|“Waiting Room” by Stefano Fornara (2009)|
After a new round of X-rays, I am still clinging to a little bit of hope that I won’t need surgery on my broken collarbone. Today I met with an orthopedic surgeon whose evaluation included not just the X-rays of my most recent injury, but also the X-rays of my first collarbone break. This is the fourth time I have suffered a significant shoulder injury, all on the left side:
- 8/20/2008—Crashed on a group road ride in New Jersey. Recovered for 16 days before I could ride outside again. Collarbone was fractured but not displaced, and no surgical intervention was required.
- 8/06/2010—Crashed on the Wild Goose State Trail. Recovered for 10 days before I could ride outside again. Suspected only soft tissue trauma and not a fracture. Did not seek medical attention.
- 7/26/2012—Fell while running the bases in a softball game. Again suspected only soft tissue trauma and did not seek medical attention. Was able to continue riding without interruption.
- 9/08/2013—Crashed in the WORS race at Lake Geneva.
Today the surgeon suggested that my previous injuries might have done some nerve damage, which could explain the almost complete absence of pain this time. On Sunday and Monday nights, I took an over-the-counter painkiller at bedtime just as a precaution against waking up in discomfort. And that’s it; I received no pain medication from the EMTs at the race or from nurses in the ER. Being a one-armed man has sucked, but it hasn’t hurt and I have a far greater range of motion than I did in the first few days after my earlier injuries. The surgeon has warned me not to take advantage of that fact. I must wear a sling and keep my left arm as quiet as possible. Next Thursday I will return to the surgeon for more X-rays. At that point I will be 11 days post-injury … maybe still too soon to make a decision on surgery.
The longer that decision takes, the more cycling events disappear from my calendar. If surgery is the way to go, then I have ridden my last miles until next spring. If natural healing progresses in a best-case scenario, then I might be able to return to the cyclocross series in October.