've started using it slowly, very slowly. working on getting it straight first and still waiting on feeling in the ulna digits. i'm doing everything i can to keep from ever doing this again, although it hurts i'm real hopeful that this is going to work and i can feel it getting stronger and better everyday.

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