Monday, May 25, 2015

One plate and six screws later

The Mount E orthopaedic specialist told me that based on the latest x-rays (above), I was suffering from a clavicle (collar bone) non-union – the bones have not united. There was some callus (pre-bone material) formation but the two pieces of bone were still mobile after more than 6 months. This was opposed to the malunion I was informed much earlier, where the bones were united but not in a proper alignment. The specialist told me that plate and screws were in order. 

 The preliminary costing estimates given for my planning was slightly more than SGD 20k (!). The locking plates and screws (seen in the x-ray above) were to be made of titanium and I would have a synthetic bone implanted onto the fracture site to help healing. Based on checks with various sources, this was twice the amount you pay at a public hospital (the equipment would also be different), although I have been advised against going to a public hospital if possible. I frantically checks with my company and personal insurance. Not all the expenses relating to the surgery would be covered by my insurance. At the back of my head, it felt like a big blow to my wallet and financial planning.

Fast forward one month after my encounter with private specialist, I was admitted during lunch time to Parkway East Hospital for the operation. Everything was getting too real. The specialist ran through the operation and the possible complications – infection of the operation site, non-union and numbness surrounding the operation site. I proceeded for financial counselling and then I was shown my bed and my parameters were tested. I was asked about my medical history and if I knew what operation I was going for and what time it was. I was told to change into a gown and before I knew it, I was in the waiting room. I was again asked the same set of questions but this time by a different team of nurses. Upon confirmation, I was pushed in the operating theatre.

In the operating theatre, I was being wired up. Some of the wires went to my head, some to my chest. I was told that the breathing tube contained oxygen but with each breath I slowly I lost my consciousness.

The surgery lasted slightly more than 3 hours. When I came round, I was in a resting area. I remember joking with operating theatre nurses. I think they laughed because they felt obliged to and not because my joke was funny. I thought I was funny probably because of the anaesthesia wearing off or the morphine kicking in. I was pushed back to the ward to rest with three other occupants.

The anaesthetist saw me on the first night to understand how much pain I was in. I told him that overall I felt pain free but the operating site (my collar bone) felt as if a train had ran through. My friends saw me later that night but I was not able to talk much because the morphine was making my head groggy.

I was very hungry as I had to fast six hours before the operation. I found myself munching on hard biscuits, through the night to ward off the hunger pangs. When morning came, it all came out in the form of vomit as this was a side effect of morphine. I offloaded my breakfast in similar manner.

That morning, the day after the operation, the specialist and surgeon gave me a quick brief. He told me to see him the following week to see if there were signs of recovery. Although I could not see the stitches, he told me to change the dressing at the hospital when the need arises. He flashed the x-rays showing the plate and six screws that held my broken collar bone together.

That same day, I was discharged. I had to pay the GST on my bill but the final damage would be sent to me after all the paper work went through with my insurers.

First few days after the operation, I can feel the stitches underneath the dressing. This is especially the case when I sleep at night. There is also some numbness (as if you slept on your arm) near the operating site. I understand that this will go away gradually… Beyond that, I feel a slight improvement in my posture. The backache that I felt just before the operations, possibly due to the realignment of my muscles, was no longer there. It takes slightly more than 16 weeks to recover from a collar bone operations. I will just track my recovery one follow up at a time.


  1. Long road to recovery. Get well.

    Hope you have an Integrated Medishield Plan that covered everything.

  2. take care, a new life ahead.......