Heal collar bone, damn you, heal!


Two months ago, when I broke my collar bone, I thought it might be possible, but as the weeks have passed and my worsening relationship with the turbo has left my fitness to wane, I couldn’t escape the singular fact – I wasn’t going to be strong enough to race this Sunday’s Circuit of the Fens support race. It is a big disappointment, and if I had still held any lingering hope in the days before, Thursday’s fracture clinic appointment would have squashed them. I’ll still be there though, sat behind the wheel of lead car one, with a police escort, leading the riders across closed Fen droves.

The best bit of Thursday’s clinic was the X-ray. A petite radiographer ushered me into the zapping room and asked me to remove my top (this wasn’t required at my last visit and it didn’t look like they had installed new cotton sensitive equipment). I obliged without fuss then stood in front of the plate. You’re tall she said, moving the machine a little higher. I stood a little straighter and a he had to move the machine up again.

After the X-ray I went to see the consultant. A nurse pulled up last months X-ray, realised her mistake and pulled up the new one. Hmm, that doesn’t look any different, she commented. She double checked, there were differences, but they were subtle. A month on and my collarbone appears to have progressed little in its healing. The bone is joined, but where the halves have overlapped and partially fused, the X-ray still showed a gap.

Of course the X-ray doesn’t tell the full story. Today I have full, pain free movement, although I do get an occasional clicking and if I’ve laid badly overnight, an ache. I can drive and this week I’ve started using Boris bikes, for the short hop from station to work and back again. It’s been fine, next week I plan to return to a more normal level of cycling, but sadly I don’t think I’ll be heading up to Rockingham Speedway again this year. I have the consultants blessing; activity is good, but I’m to avoid the weights. Well I’ve never been one for bench presses.

The plan B I’ve been working on is to start regaining my fitness for the cyclocross season; to vent my summer frustration on some mud. But the consultant said he wants to see me again in early September. He then went on to tell me, in great detail, the next likely step for if the bone hasn’t fully healed. Realignment and plating, namely rebreaking the bone and jiggling it around the muscle into a new position then bolting it together. I would be left with a scar and probably numbness around the cut. He didn’t make it sound an attractive option. If it comes to surgery then plan B may have to be dumped for plan C – telling the stories of my other scars from a hospital bed. The radiographer might like to hear them.

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About velorichard

Riding a bike around Cambridgeshire looking for some hills
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5 Responses to Heal collar bone, damn you, heal!

  1. Frank Burns says:

    That’s bad news for a racing guy like yourself. Hope plan C doesn’t materialise!

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  2. Stephen says:

    Hi Richard – stumbled across your blog today. Three weeks ago (4 Jan) my bike slid out from under me on black ice. Not only broke right collar bone, but cracked right hip socket too, so can’t even sit on a turbo! How long was it before your collar bone was firm enough for you to ride turbo and how long before back on bike outdoors? My goal is to get back enough form to do the Boudicca 100 miler in May. All the best, Stephen

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    • velorichard says:

      Hi Stephen, apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I’m sorry to hear about your crash and I hope you’re starting to heal up OK!
      My break last year was the second on the same bone and that complicated the healing. I had a large gap between two pieces of bone and it took a while for that to fill in – t was borderline for surgery. It was about 10 weeks before I was riding on the road, although part of that was down to a lack of motivation, however, I was on the turbo in 2 weeks of the break. For the turbo I used an inner tube as a sling. The turbo was more an exercise in keeping the legs ticking over rather than a serious training session though. However, I guess in your case getting onto the turbo is complicated by your hip.
      My first break was more straightforward, it was less complicated and I was a few years younger! That time I was on the turbo in a week and back on the bike about 6 weeks after the break. How quickly you heal will depend not just on the break, but age, diet and exercise. Avoid fizzy drinks, while vitamin D and calcium supplements may help. You also need to keep your arm and shoulder moving as much as is comfortable. For that I would encourage you to seek advice from a physio – a private one is money well spent and you’ll probably get some lovely massages too!
      Anyway, I hope you’re fit enough for the May ride and it would be great to hear how you get on.
      Richard

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      • Stephen says:

        Thanks for that – the hip sure makes things a lot worse. After 3 weeks there is no sign of anything repairing itself just yet and even the prospect of indoor riding looks a long way away. There doesn’t seem to be much one can do other than rest and eat lots of things with calcium in them. Still you got there in the end and so shall I. I will update when something happens.

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