Before a fateful winter day when Melissa, 46, would need arm surgery, she was busy getting ready for the holidays. It was the week before Christmas and she didn’t notice the black ice on her driveway as she carried a bundle of items to her recycling bin.
“My arms were full and I think I had the load more on my right arm,” she recalls. “I wasn’t really looking but heading toward the bin when I totally wiped out, fell forward, and landed with my left arm outstretched.”
Soon after, her husband came to the rescue. He quickly fashioned a sling out of a scarf to stabilize her arm, which was now hurting. She took ibuprofen, iced it, and rested. But she knew she probably had broken her arm. It turned out she would need arm surgery as soon as possible.
Read on to learn about Melissa’s diagnosis, imaging, casting, and arm surgery at IBJI.
Discovering an Alternative to the ER: OrthoAccess®
A pediatric nurse practitioner, Melissa first learned about IBJI OrthoAccess Immediate Care Walk-In Clinics staffed by orthopedic specialists, when she was at work. The clinics are a great alternative to visiting a crowded ER.
“We get a lot of patients in our office with injuries and when I was looking up an IBJI phone number to refer, it came up that there were these clinics,” she said. “I think sometimes my patients have gone to OrthoAccess after seeing me.”
Melissa had been to the Morton Grove OrthoAccess clinic in the past for a foot injury. In the summer of 2019, she sprained her foot.
“I remember that I was in and out of there within an hour,” she recalled. “Had I gone to the ER, I would have had to wait for hours.”
Melissa Gets Her Answer to the Question: Do I Need Arm Surgery?
“I knew I hurt my arm after my husband helped me up,” Melissa recalls. “After that initial alarming pain, I thought it was manageable.”
The next day, she was in pain and looked up OrthoAccess locations that were open seven days a week. She found that the Glenview location was open on Sundays. She saw Sean Sutphen, DO, an orthopedic surgeon who was staffing the clinic that day.
Being a weekend, it was busy that day. Dr. Sutphen apologized for the wait. After reviewing the images and examining Melissa, he told her that her arm was fractured and that she was going to need arm surgery.
“He said he was going to get me an appointment with Dr. Benson and that he would take care of everything,” Melissa recalls.
She was then escorted to a procedure room to get a splint that would stabilize her arm. Due to the pain caused by moving her arm in certain positions, she needed some assistance.
“The cast tech was great,” Melissa said. “He went and got Dr. Sutphen to help me hold my arm away from my body so he could do what he needed to do. Dr. Sutphen kept saying, ‘it’s almost done,’ and gave us a pep talk to stay the course.”
Meeting Dr. Benson to Discuss Arm Surgery
Melissa scheduled an appointment to see Leon S. Benson, MD the next day.
Dr. Benson took his time explaining everything about the arm surgery, and even though he knew she was a professional in the medical community, he gave her every detail about the procedure.
“He’s very personable, very down-to-earth,” Melissa said. “He told me about an older patient who had a similar surgery and got her range of motion back.”
Arm Surgery Scheduled the Next Day
“Before my appointment with Dr. Benson, they were already calling me for the pre-op appointment,” Melissa says. “They said, ‘we went ahead and scheduled your surgery for tomorrow morning. We’re sure you didn’t want to wait a week to have your arm surgery.’”
Treatment for Arm Surgery
Melissa’s diagnosis was a displaced humerus fracture in her left arm. She needed a metal plate and 15 screws to hold the bones together. She also tore her bicep tendon, which Dr. Benson repaired during the surgery.
“He thought it would speed up my recovery process,” Melissa explains.
Outpatient Arm Surgery the Week Before Christmas
The entire outpatient procedure was done on December 21 at Ravine Way Surgical Center in Glenview.
“I thought it was amazing that within 48 hours of me getting my diagnosis at OrthoAccess, I was having arm surgery,” Melissa said. “I checked in at 9 or 10 in the morning and was out of there by 4 p.m.”
Dr. Benson explained that she would receive a nerve block that would last for 24 hours.
“The night I came home from my arm surgery, I was able to rest and sleep,” she said. “It was the best thing to be pain-free for a time to help me recover.”
Celebrating the Holidays After Arm Surgery
Melissa enjoys the holiday break with her
two boys after arm surgery.
Thankfully, Melissa and her family planned to stay home for Christmas, but being a busy mom of two boys meant she would need to get a lot done to celebrate properly.
“My husband helped wrap presents and I would do the ends [of the packages] because I could get my hands together to do that. We teamed up and wrapped all of the presents. I got to enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We just relaxed as a family.”
Physical Therapy Following Arm Surgery
One of Melissa’s friends who is a physical therapist at IBJI recommended a PT clinic close to her home. She was able to schedule appointments even though it was a holiday week. She began her physical therapy sessions right away.
“The IBJI physical therapists are great and they’ve definitely helped me so much to regain my strength and range of motion,” Melissa says. “I want to say that I am at 90 percent right now. I’ve been going twice a week.”
Back to Work and Being a Hands-on Mom After Arm Surgery
Melissa only had to wear a sling, not a cast, following her surgery. She says she wore the sling for one week.
After arm surgery, Melissa began physical therapy and she continues to work on her rehab.
“I was back to work three weeks later,” she adds. “It’s been great. It was very comprehensive, wonderful care.”
Coordinated Care for Arm Surgery
Reflecting on her orthopedic care from an unexpected injury, Melissa is happy she was able to receive speedy treatment and get everything done in one place.
“From the diagnosis, X-rays, surgery, and recovery, IBJI is amazing,” she says. “If something unfortunate happens to you, you can go to IBJI and they will take care of the rest.”
Have a Plan in Place in Case of Injury
When accidents happen, you can trust the specialists at IBJI. Get details about the injuries we treat at our 13 OrthoAccess locations.