Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another Bicycle Booboo

“You are a poor advertisement for alternative transportation!”

A fellow book club member slapped me with this insult at a vulnerable moment. Now,

not only was my body devastated but so was my ego. I already knew that. I didn’t have to be told. After having fallen and broken my left hip only last December, now in July I had fallen again and done something else. I didn’t know what I had done to myself this time, but the rising pain in my right shoulder told me it was not good.

On route to the book club meeting, I had been cruising happily alone in the “sharrow” lane on Beacon Avenue when my right handle bar clipped the rear view mirror of a parked car. A nano-second later I slammed into the concrete. I lay there screaming and moaning for maybe a full minute before I looked up and noticed that a line of cars had stopped and were waiting for me to get out of their way. So, cringing with pain, I raised myself up gingerly and slowly pulled my pack back onto my shoulders, loaded as is was with heavy things like books, bike lock, head lamp, etc. Thus encumbered, I gripped the handle bars and managed somehow to tolerate the excruciating torment for a couple of miles until I reached my friend’s house where the meeting was already in session.

Someone lent me a cell phone to call the Group Health Consulting Nurse.

“On a scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain?” she asked.


“Can you lift your arm?”

I tried but could not lift it forward, only out to the side.

“You’d better go to Urgent Care right away,” she said.

A friend, (not the one who accused me of being a poor advertisement) drove me there in her car. Sian was an angel, insisting upon staying with me through the three hour ordeal. We had to wait more than an hour just to see the doctor, and then the pain medication was not dispensed until after the X-Rays and definitive diagnosis.
I wonder what it would be like if you showed up in Urgent Care all bloody and with a limb hanging off.

The diagnosis was a broken clavical. On the X-Ray my collar bone looked something like an artist’s pain brush all splayed out and frayed at the end.

Prognosis and treatment for a broken collar bone is fairly simple. They just put you in a sling and off you go with a bottle of pain pills. The worst part is that you’re grounded from biking for two months. Still, compared with last December when I broke the ball joint off my femur and it had to be replaced with a metal one, this was not that serious. Never mind that my daughter and I had planned to bike on Cape Cod and around Nantucket Island together the next week. I’m doing everything I had planned to do only a little slower on foot.

My daughter bought me a pedometer and suggested that, for optimum health, I should walk at least 10,000 steps per day. It’s fun to keep score. I have been exceeding that by two or three thousand. This past week I went with my husband and some friends on a six day hiking trip in the Pasayten Wilderness. They carried my stuff.

But the bad part is what people say to me. The Urgent Care Physician put it this way: “Maybe you should research other forms of transportation.’

“It won’t take any research, I said. “ I already know. It’s called Metro.”

People don’t understand what they’re saying to me when they suggest I give up bicycling. They are asking me to give up my joy, my freedom, my independence, the love of my life. They are asking me to surrender my soul. That would be a pretty difficult adjustment. I might have to make it some day, but not yet. It has been nearly a month since my fall. Only one more month to go.