How to Cook with a Fractured Clavicle

It’s the fifth and last story in the series How to Cook with a Broken Clavicle. Part 1: Background. Part 2: The Play. Part 3: The Pain. Part 4: Two Weeks. You’ve heard a primer about ultimate (if you didn’t know about it already), the play that caused my injury, and the pain I endured over the next two weeks. I left you with a picture of my terminator collarbone after  surgery and the lack of pain 36 hours post-surgery. If you haven’t heard those stories, read up!

This post is a summary of lessons learned in my 7 weeks since injury.

  1. You can eliminate many activities from your life that become difficult, but do not eliminate eating. I lost 10 pounds in my first week after injury because cooking was painful.
  2. Driving a stick shift car was dangerous and painful, so I didn’t do it until 4 weeks after surgery.
  3. Undergoing surgery quickly placed my shoulder in its anatomically-correct position and eliminated pain within 36 hours. This is huge. I could have avoided surgery, but altered throwing mechanics may have messed with my game and would have left an ugly-ass bump.
  4. Call your parents if that’s something you do. They’d love to take care of you. My parents grocery shopped, cooked, and delivered breakfast burritos to me following surgery. More on that in a bit.
  5. Eating out becomes exhausting. I ate out many times, with and without a companion, and
  6. My monthly breakfast burrito intake grew by 2000%.
  7. When it comes to eating at home without cooking, I recommend protein shakes, cheese, yogurt, prosciutto, salami, and salads.
  8. Whole foods serves a breakfast buffet that costs $8.99 per pound which includes bacon (!) and sausage.
  9. With a useless dominant arm, preparing food is the most difficult part of cooking. I ate numerous ground meat and pre-cut vegetable stir-fries.
  10. Video and book consumption will likely increase. On at least two occasions, I read a 500-page book in a day. I also watched my first TV show, Parks and Rec from beginning to end.
  11. Mental healing is equally important to physical healing. I kept my brain occupied writing, painting with my left arm, getting one pedicure (!), and updating my wardrobe.
  12. Doing mentally- or physically-intensive activities while under the influence of narcotic painkillers is difficult.
  13. I dressed as WWF’s Ultimate Warrior for Halloween. Lesson learned: makeup remover can remove temporary face tattoos but will cause a phenomenon called face burn when applied.
I am Warrior!

I am Warrior!

Categories: News | Leave a comment

Two Weeks

This is the fourth story in the series How to Cook with a Broken Clavicle. Part 1: Background. Part 2: The Play. Part 3: The Pain.

After three parts of the story including my return to the fields, the day is still Saturday. I’m still wearing the same jersey with the same dirt stains. The hospital set me up with a sling to minimize collarbone movement.


Slinging. This picture looks weird because my sister is walking behind me.

Major concern #1 was dressing myself. Specifically, undressing. I was wearing this dope jersey. I didn’t want to cut the jersey offwith scissors because I wouldn’t be able to replace it. I’m strongly attached to my number (#43). We were staying at a teammate’s parents’ house in Santa Cruz, and when everyone on the team had showered, it was my turn. I used the help of three teammates. One held my right arm in position across my body. One held the shirt from the right side and one held from the left. After pained grunting on my part, the thankfully-stretchy shirt was removed. No scissors required.

Concern #2 showering and toweling off was a painfully glacial process. Let your imagination run wild.

As I discovered when first laying down into bed, using my abdominal muscles is painful. I took painkillers and started reading a book. Fast forward. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Too much pain. One of the captains, bless his heart, scooped me out of bed because I couldn’t lift myself.

Revisit concern #1. I heard that button-down shirts are the least painful fractured clavicle clothing option. Problem: I didn’t have any with me. Remember, I’m 350 miles from home. I ask my teammate who’s hosting us for a button-down shirt. He doesn’t have one, but his dad does. Awesome. I’m given a late-1980s Patagonia organic cotton short-sleeve button-down shirt that would make me look like a tourist on a tropical cruise. I rocked the look. Two teammates dressed me, one to hold the arm and one to put on the shirt. Everything is painful.

I watch my team play all day. I give a painkiller-induced emotional speech at the end of season powwow on the fields after our last game is over. We arrive at the airport and thankfully the uneventful plane ride drops me back in Orange County with no additional pain. It’s Sunday night.

Obviously I’m not going into work on Monday. I’m in too much pain to focus on any task for more than a few minutes. Watching TV isn’t enjoyable, but I do that for many minutes. Meanwhile, I’m working in the medical system to get a referral to an orthopedist. The system turned into HMO hell. I had to whoop ass for 3 days with incessant pained phone calls to get an orthopedic surgeon to help see me that week. The doc from my first referral wasn’t available until the next Thursday, 12 days past injury. I was discouraged with the medical system.

I saw an orthopedist 5 days after injury, on Thursday. He took a look at the x-rays (radiographs?) and said yes, it was broken. Don’t do anything that hurts it and see me in 4 weeks. What! I just leave it alone and it will heal? My shoulder is slumped in and I can’t stand up straight. I make money playing a throwing sport and my throwing arm is hurt. This didn’t seem right to me. I endured another few days of HMO hell for a second opinion.

Concern #3: eating. Being unable to use my right arm caused cooking to be near impossible. Eating out twice a day and snacking for the third meal, I lost 10 pounds in a week.

Second opinion! One week later, 12 days after injury I saw the 2nd opinion orthopedist. He said yes, it’s broken and you need to get surgery tomorrow. I underwent surgery on Friday, 13 days after the play. When I woke up, my shoulder was in its anatomically-correct position. I was thankful that I endured surgery. My concerned friends asked if I was nervous about surgery. No. Why would I be nervous? I’m excited for surgery. I’m going to be fixed and I won’t remember any of it.

The surgery went flawlessly. A titanium plate and 7 screws are now a part of me.

I asked for gold screws and the plate inscribed "boss" but the doc respectfully declined.

I asked for gold screws and the plate inscribed “boss” but the surgeon respectfully declined.

36 hours after surgery, I was pain-free and drug-free. I returned to work on Monday with a new sling and a story to tell.

Next up: lessons learned.

Categories: News | Leave a comment

The Pain

This is the third story in the series How to Cook with a Broken Clavicle. Part 1: Background. Part 2: The Play. I’m laying on the ground after catching the disc and hearing my bone break.

Time passed slowly or quickly, I don’t recall. Someone hailed the trainer, who sped over on a golf cart. I don’t remember the events well enough to recount exactly what happened. Someone asked if I could move my shoulder and I did. Someone asked if I could move my arm, and I did, dropping the once-tightly-clenched disc on my face. Sometime after my teammate asked if I heard anything on the impact, I felt my collarbone and noticed a bump and sharp protrusion where my collarbone used to be connected. I announced that my collarbone was broken. I asked if I was in the endzone and found out that I had not scored. I smirkingly asked if anyone got a picture, and one the of my teammates said the photographer didn’t snap the pic.

The trainer arrived and he asked me what happened. He asked if anyone was here with me, and I said that my sis was. She came over and held my hand. My eyes were still muscled closed. The trainer asked me if my head hit the ground and I said no. That means no concussion. Good, I suppose, considering the circumstances. A father of a player on the green team announced that he was a doctor and took a look. He told me it’s broken and that he couldn’t do anything else about it.

The trainer announced that if I was feeling ok, he and his assistant should help me up. They wanted to prevent north-south movement of the fracture so the sharp bone wouldn’t puncture my lung. I struggled breathing after hearing this, but realized it was residual pain from the injury. As I stood up with the help of two men, pain announced itself. I lowered  myself down into the back of the golf cart and told to hold my arm across my abdomen to stabilize the collarbone. I grunted many times as I heard and felt my freshly-broken bones grind upon one another. As the cart pulled away from the fields, I remember wanting to say to my teammates, “you’d better win.” But I realized the guys on the other team were my friends too, so I ate those words and said “you’d better play a good game without me.” Eloquent. The bumpy golf cart ride was one of the most painful experiences of my life. The trainer rushed to get me to the tent where he could stabilize my arm, but I growled at him to slow down.

The next bit is also a blur. My right arm was wrapped in a makeshift sling to stabilize my pieces of collarbone, which were overlapping more as time proceeded. My sister brought the car around and I slowly walked myself out to the car, where I sat in the passenger seat, unable to close the door. I didn’t/couldn’t put on a seatbelt, so I sat stiffly in the seat while my sister drove at conservative speeds to the nearest emergency room. I was separated from the hospital by a 10-minute drive to the city of Gilroy. Previously, I had only known Gilroy as the host of the yearly garlic festival where you can eat garlic ice cream. Now, I’ll forever remember it as the city where I endured much pain in the ER.


In the hospital waiting room: happy.



Laying in the hospital bed after being x-rayed was another painful experience. Before x-rays was painful, but I occupied my mind by looking forward. The painkillers the nurses stabbed into my flesh seemed to have no effect. I was smelly from playing 3 hours of ultimate. I was thirsty and hungry. I wished garlic ice cream was dispensed from the ceiling into my mouth for nourishment. Maybe the ice cream craving was the painkillers clouding my brain. I escaped the hospital an endless 4 hours after the injury and my sister shuttled me back to the fields via In n Out. I reunited with my teammates, who were sad that I was hurt but glad that I was smiling. I asked if we scored the goal after my catch. Yes we did! Did we win the game? No. I talked with the observer (similar to ref, but with less power) who was helping out with our game. He said I made an awesome play and that he didn’t think I would make the catch. I responded that if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t make the catch and would keep my body unbroken. My teammate who threw me the pass later told me that he didn’t think I was going to make the catch either. I assured him that none of the blame would fall on him. It was my fault for using improper layout form and sacrificing my body.

As my team was stretching after our fourth and last game of the day, the captain and coach of the green team came by to see how I was doing. They gave me a card that was signed by each member of the green team and wished me the best of luck for recovery. I appreciate the gesture. One of my friends on the green team later said the part of the field on which I landed had a tree root just below the surface, which would explain why the ground was so hard on impact. Another Aviators teammate told me he heard my collarbone snap 20 yards away, from the sideline. Yikes.

Next up: a tale of two weeks.

Categories: News | Leave a comment

The Play


This is the second story in the series How to Cook with a Broken Clavicle.

Summary of Part 1: The Background: I’m playing in club regional playoffs. It’s the second game of the tournament. I’m killing it. The game against the green team is close. A few points after the end of last story, this one begins.

I’m open deep and my teammate (and former roommate) throws me the pass that causes the play. This next part replays in my head in slow motion. The pass is very far out in front of me, not floating much. I find myself sprinting as fast as my battered legs can run. This pass reminds me of the previous game against the orange team. I need to catch it. I need to catch it for my teammates. I need to catch it to show the other team. Additionally important, I like to win.

Back to the play. There’s not a green jersey in my sight. Just me and the disc. I’m catching up to it. The disc is sinking quickly, but I’m at a full sprint. This is not my first time playing ultimate, so I have a feeling that I’ll be able to make the play. It’s obvious to me that I’ll have to lay out to get my hand on the plastic rim before it contacts the ground. At the right moment, I do so. As I’m flying through the air, green team and my team watching, I realize I’m not going to make the catch with my current trajectory. My hand is a few inches away from the rim. Without thinking, I rotate my body so my right arm can extend further. I feel the plastic in between my fingers and thumb and close. The catch is mine.

Instantly after I caught it, I made a realization. It wasn’t just me and the disc. There would be a third party in this transaction: the ground. The ground that I landed on was not soft. I normally land on my chest. This time, like the time against the orange team, I would be rotating as I landed. Unlike last time when I landed on my back, this time I landed on my armpit and side ribs with my right arm extended. The disc firmly clenched in my right hand, I braced myself and impacted the ground. I’ve laid out hundreds of times before, so I’m familiar with the sounds and feelings that are made and experienced when coming down from a layout. This time, I heard and felt a click reverberate throughout my body. I thought to myself “that’s not normal”. My momentum carried me, sliding, onto my back and in the endzone.

In ultimate, you have to catch the disc in the endzone in order to score the point. I didn’t know if I had caught the disc in the endzone or closely outside, but this question was quickly superseded by more urgent thoughts. As I always do after a layout, I took a quick inventory of my body. The click feeling had reminded of the feeling associated with a dentist pulling teeth from my mouth, so I was concerned. I used my left arm to feel my right shoulder. I figured I had torn a tendon or ligament because I landed so heavily on my shoulder. My body was in shock from the adrenaline and impact so that I wasn’t feeling pain. I didn’t get up, partially because I was in shock and partially because I wanted to make the play look more dramatic. Mostly the first reason. I laid stationary on the ground while my teammates surrounded me. My eyes were firmly closed as a defense mechanism, so I had no idea who was around me. I heard one of my captains, voice clearly recognizable, say “did you hear anything?” I replied yes, and realized that my situation was bad.


Immediately after the injury



Next up: the pain.

Categories: News | 1 Comment

The Background

This is the first story in the series How to Cook with a Broken Clavicle.

Ultimate Frisbee tournaments are usually structured so each team will play several games on Saturday and several games on Sunday. I was playing for Renegade, the Los Angeles-based club team. Some of my teammates from Renegade play on the pro team Aviators, for which I played during the April-July season. The tournament Renegade was attending served as the regional playoff tournament. Teams from Arizona and California converged on Morgan Hill, CA, located in the super southern tip of Silicon Valley, 350 miles from my home.

I’d been training my body for ultimate, which requires explosiveness and sprint endurance, since January. This tournament would likely be the end of the season for my team, so I was prepared for a two-month break from ultimate after the weekend was through. Due to algorithmic reasons, only one team from the region would advance to the national tournament, held a few weeks later in Texas, and the best team in the world would take that spot. Nevertheless, our team played the tournament competitively. I dislike losing.

It’s Saturday. First day of the tournament. Wake up in hotel 1 mile from field location. Eat underwhelming hotel breakfast. Hustle to fields. Warm up with team. The Morgan Hill weather is supposed to be in the nineties (Fahrenheit). The sun hasn’t broken through the clouds as we begin our first game at 9am against the orange team. I normally play offense for my team, and during our first 5 offensive points, I throw every assist. My brain is sharp. My body is more beat up than I prefer. Our jerseys look fly. I’m playing as a cutter, roughly equivalent to a receiver in football. My roommate, who captains the team and also plays offense, throws me a pass that’s super far out in front of me and I have to hustle to track it down. At the last moment, I lay out with my right arm to catch the disc an inch above the ground and land, twisting 180 degrees, on my right shoulder blade. I throw the score from my knees and walk off the field in temporary pain. We lose to the orange team closely. I don’t feel disappointment because I’m playing near the top of my game.

Second game of the day, this one against the green team. Some of my teammates from Aviators play on this team, and our history has been highly competitive. Early on in the game, they take a lead. I’m unhappy about this. Competitive, remember? My sister who goes to Stanford in a PhD program (what a smartie), arrives to watch my games. She’s wonderful. But I’m in the mood for sports, so I briefly say hi and return to invest in the game. I’ve scored a few times and assisted a few times, but we’re still down, or it feels like it. The score is not typically displayed on the sideline, much less on a scoreboard, at club tournaments. At one point, I make a call and one of my friends on the green team yells in my face about it. I’m not happy.

Proof that I played ultimate

Proof that our jerseys look fly.

The play is next. Stay tuned, please. You won’t regret waiting.

Categories: News | 2 Comments