Cause Or Just Impingement

“If any of you know cause or just impingement why this man and this bike should not be joined together in Wheely Matrimony, ye are to declare it”.

It’s been an interesting, thought provoking, mind challenging and ultimately non-definitional week (see what I did there: I made a new word).

It was my first week back in the office. It was my first week of getting up early. It was my first week of getting the bus to work every day since the days of riding my folding MTB before LifeCycle was conceived. It was the first week of doing lots of things (like getting back into the house before six o’clock) and that was novel in a strange kind of way. However something was missing…

But first up, let’s roll this story back a week to last Sunday. I’ve just spent a month wearing elasticated joggies because they cause least stress and pain where I had my hernia op. I’ve put on weight while I’ve been sat on my backside. I guess I knew that last Sunday night was going to be a bit of a shock to the system but in the back of my mind I always knew that I had my reserve wardrobe to fall back on: the stuff I wore when I was working away and living on expenses ten years go. Hell, I needed it.

So here’s my dilemma: even without getting on the scales, I know I’ve put on half a stone. That means that all my usual trousers don’t fit. But that’s fine because I can get by for now on the old stuff. The real problem lies in the fact that there’s now this layer of fat above my scar that wasn’t there before. And that causes a strain all by itself, especially when I’m sitting down. That needs to go. There are two ways of doing it that I know of: one is to live on celery, which I propose not to do, and the other is to slowly burn it off, which I know how to do. Indeed I’m currently thinking along the lines that a gradual return to normal duties will eventually remove the lard and that in turn will reduce the stress which will reduce the residual pain. Sounds like a win, win, win to me.  At three and a half thousand calories to a pound of lard and a thousand calories per LifeCycle journey, I’m reckoning that twenty to thirty trips, or three to four weeks of getting back into it should do the trick. Target April Fools Day…

Anyway, back to the storyline. All week that I’ve been getting on the bus, I’ve also been thinking “is it time to give it a go”. The surgeon said six weeks and I’m past five. My conditions for doing so were pretty stringent. I wasn’t going before the five weeks were up (even though Flymo was convinced I would), so that ruled out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I wanted to be able to take a rest after touro uno, which pointed to Thursday or Friday, if at all. On Thursday morning I had stuff to take into work which meant extra weight so I kicked that idea into the long grass and bussed it again. That left today, Friday. But any decision has to be made the night before because the alarm has to be set an hour earlier etc etc so it’s like booking a one way trip to Mars: if you’re going for it, you’re going for it and there’s no turning back.

So I laid all my stuff out last night and had already decided that this was going to be a crow flying job: the shortest route which just happens to have the smallest hills: the route of the Wuss. 16 miles as opposed to 23 and 600ft of climbing as opposed to a thousand. “Yeah, I can manage that”. “I think”. And therein lies the problem. Until you’ve actually tried, you just don’t know.

I tried.

It was a wee bit sore, but then so’s sitting hunched up in a bus seat next to some dude who’s hogging all the seat space. The pain never got really bad, nor did it ever go away. But then it never does. I can ride with pain, crikey I’ve been doing it for long enough. The only thing that matters, the only currency that’s of any value in this debate, is that I must not burst the mesh that they sewed onto my abdomen. That’s all that matters. Everything else is secondary and hence by definition, irrelevant. To the best of my knowledge, I got to work in one piece, I bagged 16 miles at three quarters of my normal pace and I never had to get out of the saddle once. I just let the gears do the work.

The next big decision was always going to be “but what about the homeward leg”? Friday is a permanent half day so if I was to come back home on the bike, then I’d be getting back on just five hours after getting off. But I also had my bus pass with me as a precaution.

Cue the hand of God…

I got a phone call from LifeCycle Junior two hours after getting into work to say that his knee had locked and he couldn’t straighten it. LifeCycle Senior (17) and LifeCycle Junior (15 next week) were about to set off for school. I bet Junior was playing with the cat. Anyway it was a no brainer: leave the bike at work, jump on the bus and get home as soon as. Sometimes you see, fate makes these decisions for you. This one was taken out of my hands. 16 miles one way was fine under my rules. 32 miles with just two hours between the trips was not. I know there are a lot of people out there who worry: please don’t. I live this bike ride on the edge for sure, but sometimes, just sometimes, I play by your rules instead of mine..

And so to my other concern… The shoulder problem.

Last week in Off The Cuff, I explained how my coming together with a fallen tree in the dark back in October led me to unintentionally audition for a part in the next LifeCycle Superman film. It was an over the handlebars job landing on an outstretched left arm. Roll the story forward two and a half thousand miles and I can’t pick up a kettle and fill it left handed. Lifting that arm above shoulder level when my arm is outstretched is a no no. Just too painful. I now plan my bike journeys to avoid left hand turns at major junctions. That’s where I’m at.

The NHS have offered my physio three months down the road. No good. This needs sorting and it needs sorting now. Fortunately, I can ride a bike heading straight on virtually pain free because both arms are tucked in.

So I’m seeing a physio at a local practice and this girl works with rugby players. Shoulder injuries pay her wages. So far so good…

The not so good bit is that when I auditioned for Superman, I landed on the bit of the tendon that connects the muscle on the outside of the upper arm (I guess that’ll be the triceps then) to the back of the shoulder blade. It didn’t like it and it’s gone on strike. What’s actually happened is that the tendon passes through a wee hole in the shoulder but because the tendon is damaged, it’s inflamed and swollen with the result that it no longer fits the hole. Basically it’s stuck. So now, every time I move my arm out the way, I’m straining the muscles. And it’s feckin sore. Apparently it’s called an Impinged Shoulder.

The answer, I hope, is intensive physio over the next few weeks, a significant reduction in the inflammation and a return to pain free movement. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Not now anyway. If the physio doesn’t work and I have to book another appointment in theatre, then I’d better make sure I bag a whole stack of miles in the meantime. What’s that saying? Make hay while the sun shines…

Yeah, I know, I’m falling apart. But hey, there’s a job to be done here and I ain’t about to chuck it in the name of a bit of pain. If I may quote my Highland March mates “pain is only a four letter word”. Highland Marchers don’t do giving up, not unless you’re a Wum. So going back to my cycling vows to this challenge…

“If any of you know cause or just impingement why this man and this bike should not be joined together in Wheely Matrimony, ye are to declare it”.

I’m almost back on the road.

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