My Elbow Fracture – Part 1 – the accident and surgery #elbowfracturesurgery #elbowsurgery

2021 came to an unpleasant end for me when I tripped over a paving stone in the street and fractured my elbow. I had to have surgery and would be at least six weeks with my right arm in a sling and my arm not to be used at all. I thought I would write about my experience to help those who might have a similar injury. This is part one, about the accident and the surgery.

Breaking an elbow is quite a serious thing and can take a long time to get over. However, everybody is different and so is every elbow fracture. Some people can recover quite quickly from elbow surgery, while others take much longer. Elbows are notorious, though, for taking a long time to fully heal and for stiffening up quickly. That means the road to recovery can take quite a few months.

I’m telling you about my personal experiences, and anything in this article should not be taken as any sort of medical advice or guidance in any way. You must always follow the exact advice and instructions given by the medical professionals dealing with your case.

The Accident

I had just returned from a lovely week in Melbourne, visiting my daughter and gorgeous little grandson, as well as some other relatives. I live next door to a big shopping centre in the city, and the next day I walked up the street to buy some groceries. But I tripped over a paving stone that was jutting out of the ground. I flew into the air and came crashing to the ground. In a flash, my confidence in my invincibility was shattered.

At first, I was focused on the blood from my nose and cut lip, desperately hoping that I hadn’t smashed my face. But as I started to try to get up, I realised that my elbow was very painful and I was blacking out as if I was going to faint.

I was lucky to have plenty of help. I was given first-class attention from two first aid officers who came running out of the shopping centre, and also two lovely ladies who stopped to help. They propped me against a wall and noticed that my elbow was swelling up quite quickly. I was taken to taken by ambulance to Calvary Hospital, just north of the city centre. There, I was very relieved to find out that my nose wasn’t broken and my bleeding, cut lip would heal by itself. So it seemed that my face had been spared. But when a very painful x-ray of my elbow was taken, the lovely young doctor said that I had a displaced fracture of the olecranon, the pointy bone at the tip of the elbow.

I waited in the treatment room while the x-rays were looked at by the orthopaedic surgeons at Canberra Hospital. The young doctor soon came back with the news that I would need surgery, open reduction with internal fixation. That meant that I was to have a plate and screws, and would be out of action for quite a few weeks. I was told to arrive at Canberra Hospital for surgery the next morning at 9 am. Meanwhile, my arm was put in a splint and a sling to protect it until the surgery.

I live by myself and don’t have any family nearby, so the thought of living with one arm was quite intimidating. I caught an Uber back to my apartment and soon began to realise how hard it is to cope with just one arm, especially when that is not your dominant one. I couldn’t remove the top I was wearing, so slept in it overnight and barely managed to clean my teeth and give myself a wash. Cutting food and opening containers are two of the other major challenges. I realised that life was going to be very different for the next few weeks and at first I wondered how I would cope.

The Surgery

The next morning, I caught another Uber to Canberra Hospital for the start of a fresh ordeal. After waiting for a couple of hours, I saw an orthopaedic surgeon who told me about the surgery. He said they would try to operate that day but it would depend on the number of cases of trauma that came through the doors. I sat there for a few more hours, hoping for surgery. But then they asked me to go home and come back the next morning at 7 o’clock. I went forlornly home, spent another painful night, and returned the next day for a few more hours of waiting. Finally, at two in the afternoon, two days after my accident, I was wheeled into the operating theatre.

From that moment on, I was very well looked after in the hospital. I woke up in the recovery ward, and a few hours later was taken up to another ward for overnight. My arm was in a very thick bandage and a sling. For the third night in a row, I slept in my new sleeping position: on my back with two pillows under my head and a pillow on my right side to support my arm in the ninety-degrees bent position.

The next morning, I had a succession of visitors: the surgeon, an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist and a social worker. The surgeon seemed pleased with the operation, fixating the fracture with a plate, screws and wire. The occupational therapist gave me some tips about one-handed living, and the physiotherapist showed me how to very gently attempt to slightly extend my arm several times a day. The rest of the time, she said, I was to keep it in the sling, although I could take it off for sleeping provided that I kept it in the same position. There was to be no weight-bearing on the arm or hand for six weeks, so that the bone could heal properly.

The social worker was able to organise temporary help: a couple of hours of help each week with personal care and cleaning.

A nurse helped me to wash and dress myself using one arm, and also showed me how to do up my own sling. That was a relief, as I had wondered how I was going to do any of those things by myself. For the drive home, I had to wear my nightgown as I realised that none of my tops would fit over my arm. I planned to ask friends to buy me some giant size 22 T-shirts for me as soon as I got home.

When I finally returned home that afternoon, it was a relief to know that the surgery was over and the slow recovery could begin. However, I knew the next few weeks were going to be challenging.

In the next article I’ll talk about the first few weeks after surgery. Have you had elbow surgery or an elbow fracture? #elbowfracturesurgery #elbowsurgery


Thank you for stopping by. My name is Toni Pike, a multi-genre author who loves writing thrillers for adults, non-fiction, and hilarious books for children.

I’m the author of DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: THE MAGUS COVENANT, THE ROCK OF MAGUS, THE MAGUS EPIPHANY and HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS.

The Brody Cody Series is for children aged 6-9: BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER FROM OUTER SPACE and BRODY CODY AND THE HAUNTED VACATION HOUSE.

I’m also the author of two non-fiction books. THE ONE WAY DIET is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight and HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips.

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39 thoughts on “My Elbow Fracture – Part 1 – the accident and surgery #elbowfracturesurgery #elbowsurgery

  1. Annette Rochelle Aben

    Bless your heart, Toni. Yes, I had elbow surgery when I was 4. Fell and completely dislocated my right elbow. Being that I was so young, I was small enough to have everything done for me. Long ago and far away… Soon, your experience shall be as well. ❤

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  2. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Oh, my dear Toni! What an ordeal! I can completely understand your pain having had elective foot surgery in 2019 and a fall that broke a bone in my right hand in 2017 (falling on the sidewalk as my big puppy yanked the leash)! Despite the two day wait for the surgery, it seems you were well-taken care of. No way to say goodbye to an already disturbing 2021.I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story, Glad you are mended and able to use your arm and hand again, my friend!

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Thank you so much, Terri. I see you’ve been through some terrible ordeals too – they sound dreadful. I still can’t use my arm or hand, but trying to write a little bit with speech to text. It’s so easy to have an accident! I hope 2022 will be so much better for all of us. Love, Toni x

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  3. Miriam Hurdle

    I’m so sorry to hear about your accident that broke your right elbow, Toni. I can’t imagine how painful it has been. As far as your face and nose, were you relieved that you didn’t break your nose or scratch your face? It’s good that your lip heals itself.
    I know how hard it is to use one arm and can’t mobilize the other arm. Sleeping is most difficult when one elbow is painful! The social worker arranged help a couple of hours a week seems helpful. It’s very inconvenient in doing everyday things though. We don’t realize that until we can’t do it.
    I had shoulder surgeries on both shoulders, one rotator cuff, and one for a torn tendon.
    If you have any friends who can help, this is the time for asking for favors, Toni! Please let us know your progress. ❤ ❤

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Miriam, thank you for your lovely comments. I can see you’ve had some terrible surgeries too, and I’ll talk in another article about how friends have helped. Shoulder surgery would be so painful. I was very relieved that I didn’t seriously damage my face! I hope you have a wonderful 2022, and I seem to be making slow but steady progress. Toni xx

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  4. petespringerauthor

    I must have seen a brief post on Facebook to hear the news of your accident shortly after it happened, and then understandably, you were inactive in the blogging world. To suddenly be in a situation with the use of only one arm/elbow, etc., puts one in a vulnerable position. You have come through with quite the story, I’m sure.

    Looking forward to reading part 2, and it’s nice to have you back with the rest of us. Did you miss blogging and writing? I’m sure you’ll be telling some of that soon.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Thank you for your lovely kind words, Pete. I’ve got enough stories to fill a couple more articles. Luckily, I hope the worst is behind me and I can look forward to happier days. I hope you have a wonderful 2022. Toni xx

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  5. Stevie Turner

    I had surgery to repair tennis elbow about 10 years ago, and my arm was in a sling for 6 weeks. When they took the bandages off I couldn’t bend it, but over time and with stretching exercises the arm straightened out.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Thanks Stevie. That must have been quite an ordeal for you. I know I’ll have quite a lot of work to do to regain full function of my arm. I hope you have a wonderful 2022. Toni xx

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  6. Darlene

    Oh my. What an ordeal, Toni. I’m sure you learned to adapt but still. I am such a wimp when it comes to things like that. I broke my ankle on both sides while on a holiday a few years ago. I think an elbow would be even worse. My 83-year-old mother-in-law tripped over a paving stone just before Christmas and injured her shoulder. Thankfully nothing broke but she did have stitches at the top of her nose and her face was black and blue for Christmas. It can happen so quickly. I look forward to hearing the rest of your experience. I hope things are better now and that you had some help. Sending hugs.xo

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Darlene, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law and I’m glad she’s getting better. Your ankle must’ve been terrible. My life at the moment certainly isn’t normal but hopefully I’ll get back there. If only we couldn’t fall over! Toni x

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  7. robbiesinspiration

    Hi Toni, I read about your fall on FB. I am so sorry it was such an ordeal for you. I don’t know anyone who has fractured their elbow, but my mom fractured her shoulder. That was also a terrible ordeal but she had dad and me to help her with everything. Dad was very attentive, helping her wash and dress. It was actually very sweet. Wishing you a complete recovery.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments Robbie. It’s lovely that your father was able to help your mother. I’ve had lots of help and also learnt to adapt. Hopefully I’ll soon be able to use my right arm a bit more. I hope you have a wonderful 2022. Toni xx

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  8. olganm

    I’m so sorry, Toni, and I hope things are getting better for you. I lived alone for many years, and although I was lucky enough not to have any major injuries, I did wonder about those things at times (even having minor surgery proved complicated, so I can’t quite imagine what it must be). Get well soon and take care.

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  9. Annika Perry

    Toni, I’m so sorry to read about your injury. Life is so odd how it can turn with just the slightest misstep. It is heartening to read about the wonderful care from the moment of your fall, the ladies with the pillows, the first aiders. Wishing you a good recovery at home and accept all the offers of help! sending hugs xx ❤️

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Annika, Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I’ve been so lucky to have all that help, and hopefully I’ll soon be on the road to recovery. I hope you have a wonderful and very safe 2022. Toni x

      Liked by 1 person

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  10. dgkaye

    Omg Toni. I knew you’d gone quiet. Last I heard you posted a happy pic with your grandchild. How awful and scary. I can’t even imagine your being alone and dealing with all this. That has become my biggest fear after losing my husband – who will help me if I need it. Oye! I’m sending you healing hugs. ❤ xx

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Debby. It’s been hard but I’ve had help and it’s amazing what you can cope with. Hopefully, it’s healing well and I go back to have that checked on Friday. I’ve learned to ask for help and accept it, something I’ve always found hard to do. Sending hugs to you. Toni xx❤️❤️

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  11. D. Wallace Peach

    What a stressful experience, Toni. I’m glad your face was spared, but the lack of use of an arm must be annoying, as well as interesting… in a way. We don’t realize how much we rely on two of them. I hope your recovery is going well and look forward to your next installment in this journey. Take good care of yourself.

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  12. Debbie

    Hi Toni, I’ve been thinking about you and hooping you’re healing well now. What an awful ordeal for you! My sister-in-law fell playing netball and broke both elbows at the same time, and she was about 30, lived alone, so her mother had to go and help out for a few months. Not nice at all. I’m glad you were well looked after in hospital and hope your friends are taking care of you now. Take care and thanks for writing about your awful injury.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Deb, That would have been terrible to break both at once! Thank you so much for your good wishes. I’m happy to say that I’m slowly starting now to use the arm again though it’s baby steps at this stage. I hope you enjoy the rest of the week. Hugs, Toni x

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