In the last few weeks of training for the Great North Run, I’d started to think of what I’d do next. I was looking forward to getting out on my bike again, and to changing my endurance focus to get lean and strong with more of an emphasis on weight training and short, high energy bursts.
I gave myself a day off on Monday after the race. Then on Tuesday I had the option of going for a swim or a bike ride after work. It was glorious, sunny, no wind to speak of, and so Gary and I set off along the coast after work.
We took the trail path of the Waggonways and emerged near Seaton Delaval Hall. I’d been roaring along, feeling more confident on the crosstrail, getting used to bumping over slightly rougher ground. But as we turned onto the road, I tried to bounce up a kerb onto the cycle path, misjudged the angle quite severely and came crashing down on my right hand side.
I managed to bounce my head (in a helmet) off a wall and scraped my knee, shoulder and hip. I felt like a real fool, but didn’t seem to have done too much damage, so after a quick clean up with a squirt of water from my bottle and we cycled back at a slightly more temperate pace.
My arm hurt a bit at the wrist and elbow, but I reflected that I’d been lucky not to break it, as I’d obviously put it down to cushion my fall, and I figured that it would ease up, but that getting in a shower with a bit of road rash would really sting.
When I woke up in the next day, and struggled to brush my teeth, wash my face and brush my hair with my right hand, I figured I’d done a bit more damage and was advised to get it checked out.
So, on Wednesday morning I took myself to the local minor injuries unit. I love our NHS. I just pitch up, give some details, go through a consultation, X-ray and review and am referred back to the fracture clinic. I’m in and out in about an hour, treated considerately and courteously by all the staff and not a worry about paying for it or claiming on health insurance.
I know. It’s not perfect and maybe if I had something more serious, or longer term or expensive to treat I’d have a different view. But really it was a good reminder of something special that we can take for granted.
The X-ray had flagged up a crack in the bone, although the guy who talked me through it admitted he couldn’t see it on the screen. He was most sympathetic and understanding, and sent me on my way with a simple sling for comfort, some pain killers and an appointment at the fracture clinic.
By now I’m nursing my right arm in the crook of my left, and although I’m counting my blessings that the damage is small and the bone hasn’t moved, I feel like a right muppet and start thinking of all the plans I’ll have to change. Like cycling in Scotland next week…
Through the day, I know I’ve done the right thing getting it checked out, as it becomes quite painful and I resort to taking an ibuprofen, then a co-codamol in the evening, hoping it will help me have a pain free sleep. I also get some lovely messages from my friends on Fetch.
I muddle through things left handed, and have a brief moment of getting upset when I realise that, although I can move my fingers quite well, it hurts too much to hold a pen and write. But I tell myself this is temporary and shut up any complaints when I see the coverage of the Invictus Games opening ceremony. Whatever small inconvenience this causes, whatever treats I’ll miss, this will pass.
On Thursday, at the fracture clinic, I have better news. The registrar takes another look at the X-rays, gets me to move my arm around and declares it isn’t cracked after all. He zooms in on the X-ray and spots the query fracture – a slight grey line that’s only visible on one view and not on the others, and says that could just be a feature of the bone.
The damage is soft tissue only, so he advises me to ditch the sling and get it moving and refers me for a physio consultation. I fear a long wait, but I’m next in the queue. The physio measures my range of movement. I can’t fully straighten or lock out my arm or flex it so that my right hand touches my shoulder, but she says it’s not horrendous and refers me for further physio at my local hospital and gives me a series of exercises to do in the meantime.
Today, I’m sporting a cracking bruise, but am supremely thankful for a lucky escape. It might curtail my usual training for a week or two, but it could have been much longer.