My Elbow Fracture – Part 2 – the first two weeks after surgery #elbowfracturesurgery #elbowsurgery

In late November 2021, I tripped over in the street and broke my olecranon, the bone at the pointy tip of the elbow. In my previous article I talked about the surgery a couple of days later to have a plate, screws and wire inserted, and my overnight stay in the hospital. In this article I’d like to talk about my return home and problems faced in the first couple of weeks after surgery. I hope this might be of help to anyone else who might have a similar injury. However, in no way is this offered as any sort of medical advice. You must always follow the advice of your own doctor and other medical professionals.

Early problems

I felt relieved to finally arrive home from the hospital. My arm was in a thick bandage and I had to keep it in a sling for the next six weeks, with my elbow bent at 90°. Apart from several gentle range of motion exercises, I was told not to use my hand or arm at all for six weeks. I would need to get used to living with one arm, and realised there was nothing in my wardrobe that I was going to be able to wear. I would need some giant size T-shirts to be able to slip them over my bent arm for one-handed dressing. A friend volunteered to get me several huge T-shirts at a Target store across the road. They were just what I needed in those first weeks, six sizes bigger than my normal size and paired with trousers that are fairly loose, easy to pull up and don’t have any zips or buttons.

I also realised that for the next six weeks I would not be able to wear a bra, blow dry my hair, or put on makeup. I also wouldn’t be putting on jewellery or a watch. They were all jobs that required two hands, so I was quite a sight in my giant, oversize T-shirts, my hair looking awful and my face with no makeup.

With only my left hand to hold anything, it’s almost impossible to cook or cut anything up. Several friends in my apartment block came to the rescue, giving me quite a few lovely meals, and the rest of the time I’ve eaten frozen meals that are soft and easy to cut up with one hand. They also went to the supermarket for me in the first couple of weeks. So, I have been very lucky!

I’ve also been very grateful for the help of the amazing ladies sent to help me with personal care and cleaning for an hour twice a week.

Issues in the first two weeks

I felt very weak and tired for the first couple of weeks. The following issues are generally experienced after elbow surgery, and I was no exception.

Pain

The wound was covered in a thick bandage that covered most of my arm and kept my elbow bent at 90°. That went in a sling that kept my arm comfortably in front of my body. My elbow was very sore and the pain continued for quite a few weeks. After the first few days I only took paracetamol spread throughout the day, but kept that up for more than four weeks. Apparently, it can take quite a while, even months, for the pain to disappear after elbow fracture surgery.

Swelling and bruising of hands and forearm

It’s quite normal after elbow surgery for the forearm and hand to become quite swollen and bruised. My hand became extremely  bloated and swollen, and was covered in blotchy bruising. The swelling started to reduce after about a week but the bruising can took a few weeks to disappear. My hands stayed a bit swollen until more than six weeks later, when I was finally able to start using it again.

Tiredness

I felt very tired and weak especially in the first two weeks, and needed to lie down a few times through the day. That has gradually improved but I’m still not back to my normal self. I was told that was quite normal after surgery and after a traumatic experience like that.

I was still feeling rather awful when I went for my first check-up after two weeks, and was surprised to see a lady with a broken wrist that I had met on the day of my surgery. She walked into the waiting room looking bright and cheerful, and said she had felt tired for the first week. However, I knew that my own situation was unique and, just as with everything in life, I should never compare myself to others. Everyone’s experience with a fracture is different.

Sleeping

I’d always been a side sleeper, but since breaking my elbow I’ve adapted to a new position: lying on my back with two pillows under my head. On my right-hand side, I have a very soft pillow to support my elbow. I don’t wear a sling in bed but keep my arm in the same 90° position. To my surprise, I’ve been fairly comfortable in bed.

Physiotherapy

I had some simple exercises to do several times a day. First, I had to gently flex and extend my elbow within a comfortable range, which was only a few degrees. I also had to rotate my hand, palm down and then palm up, which is pronation and supination of the elbow. I was able to do that fairly well.

Living with One Arm

In the next article, I’ll have some tips for living with one arm. I’ll also talk about my two-week and six-week assessments at the hospital.

Have you had elbow surgery or an elbow fracture? I’d love to hear your comments.

#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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42 thoughts on “My Elbow Fracture – Part 2 – the first two weeks after surgery #elbowfracturesurgery #elbowsurgery

    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Audrey, It has been a huge challenge, but thankfully the worst is over now. I never realised how many things need two hands, and we take it so for granted. A cast on your foot would also be very difficult, I imagine! I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. Toni x

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  1. petespringerauthor

    Sounds especially challenging. It’s a good thing that you had so many friends to come to the rescue. We take for granted all the things we need two hands for. I am also a side sleeper, which would be a considerable challenge. I’m pretty much a fussy sleeper, in general, while my wife can go to sleep in a couple of minutes. A couple of hours of tossing and turning is not uncommon for me.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      I know what you mean, Pete – you sound very similar to me. However, I was amazed how quickly I adapted to sleeping on my back. I’m so envious of people who fall straight to sleep. Have a great weekend. Toni

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Darlene

    Oh my! You are a trouper. I am such a wimp when it comes to things like this. I broke my ankle in two places a few years back and I was a mess. Hubby had to do everything for me the first two weeks. But a fractured elbow would be so much worse. You have done so well, with a bit of help from your friends of course. I look forward to your next chapter. Hugs.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Darlene, Thanks for your lovely comments, but I’m sure a broken ankle would be terrible and so incapacitating – especially when you break it in two places! I was also a mess especially in the first two weeks. Have a lovely weekend. Toni xx

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Robbie, thank you for your lovely comments. Oh your poor mother, that must’ve been terrible for her. They taught me how to take the sling off in the hospital and thankfully I don’t need to use it now. Have a lovely weekend. Toni xx

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  3. Miriam Hurdle

    Sorry for all the pain and suffering, Toni. Six weeks sounds like forever to live with one arm, not being able to do even the daily routine. We’re survivors, aren’t we? I’m glad to hear you could adapt, sleep on one side with two pillows under your head and keep your arm in the 90° position. I’m glad you have friends to help. Take care!

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  4. Terri Webster Schrandt

    OMG, Toni, you have been through the wringer! So glad to read you had friends and neighbors assisting you with some everyday things. 6 weeks is such a long time and two weeks of pain and swelling is horrible. I won’t go into detail when I had elective bunion surgery and wore a cast for 8 weeks–not a walking cast, and non-weight-bearing. I broke a small bone in my right hand (more of a greenstick fracture) years ago, innocently walking my new 30-pound puppy, Brodie, and fell. It wasn’t nearly the issue you have, but I still wore a wrist brace and could not use my left hand for many daily items. Some of that fatigue you describe is a result of your brain rethinking everything when you automatically go to use your right hand and you instantly realize you must lead with the left. It takes a while to cognitively remember and it’s tiring for sure. I’m glad you are not even using the sling now. Take good care of yourself. It may be that when the cast comes off, you may experience swelling again, so don’t be shocked.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Terri, how terrible to have not been able to walk for eight weeks! You’ve certainly had plenty of experience with all this. You’re right, my sling is off but it’s not over yet and I’ve still got some swelling as I try to move the arm. You’re probably right about your brain having to readjust to using a different side. Thank you so much for all your advice. Sending you hugs, Toni x

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Thank you so much for your lovely thoughts, Diana – I’ve been blessed and amazed by the wonderful helpers I’ve had, and things are really starting to improve now. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Toni x

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. olganm

    It sounds challenging and difficult to get used to. We don’t realise how much we rely on our health and our bodies to get on, and even the simplest thing can become complicated when we suffer an injury such as yours. I hope you are feeling much better now, Toni, and I am happy you had help and support. Stay safe!

    Liked by 3 people

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  6. dgkaye

    Omg Toni. I feel for you. And all worse that it’s your right hand (presuming that’s your dominant hand). Oye! You are a trooper. I’m glad to hear you are receiving help from friends and others. I can only imagine. I wish you a Godspeed recovery. Thanks for updating us as I wondered how you are getting on. Hugs to you. xox

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Hi Debby, You are so sweet, thank you so much. I’m doing much better now and can use my right hand and arm again, but it was difficult for a while. I hope you have a wonderful and very safe trip. Toni x

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. Teagan Riordain Geneviene

    Horsefeathers! There’s nothing funny about hurting that bone. Hang in there Toni, and keep up the physical therapy. It really does help, painful though it is. I had similar when I broke my wrist. Plus I developed “frozen shoulder” almost immediately, rather than after weeks of keeping the arm immobile. Being able to hook my bra again (months and months later) was a huge accomplishment. The physical therapist told me that was a big goal with most women who had similar injuries. Take good care of you. Hugs on the wing.

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    1. Toni Pike Post author

      Oh how terrible, Teagan- I’m so glad you’re better now. What an ordeal. Luckily, after weeks without a bra, I found one I could slip on. I’ve improved a lot now, and working like crazy on physical therapy. Trying to get my elbow straight. Thanks for your lovely support. Hugs to you, Toni x

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Teagan Riordain Geneviene

        I was just relieved to read that you had in-person support and help from neighbors. I was still in DC at the time. I was completely alone in dealing with everything. I even had to arrange a 1-day help person so that I’d have a “responsible adult” at the hospital for my surgery. (No one I asked would go or help me find someone who would.) That agency sent a woman who couldn’t even speak English, so rather than her taking care of me, I felt I was taking care of her. At least she drove. (It was outpatient surgery, despite all the metal they installed in my hand and wrist, but I had full anesthesia.) So, you see, I relate strongly to your problem. Hugs.

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        1. Toni Pike Post author

          Oh, Teagan, how terrible. I can really relate to that, and it is so hard when there’s no one to help. I spent two years in DC (with my ex) and had my gallbladder out there – I understand how inflexible the system is there. In and out in a flash. This time I almost talked them into letting me stay overnight at the hospital and helping me. Hugs to you. Toni x

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Narayan Kaudinya

    Dear Toni, I hope things are back to normal now. It won’t be good to say that I enjoyed the article, rather that I was gripped and wanted to go through your experience, as I did years ago with one leg.

    Hopefully the challenge is over. My wishes. Narayan

    Liked by 1 person

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