Category Archives: Injury

Arm Update Eleventeen

Hellohello. I hope you enjoyed the 5 Exercises For Runners post! I think I will have to make that a series of some sort. So many exercises, so little time ;)

Today I’m going to share with you some of the exercises I’ve been doing to rehabilitate my arm and get my level of fitness back.

For starters, I met with my new surgeon again today. If you’re new and want to know what the hell I’m talking about, here’s some background reading!

The accident & surgery
Recovery after surgery
Just being honest
Getting the cast off
Dealing with chronic pain
New surgeon & injury details 

So today was my second meeting with my new surgeon. He’s not the same one who operated on my arm. But I needed an orthopaedic surgeon to regularly follow up with when I moved to Moncton. You can read about my first meeting with him here.

Last time, I got the impression that he thought the reconstruction in my elbow was going to fall apart and that another surgery was inevitable. Well the good news is that it hasn’t fallen apart yet! Yay!

But it wasn’t all good…
 
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I shattered my radial head, a nubbin of a bone that connects my forearm to the top part of the elbow joint. It’s also responsible for wrist rotation (yes, it’s your elbow that twists when you rotate your wrist!).

The bad part is that some of the bone is disappearing. In the above photo I have an arrow pointing to a spot where some of it is visibly missing. The circle refers to a spot where there is a hole in the bone.

Having undergone a five hour surgery to reconstruct this piece means the bone was detached from its blood supply for a loooong time. Chances of a dead bone coming back to life and healing are slim!

Now, the more good news is that the current state of the bone in theory should not hinder getting mobility back. I should be able to mostly straighten and flex my arm in its current state. The screws that we thought may have to come out don’t seem to be in the way as much as we thought. So getting them out may not have to happen!

On the flipside, both my surgeons and physiotherapist are quite worried about my wrist rotation. You see, when I flex and extend my arm, the joint has a little bit of “give.” Meaning it’s always possible to push it a little bit further until I start screaming in pain.

My wrist however, when trying to rotate it towards the ceiling, just “stops” halfway. There is no give to it. It’s what my physio calls a “fixed end point.” It’s worrisome because in my current state, the rotation may not come back at all. It does not fall within the range of liveable motion and is not acceptable when other options are available, basically.

My surgeon told me today that he wants to see me again in five weeks. If I haven’t made much progress with my wrist rotation by then, he thinks there won’t be a chance of it getting any better. Thus, another surgery will be needed to fix it.

He wants to go in and just remove the whole radial head. Because I didn’t damage any ligaments or forearm, I could theoretically be perfectly fine without that piece of bone. He said I could even do push-ups again without it!

I’ve already decided that I want to go back to Ottawa for any further surgeries. My original surgeon is an upper-extremity specialist and knows my situation inside and out. I’ve been whining and whining about this whole “waiting it out thing.” And now that I have a timeline of five weeks I’m kinda freaking out a little. I don’t wanna be on an operating table in five weeks time!!

That’s why these next five weeks are going to be AAAALLLLL about rehabilitation. I’ll be working on rotating my wrist in my sleep!!

I’ve been taking photos of my arm to visually track the progress I’ve been making. I’m so happy I started doing this. Most days I just feel so stiff and frustrated with my arm, but these really show how far I’ve come!

Flexion on March 14 (after getting cast off):

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Flexion on March 28:

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Flexion on April 18:

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Definite progress here after not seeing much the first two weeks! Oddly, I haven’t been working on this direction that much. But everyone tells me that once you start to make progress with one direction, it automatically comes with the other. Biggest things I notice with this are that I can reach my mouth now with my left hand (makes eating easier!) and I can just barely hold my hair in a ponytail with it.

Extension March 14:

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Extension March 28:

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Extension April 18:

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Definite progress here! This is the direction I’ve been working harder on at physio. She pushes my hand down while I pull up resisting it. That flexes my biceps for 5 seconds. Then she releases and pulls my arm down for 5 painful seconds. She’ll also put a weight around my wrist to pull my hand toward the floor and just let my arm stretch out for 5 minutes. This direction is all about relaxing my bicep, which you can see inadvertently bulging in that photo.

Wrist rotation March 14:

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Wrist rotation March 28:

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Wrist rotation April 18:

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I love this photo because it shows my I can make progress on my wrist!!! Three weeks ago I couldn’t twist it 90 degrees without help from my other hand. Now I can twist it to neutral all on its own :) The goal is to get it facing the ceiling. Just 90 degrees left to go!

For my wrist exercises we do something similar where I have to push and resist in the opposite direction, then relax it into a twist.

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I also have to grab a long object that’s top heavy. No, not that, more like a channel changer with batteries. With the weight at the top, I let it drop to the side and pull my wrist towards the ceiling.

I’ve been doing physio three times a week, and these exercises three times a day. When not sitting down and consciously going through the motions, I am alwaysalways just trying to move my left elbow back and forth and twisting my wrist.

In Toronto, my physiotherapist did acupuncture to ease the swelling. Thankfully, it doesn’t get that swollen anymore. Now we use heat to relax the muscles into letting the joint move. My favourite part being the warm whirlpool tank that I put my arm in for 15 minutes at the start of every physio session. I’ll often start moving my arm in the shower too while the hot water is falling on it.

One final thing I’ve noticed, as I’ve mentioned before, is significant muscle loss. Especially in my left shoulder on the injured side. When I first went to my physio she could see the muscle loss just by looking at the difference between my two shoulders.

In the gym, I’ve been doing a lot of cardio (trying to lose weight after all!). I’ve been doing all the lower body and ab stuff I can think of that challenge me without requiring my arms. But I’ve also been doing basic weightlifting shoulder and back movements using no weight at all. My left shoulder had to hold on to a cast in front of my body for four weeks, then work to protect my injured arm for the weeks following that. Needless to say, just moving it in new directions feels like enough work.

Then of course there’s always TONS of stretching. Like, 20 minutes of stretching at the end of each workout. My posture has already dramatically improved and I like to think my muscles aren’t quite as tense. Perhaps being back at the gym has led to the significant improvement over the last three weeks!

Anyways, that is enough rambling about my arm for today. Sorry if this is all horribly dull for you. But to be honest, I need to get it all out. So thanks for being my bouncing board today :)

Question of the Day: I haven’t asked this yet and I really want to know, what kind of injuries have you had? How did you recover from them?

Notes On The Weekend

My mom is in Florida for two weeks and left me with this rat:

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That would be Archie, my favourite miniature poodle, shaved!! Poor dear. His legs are so skinny and without the fluff he now sort of resembles Dobby the house elf. He has also started showing his 14 years. Not a spry pup anymore!

Friday night was spent cuddling with the above rat and watching the Food Network. I haven’t had that channel since university and could watch it all. day. long.

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Saturday I was up early and found myself bored at 8am. The only logical thing to do was bake cookies. I went for a peanut butter recipe on the back of a Kraft peanut butter jar and it couldn’t be any simpler:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Mix until combined, roll into balls, flatten with a fork and bake at 325F for 15 minutes. I got 27 two-bite cookies out of this. Each one is 61 calories. That way, I can eat two and not feel bad ;)

Later in the morning I got to check out the new Dieppe farmer’s market with my dad. Dieppe is a small French city that sort of merges into Moncton. Blink and you’d never realize you were in a different city. The market was filled with baked goods, meats and international fare. I however opted for something a little more Francophone ;)

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Crêpes! Super thin and crispy with grapes, cantaloupe, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, nutella sauce and whipped cream.

Other market goodies included melt-in-your mouth sweet brown rolls.

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Eaten with pork and homemade baked beans from the market.

There’s also TWO German bakers at the Dieppe market.

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I love German baked goods. Rich chocolate cakes, apple strudel and cream cheese danishes. I had a little piece of each, of course!

It all provided the perfect fuel for a run. All this week I’ve been doing interval running to ease my body and heart back into running. I took two months off exercise once before. But throw a reconstructive surgery into the mix and my body does not bounce back nearly as fast. I love being able to run and exercise again, but I am starting at a much lower level of strength and endurance this time around. Building it back up is going to take longer than before. But hey – at least I can still do it!

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I got this Timex Sleek 50-lap watch a while back. I finally learned to use its interval function this weekend for my run. I programmed one for 2 minutes, my “fast” run interval, and the other for 1 minute, my “slow” walking interval. Instead of having to keep an eye on my wrist, it beeps when each interval is up before going to the next one. I loved it!

When not eating and running this weekend I also

1) Hung out with one of my best friends for the first time in a long time (hi Erika!)

2) Hung out with my Nana

3) Caught up on the last 8 episodes of this season’s America’s Next Top Model. (I actually like Alexandria. Anyone??)

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4) GOT A JOB!!!

I interviewed at a running store on Sunday and got the job on the spot. It’s a part-time position. After two months of not working I am SO excited to get back into it and make a paycheck again. I’m also super excited to meet all the runners in the area and talk running all day with customers again. It’s the same job I had and loved at a running store in Toronto.

For those of you wondering, I can’t do personal training in my current condition. I can only lift 2 lbs with my injured arm and my mobility is still significantly limited. It’s not feasible to work in a gym environment where I need to demonstrate exercises and safely spot my clients. At 2-3 years estimated recovery, I can’t sit around and wait to get better either. My physiotherapist told me I may never do push-ups again. I fully plan to prove that prediction wrong, but still.

A lot of people have asked about the possibility of having some kind of training business where I don’t actually do the training. But I’m not a manager! I like the hands-on aspects of jobs, not the sitting-down paperwork part.

So that my friends is that! Not a bad weekend if I do say so myself. This coming week brings a CT scan, a second meeting with my new surgeon, my first shift at the running store, lots of walks with the poodle, and more hang outs with friends and Nana :)

Question of the Day: What was the best part of your weekend? What are you most looking forward to in the coming week?

Them Healing Vibes

Hellohello!

So, first a little arm update for those of you keeping track. Okay, and also for my own documentation purposes ;) I’ve been tweeting bits and pieces but it’s nice to get the whole story out all at once. I had two important appointments today!

For any newcomers, I fell skating just over seven weeks ago and shattered my elbow, requiring reconstructive surgery. You can read all about it here, here and here.

I met with my new surgeon here in Moncton today. I’ve been very curious about what he’d have to say about the “unique” surgery my ortho did in Ottawa.

To really understand, you need to look at the radial head, the location of my fracture. This is a picture of the elbow joint seen from the back of the arm.

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I shattered the part of my elbow that’s called the radial head, the little bulbous piece at the end of the radius bone in your forearm. My original x-ray showed floating bone fragments. Because those fragments were no longer receiving blood, they had to operate immediately to save them.

A two hour surgery turned into a five hour one. They had to remove my elbow and try their best to reassemble the pieces on the back table using glue and three screws.

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My original surgeon was keen on saving the bone if he could, despite the fact there wasn’t much there left to work with. It was really more of an “experiment” on his part. My bi-weekly follow-ups since have just been to x-ray my arm and see if the reconstruction has fallen apart.

What was interesting about my appointment with my new surgeon today is that he said he wouldn’t have tried to save my original bone. He’d either have removed the radial head and left it like that, or replaced it with a prosthesis.

The thing about the prosthesis for a radial head is that it’s metal and causes long-term pain. Every professional I’ve spoken to says this is a last resort solution.

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My new surgeon said he probably would have just removed the radial head and left it like that. Apparently you can live without one, just with limited mobility. Had that been done, I could have started physiotherapy a week after my accident rather than delaying it four weeks by being immobile in a cast.

Clearly, saving my bone is the best option. But it seems in my case it was a bit of a long stretch. The chances of it “taking” are very slim and has probably quadrupled my recovery time.

If it does stick together, then I will need to get screws removed in 6-12 months.

If my reconstruction falls apart, then I will need to consider either removing the radial head, or putting in a prosthesis.

Whatever happens, I will 100% need another surgery. Something I hatehatehate. It will also delay the recovery process and put me back in terms of any mobility progress.

With all this said, I also had my second important appointment today. With my new physiotherapist! My wonderful family doctor got me into physiotherapy at the hospital, which is covered by Canada’s Medicare. It’s saving me thousands of dollars. As a personal trainer, I didn’t have an insurance package.

As y’all know, I’m working on flexion/extension of the arm and rotating my wrist. The flexion/extension part is slooooowly coming along and mostly hindered by the tense muscles in my left arm. More concerning is my rotation, or lack thereof.

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I was casted with my hand pronated because that’s where my radial head is the most stable. That’s the bottom part of above image. As you can see in the red circles, the radial head is responsible for wrist rotation. When you twist your wrist, it’s that radial head that spins back and forth against the top part of your elbow joint. That spinning “ball” is what’s in pieces and crammed full of screws right now. And that’s why I want to cry every time someone tries to rotate my wrist.

Anyways, I really like my new physio. Really important as I’ll now be seeing her three times a week. I’m working with a small window of time here to get mobility back. I need to have someone who can help me push through the pain if I have any hope of getting some form of regular mobility back.

Oh, and she also has a whirlpool water tank for relaxing and moving my arm in. I love it.

All in all, no one today had good things to say about my progress or the state of my injury. I’m still at the point where it’s all a waiting game. I already know it will take 2-3 years to be somewhat “normal” again. What that “normal” is, I don’t know yet.

All I can do is send constant healing vibes to that little radial head of mine and do my physio exercises like it’s my J-O-B (okay, technically I’m unemployed so it kinda is my job).

Well, all that and of course, bake. It’s therapeutic dontcha now?

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I’ve never made cinnamon rolls because they involve 1) yeast, and 2) rolling. They sounded hard! I finally bit the bullet yesterday and conquered this baking fear.

Not without any mini-disasters though. The yeast didn’t work, so I had to make another dough with active yeast and mix it with the non-active one. It was stressful.

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Thankfully, it was all worth it as they turned out absolutely delicious. I’m already thinking of all the tweaks I can do to make them even better next time.

I used The Pioneer Woman’s original cinnamon roll recipe. With a few changes I’m happy to say I got them down to 171 calories each. Next time I think I will add more sugar to the filling. But per request, here are the changes I made:

(makes 34 rolls)

  • 1 quart Whole Milk 2 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil 3/4 cup omega-3 oil
  • 1 cup Sugar 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
  • 8 cups 6 cups (Plus 1 Cup 1/2 cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Plenty Of Melted Butter 2/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups Sugar 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup brown sugar + 1 package Jell-o sugar-free butterscotch pudding mix
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
  • _____
  • MAPLE FROSTING:
  • 1 bag Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ¼ cups Melted Butter
  • ¼ cups Brewed Coffee
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt

Also healing, are having these two kitties around:

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The dog may still be scared of me, but these two are all about the cuddles :)

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

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