I am in my last semester of nursing school and last week I slipped on wet grass and fell. I had extensive bruising on forearm, some swelling, weakness, and pain. I survived 2 days of clinical rotation with the help of 2 other students who helped me with patient turns. With their help, and other than being in pain, I was able to safely provide patient care.After 2 days I finally went to the doctor and I have a comminuted fracture in the radial head with mildly depressed peripheral fragment (non-dominant hand). I only have a total of 20 days of clinical left till graduation. I'm not in a cast or splint, but I am keeping it as immobile as possible- the doctor didn't offer anything other than a referral. She didn't mention surgery, but she also had NO sympathy for my situation. And I was so shocked at the idea of the fracture, that I didn't ask.
I'm not asking for medical advice- I know you can't offer that on this forum. Just asking for your ideas. If I have to withdraw from my program, I have to sit out at least one semester before applying for re-enrollment, and of course it's not a guarantee that I get back in. I am a student in good standing, and have been very successful in the program. I am also over 50, in good physical condition, and don't have any co-morbidities (other than age!). My program is quite strict- and while there are one or possibly two instructors I may be able to have a frank conversation with, bottom line is that to stay in the program, I'm going to have to not only have a medical sign-off from my doctor, but be able to convince them I can do this, I know that I can.
Here are my questions-
1. Is there some kind of cast or splint that I could wear that wouldn't interfere too much with patient care?
2. What should I be asking the orthopedist (besides the questions I'm posting here)?
3. Obviously if the orthopedist deems surgery necessary, I'm just screwed, and will have no choice but to drop out. IF I do have surgery, is it even likely I will be able to return next January?
Please offer any constructive info- I'm heartsick, and since it's the weekend, all I have at the moment is the pain and the panic! Thank you for any help you can give me.
I don't think you should risk the ramifications of not getting the help you need for your arm. Medical leaves are not that hard to come by. Find out exactly what your school's policy is and do exactly what it says. Fill out all the forms correctly and submit them on time. It's not likely that you will have to withdraw from the entire program. If your grades are in good standing you should be able to jump back into the next semester as soon as you're healed, as opposed to reapplying. Also, it's not your professors you have to convince. These decisions are usually made by the University Dean of Students level.
I was able to get a medical withdrawal and my tuition refunded for the semester of which I had to drop out. Nobody can answer questions about the future and panic certainly won't help. Look at your objective data as though you were caring for a patient.
Hope this helped. Good luck!
My background as a nurse practitioner is hand and shouldersurgery. Shame on any provider who did not splint what sounds like a Colles’ fracture!
- I would inquire about an Exos wrist splint if your fracture is stable and does not need to be reduced. They are low profile and waterproof. If it the radial head is within the standard deviation of approximately 30 degrees we don’t typically operate. Sometimes we will plate those that are less than 30 degrees to speed recovery time. IF you need surgery, the simple answer is that excluding unforeseen complications you should absolutely be ready to return next year.
- You are so close to the end. If it were me and my fracture was stable and non-surgical I would do everything in my power to stay put. Now, of course surgery complicates things so that must betaken into consideration.
- Ask the orthopedist about how much displacement there is and if it is within acceptable limits. I will forewarn that you do lose some range of motion regardless of surgical intervention or closed healing. Explain your situation and ask for their opinion. You should have routine x-rays to monitor the fracture progression.