I consider myself to be an expert on one particular type of injury, after all I have had the pleasure of breaking my collarbone a total of 3 times! At the age of only 23, my chances look grim! So as it appears too late for me I feel it is my duty to inform the masses how to avoid this tragedy, or indeed bounce back if it’s too late.
Way back, all of 6 years ago (most of you being older than me I’m sure this seems only yesterday) I was quite the adrenaline junkie. I was one of those teenage skateboarders everyone hopes will fall and damage themselves as they pass. You’ve all thought it I’m sure. I had also recently purchased a new mountain bike , and spent my days charging around, flinging myself off drops jumps or anything that would shoot me into the air. Oh what a feeling it was!
It was through this that I made friends with similar interests, one in particular with a large piece of land and far too much free time on his hands. “It’s finished!” he smiled one spring morning, “What’s finished?” I reply. “The Northshore drop, it’s done!”
For those of you not in the know (i.e. for all you sensible people) Northshore refers to a discipline of mountain biking that originated in Vancouver’s north shore. It involves hurtling through the woods on high up skinny wooden constructions. Imagine Go Ape on bikes!
Northshore done properly
Now of course my friends drop didn’t look nearly this good, we didn’t have the ingenuity. It was however, high! A single 14ft drop into a sloped landing. That’s nothing surely you might say, but try standing on the window sill of the first floor in your house. Feel like jumping? (I am not responsible for any injuries caused by this).
So I push my friends full suspension bike up the run in. Pull a full face helmet over my head. Mount the bike. Psyching myself up. I push hard on the pedals and fly down run in, making my way up to what I think is the ‘right’ speed…
As I lie there, crumpled on the floor and in absolute shock, my friends crowd round and look at me in shock as I cry out… “Dude is your bike OK?!” My state of shock has left me completely unaware of my own ills. All I can do when he replies with a yes is laugh until my lungs hurt, delirious from the 20ft drop part way down the landing, onto my head and left shoulder. Still unaware of the hairline fracture in my left clavicle.So I went home, clutching my arm, thinking I’ve suffered only some bruising.
I’ll never forget the look on my parents’ faces when they returned from holiday 2 days later, seeing me in a homemade sling. The standard “You plonker!” I’ve come to expect from my dad, and the look of worry in my mum’s eyes. If I remember correctly, within 5 minutes I was being rushed to A&E!
The lesson learned from fracture number 1: bikes don’t fly, and neither do I!
Fracture 2 has a far less extreme and exciting story. Having been told by the doctor that my shoulder would have healed in 6 weeks time, I was eager to get active again. I had been out of the sling for a couple of weeks, and had even driving my car a few times. This brings me to an occurrence I am actually rather ashamed of!
On a field in my home town, messing about one evening with friends, I attempted… a forward roll!
The sound echoed around the field, and my friends winced. I stood immediately! White faced, clutching my arm “I’m going home!” I barely managed to whisper. This wasn’t like last time, and I was most certainly not on an adrenaline high. I was in pain, and a whole lot of it!
I walked quickly as I could in the general direction of my house, only to be thwarted by a fence blocking my way. There was no way I could vault over it like I had on the way in. Embarrassingly, I made my way back to my friends to get help, and after receiving this, immediately called my mum (who else do you ring in that situation). “Mum I need to go to A&E.” “What for? What’s happened?” “I’ve broken it again.”
In amazing time she was there, and we were on our way to the hospital. Mum’s can really shine through when you most need them, and mine has helped me loads, of course I’m grateful. However, this is not a shining moment…
Nurse: “Right, do you have any of your own painkillers?”
Me: “No I don’t have any.”
Nurse: “No problem, we’ll get you some morphine to ease the pain.”
Mum: “Hold on, I have some paracetamol!”
Lesson learned from fracture number 2:don’t take your mum to A&E!
This brings us to the most recent injury. Still the same bone, and unsurprisingly, the worst fracture yet.
Those of you who know me well will know how much I can rave about snowboarding. So it comes as no surprise I’m sure, that I was extremely excited for my planned trip to Brides Les Bains in January. So excited in fact I slept for only an hour on the coach ride to the resort. This excitement had me speeding along the first slopes, despite my bindings being set up wrong, and of course the inevitable happened.
Catching my toe edge, I smashed my shoulder into the ground and continued to flip over onto my backside. Digging my heel edge in until stopped, I frantically unzipped my jacket and placed my right hand on my left shoulder. It was broken; and bad this time! For the next 5 minutes I was on a rollercoaster of emotion (a clichéd metaphor I know)! I started angry at my incompetence, I’m no Travis Rice but I can ride. Next was disappointment, I’d had an hour of snowboarding and the rest of my trip was a write off. Soon enough though I just started laughing, as I’m sure you guys are at my misfortune. After all, I’d managed to break my collarbone 3 times, it was becoming a habit. What else can you do but laugh!
So after a pleasant sled ride to the clinic with mountain rescue, costing only 419 euro’s (thank god for insurance) I was delighted to receive this lovely image:
Something’s not quite right!
Now I’m no doctor, but that doesn’t look healthy! Of course, after seeing this there’s only one thing you can do… Pub!
So the rest of the trip went by in a blur of booze and heavy snow, and I returned to the UK on the coach, drinking still. Say what you will about alcohol, it is most certainly one of the best painkillers I’ve tried. After a few days at my parents’ house I returned to Plymouth, and to work (albeit briefly) until I was told it probably wouldn’t heal, and to fix it I’d need surgery. And that’s how I ended up like this:
Lesson learned from fracture number 3: there are 206 bones in the human body, only 205 to go and I am Wolverine!
So I hope you’ve all learned how to avoid being a complete idiot like me. Don’t jump of rickety homemade structures, 17 appears to be too old to perform a forward roll and although body bling is cool, a piercing may be the better choice. If not, I’m sure you’ve at least enjoyed laughing at my misfortune, I have!