The plate that was installed to help fix my clavicle fracture was a mixed blessing.
On one hand, the plate served an important purpose—to fix my broken clavicle in the correct position for proper healing. This, it did quite perfectly. I can happily say that my shoulder is back to its pre-crash state, minus a little muscle toning, which will come in time.
On the other hand, the plate was in such a position that any pressure on top of it caused a fair amount of pain. It got in the way (read: hurt) when wearing a seatbelt, hoisting a backpack, and worst of all, playing rough with my two young sons. Clearly, it had to go.
Thankfully, our bodies heal quickly, and once the bone was mended, the plate served little purpose. It didn’t take long for me to ask my doctor if he could take it out, which he was happy to do.
Given that I had essentially had this surgery once already, I knew pretty much exactly what to expect. They cleaned me up, shaved me down, and wheeled me into the operating room, where they promptly knocked me out.
Thankfully, recovery was much easier. I imagine they didn’t need to put me under quite as deep as they did for insertion, and since the bone was healed, there was essentially no bone related pain (those of you unlucky enough to have broken bones know the distinct feeling that comes with such an injury). I only wore my sling long enough that for the nerve blocker to wear off and for my arm to regain feeling.
Given the ease of recovery, I was back on the indoor trainer within a day, knocking out a quick 30 minute HIIT session. I felt no new pain using the arm and besides general prudence, have not modified my lifestyle at all. With safety in mind, I am holding off running for a week or so, but otherwise, I am back to normal.
Apparently I’m unique in that I wanted to keep the $3000 metal plate that lived inside me for six months. It took more work than I would have liked to secure it from the hospital, but I finally got my hands on it.
The first thing I noted was how small the plate was. I had imagined a much larger plate with meaner looking screws.
Next, I did the now famous iPhone bend test, where I tried my hardest to bend it with my fingers. Not surprisingly, my best work had no effect, this thing is stout!
Upon close examination, you can see a few neat features. First, the screws have two sets of threads (see the image up top). The main set is tipped with a self-drilling feature like one would expect of a machine screw. The other set is located on the head of the screw and serves to secure the screw to the plate. I assume this is a safety feature that is meant to prevent a stripped bone from releasing a loose screw into the body cavity. Pretty cool I must say.
I must give my thanks to Dr. Chudik and crew for all the work they did to get me back to square one. Without their help I would surely look quite odd and have ongoing troubles with my misaligned shoulder. If you live in Chicagoland and find yourself with a sports injury, I highly recommend you give him a call. His website is here.
I must say, I’m happy to have gone through both the insertion and the removal surgery. The plate did its job quite well, and it was time to move on.
Now I just need to figure out what to do with this little keepsake. Maybe I’ll mount it with my race medals, that seems like a fitting place.
And if you’ve made it this far on the page, you get to see this quite disturbing video showing just how superficial the plate was: