Monday, July 20, 2009

The difference between me and Levi Leipheimer

Or at least one of many differences.

One thing we have in common, we have broken a scaphoid (wrist) bone in a bike crash and have small titanium screws in said wrist. Don't try to catch yourself when you crash boys and girls.

The scaphoid is a small bone in the wrist known for not healing very well. Much like Levi, after my crash my wrist hurt but I figured I was ok. Hours later, we both ended up getting X-Rays. Unlike Levi, my fracture was not spotted by the doc. I'm guessing that Levi gets a bit more of a fine toothed comb going, and they look very closely at the scaphoid since it's a common cycling injury and not correcting it quickly would be devastating to his training. I wouldn't be surprised if they X-Rayed Levi the night of the crash, and when he woke up and it felt worse, he got it X-rayed again. These fractures are hard to spot early on.

My ER doctor gave me the standard "follow up with your orthopod in a few days" line and I ignored that - no fracture, I'll be ok. When it didn't heal in a month, I went back in. By this time the fracture was more apparent. The doctor pointed at 2 bones and said "Those are supposed to be one bone". In my attempts to do therapy on a sprained wrist I had finished off the fracture. Had I gone in the week after the break, I probably would have been in surgery much sooner or perhaps even avoided surgery. Levi might have been able to avoid surgery by wearing a splint but the healing time would be much longer and he wouldn't be doing this right now. With the screw in place, the bone will stay together and heal. A peon might try to avoid surgery (perhaps a good idea since surgery has its own risks) by wearing a split and seeing if the bone heals.

Since Levi got on it fast they did the surgery without a general anesthesia. Good for him. Going under isn't so bad, but coming out from under really sucks.

One other thing Levi has going for him as a professional cyclist is that if he needs a new cast, they'll just slap one on. While I had my cast on, I would try to ride on the spin bikes but I had to keep my heart rate down and have a fan directly on the cast. It still started to get pretty funky. I would do a very hard workout the morning of my doctors appointments because I knew that I could funkify the cast since it was coming off that day. If Levi is lucky he has not a cast, but a removeable splint so he can take it off and wash his arm.

One thing we both had going for us was that as cyclists, we ride with our wrists bent back, which is excellent for improving the range of movement of the wrist (he won't be in a cast as long as I was, so hopefully won't be as stiff). My wrist bends back pretty well, but forward there is still some limited range of motion. My surgeon said "The people who get that range of motion back are guitar players". Amusing.

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