After three decades of athletics and adventure filled antics, I guess my first broken bone at 32 is not all bad. Unfortunately however, I must add a Grade 4 AC joint separation and a muscle stuck in between the fracture to this first broken bone. My distal clavicle fracture looked pretty aligned in the initial x-ray, but the follow-up CT scan and MRI confirmed an unfortunate scenario for my right shoulder. It’s a “unique and unusual” situation, but thankfully I have a couple of great surgeons ready to piece it back together today.
The Crash: I was out riding, doing what I love. I was finishing up a great 70+ mile ride in Scottsdale and as I attempted to make the final turn into LifetimeFitness, I looked over my left shoulder to check for traffic, and before I looked forward again I was on the ground wincing in pain. My front tire caught a rut (small gap between the concrete road and shoulder), and I was thrown over the handlebars. My front tire was still stuck in the rut as my back wheel and I where over the top. The front wheel was jammed, and it was quite the challenge just to get it out (that rim is now toast). After 3 hrs waiting to get into the ER, they took an x-ray to confirm the clavicle break and I received my first morphine shot.
Diagnosis: I got into an Orthopedic shoulder specialist as soon as I got back to Mpls on Monday. A special thanks to Dr. Margarita Sevilla (was part of the LTF cycle camp) for coordinating such great care. Dr. Klepach reviewed the x-ray, and although the break looked pretty well aligned she thought we should do a CT scan to get a better idea what’s going on. I heard back on Wednesday that a few different shoulder surgeons were looking at the results, and they were concerned with the amount of separation between the fracture. They wanted to know more so I was in for an MRI on Friday. Meanwhile, thankfully my manager allowed me to work from home all week, so I didn’t miss too much on the workfront. On Monday, March 7th I had an appt with the orthos and they showed me all the pretty images of my messed up shoulder. As she classified my shoulder as Grade 4 and pointed to a handy chart with the explanations, I knew surgery would be necessary (only pics and description for grade1-3 as 4-5 are extremly rare). Two days later, here I am, getting ready for my first hospital stay, not to mention my first surgery.
Recovery: Considering the unique nature of my injury, the surgical course of action remains somewhat unknown. My surgeons have a few plans in mind, but will make the final call once they get in and see what they have to work with. I did hear 16 weeks before I can swim again, maybe back to 'normal' in 9-10 months, but should know more after the surgery. One thing I do know is that I will be diligent with the recovery protocol and won’t be rushing back to activity early. I want to have a healthy shoulder for a long time and if my initial activity is limited to physical therapy rehab, then so be it. Being healthy and active for a lifetime is much more important than rushing into anything to defy odds and race this season.
Blessed: In the big picture, this little accident and surgery is nothing. Just this morning I heard the awful news about professional runner and triathlete Sally Meyerhoff. Just yesterday, she was stuck by a truck in the Phoenix area while riding her bike. She was just getting into triathlon, but showed HUGE promise as a 2:35 marathoner. It just makes me sick to think about how sad her family and friends are right now as they’re forced into such a tragic and early goodbye. I’ve been putting my little accident in perspective all week as I consider myself blessed and lucky for everything I still have around me, but Sally’s tragedy brings this perspective to a whole new level.
What’s Next: When I draw on what makes me happiest, it’s being able to play and train with my family and friends. My primary objective is to get back to being able to do that. As far as racing goes, I had a pretty full race schedule planned with a focus on OLY distance racing. I had been swimming a ton and making great progress with my training and fitness level, so I’m sad I won’t be putting that to good use. BUT, In my mind right now, this season will be about recovery, training for health (mental and physical) and about giving back to the wonderful triathlon community as a volunteer. I may be able to race late season, but for now, that’s not my focus.
BIG Thank-You: No matter what, I have the most wonderful people around me. All the support I’ve received this week is a beautiful reminder of the people I’m so blessed to have in my life. I’ve always considered myself blessed, but this little detour has heightened my appreciation for the life I have. Of course, I’ll be unable to do many of my favorite things for a little while, but I’ll be back in no time. I’m learning through this forced slowdown to look at the big picture and not sweat the small stuff. I special thanks to my new chauffeur (Kerry) for driving me around. The flowers, the cards, the calls, the texts, the M&Ms (had to give some away in fear of turning into one), chopped up veggies/fruit, and the love and support that’s been flowing on Facebook has been very touching and appreciated. Again, so many reminders for just how lucky I am.