Collarbone XRays

On May the 30th, 1998, I broke my collarbone in a biking accident. The story behind the accident was amusing to others but initially not to me; I can see the funny side now, though. While riding home I was negotiating some potholes on a typical Pittsburgh road, when a bee flew into my shirt. While I was flailing around trying to remove it, and it was busy stinging me, I lost control of the bike and hit the road. It wasn't until ten or fifteen minutes after the accident that I realised I couldn't move my right shoulder at all. After a 3 hour wait at the emergency room, it turned out to be a pretty bad break - a greenstick fracture with a bone fragment. I guess I hit the road pretty hard.

On the plus side, thanks to the painkillers I didn't notice the bee sting at all. I wrote down "bee" as "party at fault" on the insurance form, but my HMO hasn't yet contacted me about suing it for damages.

I unfortunately don't have access to the very first ER x-rays, which showed the inner end of the bone poking up alarmingly, and the outer end poking down. Perhaps it's just as well. The xray below is from three weeks after the injury, after things had settled down somewhat. You can see the inner part of the bone to the right, below it a floating bone fragment, and to the left the outer part of the bone. XRays don't scan very well, because they're so dark; in this case you can't see the rest of the outer part of the bone, but rest assured it's there and joins up to the shoulder.

The next xray, from 6 weeks out, didn't scan at all, but looks pretty much exactly the same as the one above.  At this point I was pretty worried the thing wasn't going to heal, and I'd need surgery to bolt the bones together, in spite of the reassurances from my doctor.  Throughout this time I had my arm in a sling, and couldn't write or type, which lead to a pretty frustrating lack of progress on my thesis work and other things.

Things began to feel quite a bit better around the two month mark. The most recent xray, taken just under two and a half months after the accident, shows bone forming in the cracks around the break.

At this stage the bone feels pretty solid, and I have most of the mobility in my shoulder back. I can still feel the end of the top bone through my skin, which is kind of strange, but I'm told that will round off eventually. I have another appointment in six weeks to verify the healing's finished okay, and that I can go back to playing contact sports. At the moment I'm concentrating on getting the strength back in my shoulder through physiotherapy.

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