Friday, May 23, 2008

Broken pelvis

Yes, me.

Bicycle riding home, I was descending a steep hill in the rain - 3 blocks from Bill Gates' now former office. I have ridden the route many times before. But, despite the intent and attempt to control my speed, my front wheel slipped. Wheel right. Ron down on left hip. Severe broken pelvis.

I am very fortunate that at bicycle speed my other injuries were limited to road rash and a minor bump on the noggin and broken helmet.

But my break is severe - about the worst pelvis fracture. Evergreen Hospital sent me to the trauma center at Harborview Hospital in Seattle. 5-hour surgery. Oxycodone for pain. Avoid it!

Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC
Fractures of the acetabulum are harder to treat because access to this bone is more difficult, and because of the acetabulum's proximity to the major blood vessels to the legs, the sciatic nerve (the major nerve that arises from the lower spine and provides sensation and movement to the leg and foot), the intestines, the ureter and the bladder. Unlike a hip fracture, which can be treated relatively easily, to repair an acetabular fracture, the orthopaedic surgeon, must, in essence, fix the broken bones from the inside out.
I will not be able to put weight on my left foot for 6 to 8 weeks. Weeks! No weight on my left foot! Walker and wheelchair first, then crutches.

Update - July 3, 2008

Six weeks have passed and I am still weeks away from putting ANY weight on my left foot. Healing of this type of injury is so slow that they don't even take an Xray for 6 weeks after surgery. I passed the first milestone - I got to start the real physical therapy last week. (PT came to our home to help us figure out how to take a shower safely and other in-home needs.) But I am still weeks away from putting any weight on it.

I was so weak that I used a walker at first. Imagine using a walker as crutches. I had to carry my full 195 on my hands. And on the worst spot, where there is no padding at all. For two weeks I bragged that the standard folding walker is great engineering - strong and light. Then I started complaining that it is woefully inadequate. Why doesn't anyone make a model for this need? Obvious: A million people use a walker as a super cane - to avoid falling. But a tiny number use it as crutches carrying full weight; there is not the market to support the model I needed.

I was at Harborview for 6 days, housebound for one week. Then getting out, but not driving for 4 weeks. Now I can drive, but my energy is so low that I have to plan 30 to 60 minutes rest before any outing. And I am limited to about 2 hours on any outing.

Everyone thinks that I tricked Boeing out of 2 plus months off with 80% pay. I am so weak that what I do in a day any healthy person can do after working 8 hours!

I expect to return to work the second week of August, which is after 12 weeks. First, I will see how far I can carry grandson Benjamin while on crutches. Just kidding!

Update - August 9, 2008

I might have been the only person at Whistler on crutches, but all the other people with broken pelvises missed a great 12 days. 9 days with daughter, SIL and 4-year-old and 20-month-old. 4 days with younger daughter. 8 with son. Whistler is filled with active people: active people have accidents, so I spoke to a couple people with pelvis or hip breaks and lots who were on crutches for months. A few construction accidents, but mostly sports.

I started weight bearing July 24 after 10 weeks: one week 25% - a start; one week 50% - little better; now at 75% - a big improvement. I can use one crutch and put very little weight on it. A quantum improvement. I couldn't walk far while there. Twice I pushed myself - like walking 3/4 mile - and had to cut back a bit. It was not easy, but sure beat sitting at home talking to our dog.

My energy level is still low, but I have to start working next week as much as I can. Probably 40% at first.

The MS society has a bike ride September 13-14. No, it looks like a couple of months after that.


Blogger Clement Wan said...

Ron - I'm one of your anonymous blog readers with google's rss reader. I've enjoyed your blog for I think about a year now. Sorry to hear about your accident and I hope you get better soon!

Friday, May 23, 2008  
Anonymous Heidi said...

We're thinking about you and praying for you!

Sunday, May 25, 2008  
Anonymous Steve Beren said...

Ron, sorry to hear of your accident. You will certainly be in our prayers for a successful recovery.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm another of the anonymous readers. God Speed to help you heal quickly.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about this. I pray you'll heal quickly and completely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops, forgot to sign my name---Michele

Tuesday, May 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I could help you more. Take away all
your pain. Kiss the owy and make it all better,
quickly. Instead, we will just enjoy each and every
day having you home this summer as a preview
of what retirement could be all about!
Gini - the Wife

Tuesday, May 27, 2008  
Anonymous AnonJimmyT said...

Hi Ron,

I pray (In Jesus' name!) & hope you are feeling better today...and healing up strong and are able to ride that hill again!! (maybe with a 3-wheeler!! ;^)

AnonJimmyT from 25B1

Tuesday, June 03, 2008  
Blogger Ron said...

Of course I will ride that hill again. Going down! But very carefully! And Bill Gates retired and moved.

Saturday, July 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing how much energy it takes for the body to heal. But so awesome that the healing is taking place. Hubby had some oral surgery a couple months back and it was strange to observe how just that could make him tire more easily the first week or so.
Take care and enjoy the sunshine as you can. Thanks for the update, and may you recover soon and completely.

Saturday, July 19, 2008  
Anonymous Barbie said...

Hi I know what your going through. Aug 27, 2008 I was crushed by an 800 lbs ATV. I broke my pelvis in 6 places, broke my leg, shoulder blade , 3 ribs & punctured a lung. Please tell me this will get better!! I have an external fixator on plus a screw inside. They attempted to ake off the x-fix last friday, but felt like I was coming apart so it's back on. I am only 36 & a mom of 4 littlest is 5. I miss running & playing with him. I am scared I will never run again. I've heard of people breaking the pelvis just by running! I am so grateful to be alive. I was told I am about as broken a pelvis can be & still be fixed. Please let me know how you feel now, so I can know what to expect. Thanks, Barbie

Wednesday, October 15, 2008  
Blogger Ron said...

Barbie, Your injuries are more serious than mine. I have been full-weight-bearing for a month and a half. I still have to take ibuprofen for pain and inflammation control. I have discomfort in walking. Despite that, today I resolved to walk more. (That's good!) I just have to make sure I do it right - so it makes me healthier, does not do damage. I have to make sure I don't favor my left leg and misuse it or something else. God bless you on your healing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was looking up how long till i would walk normally. I to broke my pelvis. 18 years old fell from a tree lol.My break was not as severe as yours but i feel for you.
They told me i wouldn't walk for 8 weeks.
A month after my break im walking not with full weight maybe 50%. But it's all determination!

Monday, November 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My boyfriend suffered a broken pelvis from an accident. Just curious how long does it take for the "good stuff" down there to start working again? We are trying to have a baby.


Sunday, November 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thursday, April 30, 2009  
Blogger virginia said...

I broke my pelvis in many places, the worst is the pubis bone which the break went clean through. I could barely walk with crutches, was very very slow. A lot of pain. It happened while I was riding a horse. The saddle was an endurance saddle (not supposed to sit on) I didn't know and the horse had a bumpy jog. So I bounced pretty hard in the saddle when she went fast. That started the fractures. Then my Primary Physician told me there was nothing wrong with me after an x-ray. So I went walking and exercising which did the trick for me I guess. Found out the reality when I went to a surgeon and he took proper x-rays. It will be a year or two before I am able to get back on a horse or dance. Virginia

Monday, December 14, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am recovering from a severe acetabular fracture from a motorcycle accident. I was wondering how your injury has healed. I am 9 weeks in and am starting rehab with pretty much full weight bearing, but I am having concerns about how this is healing and where it'll be in the future. Please tell.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010  
Blogger Ron said...

Anonymous: You are improving faster than I did. Maybe age? I was 62 at the time.

The surgeon told me early that I might be in the 15 per cent that needed a hip replacement after 2 or 3 years. Not so fortunate. My progress plateaued in October/08. I kept going back to the surgeon. He sent me for a hip replacement. Got that in March/09. I was on crutches for 9 weeks because they had to do a bone graft for an area not healed from the first injury. I stopped using cane in June - after 3 months.
(The fact that I needed a second surgery does not mean the first was a failure; it rebuilt the acetabular to be able to take the replacement. But my healing didn't form the hip socket properly. But I was badly smashed up.)

Since then my progress has been slow but steady. I haven't had a noticeable limp in probably 6 months.

In December while shopping I heard someone saying something about my hip doing well and it was the surgeon who did the original reconstruction.

I hope you heal making steady progress and don't need a second surgery.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010  
Blogger virginia said...

Omg, so many wonderful people responding to my broken pelvis! I will pray for each one of you that you heal....mine was from a horse back riding incident. I have Osteopenia and my fractures are insufficiency fractures. I still have pain in the seat bones and sometimes I limp sometimes I don't..Physical Therapy has helped me. I go to the's real gentle therapy. Thank you for your kind words they help so very much

Thursday, March 04, 2010  
Blogger virginia said...


Thursday, March 04, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm 37 so I'm sure that is helping. My main concern is that I keep getting a sharp pain when doing some PT exercises that feels like it's coming from the joint. My therapists keep insisting that it's soft tissue related but I can't tell. What did your joint pain feel like? How would you describe it? My leg also wants to turn outward and if I bend forward at the waist my leg pivots from the motion. Of course my therapists say that is caused from the soft tissues being weak and unstable and not due to the joint itself. Did you experience any of this with your leg? I appreciate the info as I haven't found anyone else with this type of fracture. Thank you and my name is William.

Thursday, March 04, 2010  
Blogger virginia said...

Hi William,
Pain is an indication that something is wrong. I had sharp pain in my pelvis when I walked and pain in my right hip joint. I found out through having a cat scan and a radio active isotope x-ray that my pubis bone had a big fracture and I had several smaller fractures throughout my pelvis on the right side. I only do water therapy because it is less stressful on the fractures but I only do that about 2 x a week. I hope this helps Virginia

Friday, March 05, 2010  
Blogger richphoto said...

I just got out of Harborview, same thing.. front wheel slid out on a familiar turn on lake Washington Blvd. I am sure my front tire hit a small round pebble that cause it to go, because it was like i hit oil. I went down hard on my right side, my ride partner tried to stop but hit me and flew over the top. I broke my pelvis in 3 places, tore my rotator cup and ripped half the skin off my right side and left arm and he broke 5 ribs. 8 hours in the ER at Harborview is an eye opening experience on a Saturday night. At least the Nurses listened to my request not to cut my racing bids and jersey off me. Not so happy about the recovery time, I am self employed and the bills don't stop but he income does.
Richard Brown

Thursday, March 25, 2010  
Anonymous Justin said...

I'm 28 and had a bicycle fall north of UW on my mountain bike. I initially went to UW. When they found out I had an acetabular fracutre I was transferred to Harborview as well. Luckily my fracture was not displaced enough for the orthopedist to recommend surgery (he actually seemed a little bummed that he couln't cut me open). But he said that my before xray looks like an after surgery xray. I did the whole 6 weeks of toe touch weight bearing. Now I'm on week 10, walking around like normal, though according the surgeon's suggesting I should be only 75% weight bearing on the bad leg. Not running at all, the surgeon actually said he wouldn't recommend that I ever jog for regular exercise. Things seem to be going pretty well.

I wonder if we all had the same surgeon at Harborview.

Friday, April 16, 2010  

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