Beat Up By My Younger Sister Stories Site Www.Reddit.Com Crutching Chest Pain – What They Don’t Tell You About Using Crutches

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Crutching Chest Pain – What They Don’t Tell You About Using Crutches

My winter of skiing came to a screeching halt mid-week with my senior ski pass when I took a careless step at the top of the highest run. I landed hard on my butt on the frozen surface atop Mount Lincoln in Sugar Bowl, my favorite ski resort near Lake Tahoe, CA. Sliding headfirst down, I grabbed my right ski to flop myself to get my ski downhill. I slowly tested what would move and what wouldn’t. I asked my ski buddy Harold to get ski patrol and tell them I needed help

Ski patrol came and checked me out – “what day is it, what’s your name, did you hit your head, where do you hurt”, etc. I told them I couldn’t move, and that my right hip and leg hurt.

What skill and courage those people have! My position was quite steep, and there was not enough loose snow to plant a pole, much less a leg to load me into the sled litter. But they did it, and I kept my legs and hips in place. They tie me up, cover me up and off we go. My ski friend later told me he couldn’t stay with us. What a journey that was!

I was admitted to the resort clinic shivering and in a bed. Because it was the middle of the week, and they didn’t have a doctor present, they couldn’t take an x-ray to define my injury. I couldn’t put weight on the leg, and I didn’t want to move it. They loaded me into my SUV, and Harold dropped me off in Truckee and drove me to the hospital.

I was admitted through emergency. More questions. “No, I have no insurance.” I expected a pressed muscle, and low cost. The x-rays were inconclusive, so they did a CT scan and confirmed that I had broken the neck of my right femur – where the leg bone meets the pelvic bone. The doctor told me there was no alternative; I must repair it immediately. I broke down and covered my face with my hands.

“Is there any alternative, doctor?” I asked, just in case.

“No. You need surgery tonight,” she replied.

About six hours after the fall I was ready for surgery. I was told it would take about twenty minutes, and could choose to be awake with a spinal block or receive general anesthesia. I woke up and they were done, cleaned up, sent me to a room for the night outside the OR. I was happy to finish it.

Post-op patients receive optimal nursing care. In this case it means a lot of attention from a young, handsome male nurse, a lot of company money from the staff. As many blankets as I wanted. More pain meds. Super! Then the day nurse came. This was a different story. It was time to put down my duff and start walking. Occupational therapists come in, physical therapists come in. Time to get out of bed.

Pain meds make me nauseous when I get up. They brought crutches and made sure they were the right height. The occupational therapist helped me go to the toilet, so I thought I was doing okay. He tried to get me to take a bath, but I wasn’t interested. I just wanted to lie down and go back to sleep. I didn’t realize that these were little “life skills” tests that one had to complete to get a good report on the medical chart leading to discharge.

The physical therapy technician worked with me to teach me the proper use of crutches. Don’t hang by your armpits on crutches, hold yourself up with your hands. I had two sessions allotted that day, and if I didn’t pass the ladder test, I would have to stay another night. The idea sent dollar signs through my brain, along with images of even bigger hospital bills. Aware that I was uninsured, I had to get out of there!

I had a thought in the haze of medicine. The meds are making me sick, change pain meds, so I can stand up and walk on crutches, climb stairs and out of dodge! It worked well enough and in time for my second physical therapy session. Walking down the hall to the therapy stairs, still feeling sick, I passed the stair exercise test and called my friend to take me home.

Thanks to my ski buddy for being my 24/7 caregiver after surgery. If not for her patience and kindness, I would be at home, in the snow, alone, and unable to drive. My sister also came a week later to stay for a few days. If not for these two, I would be the proverbial creek.

About ten days after surgery, feeling pretty good and crutching better, my sister and I went out for hamburgers. I started feeling some pain on the left side of my ribs, under my left arm. When we got home I felt the need for a cold pack or a hot pack, so try the cold first. It did not relieve the pain, which was now affecting my breathing. I tried a hot pack and immediately felt an increase in pain and difficulty breathing. The pain it caused was immense. I don’t think the fracture hurt that much. Taking shallow breaths to avoid further pain, I lie down on the bed and find a position I can tolerate. I thought I had broken ribs or a collapsed lung! I’ve never experienced those conditions, but I figured there must be some reason like that. I was relieved to know it would pass because Peggy recalled her experience with similar pain for a broken leg two years earlier.

“I remember getting crutches after breaking my leg. Within a week I was getting up off the sofa and I couldn’t take a long breath. I wondered if I had injured something else. The pain was barely manageable and I spent the rest of the day. Lying on the sofa breathing shallowly and taking an aspirin. It was an uncomfortable night and the next day I moved very carefully.” Peggy said,

“I found out a few days later that I had sprained my upper left back due to overuse of my muscles. I also pulled the rib head out of alignment in the chest area and was relieved when my physical therapist, who knew what had happened, adjusted my back. Still have to be careful the next few days. It’s curious that no one in the medical field has mentioned that this could be a problem. Surely I’m not the first!”

Trying to use my crutch properly, I pressed the crutch into my rib cage causing tenderness, and muscle spasms. Instructions for the use of crutches do not mention this side effect. I am very happy that my sister was with me and knew what the problem was I had to take a deep breath, not move too much, and wait. I was in bed for 18 hours before I could get up and walk around. A week before the pain in my rib muscles subsided.

I called the doctor’s office a week or so later to inquire about another matter, and asked if they had patients with my rib pain and shortness of breath. The nurse panicked and said, I should have come in, it could be something serious like a heart attack. He has not heard of other patients with this problem. I thought it was strange, since my sister and I both experienced it. Later, I searched online for similar experiences, but couldn’t find anything like our chest-rib pain.

By researching my injuries, I learned:

The incidence of leg injuries (from ski accidents) has decreased significantly. “Overall injury rates have fallen by 50% in the past four decades, and leg fractures have fallen by 95% since the early 1970s.

The thigh bone or thigh bone is the largest and strongest bone in the human body. It is surrounded by a lot of tissue such as the quad muscles and a large “femoral” artery that carries a lot of blood. Because of this, it takes a lot of force to fracture a femur and is very dangerous. 2

Four weeks after surgery I am using a crutch, climbing stairs and driving. I feel better every day. Overuse causes pain and restricted movement. I intend to go to the golf course in a few months!

Since I am unemployed, I am developing two businesses that I promote online. I work from home. I couldn’t think effectively when I was on pain medication, nor could I sit at my computer for long periods of time. I expect it will take about six weeks to recover enough to return to my home-based full-time job.

Hospital and doctors bills totaled more than $33,000. The hospital has a financial assistance program, and I applied.

I wrote this article to share my experience with others who suffer injuries from using crutches. I’d like to know if others have experienced this chest-rib pain, how they’ve managed it, and what their doctors and professionals have said. My contact information is in the resource box below.

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