Not again

I can’t even believe I’m saying this, as it doesn’t seem quite possible, but it looks like I’m going to need surgery on my left elbow for the same problem I just had on my right elbow. As I mentioned in my last post, I hyperextended my left elbow in my first hockey game back after recovering from surgery on the right elbow for an avulsion fracture. It was painful, but not a big deal, and didn’t compare in any way with the injury to my right elbow back in July. The motion was different, and the pain was less.

It felt like it was getting better all week, and I ended up playing hockey the next Sunday and everything was fine. I had a great time, scored the only goal of the game, and enjoyed seeing my friends. This whole week I’ve been taking care of it and it’s been fine, but then yesterday morning I was putting together a set of bunk beds for the girls, and while pushing these two pieces together, I felt a pop in my left elbow, then a bunch of pain.

With Jessica’s help, I finished assembling the bunk beds, then started hemming and hawing for a while about whether or not I should go to urgent care. Based on her insistance, I decided to go get it looked at. There’s a brand new Urgent Care less than a mile from our house, so I had no excuse.

I explained everything to the doctor, including my previous injury, then he proceeded to do a bunch of tests by having me push and twist different ways with my hand/arm. At the end he said, “If you put a gun to my head, I don’t think you have another avulsion fracture, but we could do an x-ray if you want, it’s just that someone has to pay for it.” My response was basically “Well, my family has already reached our out-of-pocket maximum for the year, so let’s go for it! I hope you’re right, but I’d like to have the peace of mind I can only get from a negative x-ray.” He said that was fine and set me up for the next step.

Fast-forward to the moment the doctor is bringing my x-ray images up on screen. He hasn’t seen them yet, but as soon as he does he starts to chuckle and says something like “Well, I guess you were right.” I looked at the screen and saw almost the exact same x-ray I saw back in July on my right arm. As he explained, I have a bone spur on my elbow that is partially attached to my triceps, and it has partially avulsed. I showed him a photo of my x-ray from July on my right elbow and he said the injury is the same, except the spur on my right elbow had completely avulsed (broke off), which is why that experience was more traumatic and painful than this one. In this case, it’s a partial avulsion, but if I were to go out and play hockey tonight (or do anything athletic involving my arms), I would almost certainly experience a full avulsion. Having been through that recently and knowing how painful it is, I’d rather not experience it again. The memory of it is still fresh in my mind.

I know it seems like hockey is the culprit here, so I asked him for his opinion on that. What he basically said is that it’s not very common for people to have bone spurs like this on their elbows, and that while hockey isn’t something he necessary recommends for grown men, this issue would have likely surfaced elsewhere, assuming I was involved in some other activity. Hearing this was a bit of a relief because I don’t want to quit permanently, even though I know I am now being forced into taking another break from it.

So what’s the next step? Well, tomorrow morning I will call my Orthopedic surgeon who fixed my right elbow, and setup an appointment. My assumption, based on recent experience, is that we won’t need an MRI this time, and will just schedule a new surgery, but we’ll have to wait and see. My biggest concern is how long it will take to see him. I have jury duty in Snohomish this Wednesday through Friday, however if that’s the only time I can get into the doctor then I’ll just have to figure something out.

I was pretty bummed out yesterday afternoon knowing that in all likelihood, I’m going to need another surgery, then have to go through another 6 weeks of physical therapy. However at this point I’m over being bummed about it and need to just take things one at a time. I probably shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself, but I can’t help it based on recent experience. I suppose there’s still a chance I won’t need surgery, but I doubt it. I have no pushing strength in my left arm and simple tasks like pumping a squirt of hand soap are very painful. It’s so weird for my right arm to suddenly be my ‘good arm’ again, considering all the time I just spent rehabbing it, but it’s doing great. I have full mobility, zero pain, and it honestly feels stronger than before the injury. I think that has to be part of the consideration to have surgery on the left one, but we’ll see what the doctor says.

To end on a positive note, the girls love their new bunk beds, or as they call them, “bunker beds”. Kristy found them for sale online near her house and ended up getting them for us. I wasn’t sure if everything would fit in our minivan, but it did, and setup was relatively painless. Actually ‘painless’ probably isn’t the right word here, but I digress. Elise had completely outgrown her tiny bed, so we handed it off to another mom with an infant son. Now all 3 of the kids have ‘big kid’ beds that they won’t outgrow for years to come.

We’ve got a busy day today: hockey for Ava at 11:30, running for Elise at 3:00, and game 2 of the NLCS at 5:00. It’s Dodgers vs Cubs again this year, so I’m hoping for my revenge against the Northsiders. Dodgers took game 1 last night, so tonight will be interesting.

My right elbow x-ray from July. The spur has completely avulsed.

My left elbow x-ray from yesterday. The spur has partially avulsed.

The girls sitting on their ‘bunker beds’ for the first time

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