Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘fractured radial head’

A not-so-subtle reminder


I haven’t really talked about my broken arm since the doctor gave me an “all clear” weeks ago. The mobility is far better than it was. It feels, mostly, normal. In fact, it really doesn’t bother me most the time.

Then I get a not-so-subtle reminder that it’s not quite at full operating capacity.

It usually comes when I’m in the middle of a cross-training activity. It starts as a dull pain at the site of the fracture. It’s not really noticeable at first. Then there’s a feeling of faint pressure. It’s followed by an all-at-once feeling that something is tearing the bone apart from the inside.

Needless to say, I’m not healed completely.

I can’t even do a 30-minute Jillian Michaels workout video with my friend Sam without saying “nope, can’t do this one” when we get to a move that would involve my left elbow.

I knew this would be the case.

The doctor didn’t promise me a miracle healing or even guarantee that I’d be back to my normal, push-up able self within a month. He said it would take time. He also advised me not to push as much pressure on it as I would my right arm.

So when Michaels instructs Sam and I go into a cobra position (or whatever it is, I don’t know, that 30-minutes kicks my butt), I shouldn’t be getting as much into it as I am. But I tend to push things like this a little far.

I think my arm is better. The truth is, it’s not.

In fact, the doctor told me to watch out when I run even more so because the likelihood is that if I fall on that same spot again, which I’d likely do because my luck is that great, I could completely fracture my radial head all over again.


Doesn’t it look all healed up and unsuspecting? The pressure in that stupid little bone is ridiculously painful. I’ve never experienced “pressure” pain before. When it gets really bad, I turned to my “breakthrough-only” Ibuprofen. That’s pretty bad.

Even better, apparently I haven’t learned my lesson from all of the doctor visits, the week of a sling and the inability to move my arm completely for more than a month.

As Jennie and I were finishing up our six-mile run today, we were back into the neighborhood area where we run in front of houses. About four miles of our run twist down tree-lined paths by my house. The neighborhoods are basically at the beginning and end of the run as we make our way back to my house.

“I try to avoid these since you fell,” she said to me, gesturing down at a lip of a driveway.

Of course, I turned around. And looked down. As I was running.

Basically, I did all of the things I did when I fell in March. I didn’t fall tonight. But it made me realize a couple things: 1) I didn’t even realize that I had fallen over a lip of a driveway, but now that I think about it, yeah, that’s what happen. 2) I really should start paying more attention to the sidewalk while I’m running.

When time works for and against you


When I was in the middle of intensive counseling sessions last fall, my therapist told me to write down a list of things I couldn’t control. Want a lesson in humility? Make that list.

You’ll end up realizing that you can’t control anything. You’ll want to give up, buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream and eat it while watching afternoon talk shows (Ricki Lake has a show again, who knew?). At least that’s what I did. Months later, I’m not ashamed of it. The ice cream was good. And my soul needed more soothing that I realized.

I still have my list. The third item down is “time.”

I can’t control time. Because it keeps ticking away. Because there’s always a sun up and a sun down (unless you were the dinosaurs, as one of my students pointed out to me recently). Time just moves. You either embrace the temporal moments as just that or you let some bad drag you down.

Five weeks ago today I fell hard on my left side while trying to get in my 15-mile run for this marathon training cycle. It laid me up for two weeks. Three weeks ago, I finally did that run. On my treadmill. I also ended up in the doctor’s office being properly diagnosed with a fractured radial head.

This training cycle, I didn’t do a 20-mile run. I didn’t even do an 18-mile run.

Two half marathons, one 10K, various eight and 10 milers, but no marathon-standard runs.

And I’m running a marathon this weekend.

Time. It just kept moving.

When I ended up in the hospital in January, I wondered if I’d even make it to the start line in San Luis Obispo. My husband and I did a lot of talking in the hospital. We had conversations both of us had been avoiding, or hoping we wouldn’t have to have. They concerned work. Money. Running. Happiness.

I worried more about the 10K I’d be giving up than the marathon. I’d be fine by the marathon, right? I don’t even know how to define “fine” anymore.

Three weeks ago, sitting in my doctor’s office, I was more concerned about the Oakland Half than SLO. I PRed in Oakland.

In that time, my arm has become stronger. I’m able to bend more, but still not put a lot of pressure on it. I’m able to do some of the things I couldn’t before. And I’m grateful, because time helped that. I didn’t think it would ever be better. I was convinced I was going to walk around with T-Rex arm for life.

But I was back in Modesto getting my arm looked at today. The stiffness is causing the pain. I need to regain mobility. The fracture has healed nicely so far. (See image above, where the cursor is pointing? That’s where the crack was. I took the photo for my husband.) Time healed.

Runners say that by the time you get a week out from a marathon, there’s really nothing you can do that will prepare you more. Taper. Stay off your legs. Get your gear assembled. But don’t go crazy. This past week, I kept wishing for more time. In the middle of multi-hour meetings, looming deadlines and prep to take my students to a journalism conference out of town next week, I needed a minute or two extra. Something. Anything.

The reality is that I was wishing and wanting more time to feel better about this marathon. I guess I could just not run it. But my husband doesn’t really give me that option anymore. (You know the meme that says “you had one job…” where someone messes something up even though that’s all they had to do? I kind of feel like that. I have one job on race day, and that’s to run my ass off.)

Nerves? Anxiety? Yes. Always now. But if I had four more weeks, two more weeks, I know I’d be better for it.

Tomorrow we hop in the car early and head the 3+ hours to San Luis Obispo. We’ll be staying in Morro Bay, where my husband has family. The good news is that this course has an eight-hour limit. The bad news is that last year’s finishers mostly came in well ahead of that. I’m just hoping I’m not too alone out there on the course.

Healing up, slow and steady


For reasons I likely can’t remember, I decided to only work on one project during my week of spring break. That meant that when I came back to school on Tuesday, I was buried in work. There were invoices to send. I worked four hours with colleagues writing a proposal for funding that would provide some excellent opportunities to our students. Plus, I was running around trying to figure out where a check went.

I got on campus at 7:30 a.m. I didn’t leave until a little after 5 p.m. Then I realized the rest of my week looked just as hectic (according to my antiquated day planner),  with appointments all week. Today that meant a 9:30 a.m. appointment to renew my driver’s license follow by some work at home, then a 1 p.m. appointment with the eye doctor to check out my contacts.

The DMV appointment went quick, if only because I had an appointment. I got in and out, even after they sent me the form with my name wrong (totally missing the hyphen, incredibly necessary for it to be there since my license is the one piece of identification I care about it being right on).

The eye appointment didn’t go as well. I lost one of my contacts last week after I rubbed my eye too hard. It disappeared somewhere in the produce department at Safeway. I wasn’t even going to try and find it. And I couldn’t see well enough out of that eye to bother looking. Know what’s fun? Driving home (less than a mile) with your left eye closed because your right eye is the only one you can see out of.

Tomorrow, I have a day full of work rewriting CSS and adding accessibility features to a website. On Friday, I go back to the sports medicine doctor to see how my arm is doing.

I’m a little iffy on how to really characterize it.

I’m still in pain. But it’s not that bad. The biggest thing is mobility. I’m still having some issues moving the left arm completely.

This is my right arm:


This photo is the best I can do, but you’ll notice a couple things right off. My arm can extend straight. My wrist is aligned with the arm. I can fully extend, essentially 180 degrees.

This is my good arm. This is the arm I’ve been relying on for everything lately. I can’t lift myself up without it. At the Oakland Half Marathon my husband had to pull me up off the ground with this arm because I still couldn’t bare too much weight on my left arm. I’m calling this my “strong arm” lately.

Then there’s my T-Rex style left arm:


That’s not a huge dust bunny down there. That’s Cassie. She’s taken up Beau’s love of photo bombing my blog shots.

Notice a couple things here different? My wrist is slightly askew. I can’t align it properly with the rest of my arm without getting a bit of shooting pain up my inner wrist. My elbow is also more bent than on my right arm. It still feels vastly uncomfortable to bend it. It also feels uncomfortable to try to force it into a straight position.

I’ve been trying to get it more mobile than it was three weeks ago when I initially went in to see the doctor. He mentioned ordering physical therapy the last time I was in. I’m hoping to avoid that. I think it’s past the threshold set by the doctor initially. Then, I could barely bring it out in front of me. That’s part of the reason I went to see the doctor. I knew something was wrong.

The biggest problem is still the elbow-area, where the radial head is located. I still can’t put a lot of pressure on it. I’m also having some issues with lifting or moving things, even small items.


I figured a visual would be better for an explanation of what type of pain I’m dealing with.

The red lines indicate the areas where I’m still getting shooting pain, which is essentially up my entire radius bone on both sides. The pain comes when I usually try to grab something or forget that my radial head is broken. The pain is just enough to shock me, but it doesn’t stick around. I’d like to think it’s just a reminder to me that I broke a bone and I need to slow down.

The blue rectangle shows my wrist area where I still have some general weakness. Essentially since I haven’t been using this arm all that much, everything I do with it feels foreign and just kind of wrong. I found my list of exercises from when I strained a thumb tendon shooting video that I’m using to increase the strength in that area. It still hurts, though. My grip isn’t very strong. If I’m carrying something, usually small, I hold it close to me because I’m unsure of myself.

The yellow circle is the worst and most uncomfortable of all of the pain, it indicates the area where the pain comes out once pressure is applied to the area, even slight pressure. It’s really hard not to put your arm down on a table or use it to support yourself when doing activities. Have I mentioned how hard it is to put on my running shoes with limited mobility? That elbow area is where I usually get the pain associated with that. Anytime I put pressure or increase pressure on that bone through activity, it hurts.

That’s the type of pain that actually sticks around for a bit. I’ve actually cancelled runs because the pain has become so bad I’ve taken to take an Ibuprofen, which is what I’m using for breakthrough pain.

What I’m not showing is my general mobility. My arm feels very stiff. I was warned around this. My doctor said normally when medical professionals treat these injuries, they put the arm in a sling for a couple weeks, then take it out so the patient can begin regular movement again. I’ve really struggled with that area.

Three weeks ago, I couldn’t lift my arm above my head. Even putting on a T-shirt was difficult. I couldn’t style my hair. I actually held off on dying my hair (I’m so gray without it, it’s ridiculous), for a couple weeks so my husband didn’t have to figure out how to help me. It’s not that bad now. In fact, I can lift my arm over my head, but it’s not a fluid motion.

So I’m getting better. It’s healing. But it’s happening fairly slow. I have an X-ray with my doctor’s visit on Friday. Then I’ll see just how my arm is doing.

I keep surprising myself


This morning I woke up, calm, ready to head to Livermore and do my first official 10K in a full year. I didn’t believe it either when I realized, today, that the last time I ran a 10K was this same race, a year ago.

I’ve a couple shorter distances in that time, but I knew this was the first in a year when I opened the pocket on the water bottle and saw that I had the map from last’s year Badger Cove run tucked into it. I only use the bottle, a small Lululemon for Amphipod one, for 10Ks.

Last year I ran Badger Cover, with all it’s crazy elevation changes and switch backs in 1:26:41. I wasn’t too upset about my time for that one because I knew it would be tough. I also remember the nagging side pain I got during the greatest climb that caused me to keel over on the side of the trail and feel like I was dying.

We know now that was the gallbladder. This year, it’s gone.

And I’m better than I thought I could ever be, even with tired legs and a bit of a dehydration/potassium deficiency as of late. That’s why my calves have been hurting me so much lately. Three bottles of water yesterday and a potassium supplement and this morning I was good to go.

Today, I finished the Badger Cove 10K in 1:18:13, according to the results posted before I left.

When I left my house this morning, my arm felt more stiff than it had last night. I popped an Ibuprofen, for lack of not being able to find a Tylenol, and was out the door. It didn’t take the edge off. At the start line, a guy brushed by my left arm and made me cringe. I’m considering writing “I have a fractured arm” on my head.

But I started running. And I forgot about my arm. At least for most of the race.

I don’t know who this version of me is and what business she has earning two course PRs in less than a month, but something has lit a fire inside me. And I like it.