Where the Sidewalk Begins
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question follows on the heels of his unfortunate fall from a ladder. I think the accident probably had a huge influence on this week’s question…
“Have you ever fractured a bone (or bones) that was serious enough to require inpatient hospitalization and a post-operative stay in a rehab facility? What bone(s) did you break? How long did it take in rehab (inpatient or at home) before you were back to “normal”? And did you actually achieve the same level of functionality you had prior to the fracture(s)?“
While I cannot claim to have required hospitalization or a stay in a rehab facility I wanted to participate so this is as close as I’ve come.
The worst bone break I ever suffered was a fracture of the scaphoid bone. Certainly nothing like Fandango’s ladder/hip mishap. There was no hospital stay outside of the lost hours spent waiting in Emergency but there was lots of physiotherapy after to get back to a full range of motion.
It all started on the first day of school. No, I wasn’t going to school. Those days were long behind on this fateful September 3rd. I was out for my morning ride. I’d just purchased a new road/gravel bike a couple of weeks earlier. Before this bike, I’d been a mountain bike guy. I’d taken many a spill on rocky tree-lined trails with nothing more than bruises and scratches to show. These bones were tough as nails!
But as a guy in my early 50’s it was time for something less dangerous…
Now, back to the first day of school. It was 7:30am and I was out for my 15km morning ride along my usual route. On this morning I was cruising along at about 25km/h, and gaining fast on a group of 15 to 20 high school students walking in the dedicated bike path like a herd of cattle who’ve broken through a barbed wire barrier to obliviously congregate on the road.
As I approached the group they remained oblivious and did not move out of the way. Instead of slowing or stopping, I veered to my right across the grass boulevard towards the empty sideWALK that was ten feet to the right. Notice how I highlighted WALK because that is where they should have been! Anyway, my front wheel caught a rut along the edge of the cement and dug in sending me and the bike ass over tea kettle. My head (thank God for helmets) hit first with my 6’1″ frame crashing down close behind.
The kids, no longer oblivious, looked over as I skidded across the concrete and popped up seeming unscathed. Yeah, I was bleeding from various scraps and scratches but when some of them asked me if I was okay, I insisted I was alright. After all, my head and frame were still attached to each other! In fairness, the adrenaline of the moment had me believing I was none the worse for wear. Although, I am certain my bruised ego would have told them I was fine even if there had been a bone sticking out somewhere.
An inspection of the bike revealed some damage to the handlebar tape and a couple of superficial scratches elsewhere but no major damage. Hell, that was a minimum right of passage for the mountain bike. If it wasn’t banged up you weren’t doing it right.
Inspection complete, I jumped back on the bike with every intention of finishing the nine or so klicks remaining on my ride but the moment I tried to grab the handlebar with my left hand that notion quickly dissipated, replaced with searing pain shooting up my arm. I couldn’t have gripped the bar if my life had depended on it. Instead, it was a slow shameful ride home with my left arm tucked against my midsection while my weakened legs powered a bike that was being guided by a lone and shaky right arm.
I don’t know if any bones were broken. The ER doctor showed me the x-rays but they did not show a break. Apparently, fractures to the scaphoid bone don’t reveal themselves on x-rays until 48 hours after injury. Based on his experience the doc believed the bone was broken and because the small bones of the carpals, and in particular the scaphoid, don’t receive a lot of blood flow should be treated as such. A lack of blood flow restricts healing and if not immobilized and allowed to heal the bone could die. That was enough for me to accept my fate and follow his instructions.
For six weeks I wore a removable cast without knowing if it was broken. X-rays were never taken again later, I just ran with the emergency room diagnosis. When the cast came off I began three months of physiotherapy to get close to a full range of motion. It would be another nine months before I can say the hand and wrist were back to normal.
Even now if the moon and stars and sun align just right, hidden behind a bank of dark grey clouds that are dumping a cold damp rain down on Mother Earth I can still feel it click and groan. Sometimes, I think that if I’d just plowed through them they’d have moved or at the very least it would have been a softer landing!
Oh, and did I mention all the years of reckless mountain biking where I never once broke a bone?
Credits and Additional Information