Not a Funny Bone

Classes ended for me on April 27th, and my final class meeting with my favorite class was wonderful. Students worked on their digital portfolios and talked about what they had learned during the semester, what activities they found the most helpful, and what was most challenging about the class. I’d really enjoyed working with this group of 18 18 and 19 year old young men; they were smart, funny, distracted, and even annoying at times, but they did their best to rise to the challenges I presented them with and were willing to challenge me as well. So it seemed perfect that the class period ended with hugs and handshakes and a Starbucks.

So I was thinking about that class and those students rather than the sidewalk as I was walking back to my office. I know the particular sidewalk I was on has uneven areas, but I was too taken up with thoughts of students and teaching to pay much attention to where I was stepping when SPLAT! I was down like Frazier, and I knew I’d broken something as soon as hit. The pain was intense.

I was surrounded by students–thankfully none of mine–who wanted to help me up, call 911, get me water. . . . They were really helpful, but I was pretty shaken up and not sure what to do. I knew I didn’t want to be touched because I wasn’t sure what was broken, so I slowly rolled onto my side and assessed, then rolled onto my back and assessed, and operationgame.jpgthen set up. Although bruised elsewhere, it was clear my right elbow was in bad shape. So, still afraid of being touched, I rolled over to a tree and pulled myself up; by then, one of the students had contacted the health center, and they suggested since I was up, he help me walk there. He did. They took X-rays and gave me the bad news: broken elbow. I needed to see an orthopedist ASAP.

So, Tuesday, May 2nd I saw an orthopedist who confirmed the break but thought more might be going on. He put my arm in a splint (I’d just been in a sling since the fall) and ordered a CT. Friday, May 5th I had the CT done, and that afternoon the ortho called with the news: in addition to the fracture, the elbow is rotated and displaced and surgery is necessary. Of course, I get this news at about 4:40 pm on a Friday, so no one answers when I call the surgeons the ortho recommended.

First thing Monday, May 8th I call one of the surgeon’s offices, and they have emergency appointment time and will see me at 12:30! He sees me, does X-rays of the wrist and my left elbow and wrist to make sure there are no other injuries, and consults the CT. Indeed there is a fracture, rotation and displacement, and he wants to do surgery Thursday! I leave his office stunned and not all that sure this will happen this fast. Tuesday, May 8th, surgeon’s office calls, surgery is scheduled for 12:30 on Thursday. Wednesday, surgery center calls for pre-op interview, and Thursday, he operates. He does what’s called ORIF surgery–Open Reduction Internal Fixation–so they cut an opening on the top of my elbow, then they reposition the bones back to where they should be and then use screws and pins to hold them in position.

And the real pain begins . . .


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