Post Surgery Update

As I had mentioned earlier, I had never had surgery or general anesthetic before.  A big part of what I’ve been experiencing the past week is mostly related to the surgery itself.  The procedure I had is known as ORIF, an Open Reduction, Internal Fixation.  This is a generic term for having a bone fixed by steel or titanium hardware.

I’ve heard some say that after clavicle surgery ‘It is much better’.  I was a week out from my fracture and felt really good before the surgery.  I couldn’t lift my arm, but actually was pain free at rest, and even had increasing pain free movement of my arm.  This seemed strange to me, since my shoulder was just as broken as the week before.  I think I would have had a tough time letting my bone heal naturally, since keeping the shoulder immobilized is a necessity and I already could move without pain and I have a baby to take care of.

I wasn’t too nervous going in.  I’ve been in the OR before an seen surgeries done.  I think that takes some of the fear and mystery away.  After all, I wasn’t really ‘there’ for my own surgery, so I could see how it could be frightening for some.  The biggest unkown for me was what to expect when I woke up.

Waking up wasn’t much different than waking up after a hard night of partying.  Mind fuzzy, hungry, confused, and in pain.  My recollection of events is pretty similar too.  My wife asked yesterday “Do you remember getting dressed?”, and I couldn’t, until she gave me some details and then it did seem like I could remember bits and pieces.  Mostly I remember my shoulder hurting about as bad as the day I broke it.

I caved and took a few pain pills.  I’d been off of them since the first night after the break, but I figured if they were made available, why not?  Unfortunately I spent most of the night after surgery fighting back vomit.  I’m not sure if it was the pills or the anesthetic, but either way I eventually vomited, but without too much forceful retching so it wasn’t too painful.

The next day things had improved.  My shoulder hurt, but in a very different way.  Before, the pain was deep, sharp, and severe when I moved my shoulder too much (Velonews’ described the pain of his broken clavicle from CrossVegas as ‘Blinding’).  Now most of the pain is in my muscles around my shoulder.  My trapezius
muscle feels extremely sore, along with some muscles in my back across my shoulder blade.  Slightly worse is my .  Both these muscles attach to the clavicle, so I’m sure they were heavily manipulated during surgery.

Clavicle after ORIF - plate & screws

In contrast, when I move my arm, there is virtually no pain.  If I leave my shoulder with tension on the collarbone, there is a slight, deep burning pain in the bone.  Unfortunately it is enough of a discomfort that I’ve had more trouble sleeping since I can’t seem to get comfortable on my right side like I used to, but all in all I have been feeling much better.

As for riding my bike: In medicine there is always the consideration of risk and benefit.  Many people return to the stationary trainer quite quickly, and some are even out on the road.  Personally I’m taking a more conservative approach.  My season is over and I don’t need to be back out training for a couple months.  My only goal is to not loose too much fitness, and not gain too much weight.  I’ve been ridden a stationary recumbent a few times for about an hour, but only because it is the only way I can burn a few calories, since even walking can be uncomfortable.

Monday I have my followup appointment.  I am getting a little stir crazy and will probably be asking about when I can get back out there to get riding again.  I also am very curious to see my incision/scar.  They’ve got it bandaged up and I’ve been told not to remove it.  On Monday I’ll get a look at my scar and (I think) a higher resolution x-ray to see how things are going.

About Russell

I have been racing bicycles for a decade. This blog will chronicle my efforts as a Category 2 road racer and lining up with the PROs.
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3 Responses to Post Surgery Update

  1. brian says:

    They say that alcoholics and chain smokers do best with anestesia….they are used to the toxins… Keep healing!

    • says:


      I forgot to mention in the post that I felt bad the day after surgery. I’m pretty sure that I ended up severely dehydrated. I’m used to the feeling of regular dehydration after a very hot race, but this was much worse and I was feeling fuzzy headed, weak, and downright ‘strange’. I think not eating or drinking for 18 hours followed by vomiting left me pretty bad off and it took a few days to get back to normal.

  2. Kaz says:

    I had the same surgery in Monday. Came home (or at least to close friends home) yesterday. I have slept most of today. I broke mine back in June and unless I did long driving or training it was mostly pain free but not mending. Now it’s ok if I lie on the sofa or bed but walking or sitting upright is v painful. K

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