How breaking a bone is good for you …

I recently lost my bone breaking virginity at a festival in central Queensland and was surprised at how good it was for me. As I sit in the Mater Hospital in Brisbane for my final check up, I thought this would be a good time to write my story.

At the festival just before my fall

One of the last photos my shoulder intact

About 9 weeks ago, (on Valentines Day) I was dancing at a music festival when I lost my balance and fell down a slope. I landed on my right shoulder and the full brunt of my 72kg body weight landed directly on the bone, the result of which was a broken clavicle which protruded out of my shoulder about 2cms without penetrating the skin.

The first thing I was surprised about is that it took me around 5 minutes to identify that I had actually hurt myself. Understandably I was a little shaken from falling over in the first place so I was sitting down in a small area of the shade gathering my wits (my friends had just left to get some water at the time). I noticed that my arm was feeling a bit tingly so I inspected from my wrist up to my shoulder to see a strange shape sticking up from under the skin at the top.

I tried to fix my ‘dislocated arm’ Die Hard style!

My first reaction was that I had dislocated my arm. I have been studying and learning about natural health and whole food medicine, so I was aware that the longer it was out of position, the more likely problems would arise. In addition, when I was living in France I earned the nickname Penknife (due to the fact I used to carry one around most of the time and could fix anything) and as a result of what we see sensationalised in the movies, I decided to deal with the situation Die Hard style.

Using my left arm, I locked my hand in a position to force my ‘dislocated arm’ back in to position … and I pushed. The bone moved at least 3cms under the skin, but reverted when I released it. So I pushed again with all my strength and to my dismay, it simply reverted again.

Losing my bone-breaking virginity

With the pressure of time against me (my arm still felt fine and I was expecting the swelling to start soon) I realised that I needed help. I walked up to the first strong person I saw and asked if they’d ever put a dislocated shoulder back in position. No. Then another. No again. I did eventually find someone who said they’d give it a go if I could explain what to do, but I was none the wiser of the procedure so declined the offer. Eventually I found a first aid person who wouldn’t give it a go either and said I’d had to have x-rays before any action could be taken. After speaking to two Zen-Thai Shiatsu practioners (who didn’t have experience in this kind of thing either), I succumbed to the medical world and accepted being wrapped up in a sling. Together with my wonderful friends, Ethan and Naomi, we organised sharing vehicles and getting back to Brisbane – a 4 hour drive including 18km on dirt track!

What is it really like turning up in Emergency with a bone sticking out of your shoulder?

To finish off the facts of the story, I’ll mention that using Medicare, the public service here in Australia, I was seen by a doctor within 20 mins – in Emergency on a Sunday around 4pm. He moved my arm around accordingly (swinging it over my head, twisting it around and more) to put my self-diagnosed dislocated shoulder back in to position. At the end of the appendage-aerobics, we both identified that although my arm should be in position, there was still something not right with the oblique protrusion on my shoulder.This lead to x-rays identifying the break and my arm being put in a sling.

The next 9 weeks included the following:

  1. Seeing a specialist 4 days later who said I could have surgery, but it wasn’t a must and I could wait and see.
  2. Seeing the same specialist again 3 days later as I decided that the bone was moving way too much to be healing and that I’d felt like accepting surgery was the next step.
  3. Showing my x-rays to 3 chiropractic friends who all encouraged me to get surgery even though none of them would recommend that as a first choice (I took photos of my x-rays with my phone in the x-ray room at the hospital and this was probably one of the wisest thing I did when it came to getting feedback from specialists and medical and surgical friends).
  4. Scheduling surgery which if I’d gone private would have occurred slightly sooner, but was still within 3 weeks of the accident. (FYI without insurance the operation would have cost around A$3,250+).
  5. Going in for surgery one morning under general anaesthetic with everything complete by lunchtime and two lovely friends coming and comforting me before I stayed overnight and left the next day around noon.
  6. Another visit to the Registrar who assisted in the surgery 2 weeks later before my trip to Bali who gave me the thumbs up – even to swimming if I wanted to.
  7. A final visit today to another specialist who said the healing appeared to be going very well, my movement is excellent and that the surgeon did a brilliant job (the scar is very slight).
  8. Broken bones do not necessarily cause pain: this means we can have something majorly broken in our lives but not even realise it although it is clear to others. Looking below the surface can tell us what we need to know to take action.
  9. Some knowledge can be detrimental – me trying to fix myself could have made the break worse. In this instance my action didn’t appear to, but in areas where I have little knowledge such as structural damage of the body, I’ll be more aware of any diagnoses I make in future.
  10. Specialists are worth their weight in gold. Experience and skills go a long way when applied in the appropriate environment. Not in all environments, but the right ones. I still have full use of my right arm and I believe have taken action to minimise any future issues. So use specialists for challenges in those areas of your life required but also remember that an artist with the wrong tools, is powerless.
  11. Despite what we sometimes hear, my experience of the health system in Australia is excellent. I had a few waiting periods longer than I’d hoped, but overall I was extremely impressed with the nurses, specialists, receptionists, cleaners and doctors who all worked together to fix my body.
  12. I am human and must take care of my body – mentally, physically and emotionally.

This shows you the magic of the surgeon’s touch

SO … what were the things I learned as a result of my broken bone?

I had picked up some bad habits in life and this wonderful experience of breaking my collarbone has reminded me to focus on what is important and to live today as if it is my last. Now I have the all-clear (save that I am not encouraged to take part in contact sports for three more months) I am getting back on track with my flexibility, health and purpose.  I believe that indirectly it is also the result of this accident that I have met someone who I’ve been preparing all my life for… lucky!

Remember, life often turns up as a feather, a brick or a truck

The feather tickles us to notify us that something needs to change. Ignore the feather and it becomes a brick. The brick is usually painful but not life threatening and is a reminder that we need to start something, stop something or change something. Ignore the brick, and you could be in for a truck; suffice it to say that the truck can often be carrying life-threatening illnesses, deaths of others and life altering experiences.

My prayer for you is that you notice the feathers and bricks of your life and take action in good time. When would now be a good time to do something different?

Your turn to break…

I was really surprised when I mentioned to people that I’d broken a bone how many had also had broken bones. How many of you have broken a bone, what happened and can you see any silver lining as a result of the event?

2 Comments to “How breaking a bone is good for you …”

  1. By Superstar, April 21, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

    Beautiful words and a great story 🙂

    I’m glad you didn’t manage to put your shoulder back in! I think sometimes we are so fiercely independent we can really do damage to ourselfs with our own self reliance… perhaps sever nerves…

    Great work on your awesome recovery!
    xx

  2. By David, April 25, 2010 @ 1:01 am

    Yes – everything worked out perfectly with many learnings and messages to extrapolate to other parts of my life Dx

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