Sticks and stones may break my bones…

Or asphalt to be more correct. Twice. I was a lucky kid who had never been to hospital before, no broken bones, illnesses or complications. Thanks to the wonderful world of cycling I have now been rushed to emergency twice in the past 15months from an unexpected greeting with asphalt. The first trip saw a number of teeth lost and a broken jaw (top bone thankfully). The latest trip was in Phuket where a slippery road got the better of my collarbone.

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Getting stretchered into an ambulance in Phuket

From the two experiences I have learnt how to recognize a broken bone; I first enter a state of shock where I feel no pain, think everything is ok and logically and calmly pick myself up and get ready to go on my way again. I then get very nauseas and dizzy, where I need to lie down immediately and elevate my legs before I faint. Look out for these signs if you crash, as it is all too easy to think you’re fine and keep riding, as I was about to (but my bike couldn’t be ridden). You need about 5 minutes for the shock to pass to make a true assessment, otherwise you risk causing further damage. I am so pleased I didn’t get back on my bike, I am sure the break would be much bigger.

So I am now in Thanyapura, one of the greatest sports resorts in the world where the likes of Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, Caroline Steffan, Dave Dellow, the Australian swim squad train, just to name a few, and I can’t do a thing! Not being able to train and be surrounded by these facilities hurts more than the accident! But it is giving me plenty of time to relax, eat and research.

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One of the beautiful Thanyapura pool’s I can only look at for 2 weeks.

So sensibly, the first thing that I have started reading up on is how to aid the healing of broken bones. This appears to be a well researched and documented topic. So from my reading and discussions with coaches and athletes at Thanyapura, here is how I will be attempting to aid my recovery:

  1. Say no to anti-inflams.

I am not taking anti-inflammatory tablets against doctor orders. The hospital sent me home with a pack of anti-inflams and the doctor told me to be strict on them. However, it appears inflammation is the first step to recovery. With inflammation comes cells that aid the growth of new bone tissue and new cartilage. There is a reason our bodies inflame immediately after trauma to the body, so why would I take something to act against my body’s natural instinct. It appears anti-inflams are more for pain relief, so thankfully my pain is ok without taking them.

  1. Pig out.

Bones require a lot of energy to repair, and energy comes from food. This is actually harder than it sounds as my appetite has decreased significantly as I am not exercising (plus it is hot), but making sure I am aware of how much I am eating and ensuring it is enough during the day will help. I also need to ensure I am getting plenty of vitamins and minerals from my food as these all aid the bone growth and repair.

  1. Load up on protein.

About half of bone is made up of protein, so it makes complete sense to ensure I am consuming enough protein. Numerous studies document the acceleration of fracture healing with even a modest 10‐ to 20‐gram increase in protein intake. Luckily being at a sports retreat I can have a protein shake whenever I feel.

  1. Rest and stay still.

This is the hardest part for me! Just like I need to eat food so my body has the energy to repair, I need to rest to ensure I am not wasting energy. The hospital has given me a mobility brace which is helping keep my collarbone aligned. I need to be strict in keeping this on for 3-6 weeks to ensure it heals in the correct position. Despite the discomfort, back pain, itching and rashes, if I know what’s good for me I won’t be taking the brace off! I also need to avoid over using my left arm, such as carrying heaving bags, as any stress placed on the left side is counter balanced by the right (if it wasn’t, we’d fall over when we pick up a bag).

  1. Light therapy.

This is something very new to me, and again I am lucky that I am at Thanyapura and have easy access to such treatments. Light therapy works by the body absorbing the energy from the light waves, which increases blood circulation and carries cells that accept nutrients and expels waste products. It also stimulates white blood cells which repair damaged tissue. This explains why professional athletes heal much quicker, as they have daily access to treatments such as this.

 

As soon as I arrive back in Australia I will be getting another X-Ray taken and further advice from an Australian doctor. I hope that they will be able to see the growth that will have occurred in the two weeks, so I can provide an update if my plan as outlined above works. I would love to hear from others on how they have recovered from their injuries, so please leave a comment!

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Meeting and receiving some sympathy from Macca also helped the recovery process!

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About Priscilla Barrington

Hi, I am a short course Age Group triathlete in Victoria. I love short course because I have developed a bit of a competitive side and short course enables me to race LOTS! Like most triathletes, I like to talk a lot about triathlon... so have taken to writing down my thoughts opposed to boring my friends with my triathlon trash!

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