This is an X-ray of a distal clavicle fracture, also known as a shattered, separated collarbone. The arrow points to the end of the collarbone, which is supposed to be connected to the shoulder bones below.
It's an X-ray of my left shoulder on March 12, after I was riding my bicycle for exercise, and flew over the handlebars, landing with my full body weight on my left shoulder. It felt like a screaming demon from hell was biting my left shoulder.
I went to an orthopedic doctor and he showed me this X-ray. I was utterly astonished. How could this be? I had been in car crashes, bicycle collisions and all sorts of falls, but never had broken a bone in all of my 54 years. I still had the false teenage notion that I was unbreakable.
By May the bone had healed, and it was a good source for conversation. At a dinner at ABA Techshow, all the bicyclists at my table had broken their collarbones too, and we felt each other's shoulders to see who had the biggest bump. Turns out this is a common injury.
But I noticed I could wiggle my collarbone by simply pressing on it. I got a second X-ray in June, which confirmed that the break had healed up improperly. The orthopedic doc said if I ever fell on my left shoulder again, the collarbone would go right through my skin.
That was all I needed to hear. So on July 1 I go to Edwards Hospital in Naperville, IL, for a 1-1/2 hour operation, where the doc will open up my shoulder, put the collarbone to its place with screws and bone grafts, and wrap the tendons, ligaments and muscles back up. I'll wake up in a brace I have to wear for 6 weeks, they say. The full recovery will take 3 months, they say. "You'll experience some discomfort," they usually say. But my orthopedic surgeon said instead, "this will hurt a lot." I said, "Yikes!"
So after a night in the hospital, they'll send me home with a dose of howitzer-strength painkillers. They told me not to do anything -- not move the arm, not drive, not walk -- for the first two weeks in July. My patient wife Dorian will have to tie my shoes and get me dressed. This conflicts totally with Type A workaholic personality. So I bought speech recognition software to be able to type.
I am looking forward to this like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I'll have nothing to do but read, watch DVDs and talk on the phone for two weeks. If you feel like talking, give me a ring at 630.942.0977 after July 4.