Thursday, January 12, 2023

The long slow road back

Through my Physio I was able to get an exercise bike delivered to me at home, and begin cycling. I wasn't allowed on an actual bike as the risk of falling was too high, and my fractures were yet to heal. So I found cycling videos on YouTube and enjoyed the scenery of bike trails all over the world from the safety of my own bedroom! Whilst listening to some rocking tunes on headphones...

I also joined the local pool, and rediscovered my joy of swimming. I'm a fairly slow swimmer, but it didn't take me long to be able to swim for a good 20-30 minutes without stopping, and then enjoy a soak in the hot pool afterwards.

My walks got longer, and I began to incorporate small hills. I was also doing specific leg exercises, mostly pilates based, to strengthen the muscles around my pelvis.

My arm exercises were focused on increasing mobility. After six weeks in plaster my wrist was very stiff, so initially there were lots of stretches to do, before graduating to gentle weightlifting. This was quite frustrating, but incrementally the range of movement returned and I found I could do more and more things with my right arm.

As I became more mobile, my Irish Physio Ena no longer needed to visit me at home, so I transitioned to visiting physios at the local medical centre. One for my arm, and another for my pelvis. My exercise program took a good two hours to complete, and then there were sessions on the stationary bike, and a long walk as well!

Mid November I had more X-Rays and saw the specialist again. He was happy that my pelvis fractures had healed well enough for me to be "let loose on the world", which was a good six weeks earlier than he had originally told me. 

I began planning more ambitious walks, involving hills. First Mt Iron, then Grandview (though I didn't make the summit as I only planned to climb for 2 hours max), and then Little Criffel. The climbs weren't that hard, due to all those glute exercises I'd been doing at home. Not so my quads, the first time in years that a descent had caused my quads to complain.

Unlike my pelvis, my forearm fracture was showing no signs of healing. As a result I wasn't able to increase strength training in quite the same way as I could for my legs. But I did begin going for bike rides in the real world, and with padded gloves there wasn't any pain. Only one proviso, I wasn't allowed to fall on my arm, as the only thing holding it together was a couple of plates and six screws apiece.

My trips got more ambitious, but frequently got aborted due to all sorts of reasons. There's another post just waiting to be written about those trials and tribulations. But each time, even if I didn't actually get to my destination, I was racking up more miles, and gaining fitness and endurance. I was always warned it was going to take time...

In January I at last successfully completed my first overnight tramp. Another X-Ray and specialist visit revealed the ulna to be healing, but the radial fracture (the most severe fracture) is still unknitted. I'm giving it another couple of months and if it still hasn't knitted I'll be asking for a bone graft.

In truth I think my recovery has been a dream run. I haven't been in any pain for months, and the path back to "normal" continues apace. I still have more work to do to regain pre injury fitness and strength, and there are some limitations because the forearm is yet to heal, but overall, I'm back out there doing what I like best: enjoying the great outdoors.

So I guess it's time to share some of those adventures, including those somewhat hilarious aborted attempts. That's next!

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