Today I had some good news from my visit with the orthopedic physician assistant (PA) who has been following my progress over the past two months. The X-ray tech showed me the images of my clavicle and ribs immediately after the exam and my first reaction was, "Oh no! I haven't healed at all!" I walked back over to visit with the PA and wondered what he would say. He pulled up the X-rays and pointed out the areas where bone callus has formed, which is a critical stage in healing. I don't know why, but thinking about all of those bone cells finding each other just makes me laugh. I have this image of cells on one bone calling out, "We're here! We're here!" and cells on the other fragment saying "Catch this rope!" Anyway, I am happy to think of my bone doing its thing to repair the damage I so cruelly inflicted! My PA said that I had passed a critical stage in healing, and that the bones were strong enough now to bear almost normal weight. I asked whether I might accidentally re-fracture the bone but he said this was unlikely unless I did anything really stupid like throw a 50 gallon jug over my head, or take a bad fall. "Can I ride outside?" "Can I run?" "Can I swim?" The answer to these questions was "Yes" with the disclaimer that it would probably be quite painful for some time, so I may not want to. Yeah, I get that. I admit that I've tried running here and there to see how it feels, and I don't think I'm quite ready to go for it yet. Apparently, the bone takes about 3 months to be mostly healed but a full 9 months to become fully remodeled and calcified etc.
After my PA listened carefully to all of my questions, and answered the ones he could, I hustled over to my physical therapy appointment. My PT gave me some new exercises to increase the flexibility in my arm and shoulder. Throughout the healing process, the shoulder joint itself has not stiffened up too much, which is a relief, considering my prior episode of (probable) frozen shoulder on this side. My PT explained that the muscles form a sort of internal brace to protect the fracture and that this may be why stretching my arm much causes nearly searing pain in my upper arm. Also, I need to work on loosening the muscles in my upper back, which is the other area of continued pain. I have a hard time not slumping forward because sitting with an upright posture quickly leads to an achy back.
While not being able to swim, run or bike, I have been able to enjoy hiking during the beautiful spring weather we've been enjoying. The hillsides are green and the wildflowers are in full bloom. Here's a shot from the top of a hill in the Marin Headlands.