Saturday 29 January 2011

Full Circle, Part 3:The Repair

At home I felt pretty rubbish. There was a spiky bit of bone poking up a little, my ribs were all clicky and bruised and worst of all, my sore throat had returned. I spent an unpleasant few days on the sofa, pretty much 24 hours a day, as there was no way I could get in and out of bed. The ribs were the big issue with mobility, but I was pretty sure it was just bruising.

Elaine took a couple of days off to nurse me, and a very pregnant Liz came over on the Tuesday. Thankfully she didn't go into labour and I'd have been useless. I've no idea where we keep our clean towels.

On the Wednesday, six days after the fall, I visited the fracture clinic in Basingstoke. After another x-ray they put me in one of the consulting rooms, where I could hear the shouts of incredulity from the office outside where they were looking at the x-ray. "How did he do it?", "Nasty, what's that bit there" and "clearly a high-energy impact" were a few key phrases. As the consultant came into the room I was expecting to be rushed to surgery immediately.

Actually, it was quite a reasoned discussion. I got the impression that they really recommended surgery, but didn't want to push me into it. I could see myself that if it healed in its current position I had a future as a sideshow geek, so with the immortal words "sharpen the scalpel and get out the Meccano" I was told to be "nil by mouth" from midnight and report by 0730 the next day. I then had a pre-op once over by a very pleasant doctor, including my first ever blood test, and was sent home to get my affairs in order.

The next morning I was up, called to confirm things were still going ahead, and driven to Basingstoke by Dave. He even walked me to the ward, where we were both sure the nurses assumed he was my "partner". A shout of "give the contact information to Elaine!" hopefully pursuaded them otherwise...

Then... the waiting. They weren't really sure when I was to be sliced, so I spent the morning reading until they confirmed the op time of 13:30. I saw the consultant and the anaesthetist, nothing exciting happened, then I was wheeled down into a pre-theatre area. A few drugs, a bit of a chat ("how did you do it?" "Ooo, nasty"), then it was tim...............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Urgh. I'm alive. Um, OK, on oxygen. I can see. I can't see loads of scary machines around so I'm probably in recovery rather than ICU. Time... time... they said it would take about an hour for the op, might be about 16:30. Clock. Ah. 19:30. Hang on. Try again. 19:30. WTF? Move a bit. OK, things move. Definitely in recovery, they are talking to me. I'll make some vague noise back. Oxygen mask replaced by little tubes in the nose. Relax. Oh, I'm moving. In the lift, back to the original ward. Cool. Wave at the other bloke who was in for hand surgery. He's got dinner! Bastard. Mine isn't here - too late I guess.

Drink. Get that poxy glass and straw away from me, fill up my Camelbak Podium bottle! I'm a cyclist! Glug glug glug. Glug. Ooo, need to burp. Can't. Fuck, they had to take out my burp muscle! Or maybe it's the anesthetic. Cough a bit. Burp.

Ask for a small slice of toast. They only have one size, so I had that. Can I have some biscuits too, as clearly dinner isn't coming. Glug more. Hurrah! Burp muscle working.

The nurse comes round. Do you need to pee? It's important to pee. I know that. Glug.

Midnight. I reckon I can pee. Get patrolling nurse to pull the curtains so I can stand up and try to go in a cardboard bottle. Squeeze. Dribble. Flow. Uh oh. I'm going to need a bigger bottle.

Try to sleep. Lots of staff around, one poor lady in a lot of pain from fractured vertebrae. Doctors and consultants are called, she stops screaming after a while. I can really sympathise.

Doze. Sleep. Wake up. Breakfast! Bread and jam. Yum.

The next few hours brought a visit from the consultant - he explained it was more complicated than expected, hence the extra time needed. The loose bone fragment had rotated through 180 degrees, so things were a little confusing inside initially. The jigsaw puzzle was back together though, with a plate and some screws. I was sent to x-ray, had a quick chat with a physio, then was more or less kicked out the door.

So here I am - much more comfortable, bone in the correct position, taking things very easy. I've had my first follow up physio and have a post op check at the fracture clinic scheduled for 8th Feb. Boredom is really kicking in now, so I might even do a little "working from home" next week.

I've still got a slight sore throat though.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Full Circle, Part 2:The Aftermath

Arriving at A&E after a 30 minute ride (sadly lacking in sirens) I was whisked past the waiting hordes straight into an examination area. I took up the offer of a couple of mild painkillers and soon realised that just because I was in an exam room it didn't mean anything would happen quickly. After half an hour or so a nurse helped me out of my cycling kit without resort to scissors - good job too, as I was in my favourite gilet and LEJOG Peugeot top. I was given a fetching gown and sent off down the corridor with some vague directions to X-ray. I guess they figured that as I'd found the hospital I was perfectly capable of finding the right department by myself.

X-ray was efficient - no queue - though I was a bit concerned when the radiologist told me to keep my necklace off as "they might want to do something to you...".

It's not a good sign when on seeing your X-ray the doctor can't figure out which way up your insides are and then starts paging all the other doctors with the words "Holy fuck, have a look at this!". Slight exageration, but I did end up with three of them acting like back street mechanics... "Ooooo, this is gonna cost you guv".

Let's have a look:

What was once one bone is now three. Handily one of the docs was a keen cyclist (time trials, mainly) and after the preliminary comparison of bike collections he was able to explain how this wasn't a good break and that it would probably need metalwork. He'd had similar himself so was able to cover healing times, affect on training ability and that having shortened collarbones really helps a riders time-trial position as they could get narrower on the bike. The orthopedic reg arrived and said similar, but decided to send me home as they'd review over coffee and muffins in the morning and let me know.

So, after causing some amusement in the waiting room in my gown and bib shorts combination, we departed for Newbury, Darren driving.

Did I mention that Darren was in pain? Lots of pain, so a big thanks for getting me back home.

Next... why the words "high energy impact" are rarely the precursor of good news.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Full Circle, Part 1:The Accident

I started this blog when I dislocated my right shoulder and was stuck inside instead of riding in the open air. I had my arm in a sling for much of the time and typing was often one-handed.

Guess what?

I'd recovered from my virus and back/neck spasm just enough to do a couple of gentle rides and to feel that I could handle a trip to the velodrome, if I took things easy. So Darren and I set off on the usual post-work trek down to Calshot. The freezing weather had been replaced by moderate rain and the temperature and humidity had risen considerably. Arriving at the velodrome things felt a little... slow. Lots of sitting around and the coach wandering about the track. There was also a bit of dampness on the floor, most obvious on the vinyl centre of the track.

Coach explained that the change in the weather had caused a lot of condensation in the velodrome, and there were a few drips of water on the track. They sent a man with a brush round and the coach rode a dozen laps himself to check things out. He reported things felt fine so we mounted up carefully on the inner wooden boards and started the warm up.

I felt pretty good and ended up leading. We were doing "through and off", where the lead rider pulls up the banking, letting the line of riders pass below. A rider up the banking has further to travel and hence takes longer to do a lap. Once everyone has passed he rejoins the line at the back. I pulled up, slowed slightly, cruised round and rejoined. This happened a few more times until an unnamed rider (let's call him, um, Dappen) pulled up.

As the line passed under Dappen, I noticed out of the corner of my eye his back wheel slide out. Bear in mind he was above me and slightly in front. He then tumbled over and slid down the track, neatly sliding into my front wheel and transforming me from forward and upright into forward and slamming shoulder first into the boards.

Not good.

Head hits boards. Little stars. Shouting. Hard breathing. There's something poking out by my collarbone.

Sounds of another crash on the far bend.

Ambulance? Yes please. Alert and concious? Unfortunately, very.

Accident forms. Darren (sorry, Dappen) also hurt, he was hit by me at 20mph. Two others had slid out and crashed on the other side of the track. Paramedics. Shock. Energy gel. Freezing cold in lycra, shivering like you would not believe. Proper cartoon shivering with chattering teeth.

Ambulance ride to Southampton A&E. Darren follows in my car, clearly in pain from a very nasty scrape down his back.

I wonder how this is going to turn out...

Thursday 6 January 2011

Broken and bored

After a good lot of training last week, where I managed six sessions in four days, I broke.

My first breakage was possibly maybe caused by the two sessions on New Year's Eve - a strength session in the gym followed a couple of hours later by a hill climbing session on the singlespeed. Both of these stress the upper back and during the course of NYE my back/neck interface started to tighten and stiffen until I could barely move without crying like a kitten. A particularly pathetic kitten. This put an end to the three rides I had planned for the weekend.

My second breakage started about the same time with my throat getting dry and sore. This hasn't eased much (maybe a little) and has been joined by those friends of the sore throat; Feeling C. Rappy and Mr Blocke D'Nose. I manfully struggled into work Tuesday and Wednesday but woke this morning feeling more delicate than a Howies Natural Base Layer Light after a boil wash.

So, here I sit at home. The Singletrackworld forum is borked, I slept through the Ashes highlights and I've resorted to watching Alice In Wonderland.

That's a real incentive to get better.

Saturday 1 January 2011

The facts and figures

Thanks to the magic of Training Peaks, I can easily analyse last year. So, my totals are:

Road bike, 321 hours, 9840 km
Mountain bike, 104 hours, 1448 km
Gym, 47 hours
Run, 8 hours (hmm, either I'm not much of a runner or I've been a bit lax logging things)

Total bike riding is therefore 11288 km (7055 miles), 425 hours. Interestingly I've only driven about 5000 miles. Random target for next year - 10000km on the road, 1500km off road.

Oh, and 9 hours running.