Monday, June 30, 2008

At My Current Pace, Expect Another Serious Biking Injury in 2020

"You did a number on it."

Those were my doctor's first words to me after she looked at the x-rays of my wrist. Not quite as ominous as "Do you have your affairs in order?", but definitely not what I was hoping for.

She went on to give me the more detailed diagnosis that I had a comminuted fracture of one of my wrist bones, a small break at the end of my ulna and some ligament damage. So I'm apparently going to have to put my baton twirling aspirations on the backburner for a while.

The timing of something like this happening is probably never good. But I'm especially bummed since Zak and Taryn are staying home with me starting tomorrow, and this is undoubtedly going to put some sort of cramp in what we're able to do together for a while.

The reality of becoming Mr. Mom was hammered home effectively by the nice nun who admitted me to have my x-rays taken. She asked if I still worked for the Broncos and I told her no. She asked who I worked for now and I told her nobody, so she said she'd put down unemployed. I laughed and replied that I was going to be a full-time dad starting tomorrow. She paused, then said, "I'll just go with 'homemaker,' then." I had to laugh again.

So no activity at all with my left hand until I go see the specialist on Wednesday. No driving, no typing, no cat's cradle -- you get the idea.

This isn't my first solid mountain biking injury. Back in 1996 when we still lived in Texas I hit an exposed root going down a steep incline and flipped over my handlebars, landing square on my right shoulder blade. I popped right up but the pain put me right back down to the ground.

Fortunately I was with a couple of buddies who walked me and my bike the mile or so back to the car, called Danelle and then drove me to the emergency room. I got x-rays and the doctor who looked at them told me it looked like I'd just been "rode hard and put up wet" and I should be fine, but he referred me to an orthopedist for follow-up just in case.

When I got home and told Danelle the diagnosis, she suggested I look in the mirror. I could have passed for Quasimodo's brother -- my right shoulder looked a good six inches higher than my left.

Needless to say, a quick call was made to that orthopedist to schedule a follow-up. He took one look at my x-rays and said, "It's separated all right. When do you want the surgery?" Turned out that when I landed on my shoulder blade and drove it in, my collarbone was driven up and all the connective tissue in between was completely torn.

I wasn't expecting to hear the "s" word, so I asked if non-surgical treatment was an option. He said sure, but my right arm would always be about 10% weaker and I'd have a "cosmetic deformity." So I asked what the downside was of surgery. He just shrugged and said, "Surgery."

So I got an inch-and-a-half screw put in for six weeks while things healed. Danelle thought it would be neat to watch it get taken out, but changed her mind when they gave me a local anisthetic, cut my shoulder back open and stuck a screwdriver in there. The sound of screwdriver on bone is a little disconcerting, especially when it's your bone (or your spouse's).

The surgery was apparently a success since I really haven't had any problems with the shoulder since. I wore the screw on a cord around my neck for a while but lost it, so my only remaining memento of the experience is a pretty cool scar.

My mom probably summed it up best when I told her about my latest misadventure. "You and mountain biking; you don't crash often but make up for it when you do."

Hopefully I won't have anything more than a scar to remember this experience by, too. In any event, this certainly isn't going to make me take up running.

And yes, I typed this whole thing with my right hand. :P

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