Ain't no thing but a (broken) chicken wing.
March 7, 2012 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Two-part question: 1) You had a broken clavicle repaired surgically - what was your experience? 2) You've been seriously single going through the recovery process from major injury - how did you keep your mojo?

So it looks like my streak of major orthopedic injuries is continuing, and I need surgery to repair a broken collarbone that has become a non-union after 4 months. I know the recovery process w/o surgery, but I need to hear your experiences, stories, and advice/suggestions for recovery from a surgically repaired one. FWIW, it's a clean break, they're installing plates & pins. I've now consulted with 4 different surgeons, they're in full agreement.

I'm (sadly) quite experienced in injury recovery - the last few years have been a real challenge (two knee surgeries, two shoulder injuries). And I'm familiar with my own pattern - I get injured/operated on, I withdraw to lick my wounds, and I have a really hard time coming back out of my shell until I'm fully healed. The problem is that every time, I have become a depressed shell of myself.

I'm working with my therapist on this, but the other note is this - during the previous recoveries, I was in the final throes of an extremely painful divorce. I wasn't dating. Over the last year, through a ton of fits and starts, I've finally learned how to date again. But my physical sense of self is a big part of my confidence. I'm not seeing anyone right now, but I -really- do not want to put my dating life on the shelf for the 2-3 months it'll take to recover.

So, men and women of MeFi: You're single. You're injured, so HotMessyFunSexyTime is off the table for a little while. But this is temporary, and you know with the right person, a lot of teasing fun can be had in the meantime. But injuries are hard work, and maintaining a sense of humor can be difficult. How did you do it?

Anecdotes, suggestions, laughs all appreciated. I'm super-bummed about having to go under the knife here, and trying to maintain a sense of humor about it all.

Thank you!
posted by swngnmonk to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can comment on the clavicle, and my situation is strikingly similar to yours: a clean break that didn't heal with eventual ORIF surgery (exactly) 4 months post-break. My surgeon put in a plate and several (10?) screws. I got a nerve block for the surgery—they offered me the option and I took it—and it was great. Total numbness in much of my shoulder and all of my arm for 12+ hours. It was hell to maneuver myself onto the OR table with one floppy arm and one arm with an IV in the wrist, but the lack of post-surgical pain was amazing. The first day or three, I had serious soreness in the shoulder, but just a dull ache and no real pain per se; I was off the percoset in 1.5 days post-surgery and on just acetaminophen for about a week after that. I had the surgery on a Friday and was out of my sling the second Monday following, so about 10 days total in the sling. After that, I just had to build up use slowly, but I wasn't limited in motion or anything. Frankly, I just wish I had the surgery straightaway after the break. I'm a little shocked that you've seen four surgeons about this: after four months, it ain't healing on its own, so either you get some surgery or not, and this sort of thing is bread-and-butter for orthos.

But really: the recovery for this is no big deal. Yeah, it's surgery, but You'll be up and about in a sling after a couple of days, and you can go out and have dates and fun and etc. no problem. Then you're out of the sling in 2 weeks, and after that, you won't be lifting weights right away, but you won't be that limited in physical activity. This isn't like a knee that keeps you sitting for a month or two, so go get 'em tiger; this is like the least bad of all the bad.
posted by The Michael The at 7:12 PM on March 7, 2012

Sorry you've had to deal with this for so long; it would have been better to get it fixed when you broke it. Anyway, you don't want a plate, you want a Rockwood clavicle pin.

It's installed in the bone (fairly major operation) for 4–6 weeks and then removed (minor operation). Two small incisions. You'll be good as new, but you might have the ability to detect barometer changes with your shoulder.

Coincidentally, I just posted pictures of my own pin in an AskMe.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:51 PM on March 7, 2012

I can't speak to the clavicle part (although it's a fun word to say), but as far as the "dating" thing - well, I'm also not especially qualified there .. But! I think recognizing your tendency to "turtle up" and determining you don't want that is a big step. Often the hardest part of overcoming a problem is identifying it - which you've done.

Honestly, if you're willing to watch yourself for signs of crawling into your shell, and committing to not allowing it, you're really part of the way there.

The other thing is that you might want to be careful to not put *too* much pressure on yourself. Dating is hard even when you're feeling tip-top, so make sure you take that in to account.
posted by dotgirl at 11:35 PM on March 7, 2012

I had an "unclean break" with a fragment. I got a way too big plate due to bad circumstances, so a year later I had it removed because it made my shoulder stiff unless I did training exercises every few days to avoid it. The plate was so big the bump was visible thru a T-shirt.

2nd week after initial operation was the worst with pain. After a month, the shoulder started to quickly become better. I was not able to do much the first couple of months, and I did almost no work nor fun, fortunately I was able to go without working for a long time. Why I had it so bad, I don't know; everybody seems to think that a broken clavicle is no big deal, especially those who watches Tour de France. It took more than 3 months before I left the house for anything but shopping groceries. anybody. It took more than 6 months to get full strength back in the bones, i.e. being able to lift semi-heavy items without being sore. I had to do a lot of specialized training exercises to get strength back in the small control muscles before I was able to lift the arm more than 135°.

I got almost no information nor help about training exercises, so my shoulder became very stiff and after 2-3 months I could not lift the arm more than 90°. It took a half year of training to get 90% back, and only after removal of plate I got 100% back, i.e. being able to lift it straight up.

Removal of plate was no big deal. No pain, no trouble. Next day was like any other day.
posted by flif at 2:53 AM on March 8, 2012

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