ORIF R Clav.

October 29, 2008

my arm

Well, what started out as a reasonably run-of-the-mill day has taken something of a rum twist. To set the scene, let’s go back 10 days…

The date: saturday 18 october, 2008. The time: probably about 4ish. The team: Thurrock RFC. The match: away at Chelmsford. The opposition player: fairly sizable, and sprinting down the wing. The last line of defence: me.

The match was pretty tight at the time. From what I remember, we were ahead, but not by more than 7 points. As I was looking at it, their player was haring down the left wing with only me to beat. I’m happy to say that he didn’t. The resultant tackle was pretty hard. I got lowish on the chap, hitting him around the hip area with my right shoulder, tackling him into touch. Needless to say, this hurt a bit, but I’ve had worse. Previous shoulder tackles have done something to a nerve, paralysing my arm for a few minutes. This one was sore, but nothing like as bad.  I got up, shook myself down, and got ready for the lineout—our throw.  In my big diary of the day, it was at this point that things started to go wrong.

In the line, I was tasked to lift one of our two main jumpers. I’ve lifted him hundreds of times before. He’s the lighter of the two, about 6’3″, and has good reliable hands. The dummy jump went in, and their front jumper fell for it. Yahtzee. I turned to lift our jumper, who now had a clear line of sight to the ball. I got a hold of his leg, and gave him an agricultural heave into the air.  Well, that was the plan. As soon as my right upper arm passed the horizontal, I hear what sounded like someone clicking their fingers next to my ear. My initial thought—verbatim—was “Fuck it—I’ve just broken my collar bone. Well, at least it doesn’t hurt much.” I’m not sure what happened from the lineout, but as I trod gingerly to the touchline, we scored in the far corner, making my last action on the pitch a 14-point turnaround.

By this time, my hubristic underestimation of the pain involved had come back to bite me. Any movement of the right side of my upper body resulted in an intense stabbing pain in my shoulder. A trip to A&E beckoned.

At A&E after one of the least comfortable car journeys of my life, I happily accepted the kind offer of pain relief.  I then glumly sat back down for the next half hour in the stark realisation that the effect diclofenac has on me is somewhere between nonexistent and negligible. I’m not all that bad with pain, but speaking as the world’s most squeamish man, the thing that truly freaked me out at that time was the feeling of bone grinding against bone. Those of you who have experienced it know what I mean. Those of you that haven’t probably don’t want to.

After exposure to some of Röntgen’s finest, the fracture was pretty clear to see. It was about half way along my collar bone, with the fracture at an angle of 45-60° to the bone. The two halves of my collarbone were at about 5-10° to each other, resulting in a nice big overlapping area to heal together without surgery. A trip to the fracture clinic upgraded me to an impressively-proportioned sling, and a checkup a week later.

The difficult thing in this time has been sleeping. I’m propped up in bed in kind of a sitting position, with a bunch of pillows supporting my right elbow. I’ve not managed more than 2-3 hours on the bounce, partly because this is an inherently uncomfortable position in which to sleep, and partly because moving out of it hurts enough to wake me up.

The previously-mentioned week later is now today.  My shoulder has felt mostly ok for the last few days. The sickening bone-on-bone grinding stopped toward the end of last week. I assumed that this meant that the two halves of my collarbone had succumbed to the osteoblast’s inexorable march, and started to mesh together. A second X-ray showed that not to be the case.  The reason that I was no longer feeling any hot bone-on-bone action is that in the intervening week, the two halves have moved apart by a good few cm. This was not the result I had been wanting.

The upshot is that I’m sat here now where I’ve spent a large portion of the last week and a half; sat upright in bed, with my right arm in one of these. The difference is that a registrar has tagged my right bicep in permanent marker with a big arrow, and the eponymous inscription “ORIF R Clav.”

ORIF is an acronym for Open Reduction Internal Fixation. It means opening me up, pulling the two halves of my collarbone together, and screwing them both to a plate. Frankly, it looks brutal. I now have to wait for the call from the hospital. It could be tomorrow, although it could be the day after. Either way, it’s time to start a nice preoperative fast.

All in all, I’m not terribly chuffed. For a person who likes to be in control of his situation, I’m now not eating in anticipation of a phone call—which may come tomorrow, although it may not—to go to a strange place, where i can dress in a paper gown so that one stranger can render me unconscious while his friend—another stranger—cuts a hole in me and has a poke around, before getting out his set of Ikea allen keys. This is far from ideal.


5 Responses to “ORIF R Clav.”

  1. Dec Says:

    Far be it from me to say ‘I told you so’ but ‘I told you so’. If you’d gone private from the off you wouldn’t be having these problems and you’d have the added benefit of having to eat nothing but lobster.

    As to wine, may I be so bold as to recommend a dry white, perhaps a Muscadet. The citrusy undertones of a Château de Goulaine would compliment both the lobster and the grinding sounds eminating from your shattered shoulder. Even better, the salty notes inherent in a more recent Muscadet would compliment your current seaside setting.

  2. laggleton Says:

    Dec has a fair point since he’s been through a similar thing before. Except for an infinitely more stupid reason. And no 14 point turnaround.

  3. mushyp Says:

    Meh. It’s not today. On the up side, I can have a nice cake with elevenses.

  4. […] October 30, 2008 So it wasn’t today. […]

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