DianeProfession: Health Care
Hobbies: Hiking/ Camping
Doctor: Dr. Warme
Briefly describe your symptoms and the medical condition that brought you to see the doctor.
Fractured Clavicle- 10 Lessons
When I fractured my clavicle friends and co-workers figured I’d done it hiking or skiing and had an exciting story to accompany my injury. I wish. Despite an active lifestyle, my injury occurred while commuting to work on the bus. An unexpected hard stop had me airborne, ping-ponging down the aisle, landing on my head and L upper extremity. I’m sure it was exciting to watch, anyway. Lesson #1- Remember to hold on when standing/walking on a moving bus.
I was sure I was just fine; I’m a nurse, and can easily assess my own injuries. Right. Hitting my head hard clearly impacted my assessment and decision making skills. A couple days later when the pain reached excruciating levels, I decided I needed an x-ray, which clearly showed the clavicle fracture. Lesson #2 - Health care professionals are not always reliable at self-diagnosis; and #3- Head injuries make for stupid decisions.
Dr. Warme was encouraging and supportive, advising that my fracture would likely heal without any intervention.
At my 4 week recheck appointment, I was SURE I would have x-ray evidence of my amazing powers of healing; instead, much to my dismay, the fracture had worsened and displaced. Healing normally was now much less assured. Lesson #2 re-visited. Slow learner.
Again Dr. Warme was encouraging and supportive. He took the time necessary to discuss options in detail, which greatly assisted in making the decision to proceed with surgery. As a surgical nurse, I know enough about surgery to be wary. Add to that, I’d never had surgery myself. Lesson #4- Transitioning from nurse to patient was going to be interesting.
I underwent an open reduction, internal fixation with a clavicle pin about a week later.
What one or two things stand out to you about your experience with your doctor and their team?
Dr. Warme and team were interested in my circumstances, my lifestyle, and my particular anatomy- in short; they were committed to me and my care. They utilized their surgical knowledge and expertise to afford me the best outcome. Having surgery is a bit of a trust exercise. If you’re going to walk off that cliff, it’s imperative to trust your team. They made that part easy.
What can you do now that you could not do before surgery? Have you been able to return to your hobbies or sports at the same level as pre-injury or at an even higher level?
Prior to my injury, I was active hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, doing yoga, playing Frisbee, walking, etc. Post injury, things like sleeping and changing position were difficult. Following surgery, I was amazed to be doing better at one week post-op than I had been at 6 weeks without surgery. I was hiking at 2 weeks post-op, doing yoga at 4-6 weeks post-op, riding my bike at 12 weeks, and swimming laps at 4 months. At a year post-op, I am hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing, walking, doing yoga, playing Frisbee, re-learning how to XC ski, and learning to slackline; I am currently more active than prior to injury. Lesson #5- sometimes you do bounce back stronger, and new activities are FUN!
What advice would you like to share with a patient with a condition such as yours who is considering surgery?
Consult an expert. Be an advocate for yourself. Learn about your condition, but don’t read the internet too much. And don’t self-diagnose. Especially following a head injury.
Please share any additional comments!
I call my injury/surgery experience experiential learning. I’ve been a nurse a long time and it’s been a long time since I was schooled. I learned a lot about the patient experience. I am deeply appreciative I had the support of such an amazing team through it all. Additional lessons as follows:
Lesson #5- Be patient. Lesson #6- Pace activities when recovering (lesson #5 again). Lesson #7- Be consistent (lessons #5 and 6). Lesson #8- Narcotics suck. Lesson #9- Having abundant sick time is a good thing. And Lesson #10- It could’ve been waaaay worse. I’m lucky, blessed, and grateful.