#14 – My Ulna is Too Long and Other Injury Tales
With as much tennis as I played, and I played A LOT, injuries are bound to happen. Every week I was playing a regular team match, a senior team match, and participated in a team lesson. Sometime there were even private lessons for Pete’s sake. Yes, I had a lot of cute outfits. Anyway, first my right wrist starting hurting. I did have a mean volley so that must be it. I iced, took Motrin, wrapped and tried to ignore it to no avail. I went to my friendly neighborhood orthopedic surgeon. He took an x-ray and saw that my ulna (that is the long bone in your arm that goes from your elbow to your wrist bones) was slightly too long. What? Like a birth defect? Yes, it was and by moving my wrist over and over again by volleying, it frayed the cartilage in between the ulna and wrist bones, causing bones to rub together. That explains it.
He first put my wrist in a short cast to rest the “angry” area inside my wrist. That didn’t work and I missed playing. His second attempt was a steroid shot. Yeah, that really hurt! There is very little, if any, room in that area. Yikes! I hated that. My first surgery was to do a “clean up.” That seemed to help for a bit but eventually it didn’t and I was hurting again.
The year was 2012 and the last attempt was to actually have him go in and do an ulna shortening surgery. Yup, opened me right up and took out a nice little slice of my ulna. A plate and seven screws where put in place and a very sporty full arm cast. Made the mistake watching a YouTube video of another patient’s surgery. Gross mistake.
For some reason, I had a “delayed union”. The darn pieces didn’t bond together so instead of 6-8 weeks in a cast, I had to keep that fucking cast on for almost 6 months! Usually only people who are malnutrition smokers have this issue. I’m special. They gave me this machine I had to put on and turn on for, like, 30 minutes each day to help generate the growth process. I had to go in every three weeks for an x-ray to see if the bone pieces were becoming one. Yes, the staff all knew me well. I almost had a non-union which would have been a major complication. I don’t even remember what they would have done if that happened. Glad I don’t know.
So then in 2013 and 2014, I was sidelined by more injuries. First tennis elbow on my right arm. Used every device in the book, along with many cortisone shots over months and months, Prednisone, a full arm cast to rest it, and eventually PRP. PRP is Protein Rich Plasma. The doc takes your own blood, spins out your plasma and injects that plasma into the elbow area to help heal the area. I had a bad reaction, my arm became very swollen, and it didn’t even help. It was caused by my bad forehand – no follow through. Bad form = bad injury.
Then a bump started developing over one edge of the plate in my arm from the ulna surgery. I also had pain in my left wrist. Same issue. Long story, short – I had right elbow surgery to clean up the area, AND had left wrist surgery on the same day. The left wrist surgery was to shorten the ulna, but this time the orthopedic surgeon just shaved off the tip instead of taking out a slice. Both arms out of commission for about six weeks.
You know you go to the orthopedic doc a lot when everyone in the office knows your name, and the doctor even knows your name when he sees you at the movies.
February 17, 2015 was the last day I played tennis. Too many injuries and my work with the non-profit I started was taking a lot of time and attention. I will always look back on my tennis days warmly. I deeply miss those days of competition, comradery, deep friendships, and cute outfits.
It would be exactly three years before I was physically active again.
FUN FACT: There is a permanent plaque at the Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club at the tennis pavilion with my name on it. Well, mine and the names of seven others to honor the club’s Inaugural Board of Governors. I was kind of a big deal. Past tense.