On August 18, 2012, I was riding my new Giant Bicycle. I was almost at the end of my ride, and decided I’d go another few blocks by making a loop near my house.
Over the past couple of years, they have been completely redoing the road I was riding down, including new sidewalks. They didn’t have the top of the road resurfaced yet. I was riding down the sidewalk and came to a spot where they hadn’t completed it. I swung out into the newly created bike lane to bypass the missing section of sidewalk. As I was crossing back in, my back tire slid on some loose gravel and caught the edge between the missing road surface and the newly poured concrete of the edge of the curb. The back tire slid on this edge for a second and I was situated so my back tire was almost parallel with my front, and then it caught traction which caused me to pitch forward. If you had seen it happen, you’d say I went over sideways.
As I was falling, even though it was just a split second, I distinctly remember thinking if it would be better to land on my head or my hands. I knew I was wearing my helmet, but I don’t know how much protection it would have provided. I chose to use my hands to break the fall. Since the accident, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night having just had some sort of nightmare about this moment. That’s especially weird, because I generally don’t remember my nightmares/dreams.
I hit with my left hand first, then my right, and then my right knee. I’m not sure where or what I hit my knee on, I only realized later in the hospital that it was bleeding. When I hit the ground, I immediately suspected that my left wrist was broken, the pain was, until that point, the worst pain I had felt in my life. There are a few things I want to touch on about this moment. First, I wrecked on a fairly busy street, and not one person stopped to help. Second, I was wearing headphones and the force completely snapped the cord for the headphones. Third, strangely, the first thing I did when I sat down to think was to shut off my Endomondo tracker!
As soon as I completed that very important task, I called my wife and let her know that I thought I broke my wrist and for her to come pick me up. I then did the unthinkable, and put my phone into my left pocket, because that’s what I always do. Unfortunately, we have one car that will carry my bike, and it only has one key. That key was in my pocket. When she called back asking which side of the road I was on, I almost passed out from the pain while getting my phone out of my pocket. Luckily it was only a few blocks to my house, so she came and got the key. I asked if she thought my wrist looked broken and she almost threw up, so that pretty much confirmed it. I handed her the key and she went home to get the other car. I decided I would save some time by walking my bike part way home, so I struggled and met her about halfway.
We grabbed the kids and dropped them off at her mom’s house and headed to the emergency room. We got to the Riverside Methodist Hospital Emergency Room a little after 10pm. We got in pretty fast after the receptionist figured out we were there for an Emergency. I’m not sure why she had to spend 5 minutes before that staring at the TV, before she thought to ask us if we were there to see a doctor. It was odd, as we were the only ones in there at the time.
When we got to the back to see the doctor, they gave me some diloudid. That’s some GOOD STUFF. My pain went away pretty quickly, and they sent me down to get X-rays. I couldn’t move my wrist into the positions they needed for the shots very easily, but I made it. I probably couldn’t have done it without the drugs.
I’ll never forget the moment that the X-rays came back. Let me set up the scene really quickly. I’ve never broken a bone in my life, but I had mentally prepared myself for what I thought was going to happen. I’d go into the emergency room, they’d say my wrist was broken, they’d put it in a cast and that would be the end of it. Nothing in my life experience had ever shown anything different, so that’s the only thing I was expecting. When the doctor put the X-ray up, it was immediately clear that I didn’t just break one bone. I broke two bones, and I broke them both in multiple places.
As I was staring at the X-ray in shock, I heard the technician say the word “surgery”. I’ve never had any sort of surgery except a minor oral procedure when I was a kid.
I have to apologize here. I didn’t get any pictures of any of the X-rays. I was thinking soundly enough to get a bunch of pictures of everything else, but I managed to fail on the X-Rays.
I snapped out of it and started listening to the technician. She said that there was a pretty strong possibility that I would have to have surgery. She casually said the word “shattered.” I asked what the next step was, and she said that we’d put a splint on it and give me a referral to to a hand surgery specialist and a prescription for some vicodin.
August 18th was a Saturday and the referral was to call Hand and Microsurgery Associates first thing on Monday morning. We called and the place was so busy that I couldn’t even get in for a consultation until Thursday. That was one of the hardest times of my life, I was sitting there in pain and had nothing but fear to keep me company. It was pretty frustrating, but I managed to make it to the appointment on Thursday after having taken my last pain pill that morning.
My first meeting with Dr. Gowda didn’t go well. I was in pain. I was in a lot of pain. He laid out my options, and although the surgery was completely necessary in my book if I ever wanted to use my wrist properly again, the surgery was ‘elective’. I let him know we’d go ahead with it and he said we could schedule it for the following Monday. I said, great, now about the fact that I’m out of pain pills.. He said the he doesn’t prescribe narcotics prior to surgery and neither do his partners, but I was free to take tylenol and motrin, alternating every 4 to 6 hours. I felt this was absolutely ridiculous, as if narcotics aren’t for when you break a bone, what the hell are they for? He assured me that he is a great surgeon and that he will prescribe me lots of pain medicine after the surgery.
He left the room and I waited for the nurse to come in. She was going over the pre-surgery instructions and she mentioned that since my surgery was so close, I couldn’t even take motrin! I got angry, I was practically delirious with pain, and I slammed my good fist on the table. That’s not really like me. I think she figured out how much pain I was in, because after she left the room, she was gone for a bit and the doctor came in and prescribed me some pain medicine. Ultracet I think it was, at any rate, not the most powerful of stuff, but enough that I wasn’t going to go crazy with pain over the weekend.
I made it through the weekend by basically just sleeping as much as I could. I had surgery at about noon on August 27th.
There are a couple of funny things about the surgery date, but probably the most memorable is that I had a ‘block’ on my left arm. Basically they give you several shots and it makes your brain/nerves think that your left arm isn’t there anymore. Pretty convenient for surgery, pretty hilarious AFTER surgery. My wife almost pee’d herself when my arm was flapping around while I was trying to put my shirt on. We fixed that with a sling eventually.
Remember earlier when I told you that the breaking of my wrist was the most pain I’d ever felt up until that point? Well, here is the next point. The block typically wears off in about 12 hours, or so I was told. So I was essentially pain free for a while, it was pretty neat. The doctor said I should start with the narcotics and get them in my system for when the block wears off. I started to do that, and the block wore off early. If my wrist break was a 10 at the time, the new 10 was the pain after the surgery. That would make the wrist break about a 3 on that particular scale. It was insane. I took a combination of sick and vacation days and I was off work for a total of about 9 days, laying in bed, waking up only to eat some string cheese and take pain pills.
The final result is that I had 10 screws, a plate, and 2 pins put into my wrist. I had surgery a few weeks later to have the pins removed, but I will have the plates and screws forever.
Today is April 30th, I’m finishing up this post that I started about 6 months ago. My wrist is doing okay, but it’s nowhere near full strength still, I’ve managed to gain most of my weight back, but I started walking again today, so hopefully I can get back on the right track.
I’ll post about my adventures in physical therapy at some point, but I wanted to get this one out there.