Mohamed Said's Journal

Web Developer, cyclist, and freediver.

I Broke My Collarbone... Here's The Story

Posted on August, 20 2018 in Life, Cycling

I Broke My Collarbone... Here's The Story

On July 22nd, I took my bike out for a ride, crashed 5 minutes away from home and broke my right collarbone. I wasn't doing anything special; just riding downhill on a paved road and all.

It all happened so quickly. I only remember pulling the brakes to slow the bike down before crossroads, then I heard a notification coming from my phone. My right hand moved to grab my phone without thinking, and it seems like my left hand decided to hit the brakes causing the weight of my body to lean forward on one side, and boom, next thing I remember was hitting my head then sitting down on the road looking at my bike before picking it up and riding back home.

What does it feel like?

So I made it home and my wife started cleaning the wounds. She noticed swelling on my right shoulder but was more concerned about the swelling on my head. However, I felt something was wrong with my shoulder; I could still move it, but it was too painful to lift my arm above my shoulder, and I heard clicking sounds coming from the bones.

My wife and I thought it was better to go check it out. We went to the hospital where I had an Xray and we heard the news, broken collarbone.

I've never broken any bone before, so the news was shocking and I felt an anxiety attack coming my way. I had my first anxiety attack a year ago for no apparent reason, but this time I was able to control my mind and suppress the attack.

3 hours after the accident at the E.R.

3 hours after the accident at the E.R.

Surgery or no-surgery

We consulted two doctors for opinions; both agreed a surgery was my best option. Otherwise I had to wear a sling for 6-10 weeks with full immobilization of the right arm for at least a month. The second option wasn't possible since I use my hands to work. Besides, reading about it online, many people recommended having the surgery if the option was available, so we decided to go for it.

Surgery

I went to the hospital 9 in the morning and the surgery started at 12PM. First-time surgery for me, but I wasn't very nervous like I thought I'd be. I think the damage-control mode was taking control of my mind and keeping it quite.

Last thing I remember before surgery was the doctor giving me something that made me feel relaxed and happy (high). Then he said "Pray, Mohamed!", and I asked God to take care of me and make it easier on my wife.

Next thing, everybody shouting my name and trying to wake me up. I was gone for 2:30 hours and it was time to get back to life. I saw that I had a big bandage on my right shoulder but I didn't feel any pain that moment.

We were sent home the same night and I started the wait.

X-Ray 4 hours after surgery

X-Ray 4 hours after surgery

First Week

I only needed a painkiller the first night. I woke up with my shoulder on fire, so I had to take one. However, since that day the pain was really mild and under control.

I was allowed to take the sling off a few times everyday to move my hand and my arm till the elbow, but I wasn't allowed to move my shoulder at all. I was also taking lots of medications, specifically anti-inflammatory and antibiotics, which made me dizzy and sleepy all day long.

Second week

Now I was allowed to start moving my full arm and do the Pendulum Exercise. It was hard at the beginning but by the end of the first day I was able to lift my arm in front of me at 90 degrees. My shoulder was really stiff, and it felt like the skin and the muscles and everything was glued together.

I kept slowly exercising and progress came really fast. In a couple of days I was able to lift my arm at 90 degrees to the side, and I was able to do the basic stuff like eating, showering, shaving, etc...

Arm at 90 degrees, no more

Arm at 90 degrees, no more

Also starting the second week the damage-control guys left the scene and that little dude in my head started speaking to me again:

What have you done to yourself? Are we ever going to live a normal life again? What about that big scar, it'll look so nasty! Will that arm ever move normal, it feels really stiff!

My wife played a big part in making me feel better. Working and taking long walks kept my mind distracted as well.

By the end of that second week, I removed the surgical staplers and it felt really good.

Nasty looking, nasty feeling

Nasty looking, nasty feeling

Third week

I removed the bandage and saw that big scar. I was feeling bad about it for the first few days, but then I accepted it. People are vulnerable and they break and get fixed, the scar is the reminder of this fact.

Now I started to exercise and try to get back the full range of arm motion. My shoulder was still glued together but it felt better than week 2, I was now able to lift my arm above my head slowly.

There's an area around the incision that feels numb. I was told it's because of the nerve damage caused by the surgery. It might take months for me to get the sensation back in that area and it might be a permanent damage.

First look after bandage removal

First look after bandage removal

Fourth week

Range of motion was 90% back, shoulder stiffness was getting better, but my muscles were still sore, and my right arm was much weaker which is expected since I wasn't using it to lift any weights or apply any resistance. I will need a nice workout program when it heals so that I can get the strength back.

The incision didn't quite heal yet, there were 2 spots where it was still open and I noticed some exposed internal stitches. Maybe that's why the healing process wasn't completed.

Exposed internal stitches

Exposed internal stitches

88 Days later

I have full range of motion now, my arm is getting stronger. I can do 15 pushups. I'm also back to riding my bike and diving normally without issues.

Only problem is that I can feel the plate poking out of my skin at certain positions. Most of the time that doesn't annoy me much but I'm still thinking of removing the plate once healing is at 100%. Wife doesn't want me to have another surgery, but I really want to get it out of my body. We'll see how things go when healing is complete.

The end of the plate poking out of my shoulder

The end of the plate poking out of my shoulder


By Mohamed Said

I work at laravelphp on weekdays and practise freediving & cycling on weekends. Find me on twitter & github.