Tag Archives: Compound Fracture

Breaking Under the Bar

The broken part
The broken part

(Part one of a series on my injury and recovery)

I actually remember hearing two distinct cracks when my right arm broke a year ago. The spotters thought it was the sound of my squat suit snapping, at least until the bar started to move. I had just walked the bar out of the rack for my second squat of the day. It was only 192.5kg, which really isn’t much, compared to what other lifters can do. It was as I stood there getting set for my squat that things kind of went wrong. I wasn’t going to be able to live-blog this competition after all.

A Squat Rack
A squat rack

Everything from the spotters re-racking the weight, getting myself out from under the bar and the part where I apparently looked at my arm and said, ‘ah shit’ passed in a blur of adrenalin and shock. The pain only started to set in while I was waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Fortunately the ambos brought drugs. (Apparently I am funnier on painkillers.) They also wanted me to choose a hospital, which given the state I was in seemed to be expecting a little too much. One of the guys who had been hanging around waiting with me suggested I go to the Royal Brisbane, as he worked in ER there, and lacking any cohesive clue myself I went with it.

The rest of the afternoon was more or less a haze of morphine. Only a few things stuck in my mind from my stay in emergency: the fun that was cutting me out of my squat suit and t-shirt (my girlfriend arrived in time to ensure they cut the suit along the seams), and the part where they needed to check my arm for puncture wounds (when aforementioned girlfriend was too busy being morbidly fascinated to be sympathetic). Because both the radius and ulna were broken (see helpful diagram above) my wrist was only connected to the rest of my arm by flesh. It was floppy. As a result checking the underside of my arm for punctures was going to be problematic. To see all of my arm they had to lift it up, and to do this, they needed to hold both loosely connected parts and move them at the same speed. They did it perfectly once in two tries.

I don’t really remember when they were done, but the first x-rays showed that I had a compound fracture of both my ulna and radius. I was told later that these almost never happen in powerlifting, and it seems there might have been contributing factors other than the weight on the bar. At first it looked unlikely that I would get into surgery that day. Just in case I had to spend the night in hospital before they could cut me open, they knocked me out to set my arm. Being properly unconscious was the best thing to happen to me that afternoon, with morphine coming a close second. Thankfully I actually did make it to surgery that afternoon, though not until about 5pm. By the time I got out of theatre it was 10:30pm, and my girlfriend, who had been waiting the whole time and keeping people informed via Twitter on my phone, told me I had been in there for over five hours.

The next day was mostly spent trying to read (and failing) and realising my phone was dangerously low on power. I also discovered that touch screens are easy to work with your non-dominant hand. In the afternoon both of my sisters and one of my brothers-in-law came to visit me. And they bought me coffee from the coffee cart in the food court. Considering the morphine-fuelled haze in which I spent most of the day, this was clearly awesome. It was only a few hours later that I was discharged, once I was able to prove that I was more or less functional. It was not long before I was getting into my sister’s car, wearing a shirt I couldn’t quite get on, a blue sling I had to chase down from the physios, a nearly flat phone, a prescription for a cubic ton of painkillers, my arm in a backslab and an appointment for the following week.


  • If you plan on going to hospital, take your charger
  • It is hard to read after surgery
  • Apparently morphine makes me a better person