13 July 2013 by Rachel Andrew
It will soon be six months since I smashed up my elbow. I’m writing, sat in the garden, on the hottest day of the year so far. Yet I’m still struggling with the repercussions of the snow and ice in January.
The good news is the bones have healed well. My last set of x-rays show that the shattered bits are growing back together and the tip of my elbow that they sawed off in surgery is healed. I’ve returned to doing some weight training using that arm, and am trying to build strength back up. I can hold my body weight in push up position again now; hold a plank for 2 minutes as long as I have something soft under my elbow as I have metalwork just under the skin. So the joint seems pretty strong and stable. That’s all good.
Not being able to lift heavy has had some benefits, I’ve beaten my personal best times at 5 and 10K since going back to running, despite all that time off. Being lighter definitely helps and as someone who builds muscle easily, having to stick to light weights means I’m a lot lighter than I was pre-accident. I have a couple of half marathons coming up so it would be great to shave some time off at that distance.
The bad news is that I have very limited range of movement in that arm, and no-one seems to know what might help. In terms of flexion that has improved to the extent that I can touch my head, though I still can’t put make-up on right handed. The biggest problem is that I really can’t get it anywhere close to straight. It is stuck at about 55 degrees, if I try to straighten it further it is as solid as trying to straighten a normal elbow past straight. This makes all kinds of everyday things tricky and makes training tough as there are just so many things I can’t physically do when I can’t get my elbow close to straight. Things like doing a chest press, with such limited movement, means it really becomes a different exercise. I’m also aware of how much I am compensating with my shoulder, and have a sore neck and shoulder most of the time because of that.
I am still seeing the physiotherapists, however it feels as if they are out of ideas. I’m still in a reasonable amount of pain, though I’m less bothered by that than I am by the lack of mobility. The surgeon is pleased that I have any functionality of that arm and hand, and I know things could have been a lot worse. However I am not happy to settle for this being how it is for the rest of my life.