One Year Follow Up

So much of my writing recently has been about my nagging leg injuries, but today I have news about my upper body! May 15 was one year since I fractured my left clavicle, and May 22 was one year since the surgery to repair it. I went to Dr. Frank Cordasco‘s office at the Hospital for Special Surgery (#1 in orthopedics in the nation!) to get a one year xray and follow up to make sure everything is okay.Image

First, the accident: May 15, 2013, I was riding my commuter fixed gear bike home from work. One and a half blocks away from my apartment, I flew over the handlebars unexpectedly. I landed on my left shoulder and helmet, rolled onto my back, skid for 10 or so feet, and then rolled toward the sidewalk in a panic. I was in the bus lane and I wasn’t sure why I flew over my handlebars, but I thought I might get run over by a car or bus. When I stopped sliding and rolling, I lifted my head and saw two bikes. And a person. With no helmet on. He lifted his face off the ground, spit out teeth, and oozed blood from his nose. I was in much better shape than he was after the crash; I walked my bike to the curb and locked it, I waited while people collected my keys and items that flew from the pockets of my bag, and I watched the EMTs treat the other guy. I knew my collarbone was broken and my season was over. Then I was sad. I had a weird interaction with the EMTs, and then I Googled specialists for athletes and found Dr. Cordasco. I was in surgery one week later.

On September 6 I was cleared for take off and I started training for HITS Naples. Cue my triumphant comeback! You know the rest. So today was to make sure healing was fine and the hardware was okay. The scar looks great, and my strength in my arm and shoulder is back to normal. My swimming is fine, and I never experience range of motion issues. I do, however, know when it’s going to rain by the pain in my bone. I also have pain when I wear a back pack or bag, or anything touches my left shoulder. Massage on my shoulders even sucks. You can see the hardware through my skin, so I brought this up. 

I did a quick few xrays, and then saw Dr. Cordasco. He said the ridge I can feel and see probably isn’t a screw head, but is the edge of the plate. If it were a screw, it would be easier to deal with – a quick incision, drill it out, and don’t sweat for a week. But removing the plate would leave one plate (the front plate is fine) on the bone, but would leave five Imagescrew holes like swiss cheese through the top of my bone (the screws stick all the way through), making the bone more susceptible to fracture should I ever crash. It would also be a few weeks of recovery time and not training, and I’m in the middle of training for my season right now, so this is not ideal.

I said it’s something I can live with for the time being, and he suggested removing it in the off season (“if there is such a thing”) or whenever it bothers me too much. He said the goal is not to have to “live with it,” but to have it be as good as possible. 

I chose to leave it for now, and revisit it later. 

My favorite part was at the end of the visit, standing with my shirt off, when he enthusiastically said, “you look fantastic!”

I believe that is surgeon code for, “I did a damn good job on that scar!” (and he did!)