I never expected my 1st post to be about what I haven’t been doing rather than what I have. By now I expected to be blogging about how the London League and 1st round of the National Trophy had gone but things haven’t quite gone according to plan.
Illness and Injury can affect anyone at any time no matter what your best intentions are. In my case it has been almost comically bad timing and to make it worse entirely self-inflicted. There is a saying though ‘You can’t change the past. You can change the future’. So this post is not going to be about self-pity and feeling sorry for myself but more about my experience (so far) with dealing with a broken collarbone, the NHS, Private Hospitals, alternate treatment, being self-employed and unable to work and generally life in general.
So let’s go back a month. My first proper race of the season should have been the London League race down at Fowlmead. The day before the race I adjusted a few bits on my old cross bike and wanted to test it was all running smoothly. I thought ‘yes, I’ll just go across the road for 10 minutes to make sure it was shifting and braking properly before the next days race’. So I did…… Except I only did 9 minutes before hitting something and landing on my left shoulder. I knew immediately that it was broken. Anyone who’s snapped a bone before knows that feeling where they put their weight on one part of their body and it doesn’t do what it’s meant to. I knew my left collarbone was broken as soon as I tried to push up with that hand. From that point it was a case of get back home, get to the hospital and get it sorted as soon as possible.
The local NHS hospital exceeded my pretty low expectations for 9pm on a Saturday night. I just walked upto the reception, gave them my details, showed them the protrusion from my shoulder and got ushered through to the urgent care centre. An hour later I’d been X-ray’d and was being seen by the nurse again. Despite the state of the various bones I was told the Local NHS authority do not operate on broken collarbones, given a sling that didn’t work, told they don’t know how long it would take to heal and given a few painkillers (co-codamol) and anti-inflammatories (diclofenac) and sent on my way.
The next day I spoke a club mate who just happened to have broken his collarbone a couple times in the past 2 years. Although bad for him, it was actually good for me as he was able to provide more information about what to expect then the NHS were able to provide, lent me a sling that worked and suggested a small place in Ipswich that specialises in these sort of breaks.
Onto Monday and I tried to get an appointment with a consultant at a private hospital as I wasn’t happy with the NHS approach. This however was more difficult than expected. You’d think it would be a case of phone up, explain what happened, and give your credit card details over if you are self-funded like myself (self-employed so no Health Insurance).
As I found out you need a referral from a doctor first. The earliest opportunity was Tuesday so I booked it. Secondly, there are consultants that do not see patients that do not have medical cover irrespective of my ability to pay for myself. There I was thinking that was something that only happened in the states but it happens here too.
So I get to see a consultant on Wednesday up at London Bridge. He advises me to leave it for a week to see how it’s healing before making any decisions…and gives me another sling.
Thursday I make the journey over to Ipswich to have some ‘alternative’ treatment involving laser therapy and pulsed field magnetic therapy. Without going into too much detail you just lay down and have a couple odd contraptions doing their stuff at the site of the injury. It doesn’t directly make the bone heal quicker but is designed to eliminate the things which delay the bone from healing if that makes any sense. It seemed to make a huge difference and by the time I left I was able to move my arm in some directions again whilst still being careful to keep the collarbone in exactly the same position.
They also advised not to take any anti-inflammatories if at all possible as they are counterproductive. Your body needs to take its natural course in order to heal so using them actually slows down the healing process.
Oh and I got another sling.
Tuesday the 20th and I pay another visit to the consultant and get another couple x-rays done. They show the bones are now more out of position now then after the original accident. We discuss the pros and cons of surgery and within a few days I’ve advised I’d like to go ahead with the operation. It’s a long term decision more than anything else. The bone is so far out of position its bound to cause long term issues with the area surrounding it. Although there are potential problems with an op I feel it’s the best decision to go ahead with it.
So the op is now booked in for Wed 19th October. This was the soonest they could fit me in unless I wanted to get seen at the ultra-expensive London Bridge Hospital. I had the pre op assessment yesterday (12th) which could still throw one potential spanner in the works but I’m hopeful that the anaesthetist is happy to go ahead. (More details on that once they have a verdict)
So what have I been doing for the past month? I’m self-employed doing what can be a pretty physical job. As I can’t drive and can’t lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee I can’t work. Sounds like a good excuse to be a bit lazy! Plenty of meals out, sorting out bits for the business, trying to keep the home clean as I’m trying to sell it, daytime TV, more food, more coffee (decaf), a small amount of training (another post will follow on that) and that’s pretty much it.
I’ve had a few people ask me in all seriousness “Are you going to give up cycling now?” and in all honesty my answer is always a pretty defiant “no” without even thinking about it, as if the question itself is ridiculous. I work to pay the bills and give myself an income that I can use on the things I enjoy. Stopping doing something you enjoy because of a setback wouldn’t make sense.
So hopefully next weeks operation will be successful and I’ll be back at work and riding again outside by the end of November. I’ll be racing cross again as soon as I get the strength back in the upper body and may do the odd circuit race in preparation before then. In between now and then I’ll help out the team in the pits whenever I can and will be looking forward to the day I can ride outside again.
Simple pleasures eh!