Broken Ribs: Week 1

For those who missed, I had a cycling accident a week ago today.  The result was some bad road rash, but most importantly – one rib confirmed broken, suspected fractures (they don’t show up well on X-ray apparently).

The bike

…was fine.  I took it in for a tune-up, and all that needed to be done was:

  • The stem was off center – easily corrected
  • Some rear derailleur cable housing got replaced
  • Wheels needed a little truing

When I dropped it off, I found out “everyone in the local cycling community knew about the crash”.  I still haven’t heard anything about the woman behind me whom we thought busted a collarbone, but her husband apparently spent the following day bragging about how he “torn a strip off me” while I was sitting on the ground, waiting for the ambulance.  This guy is a known personality, opinionated and no filter… I was warned months ago he’d taken an interest in me, which was when I was told he was denied cycling club membership because he is so caustic.  The club is talking at the start point about providing non-members 2 rides before they are required to get a membership, but it appears to be on personal disclosure rather than active checking.  And we pickup people on the route, as it’s too far for some to make the start.  There will always be idiots…

The Ribs

I took most of the week off work.  I had a surplus of holiday time, and moving the wrong way was excruciating.  Even on extra strength Advil…  Initially, I could hear and feel the rib float in and out with my breathing.  Which explained why it was difficult to figure out what movement would cause me grief – some stuff was OK, depending on where the rib was.  Driving a standard transmission, it was problematic to shift into second.

While the pain can be bad, the point of the medication is to prevent pneumonia.  I don’t know who that works for, it certainly wasn’t me.  Laughing and sneezing were painful but could be avoided.  Coughing leaves me incapacitated for almost 5 minutes, and in one case seemed to push the rib out.

Unlike most I’ve talked to, I can sleep.  Sleeping on my back is fine, but either side and face down are getting better.  It’s more about transitioning between positions that triggers pain.

Based on the nutritional information on a milk carton, I’ve been drinking 1% milk because it’s fortified.  1 cup yields 30% of the recommended daily dose of calcium, and 45% of the recommended vitamin D (necessary for absorbing the calcium).  Also, I’m eating more salmon while not having my once-a-week steak, as red meat is said to leach calcium.

The Ride, or: This Ride is Sponsored by Advil

I got out on my commuter the day before.  I had planned on testing on Thursday, but a cough left me extremely sore.  The ride was on relatively flat ground, but a couple of small, minor hills.  It was a good experience – my legs were fine, my upper body is stable and not moving so as to aggravate the injury.  The only thing I encountered was the breathing – too much/too deep, and I’d feel the rib.  So I did was most would not choose to…

I showed up for my usual 100ish KM ride.  It takes roughly 30 minutes to get to the start point, so if I really couldn’t handle it, I’d have known.  But things were fine. There was some ribbing in the parking lot, lots were concerned it’d be too much. I opted to go with the C group, only to find it was largely B group regulars like myself.  My plan was to ride the first third, and decide at the rest point what to do.  I felt fine, but opted to make a C group of one if necessary.  There was a 13 yr old riding with us, so he got paired with me and I took him on a shortcut so we did 95% of the total route.  That kid was quite capable.  He was fine on the flats, but understandably he didn’t have the strength for the hills.  Also, he needs to grow and fatten up to make a sufficient draft 😉

I led for most of the route, as the kid did not know it.  And there was nasty headwind.  I was spooked I might loose him and not know it, but he was good about calling out when he had difficulty.  I’d warn him too about the route, when to expect bad pavement or hills and to know that I’d wait if necessary.  I stopped twice, but he was never more than a few seconds behind.  He rode better than a lot of adults who’ve come out.

I think we saw the A group as we neared the end of our shortcut (maybe 10 KM), and it turned out B group overtook us about 5 KM later.  Both of us wondered who the group was – could have been the other piece of A if there were a breakaway…  The kid wanted to join with the group, so we incorporated for a little bit.  But I stuck with him when he dropped back to say it was too fast for him.  They were out of sight pretty quick, and I don’t remember encountering any stragglers who fell off.  Either way, good on the kid for knowing what he was capable of.

We came to the psuedo finish line, so I got the kid to pull over to chat about what to do next.  It was the spot for me to head home, but I didn’t know how knowledgeable or comfortable he was.  We waited a little, and the rest of the C group caught up to us so we all headed off at the light.  Which took forever, because cyclist can’t trigger the light… A timid driver had to be really encouraged to pull up.  There were a lot of annoyed drivers, but it wasn’t really the fault of us cyclists – we didn’t run the red light, and again the driver was timid about turning right when there was a cyclist behind them.  But that was the worst of it.  I’d already discussed how far I’d take the kid into town (I’d have done full distance if necessary), and with the remainder of C group he had people to ride with.

I was glad someone suggested the shortcut.  I could have done full distance, but it’s only been a week.  Why push it?

Conclusion

I’m fine for cycling, so long as I don’t go crazy.  A short week too, thanks to Easter weekend.

Swimming was cancelled last week due to a swim meet, so Tuesday/Thursday I’ll see if or how capable I am swimming while recovering from the broken rib.  I’ve been testing my mobility, which seems fine.  But I’m concerned about strength, as I’m still not holding things with sufficient weight.

I haven’t tried running yet.  I don’t want to do it on my usual 5 KM loop because it’s so hilly.  5 KM on that loop feels like 7-8 KM on flat ground.  Which has led me to run a 10 KM loop elsewhere, and it feels better.  I think it might have to do with flat ground allowing me to develop more of a stride, where my 5 KM loop is most hill after hill.

I foresee taking Advil for the next week.  I want to get off it ASAP.  See the link in the previous post for why it’s bad and additionally bad for those on blood thinners.