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Posts tagged as “The Break”

Be Healed

centaur 1

A little over two years ago, I broke my arm in a karate match...

... and received a metal plate in my arm.

A little over six months later they decided that the bone wasn't healing.

SO, a little under two weeks ago, I went under the knife to have a bone graft to repair my unhealed arm.

A little under six days later I decided to ask for a blessing from the local priest at the end of mass, as is the custom at our church.

The bandages came off yesterday, and the doctor pronounced me healed. Not a little bit better, not improving, not ready to go in three months as expected or six months if they had to replate it, but healed. Apparently my Atlanta doctor had used a suture to hold a chip of bone in place during the healing process; over time the suture began to dig into the healing bone, clouding up the X-rays and leaving a gap in the CAT scan and overall creating the impression that my arm was much more messed up than it was. My California doctor found the suture, removed it, and probed the bone repeatedly with a scapel to confirm its solidity: as far as he can tell the bone is solid and ready to go.

No replating. No bone graft. Not even a waiting period. Just completely healed.

Now, I'm somewhat skeptical about miracles, which is to say, I'm somewhat a believer too. I of course understand that this is a broken bone that healed, which happens every day, and I have of course heard the old saw that miracles are in the eye of the beholder: to a believer, a sequence of events is credited to God as a miracle; to an unbeliever, that sequence explains the event away. I might complain that that old saw is nonsense, that it presumes there are no supernatural miracles that contravene known natural law like raising the dead, and presumes an ad-hoc explanation after the fact should be considered just as "scientific" as a predictive model developed before the data rolled in. But deep down I know it is just a broken bone after all, which happens every day.

But science or blessing or both, one thing I do know is, I'm grateful about how it turned out. Thanks to all the efforts of my doctors, the support of my wife, the prayers of my friends, and most of all...

...Thanks, God.

-the Centaur


centaur 1
Well, after more than two years since my initial break, I finally bit the bullet and went back under the knife, and am now recuperating:

Ever since we found out my broken arm wasn't healing on schedule, my doctors and I have been playing a waiting game, trying every noninvasive technique we could to spark healing. To no avail; a disgusting lack of progress indeed.

Well, wait no more: the docs opened me up, cleaned up the site where the bone wasn't healing, and closed me up again. Hopefully this will help. Time will tell, as will future X-rays:

More news as it happens. Flash.

-the Centaur

A Remarkable Lack of Progress

centaur 0
Well, time to start researching bone healing.

I dropped by the doctor yesterday for a follow-up X-ray and while my arm shows every external sign it's getting better, the x-ray shows a different story. The bone, while healing right, is showing "a remarkable lack of progress" --- everything's going the right way, but really slowly. In case the problem is that my body is simply having a traffic jam (typical Atlantan!), I've included the handy map below to indicate where the bone SHOULD be growing:

Fortunately, bone is one of the few body systems that can fully regenerate itself rather than just slapping on scar patch over the damaged area. And it is the case that "clinical healing" (what you can see externally) progresses faster than "radiographic healing" (what you can see on an x-ray). SO both I and my doctor are confident that, God willing, my arm will heal up and I'll return to throwing my head at the ground and missing soon enough. However, it pretty much kills my chances of participating in the 30th anniversary karate tournament this year.

So, God, if you're telling me I should concentrate on my webcomic for a while, I'm listening.

-the Centaur

The Worst Possible Good News

centaur 0

I had my doctor's appointment and the results were good though discouraging.
My bone is healing perfectly, but slowly. Clinically my arm is healing perfectly
--- scar closed, swelling gone, good range of motion and promising strength ---
but on the x-ray you can clearly see that the bone isn't healed at the site of the
original break. My doc told me that while I could "return to the activities of
daily living", it could be up to two to three months before the bone is healed
to take the weight of handstand or a nengi (taido's spinning floor kick).

The super good news, thank God, is that my arm looks like it will completely
heal, so I don't want to screw that up! I've done some research on my own,
and the doc's projections are right on the money for what other physicians
project for a forearm break. According to my initial surveys if I was on
schedule for a break then around 10 weeks I'd be starting range of motion
therapy and at 12 weeks back to limited strengh training. I'm past 8 weeks,
so if anything I'm progressing ahead of schedule.

While I may talk to my doc about doing an early followup appointment,
realistically I'm not going to be able to go full out for at least a
couple of months. SO ... while I'm having a lot of fun at taido with
nengi and handstands and such, especially with the new ideas for the
upcoming tournament, it looks like I'm going to either have to miss
the tournament entirely or have my slot switched to do a less
intensive technique than throwing my head at the floor, missing,
and catching myself on my hands.

This sucks, but my arm looks like it's going to heal almost
perfectly --- and I plan to Do The Right Thing and keep it that way!


Excellent Anatomic Reduction…

centaur 0
Since some have asked ... "excellent anatomic reduction" just means "your bone is set well." ;-)

Actually, what it *really* means is that the doctor was able to match the bone ends together and return the bone to its original anatomical shape:

Reduction, Alignment, and Fixation

Now, anatomic reduction is what the doctor achieved while I was on the operating table, even before the plate was screwed in. What the doctor hoped (and got) to see was that the good reduction they achieved in surgery (where all the pieces fit together the way they were originally anatomically aligned) remained in place over the intervening two weeks thanks to the plate-and-screw fixation.

And it did. Yay! No news on when my ACME springloaded metal spike attachment will arrive, though.

-the Centaur

A Promising Range of Motion

centaur 0
At two weeks, I went back for my follow-up visit. The cast came off, the staples came out, and after an X-Ray, the doctor pronounced that the bone had achieved "excellent anatomic reduction":

Even before I went in, my friends were all commenting that my fingers seemed to be moving better in the cast/sling thing they had me in, as did the physician's assistant when I arrived; however, once the cast came off the doctor positively cooed over the flex in my fingers and the range of rotation. "Look at that rotation right out of the box. Are your nerves OK? Flex your fingers. Ok. That's great. You'll get full function back in that arm." A promising range of motion indeed.

I'll be carrying this charming little comb of metal around in my arm for a while --- and likely carrying a card to get myself through airport security for a while --- but darn, modern medicine is grand.

-the Centaur

Living the Low-Torque Lifestyle

centaur 0
Among the many things made difficult by having one's right arm in a sling are a few surprises --- like the inability to apply torque.

I've injured my right wrist before, so I expected it would be difficult to type one handed (especially for a programmer who extensively uses shortcut keys --- try Ctrl-Alt-Shift-O one handed!), or to write one handed (especially bills and checks; they move when you can't hold them down), or to drive one handed (fumble for your right pocket keys, then the ignition, then the seat belt, then the gear shift --- thank God for automatics!) I've had to reduce the number of books I carry to lunch (to my benefit) and obviously heavy lifting is right out.

But it wasn't obvious at all --- perhaps because my previous injury was not so severe --- that I wouldn't be able to *twist* things. When the arm was still
unset for the first three days, even the slightest applied torque was intensely painful. And so I counted it a great victory when, after the bone plate was installed, I was finally able to rip open a pack of Sweet'NLow using something other than my teeth.

However, the problem persists. Opening jars one might expect to be a problem. But being unable to squeeze ice out of ice trays? Unable to fold pants? The problem is worse because I recruit my less deft left hand for everything else ... and thus more frequently drop things, causing my right hand to jerk after whatever I've dropped in an attempt to catch it ... resulting in another painful twinge.

But, it is feeling better --- itchy rather than twingy --- so I'm going to
hope and pray for the best at my doctor's appointment tomorrow!

I, Taurborg

centaur 1
Thanks to the charming folks over at Resurgens Othopaedics and Saint Joseph's Hospital, who graciously squeezed me into the schedule way early Saturday morning, I now have a prototype bionic arm. Well, an adamantium skeleton, anyway. Ok, so it's just a bone plate. But it is still cool:

At this juncture they think I have a stong chance to regain more or less full function. w00+! But it is my typing hand, and typing with the other hand is getting tiring, so I'm going to go ice it, elevate it and get back to the full story in a couple of days.


Don’t get those

centaur 0
Ohayoo, taidoka and fanuka! Today's lesson is, "Why to duck rather than block".

I take Taido, a modern martial art focusing on three dimensional movement. One of its most distinctive features is its combination of offense and defense. For example, a key offensive move is is ebigeri, a "shrimp kick" that moves your body out of the line of attack while firing back with a heel kick powered by the change in body axis. A key defense move is half fukuteki, a ducking maneuver which pops you back from an attack but leaves you coiled to deliver an hip-twisting eji zuki punch.

Taido's strategy values this defense-offense synergy over blocks, which waste energy while exposing you to potential injury. Speaking of which...

CRACK! "Hey ... that doesn't feel right..."

SO, the thirtieth anniversary of Taido in the US will be celebrated with an international tournament, and so we at Georgia Tech Taido are preparing now. Tuesday night, in jissen (sparring) practice, I got nailed in the forearm by a supa supa smooth, perfectly timed ebi geri fired off by one of our black belts and yes, indeedy, my arm was broken.

Kudos to our senior brown belt Shelly and her husband Greg for running me to Piedmont Hospital and providing moral support, and double kudos to sensei Corey for both his excellent technique and great sportsmanship --- he checked over my forearm right away, knew all the right questions to ask, and let me recuperate while keeping the class running smoothly until Shelly rolled me out the door. (And mongo kudos to my girlfriend Sandi, who stayed the night to help out even though she'd been up 24 hours straight.)

And as for the break? Big lesson: if you hear a crack, it feels loose or it looks out of shape, ice it and go get it looked at ASAP. Most breaks heal in 2 months or so. Mine is a classic nightstick fracture --- treatable in kids by setting the bone but in adults by implanting a metal plate, which has a seven times higher success rate. Surgery is tomorrow, and it will probably be 3-4 months before I can fully resume all activities.

SO, and while it will take at least that long for me to try backflips again, I think this is a good opportunity to focus on my footwork! (When Corey suggested to us at the beginning of class that our hand movement and foot movement are too closely tied and we need to break that in jissen, I don't think he meant us to take that so literally! ;-)

Now, I had some time to think about this while recuperating, and this is what I came up with (based on my mental reconstruction of what happened; but since it went very fast, YMMV). Much of this may have meaning only to a Taido student, but here goes:

Face cover and stomach cover work.
While I said earlier that "this is why we duck rather than block", that's not quite true --- I was doing an untai no ski and pulled my hand down in just the right timing to protect my torso. (As it was I was lucky; he pulled it just a bit because this was a friendly match, so I was in no real danger; in a more serious fight, that same maneuver would have traded me a broken arm for a more serious broken rib and maybe a knockout). Corey said it best at the beginning of class: keep your hands up and make them purposeful.

Keep watching!
Corey nailed me because he saw what I was going to do, saw the opportunity and took it. I too saw what he was doing and had a millisecond chance to abort and fukuteki ... and with more practice I will. As Chris says, keep looking.

Duck rather than block.
The real problem was that I haven't trained myself to duck rather than just move in wth more forward attacks. As Chad has said, we need to focus on Taido: ducking rather than blocking or jamming. With enough live defense to offense practice I would have seen the "opportunity" to fukuteki away from the ebigeri and just done it ... just like Brian E. showed us last night how practice can help you instinctively recognize the opportunity to nengi under a senjo and just do it (which he did pretty effectively to me last night). This kind of defense to offense fluidity is Taido.

Anyway, enough karate theory. This little break may mean some changes over at ... I'm now trying to recruit guest artists to fill in the gaps --- contact me at centaur at dresan dot com if you are interested.

More news as it happens.