Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Forgetting Pain

It's been exactly a month since I smashed my head and collar bone. Thank God we forget pain. I'm still not allowed to forget it for long. Several times a day, I either move my arm in a way that causes pain, or a shooting pain comes out of nowhere and hits me in the shoulder. I'm guessing that's just a normal part of a bolted-together clavicle trying to be whole again.

I have a stationary bike, which I prefer over a real bike on a trainer because of its massive weight and stability. I can get a little dopey, which I'm inclined to do when I train hard, and not worry about tipping the bike over if I start to lose my balance. (That would get my friends and family laughing behind my back…breaking a collar bone by falling off my indoor bike.) A couple friends, when they heard of me getting hurt, asked, "Did you fall off your bike again?" That sounds so retarded, so I don't even answer the question. Yes, I guess I "fell off my bike" when a cat jumped into the tri-spoke front wheel of my bike a few years back. And yes, I guess when I lost control on a mountain biking descent last month, I "fell off my bike." I may be retarded, but I prefer a phrase like "I crashed."

Anyway, today is worth celebrating, not just because it's exactly a month after the crash. I'm celebrating the fact that I was able to stand on my stationary bike and put both hands down on the handlebar. Yes. The law of gravity has been repealed. If I can stand in that position, I can train hard. In fact, since I can't really reach the handlebars with my left arm when I'm sitting down, maybe this phase of my recovery will be good for my hill-climbing training.

I'm still looking at a few more weeks before I try this out on the road, but at least I can start to dream good dreams again. Being able to REALLY train will help me forget the pain, too.

Tomorrow? I see the surgeon for the first time since the surgery on the 8th. I just might get these 26 staples removed, since the 6"-long wound seems to be staying shut on its own now. Wow…all kinds of things to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Clavicle Construction Calendar

It's October 13th. Let's see, it's been only 16 days since I screwed up on September 27th. (And I mean REALLY screwed up. See my previous blog.) My routine is highly modified. I feel like an amputee twice my age. (That's pretty freakin' old.) I won't be back on the real bikes for quite a while, but I did spin on the stationary bike for a while yesterday, sitting straight up. Then I felt sick and tired…and my ass hurt like hell since it had to support 100% of my weight. (The sick part may be from taking my first peek at the new 4-in-long opening in my shoulder, crudely stapled shut.)

I'm not nearly as depressed as I was for the first few days after the crash. In fact, I'm in decent spirits. I have a lot to be thankful for. But when I was doing my retarded, one-armed, don't-get-the-bandage-area-wet shower routine an hour ago, I suddenly got angry. I got angry that this whole thing happened. I got angry that I was knocked out so I don't even know exactly what went wrong. It makes no sense that I got angry. After all, it was an accident. I wasn't being "reckless" as one of my brothers accused in a thoughtless, scornful e-mail. It just happened. It's like when another brother of mine broke his hip after he hit a speed bump that blended in with the road in the filtered light through the trees. He wasn't being reckless. Accidents happen. I need to get over this now. I can't turn back the clock. I need to think ahead, not backward in time.

I should feel nothing but glee. I no longer feel like someone is driving a big drill bit through my shoulder. That's what it felt like about 24 hours after everything was bolted together and stapled shut. That Percocet just couldn't kick in fast enough, so I was thankful that no one else was home. I literally screamed in pain. (You know what, it's nice to let it out!) I guess I had reached the "10" that the folks at the hospital mentioned when asking me about my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10, which was always at a 2 or 3 when they asked. I think we pass out from shock when we hit 12 or so. I've been off the meds for days, and I'm really glad I opted for surgery, because I know those bone shards would still be jostling around in there if I didn't have them put back together with a plate and screws. That jostling hurt like hell.

OK, let's look forward. I've been giving loving, helpful advice to our niece, who just dropped out of UCLA for the quarter. She's living with us for now, trying to figure out how to get her mind and her life in order. She said I seem to "get" her. (I don't know how I could begin to "get" what she's going through. I'm 50 years old and my mom is still alive. Hers died when she was 5 years old.) Maybe I can relate to what she's going through just a little since I just had a physical catastrophe that parallels her psychological catastrophe. We can both recover. She's younger, smarter, and much better looking than I am, but I'm still giving myself a fair chance at a full recovery. We're going to think good thoughts. And someday, I'm going to be able to apply any "depressed" or "angry" energy to the pedals, turning it into the joy of competitive cycling. I can't wait.