Well, Bless My Bones

April 16th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Rapid is relative. Nine weeks after surgery to drive a 14-plus inch titanium nail into my broken tibia, I am impatient. Nine weeks after that surgery, the ortho guys tell me my bones look great and I’m well ahead of the curve.

The two x-ray segments today are of my self-patching tibia and the still shattered fibula. Images from nearly six weeks ago are here.

healing tibia

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Today, I learned even more about bone and body works.  The tibia apparently is the model of what a body is supposed to do when it realizes it has a break in a long bone. What did look like snapped firewood with two splintered ends now has a surrounding mass of new bone.

According to the Brigham and Women’s trauma ortho guys:

  • The body will slap more new material in, among and around the gaps and breaks than it needs.
  • It will circle around after that to nibble away the unnecessary and lay down straight repair lines on the tibia edges.
  • The additional material means there is nothing I can do now to prevent the total repair of this bone.

The fibula, on the other end of the limb is still a mess. Yet, as one of today’s follow-up docs said, “We are very disrespectful of the fibula.” He noted as others had that orthopedic surgeons use the tibia for spare parts, lifting segments as needed to graft to weight-bearing and essential bones. He iterated that as far as they are concerned, it isn’t even necessary to function.comminuated fibula

He advised not looking at further x-rays of that messy critter for at least a year. He figures it too will grow new bone and run through the healing cycle, just much later than the tibia. It’s not his fibula, but he said he wasn’t at all concerned about whether it ever healed.

Uptown though, apparently even in my hoary decrepitude, my body was doing all right by me and I by my body. That seems to include:

  • Lots of calcium intake (I can’t handle milk, but do yogurt and gigantic calcium carbonate pills).
  • Loads of blood circulating, particularly in the limbs. I could not use standard gym aerobics machines, but did inventory the works to find two machines I could use without using the left leg. Apparently having the blood working is huge in bone building.

Then nearly two weeks ago, I decided to take off the Aircast. I agonizingly crawled onto a stationary bike-like object to start working the left leg. It hurt, it was and still is slow, and I can’t do it long.  This dramatically increases the muscle tone and flexibility of the calf and ankle, as well as pushing the blood and minerals around the leg.

I’ve been in the gym six or seven days a week for the past three weeks, using aerobic machines.

The docs figure that I’ve cut a couple months off the healing by exercising. They say they see this when someone can do that and don’t see it when the patient remains in the cast immobilized.

My college son will be home next month. I can see biking together this summer, albeit more slowly than pre-break. I am learning how to appreciate the possible rather than bewail the shortcomings. It’s almost like being mature.

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