Christmas Rush!

There hasn't been one: A Christmas rush, that is.

In November I started cross training with Jo, and this included going swimming with her Tri club, of which I am now a fully paid up member. It was many years since I had swum last and I was never very good at it. This is compounded by the fact that my shoulders are half the width, bulk and strength, they used to be.

When I was a student and boxer (training in Salford's Oliver's gym in 1995/6), I had big shoulders. Circuit training, climbing and any other fitness orientated activity led me to look "deformed" as Jo likes to put it. Folk called me Skeletor (probably because I was pale blue, too). But, after various fractures, rebuilds, bolting, chopping, grafting and whacking, I now have wimpy little painful shoulders. But like us all, I just get on with it, because if I whinged as much as I wanted to, I'd soon get a smack in the face from Jo.

So we got in the pool for the first time in 8 years or something and I was worried that I might swim like a concrete flipper...

There is something a helluva motivating about getting into a pool...

...and not drowning.

I did ok, really. I could breath and everything! I couldn't take a proper long stroke with my left arm, but I was doing ok. It was a little painful though.

But for the past 7 years, my shoulder pain had been there, on and off, all of the time. Core training was getting a bit more difficult and sometimes press-ups and chin ups were out of the question as I got a searing pain in my left collar bone. This had been broken in 2003, plated and then the plate was removed once healing seemed complete.

So we swam for a few weeks, and trained on the bike and on the Turbo trainer. The shoulder got "quite sore." Actually, something was flaring up big time. I don't know if the swimming caused a flare up, as I have a feeling it might have been happening anyway, but you never know.

The next day I saw my Consultant. He was kind enough to fit me into his private clinic, as he's been a close working colleague for periods in the last 7 years or so. He's also done both my knees, both my shoulders (lots of times) and helped me out in work, umpteen times. I'm kind of lucky to know him.

In I go with my arm in a sling. (Paraquotes follow)

Me, "It feels like something is very wrong. I've got pain running all the down my arm and it feels like it's on fire. If I didn't know better, I'd say that it feels like it's broken or something. That was what the pain was like when it flared up, but I was only lying in bed."

He, "We'll have an MRI done tomorrow, but I think we might find that it's just some inflammation that might respond to injection therapy."

The day after the MRI I get a phone call.

He, "You need a bit of work doing."

Me, "So I wasn't being a hypochondriac? I was worried I was being a jessie."

He, "Nope, your shoulder is broken (non-union) and you need some other surgery to stop the pain down your arm. It must have been very painful for years."

Me, "Bugger."

He, "Snigger."

We're a bit confused, here at Hobbit's Towers. How on earth did it not feel more painful? How did we manage the 24hr solos and The Hobbit's Tale with a bust shoulder. Surely that's not right?

I don't get it.

Thinking on it though, I did have to stop wearing a certain brand of mountain biking backpack because it really hurt my shoulder. The only ones I find comfortable nowadays are The North Face ones, luckily.


A few days later, I was in the local private hospital (I'm not posh, I have insurance) having two procedures done on my left shoulder. The orthopaedic guys that set this hospital up are almost all cyclists and an incredibly supportive bunch, so I like them! In fact 3 or 4 of them have been an inspiration for a few things for me, but I wouldn't tell them that.

I had an open reduction and internal fixation of the clavicle, with a nice shiny and expensive titanium plate and screws, just like my Hope Brakes. After that he went into the end of the shoulder using an arthroscope (keyhole) and performed a sub-acromial decompression. This is where a bag of fluid (swollen in my case) is removed to prevent further damage to the underlying musculature. It normally takes a bit of getting over.

Within 2 days, I was in much less background pain than in past years. I can now put my elbows on a desk and lean my chin on my hands without getting searing pain in my shoulder. I didn't even realise that I couldn't do this...until I could. The surgery bit hurts a bit, but it's improving quickly.

A few more weeks and I'll be back on the bike but, for now, the turbo is having a right old beating!!

But today, I had to miss a ride with the Santa Cruz Syndicate's Steve Peat et al, and most of the Santa Cruz team riders because of my shoulder. That is rather upsetting!!

And I don't even want to own up to the stupidity of burning my hand a couple of weeks before that. A and E and many hospital visits followed for that too!

I'm an eejit.