Slinging My Arm Around

I had an appointment this morning with an orthopedic specialist so he could examine my x-rays and make the call on whether I needed surgery or not. St. John’s Hospital got us in pretty quickly and the doctor took the x-rays to a surgeon to get his opinion. Though my bone’s right on the cusp of where it would demand surgery, the doctor(s) said it could go either way. After demonstrating my flexibility and mobility however, the doctor said that surgery wouldn’t gain me a whole lot and that, if it were him, he’d probably not bother with surgery.

If they did surgery, they’d put a plate in my shoulder with bolts to straighten up the bone. This would get rid of the bump I have right now where the bone is at a weird angle, but wouldn’t necessarily guarantee any improvement in functionality. I’ll never be at 100%, he said, regardless of the surgery. Therefore, I think I’d prefer to have a small bump (not even visible) and avoid the potential risks of them putting me under and cutting me open, because let’s face it, I don’t lead that active a lifestyle. I probably rarely (if ever) used that shoulder 100% before the accident, so I doubt I’ll notice it a whole lot. There are repercussions in regards to arthritis and whatnot, but surgery wouldn’t get rid of those.

They gave me a different sling, but told me its purpose was more to keep me from accidentally over-extending rather than to promote healing. No binding or brace would really help it heal, the doctor said, but it might keep me from damaging it again/further. Therefore, I’ll wear the sling regularly (though not all the time) for the next few weeks and avoid playing rugby at all costs. I’ve got another appointment in three weeks for them to take a second set of x-rays to see how it is healing, but the doctor’s anticipation is that it would be just fine. Sometime after that three weeks, I will probably go back once more for x-rays just to document that it has healed. The total process will probably be six to eight weeks.

For the curious, the bone was broken in two places and pushed towards the center of my chest almost two centimeters, causing some overlap, and it was also pushed down so it’s at an angle. New bone will form, causing a sort of ball/callus there, and even while this new bone is forming it will be worn down. The end result will be a bit of a bump and my bone will actually be a sort of stretched, sideways S shape, dipping down in the middle.

I’ve got some exercises/stretches to do, but like I said, my mobility and flexibility are already pretty good and astounded the doctor, considering it has only been a week. I continue to avoid pain medication and he recommended I further avoid anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen as they can slow healing. The overall message was positive, and I’m extremely glad that I can avoid surgery. Now I just need to find out what this has all cost us and get the money sorted so I can put this entire affair behind me.

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