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What breaking both elbows has to do with asthma and anaphylaxis

I lay in the hospital bed on a Saturday afternoon/evening, covered with blankets, both my arms in splints, a bit loopy from the morphene, exhausted from sleeping less than 30 minutes over the last 24 hours, waiting for the surgeon to be ready. It was *supposed* to be my 3rd day at my new job. The anestesiologist looks at me and says, “Please tell me a good story of how you did this.”

24 hours earlier I had been on my way to work. I had left my bike at work as a coworker took my home by car, so instead of walking for 40 minutes to get to work, I figured I’d take my little razor scooter. You know, the kind kids ride. The kind that used to be all the rage about 10 years ago. The kind you push with your feet. You know, the kind that also can fold? Yeah. One of those scooters, not an electric scooter that looks more like a motorcycle.

“I was riding my little razor scooter on my way to work, and all of a sudden, I hit a rock or something and my scooter catupulted me onto the pavement and I landed on my elbows.”

He looks at me, nods his head and tells me it was a good story I have. I sighed. How did I end up here? How did I manage to break both elbows? And how did I manage to break them both to the point where I needed emergency surgery on the weekend to put plates and screws in both elbows? I knew what had happened and why, but I was still in disbelief.

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So how did I manage to break my elbows to the point where the bone no longer was one bone but two pieces of bone… in both arms? Mainly, I can answer in 1 word: prednisone/solumedrol. Other stuff comes into play as well such as celiac disease, chronic reflux treated with PPIs for quite awhile, and also my body doesn’t seem to like to absorb nutrients like it should. But the biggest thing is the steroids. I’ve had them orally, in IV, in shots… yeah. In any form, they suck. Literally. They suck the calcium from your bones. They affect so many other things as well. And as much as they’ve helped keep me alive (especially in the last year), they also are a curse. I’ve had so many anaphylactic reactions in the last 3-4 years that I’ve been on a lot of steroids. And so, they’ve eaten at my bones.

I got a new allergist several months ago and she’s been amazing. She hates how often I’ve been on steroids the last year and actually has a plan to get my immune system to stop over-reacting to foods around me. But in the meantime till we wait for the xolair to get to the office for me, the goal is to keep me safe somehow, and avoid steroids. And also do my best to have my bones heal. I’m on calcium and other stuff to help absorb the calcium. And I’ll be seeing an endocrinologist to make sure the steroids haven’t messed anything else up.

But for now, I’m making progress as I’m in removable splints and it’s just over 3 weeks since surgery. If in 3 weeks all is healing well still, then I should get to ditch the splints and start PT officially. For now I’m required to take them off 3-4 times a day and work on moving my elbows. At first it was weird, but now it’s really nice. I can do SO much more again! I can eat with a fork and spoon, and the list just starts there. I get to finally go back to work in a week, and boy, I’m so so so looking forward to that!

The one thing I REALLY wish that doctors would do, is that when they’d prescribe someone a short course of oral steroids whether it be for eczema, asthma or food allergies or something else, is that they’d also prescribe calcium supplements as well, and while the prednisone may impair the absorbtion, hopefully it would start a habit of taking calcium regularly which would help keep the bones strong in case they ended up on more steroids again another time.

I will say that I knew I needed calcium for awhile, but I was having a hard time finding one that was safe that I could actually swallow. I didn’t know my bones had weakened to the point a simple crash on a little Razor scooter would cost this much pain, 4 weeks of work, and months of rehab. Lesson learned… the hard way. Thankfully since I’m young I should be able to rebuild my bones! I had better be able to! I’m such a klutz that if I can’t I’m in serious trouble.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, sorry to hear you broke both elbows! I’ve had issues from taking so much prednisone too; mostly issues with my teeth and eyes (I have baby cataracts now, boo), but I also end up severely craving potassium/calcium/vitamin d after I end my prescription.

    And I’m really glad you found a great allergist! I’ve had 2 Xolair shots so far myself, and in the last week or so, I’ve noticed a MAJOR improvement in my allergies, seasonal AND food! *w* I also get allergy shots, how about you?

    • Chef Froggie says:

      Prednisone is EVIL.

      Yes, my allergist has been really great, as has my endocrinologist, and I think we’re at xolair dose #4 next week. I really think it’s kept me from being intubated several times and out of the ER a handful of times over the last 4 months.
      No regular allergy shots though. Just the xolair.

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