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We all gasped when Nick took his shirt off for the GP. The doctor tutted when she saw the size and colour of the bruise, which had now spread like a bottle of thick bloody ink all across his neck and shoulder, and recommended that we go straight to the Minor Injuries Unit at the hospital to get an X ray. She thought it looked as if it might be a broken collarbone.

Nick was sure it was just a bad bruise, he said it had been extremely sore yesterday but thought he would recognise an actual fracture – but then again, I thought, he had not realised that he’d broken his arm a couple of years ago.

We zoomed to the hospital and miraculously the department was almost empty so we got seen quickly. All the staff were so efficient and kind.
Nick had the X ray and I stood behind the screen and watched; it didn’t look quite right to me but my A&P is a bit hazy and there was no obvious snapped matchstick type breakage that I could see. However when the nurse came to give us the results she showed us the X ray image and the position of the collarbone compared to what it should be, and yes it is certainly broken. With two broken ribs thrown in.
Strong painkillers dished out and a temporary sling that Nick said immediately helped as it stopped the arm moving. Then home, for some major TLC and a dinner that Nick could eat mainly with his left hand (no noodles for a while) while his right is out of action. Though lately he has been asking for help with eating anyway, as he no longer has the co-ordination to chase the last quarter of the food around the plate and into his mouth. He lunges forwards as I help him with the last fork or spoonfuls and I remember the way we did this for our mum.

Next day, Fracture Clinic, where two consultants wince at the X-ray and confer at length. The trouble is, that bone would normally need an operation to set it straight, but in the case of someone with chorea, the constant jerking and jiggling would most likely just tear apart any delicate internal sutures. They are really not sure that it would work. The alternative is to strap it up as best they can and leave it, and they’re not sure about that either. In the end they agree to leave it another few days (apparently there’s a two week window of opportunity for re-setting a broken bone) while they consult the neurological specialist, and will make a definite decision next week. In the meantime, Nick has a much fancier and firmer sling in a discreet dark blue, with a thumb strap to keep it in place. I worry about his arm suddenly jerking and breaking his thumb but so far it seems fairly secure.

On the way home we joke that if they do operate, Nick might have to wear a lampshade collar round his neck like a dog while he’s healing, to stop him scratching.