It began with a *pop*. Well, it began when I agreed to help my friend Vannah move into her new apartment, and then it technically ended with a *pop*.
As I lifted the bureau into the back of the U-Haul, I felt my bicep stretch and move in a way that it shouldn’t. There wasn’t any pain, but my whole arm felt weird, and when I straightened my arm, my muscle undulated under my skin like an alien.
After consulting with my medical team, which consists of my mother and a friend who is a sports medicine doctor, I came to the completely uneducated conclusion that I had torn my right bicep tendon at my elbow, an injury that is relatively rare, as less than 5% of bicep tears occur at the elbow versus the shoulder. Once the bruises appeared a day or two later, I knew that I was right in my self-diagnosis.
I went in for an appointment at the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic and met with Kurt Gasner, MD, a specialist in Orthopedic Surgery and Surgery of the Hand and Upper Extremities. Dr. Gasner was fantastic, rejecting my insistence that he was actually Academy Award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, yet still taking the time to explain how the bicep tendon attaches at the elbow and why surgery to repair it is extremely important. While I’d still retain strength, thanks to the redundancy built into our bodies, the ability to turn my wrist and lift weight in a flexing motion would be reduced significantly. Since I assumed this meant that my ability to masturbate would be severely affected, we scheduled surgery to repair my right distal bicep tendon immediately for the following Friday.
After determining that normal anesthesia wouldn’t work, the anesthesiologist brought in a gorilla tranquilizer, which seemed to do the trick. I also had what’s called regional anesthesia, which is a block that was inserted to prevent the pain receptors in my brain from feeling pain as the surgeons worked on my arm. With the block inserted and the sedative about to kick in, I was ready to go.
WARNING: All images after the following photo are of a graphic nature, with close-up images of the surgical process involved in repairing a distal bicep tendon. If you faint at the sight of blood, if you are pregnant, if you are subject to projectile vomiting, or if you are under the age of 13, you may want to click away now. Otherwise, continue at your own risk.
Dr. Gasner wrote his initials on my arm to confirm that he was operating on the right body part. He also sketched out the incision and completely ignored my request to make it into a happy face.
Once the incision was made, Dr. Gasner had to reach inside my arm and find the distal bicep tendon where it had curled up inside my arm after snapping. With his finger, he cleared away scar tissue and used the clamps to slowly unroll and extend the tendon to its proper length.
Once the tendon had been fully extended, Dr. Gasner threaded it with a fiber that looped in and out of the tendon until it held it securely. I wasn’t aware until after the procedure how much this was similar to sewing. I’m pretty confident that Dr. Gasner crochets a bad-ass quilt, too.
After the distal bicep tendon had been threaded, a drill was brought in to drill through the bone. Also, my arm now looks like the pit of Sarlacc from Star Wars. Where’s Boba Fett when you need him?
Once the holes had been drilled, two small corkscrew anchors were threaded with the same fiber. They were carefully inserted into the holes in the bone, and then turned so that they locked in place, much like a button would do, if it was made of metal and tiny and used to hold your tendons in place so you don’t flop around like a sad broken old man.
Once Dr. Gasner inserted the anchors, he pulled the fiber tight until my distal bicep tendon was back where it belonged, and tied off the suture in what I imagine to be a very pretty bow.
A few stitches later and Dr. Gasner gave it the thumbs-up before leaving to go do what doctors do after they’re done with another successful surgery, which is probably to laugh mightily and proclaim to the heavens, “I AM GOD”.
The entire procedure to repair my right distal bicep tendon only took about an hour and fifteen minutes. When I came to, I felt immediately alert and normal, except for the giant splint around my arm and the fact that my entire arm was completely numb.
The recovery time has been very quick. My fingers and arm regained feeling after about 24 hours, and I spent a week in the splint. My pain levels were very low – in fact, I only took three Percocet total, and the only day that I got whiny was on the Sunday immediately following the procedure.
— Adam Heath Avitable (@avitable) March 4, 2013
One week after the procedure, I got the splint removed and was able to start moving my arm and twisting my wrist until I’m back to normal, a recovery process which could take as long as three months. I expect to be able to begin masturbating again immediately, though.
I’m writing this post to act as a reference for anyone who may have had this happen or for anyone who may be considering having surgery to repair his or her distal bicep tendon. For anyone in Central Florida, I would wholeheartedly recommend Dr. Kurt Gasner and the entire staff at Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic, as they were efficient, friendly, informative, and provided an easy surgical experience for me.
Also, if anybody else needs help moving . . . call somebody else!