Thursday, January 1, 2009


Saturday the 27th of December and Pete and I decided it was time to go for a big ride from Vic Park to Godley Head and back, taking in lots of lovely Port Hills single track. This was not to be. The ride started innocuously enough with sandwiches at Break Free and a wee play. Then the ride ended. I’m not going to go into detail about the silly thing I did. Let’s just say it involved too much speed. A massive endo, and a right arm flung out to protect my face. And protect it it did. However when I looked down at my arm my elbow was on the wrong side of my arm! NOT GOOD AT ALL! We rang 111 but decided it was going to take too long so hung up on them and decided to walk up to the car. A lovely couple helped us with the bikes while I staggered up the hill, protectively clutching my arm to my body. I was surprised at the lack of pain, my brief glimpse had told me things were bad and I was feeling pretty scared off the pain I was sure I’d be in. Good old fashioned adrenalin got me up the hill to the car and I managed to bludge a couple of uber panadol from some very nice French tourists who looked like they were going to be sick when I showed them my elbow. I downed 1 and then I was in the car on the way to the emergency room. Very much hoping for a quiet day at the hospital. Pete did an absolutely amazing job driving me down the hill, the perfect mix of speed and smoothness. We got to the hospital and found a park in 10 agonising minutes. From there everything happened quickly and I was filled up with pain relief and sent for x-rays. At this point I didn’t think I’d broken anything and had just dislocated my elbow (which thankfully had gone back into place by itself). I was wrong. Readers with a delicate disposition, skip this next paragraph, just know it was a messy complicated break.
What had actually happened as I flung my arm out to protect my face was I had taken the full impact of my weight and speed on my right arm only. My ulna slammed into the base of my hummerus, splintering a large wedge out of it and chipping a disc about the size of an old 50c piece completely off the base. The result of this was my ulna dislocating out of the elbow joint giving the impression my elbow was on the wrong side. Bleurgh!!!

I didn’t know all this at the time and was quite disconcerted when the talk of surgery came up when my cast was being put on. As an aside, NOS is fantastic, so much fun!!! Finally the very nice Dr (whose name I can’t remember) told me what was going on and that I’d need some screws and a plate to reattached the bits that had broken off. Not good news. Unfortunately my surgery couldn’t be done till Monday because of a bad motorcycle accidents taking up the hospital’s capacity.

With cast on and plenty of good drugs in my system I was sent up stairs. There were a number of nice old ladies with broken legs in my room, but I wasn’t very good at making conversation and slept. The next day the Dr came to see me and I went for a CT scan, which was really cool. The good news came later that the break wasn’t quite as bad as the docs thought it might be, and surgery was booked for the next day. I was second on the list for surgery on the 29th and feeling very hungry by 2pm when they wheeled me into the operating theatre. The operation took 3hours and was a bit more difficult than they anticipated, was very successful. I now have some lovely screws and a metal plate holding all the bits together. It turns out that the bit that was broken completely off had the main ligament that holds the elbow together attached to it so I was really lucky not to break that ligament. They kept me unconscious for an extra hour as there were some difficulties getting my pain under control and it wasn’t until 8pm when I was back on the ward.
I actually had the best night’s sleep of all my nights in the hospital that night, even though they had to take my blood pressure ever 2 hours. The pcm machine was all good and I was in a pretty comfortable morphine cloud of happiness. That all came to an end the next morning when my useless vein closed down and I had to get a new lure put in. That afternoon they took my cast off and put my new robo-arm on which initially felt pretty good. Unfortunately as the day worn on it slipped down and when the nurse adjusted it it was pushing on my suture and twisting my arm. After the pain got really bad I got the nurse to adjust it and unfortunately the only thing she could do was loosen it off. This meant my arm was unsupported all night and I was in agony. I survived the night and the man from the orthotics came and adjusted my brace and bent the metal into the right shape. I was determined not to spend another night in hospital after this. I didn’t want to wake up in 2009 in that bloody hospital bed. I was assured I could go home once the doc checked me out, but he wasn’t going to be available until 5pm. Pete scored a wheelchair and whisked me down to the river. It was great lying there for an hour and even better getting to see Michelle. Finally at 8pm they let me out and last night I slept the whole night through without waking up once.
So I have a bit of a task ahead me. I’ll be in this lovely braced for at least 4 weeks and off the bikes for at least 12. That means the whole summer gone and no races till winter. SHIT. I’ve already started to plan how to keep my fitness and my sanity. There will have to be lots of walking, gyming and stationary biking I think. I’m looking at this as a big challenge. I’m back to the doc on the 12th of January so it will be interesting to find out what the prognosis is then. Any great ideas for training off the bikes that doesn’t involve my right arm would be gratefully accepted.


CrazyChris said...

Ouchies!! That really sucks.

Can I recomend getting, or using, a wind/resistance trainer? Keep those legs spinning!

Heal well, and there's plenty of winter events to look forward to!

Jo said...

F*ck Mel! That sucks. :(
I've broken my elbow before (fracture of the olecranon ? process), but nowhere near as bad as that. I used the windtrainer - the cast was fibreglass so could dry it out after all the sweating. Walking was good, but running not, the weight and abrasiveness of the cast was too much - sore neck/shoulder etc.
As soon as the cast was off, I was swimming - I'd lost heaps of strength in the triceps and could barely pick up a waterbottle with it. Within a week it was getting useful again. I'd recommend swimming once its mobile again. I was also told not to ride for 6 weeks after the cast came off, in case I fell on it again.
Hope you have a speedy recovery! :-)

Rita Langley said...

Wow that's extreme! I hope you manage to stay sane through the healing period. I have a wind trainer I barely use I could lend you if you need? Could bring it to chch in a couple of weeks when I come through. And get lots of DVDs to watch while you spin!

Tinkerbell said...

Thanks for the offer Rita. I'm all sorted with a trainer, if only it didn't make my arms to freakin itchy!!!!

MtbCat said...

Holy cow Mel. What bad luck.
Walking could be a good bet, it'll get you out and about and hopefully stop you from going stir crazy.
Take care and get better soon. My only advice from numerous broken things is to follow the physio exercises to the letter (even if they seem weird). You'll end up regaining your muscles and strength a lot faster.
Cheers Cath