Thursday, April 16, 2009

At last!

first ride
"Hallelujah!" was the thought running through my mind as I rode my bike last Tuesday for the first time in 10 weeks. And, actually, this was my first ride on my new bike, which was an incredibly generous & timely gift from an "anonymous benefactor." The new yet-to-be named bike had rested quietly in my bedroom, reminding me that being patient through my recovery would be worth it. I had my bike fitting early in the morning in Mill Valley, and then took off, a little hesitantly at first, to try out one of the classic area rides--the Paradise Loop. This route loops around the Tiburon Peninsula, and is mostly rolling hills and flat, with one longer climb at the beginning, depending on how you start. I was wondering, "Would I make it up El Camino okay?" "Could I last the whole distance?" "Would my clavicle become too sore?" I am using a new type of Speedplay pedals (Zero) for this bike, which are a bit more stiff to get into. But I was determined to give it a shot. I ate half of a PureFit bar and was on my way. The hill was not too bad, and the descent was okay, although I felt a little rusty on my cornering skills and I was on the brakes more than usual. But with a short stop for photos in Tiburon, I finished the ride feeling pretty good, all things considered. More than anything, I was happy--so happy--to be outside riding again, and riding my new bike in particular. My cousin, a cellist who had a devastating injury to her elbow at a crucial point in her college career, advised me that the best therapy she had was to just play her cello. And for me, after one week of being back "out there," I couldn't agree more.

another weekend ride

Thursday, April 09, 2009

10 Weeks Post (Almost)

Today I had some good news from my visit with the orthopedic physician assistant (PA) who has been following my progress over the past two months. The X-ray tech showed me the images of my clavicle and ribs immediately after the exam and my first reaction was, "Oh no! I haven't healed at all!" I walked back over to visit with the PA and wondered what he would say. He pulled up the X-rays and pointed out the areas where bone callus has formed, which is a critical stage in healing. I don't know why, but thinking about all of those bone cells finding each other just makes me laugh. I have this image of cells on one bone calling out, "We're here! We're here!" and cells on the other fragment saying "Catch this rope!" Anyway, I am happy to think of my bone doing its thing to repair the damage I so cruelly inflicted! My PA said that I had passed a critical stage in healing, and that the bones were strong enough now to bear almost normal weight. I asked whether I might accidentally re-fracture the bone but he said this was unlikely unless I did anything really stupid like throw a 50 gallon jug over my head, or take a bad fall. "Can I ride outside?" "Can I run?" "Can I swim?" The answer to these questions was "Yes" with the disclaimer that it would probably be quite painful for some time, so I may not want to. Yeah, I get that. I admit that I've tried running here and there to see how it feels, and I don't think I'm quite ready to go for it yet. Apparently, the bone takes about 3 months to be mostly healed but a full 9 months to become fully remodeled and calcified etc.

After my PA listened carefully to all of my questions, and answered the ones he could, I hustled over to my physical therapy appointment. My PT gave me some new exercises to increase the flexibility in my arm and shoulder. Throughout the healing process, the shoulder joint itself has not stiffened up too much, which is a relief, considering my prior episode of (probable) frozen shoulder on this side. My PT explained that the muscles form a sort of internal brace to protect the fracture and that this may be why stretching my arm much causes nearly searing pain in my upper arm. Also, I need to work on loosening the muscles in my upper back, which is the other area of continued pain. I have a hard time not slumping forward because sitting with an upright posture quickly leads to an achy back.

While not being able to swim, run or bike, I have been able to enjoy hiking during the beautiful spring weather we've been enjoying. The hillsides are green and the wildflowers are in full bloom. Here's a shot from the top of a hill in the Marin Headlands.