The long road back: Part 11

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Stretching the elastic

I’m very fortunate to have good mate who’s a great cyclist. And an even greater physio. I won’t name or embarrass him, but if you know me, chances are you’ll know him. And he’s good. In fact, after only one consultation I can vouch he’s bloody brilliant. No nonsense and straight shooting with just a touch of compassion – but certainly no mollycoddling.

The start of my first physio consultation last Wednesday night was quite entertaining, largely as they have a Uni undergraduate currently helping out as part of her studies. Given the somewhat complex nature of my injuries I was asked to supply all my x-rays to her – but give no explanation as to what was actually wrong. She had to figure it out for herself. Considering a professional radiologist had failed to spot half of my injuries back in the USA, she did pretty well in the end, working out everything except ironically the most common cycling shoulder injury of all, my clavicle fracture.

Rehab-wise the initial focus is largely about improving my posture and motion range, given I’ve been hunched forward in a sling for the past eight weeks as my muscles have wasted away, especially my rotator cuff. Standing upright and pushing your shoulders back seems so simple, right? Wrong!

With the aid of a variety of multi-coloured elastic bands – which my kids spend as much time stretching as I do – and exercises such as the ‘Robber’, ‘Low Punch’, ‘Saw Wood’ and ‘Low Row’, I’m already able to move my left arm far further than I have at any stage since the crash. Mind you I’d be lying if I said I’m suddenly pain-free. In fact I feel the pain level in my shoulder hasn’t really changed at all. It actually reminds me a bit of that famous quote from Greg Lemond: “It still hurts, you just get better range of movement.” For now I’m more than happy with this. Progress is progress – and my pain threshold is significantly higher than it was two months ago in any case. I definitely feel stronger, especially between the ears. Hopefully that will be one of the most positive legacies of all this when I look back in months and years to come.

In more good news my income protection claim also appears to have finally been approved. I’m told the first payment should happen next week, which is a major relief as the bills have really started pile up of late, in stark contrast to my bank account which is decidedly barren. Until now I’ve been fortunate to never have really known the anxiety of major financial uncertainty in my life before. I can vouch it’s not nice, especially knowing full well your imminent financial commitments far exceed your means to cover them, and having to call upon others, cap in hand, to help you make ends meet. Very stressful, deeply humbling and quite a hit to your pride too. Thankfully the worst – I think – is now behind me and I’m still here!

(p.s. To all my ad industry brethren, between requiring ambulance and hospital treatment overseas, major surgery and rehab back home and my inability to do much in the way of meaningful work and earn an income for 2+ months, I reckon I should be in an advertising campaign for health/travel/income insurance – I’m living proof it’s worth very dollar!)

As for my cycling itself? Well, I managed over 100km on the trainer this week which is the furthest I’ve been since the crash. That makes me smile. A lot.

Onwards and upwards…

Days since op: 47
Days since crash: 64
Shirt removal pain-o-meter:  3/10
Riding: 3-4 moderate trainer efforts per week

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