Fitness, Life Updates

4 months since breaking my wrist

I can’t believe it’s already been 4 months since I broke my wrist. I had learned 5 things in just over a week after my injury, so imagine all the things I’ve learned since then!

If you don’t know, mid-July I broke my wrist playing volleyball practicing for a tournament. I broke my radius (thumb side forearm bone) completely across and up (so in 2 places) right where my forearm and hand bones meet in my wrist in what they call a distal radius fracture. To top it off, I broke these bones into my joint, making it very severe. I later found out I also had a small chip fracture in my ulna (pinky side forearm bone).

Luckily, surgery was ruled out, I was splinted for 2 weeks, casted for 4 weeks, then sent to physical therapy with ortho follow ups about once a month. In just over a two month period, with the help of my awesome physical therapist, Brooke, at Russo Therapeutics, I was able to get my range of motion and strength back to normal (comparing to the measurements from my right hand).

For some perspective on that accomplishment…

  • Day 1 I walked in with a “disability rating” of 56.82/100 (the closer you are to 100, the more they consider you disabled). On my last day, my rating was 0/100.
  • My grip strength on my left hand was measuring 5 pounds a couple of weeks after I started PT. On the last day, I was at 55 pounds.
  • Instead of being able to fully flip my palm facing up on my left hand, I could only flip it 30 degrees. On the last day, I flipped it 80 degrees.
  • My flexion (bending my wrist forward) started at 20 degrees, and I ended at 71 degrees.
  • My extension (bending my wrist backwards) started at 42 degrees, and I ended at 78 degrees.
  • I won’t bore you with any more technical measurements, but from these ones above, progress was MADE!

2 months after my initial injury, I was cleared to start playing volleyball again since I was now at the point that regular activities would not impact my injury. If anything, I would just need to do pain management on my end. I played a few times with a wrist brace, and to my surprise, I didn’t have too much pain and I wasn’t half bad! I’m a setter, which is comparable to a quarterback for football, and my main function is using my wrists. I was anxious to start playing again in fear I would be horrible or have a ton of pain, so I’m so very thankful neither of those was the case.

3 months after my initial injury, I was told that my bones were nearly healed as much as they would be. I would probably have one more ortho visit before officially being on my own. I continued playing a couple more times, and all things were great. I can’t quite serve overhand (since I’m left handed), but I reverted to underhand and was still killing it (pun intended)!

It’s now been 4 months since my injury, I’m fully cleared for all activities and all my numbers and strength are back to pre-injury as much as we can tell! I still have some pain/discomfort when doing weight-bearing activities which is normal since that’s one of the last things you get back. Doctor said if I’m stilling have pain or limitations by next July (1 year post injury), that I should get seen by a hand surgeon and get an MRI since I’m “too young to be dealing with that for the rest of my life”. However, given the progress and success I’ve had so far post-injury, I’m optimistic I’ll have no issues a year from now (God-willing).

I learned some key things very quickly within the first week of my injury, and now that I’ve fully healed and am “back to normal” I learned a few more:

  • Bones are wild. When you’re a kid, your bones are still growing and building so it’s understandable (to me anyways) that if you broke something, it would heal fairly quickly. However, by the time you hit your late-teens/early-mid 20s, your bones have pretty much stopped growing and developing. So as a mid 20-something, I’m shocked that my bones just “regrow” or “reattach” back to one another without the help of any devices or anything.
  • Healing comes in time, but it will come. When I first got my cast taken off, I felt like I wouldn’t ever be able to use my wrist. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get back to normal because of how challenging it was at first. But as the days, the weeks, and the months went by, I was improving. PT said they were shocked at how well and how quickly my numbers were increasing, and the Ortho said it’s very impressive that I have no pain day to day or while playing. It’s amazing being able to see both the process and the big picture.
  • Fear builds character. Many said I was crazy for going back to playing volleyball so soon after. While that might be true for some, I was cleared to play by both the orthos and physical therapists. I was very nervous to be playing again in fear that I would re-injure myself. It’s so important to know that, for the most part, fear is in your head. And by that I mean that you never know what you’re capable of until you do it. You don’t know what you don’t know. I was afraid that I would be in a lot of pain playing. I was afraid that the impact of the ball would hurt my injury. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to play as well as I did before and would totally suck. Luckily, none of those things were true for me, which just proves that I was fearful for nothing. I could’ve let that fear run my life and prevented myself from going back, but I didn’t, and I’m stronger for that.
  • Everything happens for a reason. I mentioned in my initial post that I knew this happened to me for a reason even if I didn’t know what that reason was. I still might not, but I know that this injury helped (forced?) me to change up my routine. Having appointments at 8am 2-4 days of the week meant I had to wake up earlier. I usually would get up at 8am to be at work by 9am, but now I had to get up at 7am to be to my appointment by 8am. To endure that for 3 months and then revert back to sleeping until 8am would be silly, right? Like quitting smoking for a year just to turn back to the pack. I already got through the hardest part – changing the routine and making a new one. It would be a waste to throw it out the window. By waking up earlier I was now able to take the mornings for myself. I could get in a home workout if I wanted to, work on some side stuff, do a little yoga, read some of a book, learn some Spanish. I was giving myself nearly an additional hour to do whatever I wanted before I needed to get ready to work. My day instantly got longer (in a good way). I might have some days where I still sleep until 8am, or I lay in bed for the extra hour just “waking up”, but it’s not every day.
  • Being healthy is so important. It’s been told to me time and time again that it’s so impressive how quickly I “bounced back”. I could chalk that up to me just being awesome, but really, it’s my body that did most of the work. Being active, taking care of myself, and pushing myself to continue and adjust once I broke my wrist I think are the main reasons I had the results I did. I could’ve just gone to PT, done my movements, and went on my way never doing them again until my next appointment. But I didn’t. I would occasionally move and stretch my wrist while I was at my desk at work, or when I went on a walk, or while I was in the shower. I could’ve stopped all physical activity and became a couch potato after I hurt myself. But I didn’t. I couldn’t play volleyball or do yoga anymore, but I could walk and run. I couldn’t lift weights or throw things, but I could stretch. Ensuring that I stayed active week after week, I think, helped not only keep me mentally clear, but also kept my body working while going through the healing process. Taking care of my body before injuring myself allowed my body to have the resources, energy, and strength to take care of me when I needed it. So make sure you’re actively taking care of yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – because you never know when the roles will be reversed.

It has been quite the journey breaking a bone as an adult, but it’s been an interesting one. I’ve learned things about myself and my body that I wouldn’t have before. It allowed me the opportunity to take a step back and see the big picture. To work on different things. To change up my daily routine a little. And even though it was rough when it started, it got better.

Things always get better.

Until next time ❤

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