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One year anniversary of elbow obliteration- Update, now jumping!!

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  • One year anniversary of elbow obliteration- Update, now jumping!!

    I wanted to share a small victory I had today. Exactly one year ago today, I was in surgery at Shock Trauma getting my obliterated right elbow put back together (for those who haven't seen them, here is a before surgery pic, and an after surgery pic ). Today is also exactly 7 weeks from having my hardware out, as one plate started really bothering me (so it now looks like this)

    I started riding again after the first surgery, but has definitely been a challenge at times. I just got cleared to go back again after the hardware removal, and had my first lesson back today! This was essentially ride #2 since being off for 6 weeks, but it felt great! My horse was a good boy and my instructor was awesome about getting things done without overdoing it. It gives me hope that once I get myself back in shape, we will be jumping and eventing again!

    I know that I am very lucky to be back to riding after my injury (my surgeon said no one has ever done as well as me with this type of injury), and just had to share
    Last edited by pharmgirl; Jul. 16, 2010, 01:57 PM.

  • #2
    Oh my, what a nasty fracture that was! This is fantastic and I hope you are able to keep on improving.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    • #3
      OMG.....there was alot of metal in one elbow....Im glad to hear you are back riding. I give you lots of credit for getting back in the saddle after that incident..


      • Original Poster

        Thanks!!! Yes, there was mucho hardware! The long screw is 6 inches long (they let me keep most of it after it came out). Lots of coworkers (many of whom are vets) were comparing me to Barbaro! (I just said I hope I have a better outcome!)

        Luckily (for me and my horse as I think my family might have mad him alpo ) it wasn't while actually riding, but while leading through a gate (just a freak thing with two klutzy creatures- me and my horse). Made it a little easier getting back on, but my boy is 17.2 so I did realize how far down it was if I did fall .


        • #5
          That's wonderful news!!!!
          a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


          • #6
            Great news ~ Enjoy !

            So glad you are riding again ~ enjoy ! You are literally "tough as Nails or rather Screws" !
            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


            • Original Poster

              Just had to update today that I had my first real jump lesson in two years and cantered a nice course for the first time in that long!! It was a bit delayed b/c my horse broke a coffin bone in the Snowmageddon, and just started back jumping a month or so ago.
              My horse was awesome, my instructor was great, and I owe much of that to mythical84 who has been an awesome personal trainer to my guy as I've been getting back into it.


              • #8
                Hey pharmgirl, congratulations! Did you have to do any PT or anything after getting the hardware out, or did you just have to reduce activity and let it heal?

                Just curious because I also had a Monteggia fracture about a year ago, but a little further away from the elbow. So no complications with the elbow except the dislocation, and much less hardware than you, and I'm considering getting the plate and screws out. The Dr. said 6 weeks recovery, but I hope that's just healing and none of the mobility rehab I had with the 1st surgery. So I'm interested to hear how it went right after your hardware removal.
                Fear is the rocket sauce.
                Jack Black


                • Original Poster

                  Ziggy- no official PT after the hardware removal, but I did have to do some on my own to get ROM back. It's amazing how quickly it tightens up, but since I had the tools from PT the first time I knew what to expect and what to do. I was surprised it would be so easy, and kept asking my PT when I was in after the first surgery and thinking of possibly having it out. She kept assuring me that normally she does not see us return for more PT after hardware removal.

                  I went in the AM, got a twilight and nerve block on the arm (so no general anesthesia even), was ready to go a couple of hours later and DH even took me by Chipotle for lunch on my way home! Surgeon said don't do much at all for a few days, and when I went back he said start getting it out and move it. He said to start really doing more after the stitch came out, but no moving furniture . The last thing I could do was ride, which was at 6 weeks.

                  I must say that according to my PT and rock star surgeon, I am apparently a freak patient that heals well and quickly (was told I could never be used in a study b/c I was such an outlier). He was quite impressed at how well everything looked so fast, so I don't know how much that made an impact vs. other people.

                  I am SO incredibly happy I had the hardware taken out. I had that nasty plate from the lateral epicondyle fracture that was really causing problems (having it stick out wasn't so pleasant looking either ), and aside from the scar it feels pretty darn normal again!

                  Just curious- is there something specific making you think about having it out, or do you just want it out for future potential issues later?


                  • #10
                    well, congrats!!!
                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                    • #11
                      Zoweee! That was a nasty fracture. I'm so glad you heal quickly and well...that could have been a life changer. Reminds me of my xrays of my shoulder--chunks of bone in all the wrong places. Then, Mr. Surgeon pins and screws it together like a broken table leg.

                      I'm so encouraged by your story! I am feeling stupid for buying a new horse trailer since I won't be able to ride for at least another 2 months. Even then, I'm wondering if I should jump or not. I'm such a clod, that if I do come off, I seem to break things, and jumping certainly puts one at a higher risk for falls....so many decisions. By the time I get back on, it will be 9 months from injury to riding again.
                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pharmgirl View Post

                        Just curious- is there something specific making you think about having it out, or do you just want it out for future potential issues later?
                        A little of both, I guess. The ends of the plate are definitely noticeable, especially the end near my elbow. If I rest my chin on my hand at a table, people do double takes because they can see the plate, which can startle them more than the scar :-). That's not such a big deal, but I have a bruise around the other end right now from squishing it against something (not sure how it happened) and I have to be careful how I rest it on my desk at work since I'm at a computer using a mouse with that hand a lot of the day, or I will get edema in the area where the plate is pressed against the desk. When I lift heavier things at certain angles, I can feel the plate pulling against itself, which is sort of weird, but that still seems to be decreasing over time.

                        I was also thinking about if I had some other sort of injury to that same area and the bone broke around the plate, it could break my elbow, which is definitely not something I'd like to do! But 6 weeks away from riding again is not on my ideal agenda, either, even if it is scheduled!

                        Luckily, once I got enough strength and ROM back, it hasn't been a problem for riding, and it's definitely not as much of a problem as some other hardware can seem to be.
                        Fear is the rocket sauce.
                        Jack Black


                        • Original Poster

                          Yeah, sounds like you have some of the things I dealt with (the smaller plate was against my ulna so I felt that when resting against that arm too). Since there's not a lot of soft tissue, people with elbow hardware tend to get it taken out for a lot of the same reasons you mentioned. Mine was just so bad that soft tissue would get caught on one plate so bad I couldn't straighten it- it got to the point it did it almost every time I bent my arm and tried to straighten it.

                          It was nice to at least be able to schedule this event's stall rest . I lined up someone to start riding my horse so he got worked while I was out, which has made a huge difference in his training (last time, people didn't have as much time and I was left scrambling). I scheduled mine for right after New Years- a time where I wasn't going to care as much if I rode or not . Also, I felt pretty strong when I came back, as opposed to when I would come back after trauma so I felt I wasn't set back nearly as far as when I actually got injured.

                          Thanks DGRH! I was being a bit of a wimp about diving head first back into jumping, but my instructor knew better . She knows us well, and knew what we could do, and I'm glad she gave me that little shove at the beginning.

                          Calvincrowe- would it also help you to k now that I broke my other arm's shoulder nine years ago? No surgery for that one, but it was a long rehab!! That arm has more lasting effects than the elbow, but mostly it's because it healed a bit crooked and slightly shorter. After the elbow, I definitely thought about scaling back what I did under horseback but two things changed that:

                          1) I love this, and I am such a klutz anyway that I can easily injure myself not riding (I broke my foot walking down a random sidewalk one day!).

                          2) my surgeon said the hardware didn't impact potential added injury if I fell on it again (aside from maybe breaking at the end of the screw and not closer to the joint)

                          I constantly think how lucky I was with this one (I know I probably mention that every post, but I truly think about it all the time). You know it's bad when your regular ortho refers to it as a "terrible triad" and sends to to a specialist at Shock Trauma (who also acknowledges that it's really bad, even for what he sees ). I was told by many people up there that they've never seen a patient with similar injuries with an outcome like mine (have the kind of ROM I do, no pain, etc).


                          • #14
                            Congrats Pharmgirl!!