Hillary, I Feel Your Pain

6a00d8341c669c53ef00e54f31b7048833-640wiSecretary of State Hillary Clinton tripped and broke her elbow earlier this week. Today she had surgery and is facing weeks of physical therapy. Fox News reports:

“The most common fracture you get from a standing-height fall will either be an olecranon fracture or a radial head fracture,” Alberta, who specializes in shoulder and elbow surgery, told FOXNews.com. “If she landed on her elbow and fell back on the point of her elbow, she most likely fractured her olecrenon, which is the bony point of your elbow. If she fell with her hand stretched out to catch the fall, then it may be a radial head fracture. […]"

In general, elbow surgery can last anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours.

“There’ll be an incision depending on where the fracture is, and we’ll use anything from a plate and screws, all the way up to replacement of the joint to repair the injury,” Alberta said.

As far as recovery, Clinton is facing anywhere from six weeks to three months of physical therapy.

God, does that bring back some bad memories. Five years ago I broke both of my elbows, my right one so severely that I was in surgery for six hours while they put it back together with three plates, a dozen screws and a titanium radial head (that's my x-ray in the picture. You can click on it for a larger image). I wasn't Secretary of State, running all over the globe, but I was writing & producing a weekly TV series and a few weeks away from the deadline on a novel when the accident happened.  

I was told that implants would remain in my arm for the rest of my life. But after six months of physical therapy, my arm was still locked at a 90 degree angle… so they took all of the implants out again…and I had another six months of therapy. The surgery was a success, but I was left with only about 40% mobility in the arm, and some pain and numbness where my elbow used to be (not to mention a big scar), so not a day goes by when I am not reminded of the accident.

Hillary, I feel your pain.

5 thoughts on “Hillary, I Feel Your Pain”

  1. Lee, I feel YOUR pain. I broke my elbow when I landed on a concrete floor. Long surgery, lots o’ therapy, but I don’t suffer anything – not even aches in damp and cold weather. I think I was very lucky.

  2. It really is tough having to deal every day with a physical or mental problem or limitation. When I was eighteen, a hockey puck hit me in the mough knocking out my three front teeth. They put in a bridge only to have to take it out five years later. Since then I’ve had to put up with a partial plate. I know the effect this has had on my self-esteem and emotions, but over the long haul it has made me aware that other people might not be a hundred percent when they do and say things that annoy or hurt. It’s also helped me to accept limitations in other people. I won’t say that getting a hockey puck in the mouth is a blessing in disguise, it’s not. But it has shifted my focus and deepened it, which, as Robert Frost said, “makes all the difference.”

  3. Does that mean you set off the metal detectors at airports?
    I do my level best not to get injured and have been lucky that I’ve only broken my foot once in my 46 years of life. I’m fairly proud of that. Having three children was about the hardest but most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. I’d like to try writing for a tv series one day to find out if it’s as much like childbirth as I’ve heard. Comments, Lee?

  4. I totally feel your pain, Lee. I had a stroke in November 2004, because of a congenital defect in my heart. I completely recovered, but (due to the stroke) have developed dystonia in my left hand and foot since. Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes constant (and I mean constant) repetitive clenching and spasms. The muscles clench and twist in ways that contort the affected body part into unnatural positions, causing intense pain.
    (Lee, I don’t know if you know Rogers Hartmann, a television producer who also has dystonia, who appeared on Oprah with Michael J. Fox. She has a different form than mine. Just an aside.)
    So, I spend my days feeling like my hand is stuck in a medieval torture device. Which is hard when you’re a writer. I’ve written three books since I’ve developed this condition. One of them was typed mostly with one hand (and a bit of help from Dragonspeak–not the best program, but better than nothing).
    Thus, not a day goes by when I’m not reminded of my (cerebrovascular) accident, either.

  5. This is a medical emergency because the surrounding ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and muscles may be damaged. Your toddler may also have a broken bone (also referred to as a fracture).


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