I saw my surgeon today for my one week followup after surgery. I’ve been feeling much better and have been off all meds for the past two days. I started to feel like my sling was unnecessary if I was just walking around the house and was sleeping almost normally, so I hoped things would look as well as they felt.
I got a few X-rays done. The first was the common view that you’re probably used to seeing for people that have a fracture fixed with a plate and screws. The second was from a very low angle with the screws facing the camera. I was surprised how thick the plate was! It measures almost 13mm across! I kind of felt superhuman then, but my doc brought me back down to earth a little later on.
After removing the dressing, I finally saw my incision. It looked pretty gnarly, but I’ve seen infected wounds before and they are much worse. My doctor excitedly proclaimed that it looked great and proceeded to remove my stitches. They came out in one big pull like a bag of grain/cat litter/charcoal! My baby wasn’t fazed a bit and wanted to have the string… Good thing he is too young to care about this sort of thing. I’ll have the strips left in place for as long as they stay attached (ideally two weeks).
Next we talked about what I can do and what causes damage to the plate. The first thing I was told was “The bone is still broken, only now it is held in place”. Right now the plate takes all the stress I put on my bone. I can bend the plate with excessive force (lifting or holding a heavy object, or by falling on it), or break the plate with excessive fatigue (overuse or continuous trauma i.e. riding my bike).
When it comes to recovery, I am trying to think long term. Cyclocross is fun, but it is still a subculture within a subculture. If I had been trying to focus on cross this off season, rather than just stay fit, I may be re-setting my sights the latter part of the season (Nationals and Master’s Worlds). In fact, I still consider myself a road racer and I have some time until I need to get going again.
There is some benefit and some risk to getting back on the bike as quickly as possible. By next June, I am certain it will not matter much if I spent two or five weeks off the bike in October/November. My goals are to stay fit, not gain weight, and heal as well as possible. Other considerations are non-cycling related, and that is to get back to work as quickly as I can (which means quality healing time) and to avoid doing anything to create more medical bills and family strife.
For those reasons I am comfortable with my conservative approach to recovery. Today I was cleared to ride the trainer, but I didn’t get on quite yet (I did swing a leg over to see how it felt). I may spin for a bit tomorrow but think I’ll keep things pretty low key for at least this week. I can get back on the road two to three weeks from today, and ideally will be cleared to ride normally in five weeks. After that, it takes 3-4 months for the bone to heal completely.