I had a cycling accident yesterday, confirmed one rib broken and likely a few fractured. The person behind me probably broke their collarbone. 😦
I think I can feel the rib float back and forth when I move the wrong way… There’s nothing you can do for ribs – it takes time for things to solidify again. So you want to increase calcium intake – most dairy products are fortified with calcium these days but for lactose intolerant or the spectrum of vegetarianism – tofu is the best non-fortified source of calcium, followed by sardines and sesame seeds. Tahini time! But the key to building your bones is not how much calcium you ingest – it’s how much you absorb. Vitamin D aids calcium absorption – so if not out in the sunlight, start eating salmon, sardines, or tuna. The only option I’ve encountered is fortified soy milk for vegans/vegetarians – or supplements. It is possible to get too much vitamin D, especially by overdoing supplements. Excess vitamin D can cause the body to absorb too much calcium and can lead to kidney damage. What foods should be avoided? Red meat, foods containing preservatives, and soft drinks with caffeine and other caffeinated beverages.
In light of medical care not being able to do much for you beyond a pain prescription, it is still worth a trip to the emergency unit. It’s possible your lung can get punctured, leading to larger issues. Internal bleeding is a serious concern, especially if on blood thinners.
24 Hours, Post Injury
Even typing is difficult. It’s a constant game of figuring out what triggers horrific pain. When the pain killers kick in, doing what they’re supposed to – allow you to breath, cough, and sneeze so you don’t develop pneumonia. I had a brief discussion with an emergency doctor about Advil/Ibuprofen (see this post for details) – he acknowledged my concerns but said that for the amount and brief time period, it would be OK. I’m aware of the risks of taking it long term and while on blood thinner, but I think I caught him wince at the idea of me getting through this without painkiller.
My arm is quite bandaged. The road rash starts about mid-forearm, and goes over and a little past my shoulder. There’s a section on the forearm that is still bleeding – it’s apparent through the bandage. I was next to a retired nurse (there for her boyfriend) who winced at the sight of my forearm. Once it was cleaned, it was obvious that a butterfly bandage, stitches/suture wouldn’t help – there was chunks missing. Aside from bleeding on things, the road rash doesn’t bother me at all – it’s the rib and supporting musculature that reminds me what I can and can not do.
Jokingly, I asked if I could stitch myself and the nurse replied “Suture self”. 😀
What Happened, and How to Avoid it in the Future
I got dropped from the group, and ended up paired with another rider. I’d never seen or met this rider before, and saw that they chatted with others casually so figured things were fine. What I came to learn is that this person could hold speed/pace with a partner, but on their own – their speed ebbed and flowed constantly. Consequently, I blinked and my front wheel overlapped with their back wheel by roughly six inches. They swerved to miss a decent pothole and I ended up going down. The person behind me wasn’t part of our ride, and was trying to hang on. I don’t think they hit me (or my bike) at all – sympathetic bail? More likely they couldn’t avoid both me and my bike.
This isn’t to scare anyone about group riding. Quite the opposite. You won’t feel comfortable in a group if you don’t experience it. And like most other sports or activities, you don’t get better by training on your own. Situations like these happen, and part of making sure they don’t happen is experience and knowledge to know when to give someone more space than others. The cycling draft is effective for more than a few feet/a meter off someones rear wheel (see Win Tunnel: Drafting on youtube), but admittedly I dislike that much space in case of a surge which might leave you “gap-ed”. Like swimming, it can be a lot of work to get back into that draft, but the benefits are real.