Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Clavicle Smash-vicle

I've received a few emails asking why I haven't been blogging lately, and the truth is that I was a one-armed bandit there for a week or so. I fell and broke my collarbone last week...a "Z deformity with 4 fragments." I don't recommend falling and hitting the ground onto one's shoulder/neck to anyone. Because let me tell you --- breaking a clavicle hurts like crazy and the doctors don't set the bones (real fun...and by "fun", I mean "not fun"). I didn't realize how much that little bone actually did until it stopped functioning, and I now hold a new appreciation for it.

In my short tenure as a fractured clavicle patient, I have learned a few things through my orthopedic doctors, which I thought I'd share with all of you.

Symptoms :
The first and more obvious symptom to look for is a fall --- and if you fell directly on the shoulder (and if you did, you should worry about your clavicle). If you're worried about your clavicle and you have not sustained any type of fall, then you probably don't have a a break, you are a hypochondriac. :) And, of course, the other obvious symptoms like pain, swelling, a bump on the clavicle, and inability to move the arm on the side of the break.

Please note: Since I realize many of my friends and readers of this blog are triathletes and cyclists (and hence, at risk for this injury), the first thing you should remember when you think someone has broken their collarbone is that the range of motion test IS A BAD IDEA. Seriously. I had a few folks tell me that my shoulder had popped out of the socket, and I just needed to snap it back into place, whip my arm to pop get my point. I mean, even if someone could move their arm 360 degrees, they could have a break....and in all my screaming pain and spasming muscles, my body was doing all sorts of new angles it hadn't tried before. Just leave the poor soul alone in their misery, and get them to an ER.

Docs & ER:

Let me recommend that it's best to head on out to the emergency center for X-rays. The best part was that when I broke mine, I wasn't with my normal crowd of friends, so a perfect stranger (i.e. good Samaritan) drove me to the E.R. and stayed there until I could get home safely. (My hope in the kindness of strangers has been renewed!). And, if the x-rays look anything like the ones pictured here (mine), you don't really need a doctor to tell you what's wrong. Seriously, I think to myself, "How on earth did that happen?!?

The orthopedic doctor gave me a clavicle brace (see pictured) which helps to keep the fracture immobile and straight. This has to be worn for 4-6 weeks depending on the doctor -- and despite the cute smile on the model's face, this is *not* a comfortable brace. It has to be tightened throughout the day and is impossible to put on by yourself. (So, for those that live on your own -- it's time to meet your neighbors.) I mean, a brace that ties in the back? Sounds like a straight-jacket to me. ;) Yes, it's worn all day and night, even when sleeping. If you think it's fun to be up on a coat hanger...well, this is fun. Otherwise, this is torture. I can't really tell you when for sure this brace gets to be removed, as I'm still in the beginning stage of my journey with this injury. But, when you do take it off, hopefully you'll do something fun with burn it. Afterwards through the rest of the healing process, if one is even slightly intelligent, hopefully one will pay attention to the consequences of "high risk behaviors or sport" and "generally stupid ideas." Whatever category you fall into.

I was asked several times at the ER if I did this on accident. Huh? I mean, seriously? Why would I do this on purpose? It took me until the next day and the pain to clear until I realized that they were asking if I was in a car accident (answer: no). Ohhh. But, it did beg the question on how to prevent this in the future, and I think it's pretty easy: Don't land on your shoulder or outstretched arm. However, if you must, try using bubble wrap first, you know, just to keep you safe. (And if you do, take a picture and let me know so I can get a good laugh out of it.)

In Cures Rock! fashion, I didn't cry, but I'm spending plenty of time laughing at the humor of this situation and wondering why my cat-like moves led me astray last week. ;) At this point, we're postponing surgery as there was no shortening of the shoulder/clavicle area, so we're going to see if the bones will heal on their own. Guess it's time I start drinking a lot of milk!

For those asking, YES, I am still planning races so I have something on my calendar to start training for again after I heal. At this point, we've got a Cures Rock! running team for the Huntington Beach Surf City Half/Full Marathons and LIVESTRONG Austin Half/Full marathons. I'd love to have ya'll join me on our team, so please comment or email if you're interested...
...Because, afterall, as my friend John Z. was happy to point out, the one thing the clavicle IS good for, is for hanging those race medals around your neck!


  1. If I could have summed up my blog post in one word, Coach Bill....that would have been it. lol.

  2. Oh Julie, so sorry to learn this. It sounds pretty awful. I've been wearing a night splint for my foot for nearly 3 months, and it is a pain, but trivial by comparison. (1) I can easily put it on (2) I only wear it at night (3) I can easily take it off. I hope you are going to heal quickly. I'll try to avoid falling and accidents. Hang in there. Art

  3. And yes, the model makes it look like you should welcome this injury, doesn't she?

  4. Thanks, Art. Sorry you're still dealing with all you're foot pain. Grrr. I know you can commiserate. I miss running...and well...every other activity right now. With a bum ankle, knee and collarbone, I'm pretty limited on doing anything until these bones start healing. But, one can only breathe and take each day at a time, right?


Please leave your comments!

Lance Armstrong's "Tour de France" Dedication to Julie

A great reminder that I had armies of support beside me in my fight. (Thanks, Lance!) Even with the recent media, this video isn't about the bike...but the fight against cancer. LIVESTRONG!

Stage 2 Dedication: Julie Westcott -- powered by

Guinness World Record Broken to Fight Cancer

We *Heart* Our Fans

Cures Rock! on Facebook

Donate & fight to kick cancer to the curb!

500 Miles. 17 days. 2 States. 1 Mission to Cure Cancer.

500 Miles. 17 days. 2 States. 1 Mission to Cure Cancer.
January 1 - 17, 2010
All Content and Images (unless specified otherwise), Copyright Cures Rock! 2007-2012.