More Hardware

The background to this site is an image of the plate and screws in my right clavicle.  They are from a crash back in 2008 during a TT. Well, I’ve got some more hardware on my right side. And by no surprise, it’s from a bike crash. I was coming back from my usual Friday evening gravel loop through Peter’s Canyon and Irvine Regional Park. It had recently rained, but the trails had all been groomed. Passing through Citrus Ranch Park in Tustin, about 5 miles from home, I was taking in the gorgeous evening weather and all of the people in the park. The next I know, it’s Saturday and I’m waking up in the ICU. Yep. Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together from ER reports, etc.

I crashed along a pristine bridle-like path with wooden fencing on each side. I hit my head getting a concussion and also broke my right elbow. I remember everything about the ride right up until the crash. It’s kind of blank from there. I vaguely recall talking with the firefighters, but it’s a little foggy. And speaking of firefighters, I lucked out.  There were plenty of people in the park to call 911 and the fire station was literally a couple of blocks away. Thus, I got help right away.

Apparently, I was conscious when I came into the ER at the first hospital, but didn’t know my name or DOB. Thankfully, I had ID on me and I was already in the hospital system. While I was there, I had a short tonic-clonic seizure, which can indicate possible intracranial bleeding. They intubated and sedated me out of caution and had me transferred to a higher level trauma facility. After some CT scans, it was clear I had no intracranial bleeding but they kept me in the ICU for a day for observation. BTW, they always get sedative dosing wrong in endurance athletes. I woke up a few times and tried taking the breathing tube out of my throat…then back to sleep. I believe they even strapped my arms down, so I wouldn’t be able to if I woke up…😂

When I got moved up to my own room, I was pretty coherent and knew where I was and why. Actually, I wasn’t experiencing any memory or cognitive issues. I did know my elbow was broken, since it was in a splint. The ortho said I needed surgery, which they were going to do in the next day or so. I had my iPhone with me and they also had a phone in my room, so I was able to get in touch with people. This was awesome, since I was able to talk with friends and family, let them know I was OK, and stay somewhat connected to the world (the hospital was closed to visitors due to COVID).

My surgery ended up getting delayed until Monday due to OR scheduling. It was nice being able to talk with the surgeon before my procedure to understand what he was going to do. I had broken this same elbow in high school playing basketball and had 2 pins inserted, which were removed a year later. The nature of this fracture in my distal humerus required a different type of procedure. One plus side of having had surgery several times before was that I knew the drill. I wasn’t nervous at all. Go figure.

A pleasant surprise that Monday was that it was the first day they were allowing visitors back into the hospital. In fact, they had no COVID patients in the entire facility. I had my friend Jill stop by and chat, as well as bring me things. They felt I was OK to discharge on Tuesday and I was ready to go home. Looking back, I think spending 4 days in the hospital really helped me, especially with my concussion. All I did was rest. The staff at the hospital were great. 

Well, you can take a visual tour of my crash in the images below. I don’t have an x-ray before my surgery, but I have a couple of views of the hardware store in my right elbow. To access the humerus fo repair, they performed a olecranon osteotomy. The fracture was comminuted (aka, a few fragments), so they used some clamps, screws, and some wire to put it back together. Once they were done with my humerus, they used a couple of pins to put the ulna back together.

I had staples holding the sutures together for a couple of weeks, but they had me start moving my elbow after just 1 week. Ironically, my bike suffered less “catastrophic” damage than I did. My handlebars broke and the right shifter got scuffed up, but that was it…🤷‍♂️

Lateral view of the elbow. The “fracture” in the ulna is where they had to break it during surgery to access the humerus
Anterior view of my elbow hardware
I don’t think they used a Swingline stapler
Where I crashed in Citrus Ranch Park

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