Well, I’m down for the count again – this time it’s a broken rib and pneumothorax (partially collapsed lung). It all seemed innocuous enough at first, a touch of the wheels near the end of a fast, fun, 60-mile training ride on a gorgeous fall day. Justin had attacked up a roller and I was in time trial mode reeling him back in. Right as I reached him he stood up for some extra kick over the top of the rise – his kickback got my wheel, and before I could do anything BOOM, down I went. I landed hard on my left side with my arm underneath me. It wasn’t Justin’s fault – he didn’t know I was there – it just happened. Anyway, I sat in the middle of the road for a few minutes, looked myself over and saw only minor scrapes on my left knee and elbow, then got up and turned my attention to that most important thing – the bike! It was fine, a few scrapes on the left shifter, the right shifter turned in a little, a couple of small tears in the (new) white handlebar tape – nothing big. Nary a scratch on that all-important white frame. My left hip was hurting – I was pretty sure I had a nice raspberry growing under the lycra. Meanwhile, Zach and Justin were asking me if I was okay. Several motorists stopped to make sure I was okay. The two cyclists we’d just blown by stopped to ask if I was okay. I was impressed by the genuine concern these normal citizens (not Zach and Justin!) were showing towards this lycra-clad racer type. I told everyone I was fine, and I thought I was, but I was having a hard time shaking it off. It hurt to breathe, and I started to suspect I’d hurt my ribs. I said let’s give it a try, and we rode the final mile to our cars. I made it okay, but I wasn’t getting better. It was clear by then I’d either fractured or badly bruised my ribs, so I went straight home, took some Vicodin, and vegged out in my chair the rest of the day watching football and baseball.
I went to bed in considerable pain, hoping that a good night’s sleep would put me on the road to recovery. But that was not to be – Monday was spent at home from work in even greater pain. I didn’t think the Vicodin was doing much – until I ran out the stuff that evening and started experiencing the most excruciatingly imaginable pain everytime I even considered moving my chest/abdomen. I knew I’d have to call the doc in the morning and groaned through the night. The doc got me in after lunch today and sent me over for X-Rays, which not only showed a break (not just a fracture) of the left 7th rib (no surprise), but also a partial collapse of the nearby lung section. The pneumothorax is cause for concern, so I need to rest over the next few days, medicate the pain, try to breathe deep to prevent pneumonia, and go back for more X-Rays later this week to make sure the pneumothorax is subsiding normally.
This is the second straight autumn I’ve been laid up from a crash, and the 3rd in five years. I thought my doc was gonna tell me to stop riding, but he just shook his head and said, “You and that bike!” It does seem like I’m getting a little more of the bad luck than I deserve (though maybe some others will disagree). At any rate, with as much pain as I’m in right now it’s hard for me to even contemplate being back on the bike before the end of this month, and it will probably be after Thanksgiving before I’m fully recovered. My wife better get ready for ‘the grouch’!