Posts tagged accident
May 2, 2006 was a beautiful sunny spring day here. That afternoon, I decided I had enough time to squeeze in a quick walk before I needed to pick up my children at their bus stop. About 10 minutes into my walk, I was hit by a car. The driver had lost consciousness and was going over 80 miles per hour, on the sidewalk.
Surprisingly, my injuries were limited to a broken right arm and a badly bruised leg. I was thrown upon impact, but landed in the grass. I sat up and watched the car drive past me, off and on the sidewalk. It grazed another car and then hit a power pole, bringing the pole to the ground. The car then came to a stop. Fortunately the driver was OK, and there were no other injuries.
After a few seconds of trying to shake off the cobwebs, I realized that I had survived a head on collision with a car, and I was in relatively good shape! However, I knew that my arm was broken, and badly. I could see multiple compound fractures. At the hospital, I learned that the ulna, radius and ulnar joint had compound fractures and that my hand was badly dislocated. I needed surgery to stabilize the bones with a stainless steel plate and screws.
The surgery happened that evening, and I was able to go home the next day. My arm was in a full cast. My hand was incredibly swollen and blackened from bruising. My hip and leg were not broken but were badly bruised and swollen.
Three casts and 6 weeks later, my arm was finally freed. However it had atrophied horribly and lost all strength. My hand was still swollen, and was basically frozen in place. Physical therapy was to begin.
The doctors had repeatedly warned me since the accident that the range of motion in my wrist would never be the same. I was expecting that, but I was not expecting to have almost no range of motion, and no strength at all in the arm. Physical therapy was not optional. In order to be able to use my right arm I was going to have to do whatever I was told to do. It was worse than I had imagined.
The first month of physical therapy was basically time spent wearing very large stretching devices. There were two. Each one stretched my arm in two different directions I spent approximately 9-10 hours a day wearing the devices. After every 5 minute period, I had to turn a knob which increased the pressure on my wrist, forcing it further into a range of motion. It was excruciating and barbaric, but it worked.
I spent the next four months working with the physical therapists three times per week. It was beyond painful, and it required every bit of determination I could muster to comply with the program. I was so motivated to get my right arm “back” – the time commitment involved and the pain really didn’t matter to me.
Physical therapy was quite successful overall. By the end I had regained most of my range of motion — more than they had predicted in the beginning. The permanent misalignment of bones at the joint, and the fact that a large section of the joint had broken and was unattached, made it impossible to ever have completely normal use of my arm and wrist again. The very large scar had also developed scar tissue, despite our best attempts to avoid it, and this also had a limiting factor on my range of motion. All things considered, the therapists and doctors suggested that I had done really well, but that I should have realistic expectations for the future, both in regards to the use of the arm and the pain that I would most likely have from it.