I know it’s been a while since I’ve added a post to this blog but between moving into the new house (and shop), holidays, work, etc. I just haven’t had a ton of shop time. I actually put off working on the new shop until after the first of the year so I could concentrate on the new house.
Anyways, after the first of the year I started getting the shop in order with the goal of being up and running by early spring.
Well, I was out in the shop late Valentine’s Day morning wiring up my new wall mounted speakers when the extension ladder I was on slid out from under and, for some unknown reason, I decided to stiff-arm the oak desk under me on the way down.
So after a few minutes of lying on the shop floor in shock I called my wife to help me up because my arm hurt. After walking around for a few minutes I thought I was alright. My elbow kinda hurt when I moved it but nothing felt broke and other than a couple small scratches on my left arm I considered myself really, really lucky.
Of course my wife wanted me to go to the ER just in case, and after a few convincing looks I agreed.
At the ER they took several painful x-rays, and informed me I had a broken arm. Something about the upper part of my ulna. Great, but it gets worse. The first orthopedic said I needed CT scans and to see an elbow specialist. I first managed to see the specialist’s assistant who didn’t have much to say, which was worrisome. When I finally did see the specialist/surgeon the news wasn’t good: Crushed radial head, fractures on the ulna, and finally ligament/tendon damage. Ouch. They called it “The Terrible Triad”.
My options were no surgery and I’d have limited range as well as arthritis in the next five to ten years or surgery and hopefully regain much of my range while possibly delaying the arthritis another five years, but a much longer recovery time. It was a pretty simple decision because at 32 years old, the idea of hardly being able to use my right (and dominant) arm was out of the question. Even though the surgery has its risk and it’s unlikely my arm will ever be the same, it seemed like my best chance.
So they scheduled the surgery for the 26th of February and all in all it went well. The doc said it wasn’t quite as bad as they thought once they were in there but I now have a titanium radial head. Here’s an x-ray from after the surgery:
Earlier this week (six days after the surgery) I had my first physical therapy. It went well and they said my movement at this stage is better than expected, so there’s hope in that. I also got an awesome arm brace that limits the range of my arm while providing support. I can actually sort move my arm around now which is a big improvement after being in a sling for two weeks. Here’s a look at my new hardware:
Things are certainly getting better but I’ve got a long road ahead. I’ll have physical therapy twice a week for at least the next four months with a five to six month total recovery time. Also, I still can’t expand the fingers on that arm. I can make a fist but I can’t open my hand. They said I have compressed radial nerve that could take up to a year to fully heal. So that sucks. I’m hoping it doesn’t take that long.
I guess it goes without saying I won’t be doing any woodworking for a while. I know I’m young and I’ll hopefully be back in action in limited fashion by next fall or winter, but I just got this awesome new shop and I haven’t really got to use it. Plus, and this is the worst part, we found out in January we’re expecting our first child come September and I had plans to build the crib, changing table, decorations, etc. this summer. I was really, really looking forward to it. It was going to be some my first large furniture projects as well as a great opportunity to learn the tools in the new shop. I know there will be plenty of opportunities to build all sorts of kids stuff over the next several years, like a treehouse! Still, it would have been nice to build the baby furniture.
At least I’ll get a gnarly scar out of it:
And speaking of getting back in saddle, I’m really hoping I can start turning towards the end of this. I just got my first lathe this past summer and haven’t had a lot of time to put towards it so practicing basic cuts and tools would not only be beneficial to me it would give me something to do in the shop. Without the distractions of other tools and projects, at least at first, I might be able to dedicate some serious time to learning the art of turning wood.
I’m not completely without things to do in the shop, but I’ll save that for the next post!
The final picture I’d like to share is the desk and the aftermath of the fall. I’m still hoping I can fix the desk because I really like it (it came with the house) and it doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s just a shop desk. I’m also still not sure what cause the ladder to slide out like it did. I wasn’t doing anything stupid but I had gone up and down the ladder a couple times already so maybe shifted and I didn’t notice? There was also still some snow on the ground and I had tracked some in so maybe the floor was wet? The ladder is old and has metal feet so maybe all the above combined? Anyways, I think I will be replacing that ladder soon…
Well, that it for now. Obviously I have a lot of time on my hands so there will be some more post about the shop soon. Thanks for reading!
Oh, and remember to be safe when you’re on a ladder!