So 2 weeks on from my crash, and I am slowly remembering how to live life one-handed again, although I am typing this out OAP-style, using one finger on my broken hand (though don’t tell my doctor!). It’s rather amusing looking through my old blog posts detailing my last break, and seeing how my recovery compares, and it seems that physically at least, the bone healing is following a roughly similar timescale, albeit slowed down a bit, which is hardly surprising as I don’t have the opportunity to sit in the sun all day, and sleep for 14 hours a day! Mentally, the bad moods hit me a lot sooner due to a variety of reasons. When I broke my collar bone, the aim of the season was to finish an Ironman; I had the opportunity to focus everything in my life on getting healed up as quickly as possibly, and concentrating on it 24 hours a day; I was surrounded by my friends in a place that I loved (and had significantly better air quality!) and I had an excellent doctor who understood me and wanted to help me achieve my goals.
Compare this to my current situation, where I have this annoying work thing taking up my day(!), seem to spend most of my spare time on tubes and trains living a London life, and I had a doctor who, to be frank, couldn’t seemed to have care anymore had I been a health and safety notice on his wall, and was more interested with getting me through as quickly as possible. I’ll be the first to admit I am one of the most difficult patients an orthopeadic surgeon will come across, as I try aqnd push my recovery as much as I can, but this one wasn’t interested in the slightest.
It took me a week to get an appointment at a fracture clinic (compared to a day with Manchester…) and I turned up, he looked at my hand, said yes it’s broken, go and get a cast fitted and come back in 5 weeks. No x-rays to confirm the wrist fractures, no advice on management, and certainly no help to get myself fit again quickly. Given my Ironman was 5 weeks away, this is far from ideal and I tried to push for a closer time, but both him and the receptionist said I wasn’t allowed, and it could only be 5 weeks or later. Great. I also heavily pushed to stay in my splint, as though although it wasn’t the most comfortable and giving me the best support, I could at least wash, manage my own recovery as pain allowed, and most importantly still train. He didn’t seem to be too bothered, as long as I didn’t ever take it off in the 5 weeks, so at least I could still train.
A few days later, I got fed up with this, and decided it was time to get a 2nd opinion, and time to make the most of having private medical insurance through work. After sweet-talking the receptionist at my local GP so I could register, see the nurse and then see a GP to get a referral all in the same morning, I found myself at London Bridge Hospital at lunchtime to see a specialist, who was great and understands type of patient I am! I had X-rays done, which showed the elbow healing nicely, but the wrist x-ray was inconclusive so a few days later I was being squeezed into an MRI scanner to get a more definitive answer. Certainly making the most of my insurance, and the £3 a month I pay to remove my excess is paying off in spades, but I have to say that MRI scanners are not designed for people who can’t straighten their arm! I had to lie down, with my arm straight and wrist clamped into a cage, not ideally comfortable! So meant it stopped me having a kip during my scan, but at least I know my arm can just about straighten! On the plus side, between me, my specialist and the physio I saw to get my fancy, custom splint fitted, I think we know which of my wrist bones are actually damaged, none of which the fracture clinic doctor suggested!
Having had a look through my MRI results, I think I have found the culprit bones, though I can’t really tell what is a break, and what is just detail from the cross-section! I am off to see the specialist again tomorrow, so I can found out what the damage is, and hopefully I should get a better timeframe for my recovery, as opposed to just ‘come back in 5 weeks and we’ll see how it is’.
My elbow recovery has gone well and is starting to slow down, so it must be nearing completion. There is still a bit of pain when I force the movement in the bone, so I reckon another week until the bone has finished fusing. I have about 75% of my movement back in my elbow, with more and more of it now comfortable and pain-free and can be achieved unaided. There is still a little bit of swelling left preventing me from full extension, but I am confident I should be able to get full movement back in a couple of weeks with the help of my sports therapist once I get the all-clear from the doctor to do so. I am trying to get back to normality and use it as much as possible, as long as it is pain-free, and can now do little things like put my toothbrush underneath the tap! Still can’t reach the back of my mouth with that arm… But arm is getting happier at least and thankfully my shoulder has fully recovered and moves properly, it must have taken one hell of a hit when I crashed as I couldn’t raise my arm above my head for a week, was getting worried something else was broken! The whole arm can’t be that bad any more, I have left the house having forgotten to put my sling on, on more than one occasion!
My wrist seems to be improving rapidly after a couple of weeks of not much improvement, and having said about my one-fingered typing at the start, I am now typing happily away almost normally now with hardly any pain. The latest thinking is that I have fractured my hamate (physio and doctor’s thoughts) and my trapezium (my thoughts, undetected pain in that region, which was originally a suspect scaphoid fracture, but that has been cleared). How I have managed to fracture these two bones, and avoid the scaphoid (again!), I have no idea! They seem to be healing well though, and I am finally getting some strength back in my wrist. I did some serious ligament damage, which is going to take some time to heal, but movement is slowly beginning to return and strength is coming back. I can even hold my phone in my hand now with no splint or tubigrip!
So whilst my recovery is progressing, training isn’t going to well! Being unable to run or swim, my life is confined to the turbo, which I hate on the best of days. Unfortunately I can’t just sit up on it like I could on my road bike as it puts me very forward and there is a fair old. Holding myself up with one arm gets rather tiring rather quickly! If I take my splint off, I can sit in the TT position, but with a broken elbow I can only take putting weight through it for so long before it begins to hurt. Mentally I am also fed up, so bailing out is happening far too often. I am hoping to get the go ahead to start running this week, and I just need to build up on the turbo. With 4 weeks til IMUK, there are going to be some rapid increases in training load, and I am going to have to train full-on up until the week if the race. At least I have managed to keep the diet pretty much under control, so haven’t put on too much weight so my return to running shouldn’t be too painful.
I am still hopeful of making it to the start line. If I can do that, then I know I’ll finish.
I have been meaning to write an update for a while now, as a lot has happened since the last, but it was always one of those things that got put off as life got in the way. It has taken (another) accident on the bike to get an update.
So, as many of you will now know, I have a fall on my bike at the weekend crossing lanes on the road onto a bike path, and I didn’t see the ridge for the stupidly designed junction and hit the deck. I’m not quite sure how I landed, but my left leg is pretty torn up and my hip and shoulder have some nice bruising. I think I landed with my arm outstretched, but I haven’t got any cuts on my hand or arms, which is odd. However, my wrist and elbow were severely painful and I knew right away something was broken. I walked the few miles home (barefoot..), dropped my bike off and walked to A&E. I was seen quickly and x-rays confirm that I have a fracture in the radius head and they suspect a fracture in my scaphoid, which apparently takes a few days to show up on x-rays.
To say this is frustrating is the less colourful term I am using now I have calmed down. After a couple of years incident-free, it seems I am back to ruining my season after two previous bike crashes at almost identical times of the year. I can come up with hundreds of what-ifs, first and foremost was my stupidity of ordering brake cables instead of gear cables, as I was on my way to the bike shop to pick up the right ones. However, what is done is done, and I have to find a way to move forward.
Obviously this means I am missing IMUK 70.3, which I am absolutely gutted about. Not only do I have so many friends racing who I would have loved to have seen, I was the strongest I have been across the board. I have built on my massive swimming improvements from last year, and my stroke was greatly improved with times dow; a recent bike fit at Freespeed put the icing on the cake on my bike strength; and whilst my running has been hampered by a shin injury, I am the quickest I have been and was confident of putting in a PB for the half marathon. Whilst I don’t have the endurance from last year, with my greater speed and strength, I was confident of at least getting a roll-down slot for the World Champs in Vegas. It also means I will unlikely to be racing at Liverpool 5150, which world have been fun as I had another pro slot and the opportunity to line up against an amazing field, including Macca (and Joe Skipper ;))
This also puts my participation for IMUK in doubt. Whilst a ‘home race’ would be good, I don’t have anything left to prove for rocking up to an Ironman unprepared. I will have to wait and see how long I am going to be out before making a call. I will be back on the turbo once my elbow starts to fuse, but I won’t be running for a while, and certainly won’t be in the pool for a long time, and that assumes I don’t have any issues with mobility and a full range of movement, but I already have a good sports therapist friend ready to help with rehab.
Once I know whether I can race Bolton, I will have to decide what to do if not. I could be tempted to leave it for a year and just race short, something which I think I will do next year, with Ironman Arizona at the end of 2013. Right now, however, I just need to pick myself up and get healed. Thanks for all the well-wishes, that have been coming in, I just can’t believe I’ve had another season ruined by fractures.