A Triathlon-ish Blog

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  • The highs and (mainly) lows of breaking a collarbone

    The highs and (mainly) lows of breaking a collarbone

    I think it's fair to say this year has been a DIS-A-STER. Rehabbing from plica syndrome in my knee since November, broken ribs and now a broken collarbone. 

    I’m now at week 8 post-accident. At week 5 it was clear the collarbone wouldn’t heal on its own, so I had an operation and a plate put in. I was fairly upbeat as the consultant said 4-6 weeks to full-recovery; all very straight forward.

    Europeans in Romania…game on!

    Then, just before the op, the surgeon came in to talk me through things. The mood took a downward turn when he started talking 4 months' rehab and then another operation to remove the plate. 4 months! 4 freaking months!! I know I can be pedantic but that’s a tad different from 4-6 weeks.

    Europeans in Romania…no longer game on!

    So, the highs and lows of breaking a collarbone. Well, let's face it, the highs are non-existent, so, let’s crack on with the lows.

    1. Since the op, my collarbone hurts. It really hurts. It makes all other experiences, including two drugs-free childbirths, a walk in the park. I’m amazed this is categorised as day surgery. I was bed-ridden for 4 days. 17 days on I am still really struggling.

    2. Sleep. Oh, to be able to curl up in the foetal position. Oh, to not wake every 3 hours in pain. It turns out my traditional herbal medicinal restful night’s sleep product is utter tosh!

    3. Strong painkillers send me loopy, give me heart palpitations and make me panicky. 

    4. I'm finding a lot of people really annoying! 

    • Nosey strangers thinking I want to recall everything to them for the zillionth time. For the record, I don’t! 
    • Well-intended up-beat problem-solvers suggesting the break from training and racing will be good for me. It’s an opportunity to take up a new hobby. Let's be clear, when you're in the form of your life, you are not wanting a break; you just want to bask in that form. So, please, just hush down!
    • People with injury-stories. Just because I’m injured I don’t want to hear about other injuries. From some bloke showing off about his son being back on the bike after 2 weeks, to horror stories of recovery taking 2 years. I feel I'm having to work really hard to keep myself in a good head space. These don't help!

    I’d say the two best things that can be offered to an injured athlete are: empathy and practical help. Certainly, that's what I'm finding useful. 

    P.S. Two things I’ve found really helpful on this “journey”:

    • Form is temporary, class is permanent
    • There are always other races.

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  • Searching “Turbo training with a broken collarbone”

    Springtime! I felt my luck was changing. I was up to an hour on the turbo with some intervals - a huge improvement from 4 minutes at 100 watts. I’d even managed a family bike ride in the sunshine; it was amazing. My daily rehab and hourly icing was working. If single leg squats was a sport, I’d now be a competitive age-grouper.

    100 days to the Europeans in Romania…game on!

    I was beginning to believe my knee would hold up to riding outdoors. After 5 months off proper training, it was perhaps time to reveal my pastey legs to the world. Perhaps even shave them!

    But, now I’m searching “Turbo training with a broken collarbone”. The ‘let’s take up BMXing to improve my mountain biking’ is proving a bloomin’ disaster. Yes, I’m loads more confident on a bike, I’m more knowledgeable, my pumping's half-decent and I’ve had lots of fun, but at what a friggin’ cost!! Another crash and this time a broken collarbone. And of course, it’s in a place with an increased risk of not healing and needing surgery. Of course! 

    The consultant talked through the best-case scenario; I zoned out, waiting for the worst-case scenario, which these days feels more relevant! Flash backs to my broken finger that took 17 weeks to heal. “Fuckety-fuck!!” And as for Dartford A&E, I thought I was in a waiting room for auditions for the Jeremy Kyle show.

    I want a life without painkillers. I want to be able to wear a bra! I want a life where my husband isn’t doubling up as my carer. I want to be able to drive - have some independence. Dare I say it, I want to be able to aqua-run!

    I want my old life back!!

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  • Life in the sloth lane

    Life in the sloth lane

    It's been seven hours and 105 days. Since I could ride without knee pain. 

    Never have I felt like such a sloth on her period 24/7! 

    The initial prognosis was pretty straight-forward - loosen off your IT band area and all will be fine. Straight-forward it hasn’t been…15 appointments (doctor, physio, osteo and a consultant in sports medicine & rheumatology) and an MRI scan later. Thank the Lordy I have health insurance!

    My life currently comprises hours and hours of diligent rehab and foam rollering whilst watching Eating With My Ex* to stave off the boredom. Then, rest, more rest. Then, test the knee; it’s worse than ever - tears, anti-inflammatories, ice...repeat…ad infinitum.

    I’ve never quite realised the profound effect exercise has on my mood. Not just the endorphins but the social interaction, being outdoors, enjoying nature, pushing my limits, the process of getting fitter and working towards goals.

    Then there’s the whole issue of my relationship with food and weight. Totally normal in training-mode. Totally not normal in sloth-mode!

    My initial concern was being fit for the Europeans in July. More recently, as captured in my consultant's notes, it's simplified to: "she has no idea as to what is causing her pain and her lack of training is causing psychological distress." "Psychological distress" feels a bit strong but I've definitely found myself in a downward spiral...feeling blah, which made me hermit-y, and being hermit-y made me feel more blah...repeat…ad infinitum.

    To break the blah-hermit cycle, I decided to focus on what I can do. Strangely, I can ride my BMX pain-free so, I decided to focus on that (and hopefully there will be some transfer of skills to when I finally get back racing my MTB.) 

    Marginally more interesting than a vid of me aqua-running! Courtesy Harry Molloy.

    I can also aqua-run, which is deadly dull. And I look a total dork! But, the evidence suggests it’s an effective substitute for proper running and afterwards I get the same feel good response as I do to ‘proper’ exercise. 

    My BTF Level 2 Diploma also got finished so, I am now offering 1-to-1 coaching. Yey!

    So, my diagnosis is plica syndrome (knee inflammation near my fat pads). I’ve had a corticosteroid injection, which should have me fully back with the love of my life between my legs in 4 weeks ;-). I'm on a week of total rest and then next Wednesday I have “a date” with my turbo, super low wattage, to see if I can ride pain-free. Fingers (and everything else) crossed as I desperately want to be back riding. 

    *If my knee doesn't improve soon I fear I'll be appearing on Eating With My Ex!

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