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Me and my arm are going places!

By Katie Lovd

Here's to adapting my way through life one goal at a time.

After my 3rd clavicle fracture failed to heal during a year of trying it was decided (after having to prove to the Orthopaedic registrar it was indeed still broken) I would have it plated. Roll on to July 2020, surgery went as well as it could have done. Due to the disfigured nature of the bone the plate it was tricky to fix but other than that (and the fact I couldn’t pee) all was good.

Move on a couple of days and I noticed my arm was becoming more painful with pins and needles all the way down into my fingers with lack of sensation in my thumb and first finger. Not only this I lost my pulse and circulation if I raised my arm above 90 degrees.

This is when I was super luckily referred to a leading consultant vascular surgeon and wizard! After a quick once over it was likely that one of the screws holding the plate was squishing my subclavian artery. Round 2 surgery to remove the screw turned into the whole plate being removed after some sinister fluid seeped out. Osteomyelitis (bone infection) meaning a 1 night stay turned into a week followed by 6 weeks of IV antibiotics via a PICC line at home.

During the 6 weeks at home, I developed a fever and pain in my abdomen. My nurse

recommended a trip to A&E due to my history of recurring infections elsewhere. I was swiftly sent home to rest. Fast forward to the next day, my temperature rose to 41 degrees, I had mottled ski, severe pain and uncontrollable shivering – luckily, thanks to the swift action of nurse, sepsis was caught early.

Unfortunately it wasn’t long before my clavicle decided to become two yet again after a swim sent it snapping back to reality – good news it broke in a stunning area known as Stuølagil Canyon in Iceland , bad news we had to drive off road pretty much the whole way back to England.

My ongoing symptoms and the new fracture needed to be fixed , all hail round 3 of surgery to fix clavicle with a double interlocking plate and a massive clear out in the hope of decompressing my vessels, nerves and artery. Although this had helped it didn’t help enough and it was decided after a long serious talk within the surgical team that a first rib-resection was the way forward to give me the best chance of normality without pain and risk of developing blood clots.

Its been a year since the major surgery to remove my first rib and I cannot thank my surgeon enough throughout this rollercoaster, not only did he do his ultimate best for me, he gathered the best of all the surgeons to put me back together and above all, he has worked tirelessly to make sure I have been looked after throughout my other illness journey. I wish I could have him as my GP, consultant and surgeon. He is honestly that good!

Although my arm will never be perfect, I know my surgeon and his team did everything in there power to help and I am totally ok with that.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a term that refers to 3 related syndromes involving compression of the nerves, arteries and veins in the lower neck and upper chest area. Symptoms vary depending on the type you have – Neurogenic, Vascular or Arterial. I have N-TOS and v-TOS causing pain, weakness, swelling and numbness in my left arm and neck which has affected the way I ride my bike and impacts daily activities. I will have good days and bad days and I have had to adapt to the way I train and ride my bikes and work out what helps my arm and what makes it worse. It can be frustrating, painful and a complete nightmare but it has also given me a new sense of self application and pride.

I am hoping to race in the British paracycling next year and aim to raise awareness within other disciplines of the sport. I also hope to inspire others with chronic illnesses and injuries to always follow your happiness, even if the route is a bit drunk.


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