Crash — check.
Collarbone — broken.
Coming back …. work in progress.
A little over six weeks ago. The day was Sunday. The date was July 13th. It was going to be a long training day with great friends. We were one week out from Chelanman, an Olympic distance triathlon. I met Roxie and Rusty at Lake Padden for a swim, which oddly I have no recollection of whatsoever. I know we swam, I just can’t recall ANY of it, not even driving to the lake or what I ate for breakfast that morning. But, I know I swam and then we all set out for a long 50+ bike ride with a run to follow. This date was also going to mark my 54th day of running straight. My runstreak was going amazing!
I do recall some of my bike ride from Lake Padden to Chuckanut. I also remember passing a unicyclist and taking a picture of him behind me.
I almost hit this weird patch in the pavement along Chuckanut Dr and my heart was racing, thinking I was going to crash. I didn’t however. Not then …
As Roxie and I were coming out of Chuckanut Dr and onto the Skagit Flats, Rusty was about 200 feet in front of us. We were riding comfortably side by side in our aero position. AND, we just so happened to be talking about how nice it was to be able to ride next to someone and feel completely at ease knowing that neither one of you would make any overt moves to put the other in danger.
and then …
Without warning, it was like our front tires were magnetized, as they sucked in with such force and sent both of us flying. In less than a second, we tasted pavement. There was no time to react or think in this split second, we were already down before the thought popped in my head.
Our speeds had been between 21 and 24 mph, which propelled the both of so violently that neither of us could do anything to recover or break the fall. I went down directly on my right shoulder and spun around on my right shoulder-blade. I could feel the loose gravel below me, hot and burning. I had no idea where my bike was, but I looked ahead of me and could see Roxie about 15 feet away on her back and looking at me.
I was grabbing my right arm and trying to get up to get to her. I was kicking my legs and yelling for Roxie, apologizing because I had no idea what had just happened. Rusty came running back to us and I could hear him telling me to stay still. I could hear Roxie calling to me and apologizing too and all I wanted to do was get over to her to make sure she was okay.
I was a mess. Something hurt so incredibly bad, it was a type of pain I had never felt before. I realized I was grabbing my right upper arm and holding it close with my left hand, but did not know why. I had never broken a bone in my life … surely this couldn’t be broken. Just badly bruised I’m sure. Maybe not … it hurt like hell. OH DAMN!
I was pissed. Thoughts of my race the following weekend went through my head. This could not be happening. Get me up. Roxie! Someone call my husband. Mother F’er! Aaaggggghhhhh NOOOOO!
Volunteer firefighters showed up and they were kind. My RoadID was on my wrist but the older volunteer couldn’t understand to read the number, so I just gave him my husband’s number. It didn’t matter though because Rusty had already called Dean. Rusty was taking care of the both of us. The first ambulance arrived and took Roxie because she hit her head hard and was in and out of consciousness. I was sick to my stomach. What the hell just happened? All I could picture was our wheels coming together and the sound of the metal tangling and throwing us. I just cried. BECAUSE I was mad, pissed, confused, hurt, and sad that Roxie had been injured.
The second ambulance came for me and before they even tried to move me, they started an IV and gave me some pain meds. More flowed in the ambulance and I remember taking one photo …
The emergency room was a blur. I think I was on so many pain meds by this time. My husband and daughter showed up and I immediately started bawling and apologizing.
The x-rays were taken right in my room and showed a broken right collarbone …
I was told that most people don’t have surgery for a broken collarbone and it would possibly heal on its own, but since it was broken in more than one place with fragments in between, I might want to think about seeing an orthopedic surgeon for surgery. I made my way to Roxie’s room as we were both being discharged at the same time. Just walking a few feet to her room, I broke out in a sweat and had to sit down. It was not a pretty site and I felt nauseous.
We finally made it out of the hospital and picked up our bikes, which were so graciously taken to the nearby fire hall for safekeeping. The ride home was a pukefest and I felt horrible for my family having to listen to me. It hurt so bad to throw up because I didn’t have anything in me to throw up and it was moving my shoulder all around. UGH!
The next several days were spent high on pain medications because the pain was quite literally, the worst I had ever felt. It hurt to sleep, to move, and I was a dirty mess! I was frustrated that I couldn’t get into the orthopedic surgeon until Friday, July 18th, five days after my accident. However, once I did get in, the doc wanted to get me in for surgery right away to fix my collarbone, which was the first bit relief I had all week. Finally, someone to fix it! I offered him all sort of gift cards and incentives to fix it right then and there that day, but he laughed and said he liked my motivation, but suggested Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday it was!
Surgery day: July 22nd. I was excited and nervous. I just wanted to be fixed and whole again. Surgery was uneventful for me as I was under a pain/nerve block and anesthesia. Once the both of those wore off … sometime the next day …
ohhhhhh man …
WORST PAIN EVER! Even worse than the initial bike crash. What did I do? How long will this last? And, my pain meds weren’t even cutting through the pain. Thankfully, the worst of the pain was over within 48 hours and I was just really uncomfortable for the next week. My daughter was magnificent and took such awesome care of me, keeping me on schedule with my pain meds. The next week was spent in bed, watching a bit (or a lot) of Netflix and sleeping. I had never slept so much in my life!
Every day was better and better and I went off all my pain meds one week post surgery. I signed up for another 70.3 (Oceanside) and also planned my first 50K in December. Hey … I’m an optimist!
But, even optimists have their days of disappointment. For me, this came 3 weeks post surgery at my first follow-up appointment with my surgeon. I was ready to start physical therapy and most of all, run again! I was all smiles while I waited. I envisioned the doc telling me that I was ahead of most of his patients. I mean, after all, I was off all my pain meds completely after just one week post surgery and I was starting to feel good. (confession: I may have also googled PT exercises post CB surgery and tried doing a couple of them on my own using pain as my guide … I will soon find out that this was NOT a good idea. A very bad idea in fact).
He had me go take some X-rays and then I waited.
…. then … the worst news:
my collarbone was STILL BROKEN. What?!!! How can it still be broken?! I was so dumbfounded and upset. I was told not to move it AT ALL and keep it in the sling if I wanted it to heal properly. I told my doctor that I had been doing a couple of very easy exercises and was promptly told to stop doing that. I was told that I was NOT to use pain as my guide because I had no concept of pain … huh?
The doctor leaned in, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Gina, you are an Ironman. You can’t use pain as your guide. You have no concept of pain.”
I left the office feeling an all time low. What a setback. More sling life. BUT! Two positives: he told me I could drive and I could cycle on my trainer sitting up and keeping my arm tucked in. DEAL!
Other stellar positives include my wonderful friends and family who have gone out of their way to make my recovery the best. I have received the most beautiful flowers, food, magazines, friends spending their time with me, phone calls, and texts. My heart has been overwhelmed with the support. One friend even sent me his ultrasound device to heal broken bones. To those friends and family who have been there for me or have thought about me … I thank you! It has meant the world to me.
AND … as most of you know, I haven’t been just holed up in my house. I have been able to get out and about with some help and below are some of my favorite outings:
One more week and I see the doc again (Sept 5th). Praying for some good news … like perhaps I can go back to work and also RUN again!