Friday, August 30, 2013

Belated brokeaversary

It was August 26th, 2012 when I broke myself at the Mine Over Matter Off-Road Triathlon.

I don't recommend it.

Well it's not too bad, is it?


Assessing the break post-reduction (which means "after they yank on it and let it snap back like an elastic band to set it, fortunately after giving you large amounts of rave drugs"), my orthopedic surgeon was of the opinion that it was a "borderline case" for surgery. When I elected to see how it would heal without surgical intervention he was a bit dubious, but agreed to give it a go. While I did end up with some shortening of the radius (the bone I broke - the one closer to your thumb) due to the tension in my forearm muscles, the prognosis was that I'd end up with "a pretty good wrist".

I didn't go easy on myself during recovery. While I was basically helpless for the first few days (thank gawd Tanker had a week of holidays, so could drive me to work and back as well as waiting on me hand & foot), I immediately returned to my idiot ways, even to the point of going minigolfing while still in the splint - it was 2 days after the break, and an idea born out of a haze of codeine.

I'm not sure I could have counted my legs at this point.
I even went to a motorcycle rally (the same one for which we leave this evening - whee!) just 5 days after the fracture, enjoying riding on the back seat of other people's bikes and coming home with the best rally souvenir of all time:

This still hangs on the wall in my livingroom!

I returned to running 11 days post-break, as soon as I got a waterproof cast, then got back in the pool and on the trainer - I'm not good with the idea of "can't". Three weeks after the fateful DNF at Mine Over Matter, I was back on the starting line of a triathlon, enjoying the hell out of myself at the Lakeside Olympic.

The ill advised racing kit has never been so apropos.

Then there was a 50k mountain bike race 5 weeks post-break, just days before my final cast came off. I may have walked a lot of the really sketchy, technical stuff, but damnit I rode trail!

One of my favourite race photos of ever.
Through it all, I worked hard with therapy putty, testing my limits and trying to improve each day. I had a lot of pain and depressingly little strength in the wrist when the cast was finally removed; there was a lot of atrophy and stiffness, making me wonder if I'd ever be able to have a normal life again.

I think I've seen this somewhere before..

Yep, that's it.

It took months before I was able to return to normal push-ups, working with a barbell, and even simply go more than a day pain-free. I've been persistent, though, and as time passes I find myself doing something unthinkingly (like pulling a water bottle out of a bike cage with my left hand) and marveling that "hey, I couldn't do that without pain (or at all) just a couple of months ago".

This season I've raced another off-road race on my mountain bikea tough spring classic, a half iron distance tri, and numerous other events. I've done a 9-day / 3,000km motorcycle tour, and will be leaving in a couple of weeks to go backpacking in Algonquin Park. My amazing new mountain bike - which I had for a week and a half before breaking myself, damaging it in the process - has been repaired and is now just as much fun to ride on the trails as he ever was.

His cast will never come off, though.

While not everything is perfect and I still have some aching and soreness from time to time (it's actually a pretty good warning sign that I'm starting to over-train), Dr. Bischoff was right - I do have a pretty good wrist, and a lot for which to be thankful. It wasn't until after the cast had come off that he really let me in on how serious the fracture had been, and he was constantly amazed by the progress I made - I'll never forget the look on his face when I told him I was miffed at having to use grips to do push-ups 10 weeks after the initial crash, since I didn't have the range of motion back to put my hand flat on the floor! I've since regained that, though it's not quite as good as the flexibility I have in my other wrist. I'll never be quite the same again as I was before, but my new normal really just serves to highlight how far I've come in the last year, and not to take what I can do for granted.

Sometimes "good enough" really is.

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