Tag Archives: Surgery

When is a cyclist like a skier?

There may be several ways a cyclist is like a skier, but for me it is because I have what is called Skier’s Thumb. It used to be called Gamekeeper’s Thumb because it was primarily suffered by gamekeeper’s who repetitively wrung the necks of hares. I think I prefer the skier reference.

What is it? Skier’s Thumb is actually pretty broad. It involves any damage to the soft tissue between the thumb and the rest of the hand. In some cases it is the spraining of the ligaments, but is more severe cases it ranges from a tearing of the ligament to an actual separation from the bone.

In my case, there is a small portion of the bone of my thumb — the portion my ligament happens to be connected to — that has broken off from the thumb. This means the ligament is pretty much useless. I can tell this because I can’t pick up anything with any weight. Also, if I pick up something light and then try to manipulate it, I can’t. It pops right out of my hand.

So, this morning at 9:15 I’ll be going into the hospital as an outpatient. They’ll do all their prep work and by 11:15 I’ll be ready have my thumb cut open. Don’t worry, I’m not taking pictures this time. The doc will put a small plate called a suture anchor in there that will help hold the bone and ligament in place and within 30 minutes I’ll done.

They won’t put me under for the procedure. Actually, they are going numb half my arm. It is the Bier Block. It is pretty cool. They will put a device like a blood pressure band around my left arm. However, instead of letting off on the pressure, they will keep it engaged. This will “trap” the medicine in the arm and only half my arm will go numb.

The advantage to this is that once the operation is done, they can release the pressure and the medicine will then dissipate through the rest of my body and I’ll have use of my arm much faster than if they were to do a full regional nerve block on my arm.

I’m sure I’ll come out of there with some sort of cast. My guess is that it will be a removable one. John James told me to make sure that they molded it so that it would fit properly over the hood on my left handlebar. I’m not too worried about that right now.

I have a good feeling about the future use of the thumb. The doc said that we could attempt to heal it with immobilization, but that gave me a 70% chance of success. With the surgery, he gives me 95%. I guess I’m thinking positively. I think with the good work of Dr. Brown and proper physical therapy following, I’ll have my thumb issues straightened out before my neck brace comes off.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Oh, if you haven’t gone by CrankListed.com and voted for LowCadence.com, be sure to do it this weekend. Voting for the best blogs in each category ends on the 6th. It was an honor just to be nominated. Who knows if the blog might get the most votes.

Good luck, John

At 9 AM my friend, John, will head into St. Francis for surgery to repair a broken collar bone. It will be his first time to go under the knife. When I talked to him yesterday, he was nervous and excited — but more just relieved that it would soon be over. Here’s to quick and solid healing to one of the guys that has most influenced me on the bike.

John James

John James awaits the 2009 SC Criterium Championshps

I first met John in the early 90s when I was in grad school. Newly married with no kids, I got me a mountain bike to ride some of the trails that existed back in those days. It was the first time riding a bike since my early childhood.

It was Mike McMillan that invited me to join the shop crew on some of the rides on Piney Mountain (yes, there used to be mountain bike trails where George Hincapie’s house is now located) and sneaking into the back of Paris Mountain State Park to ride on the fire roads. John was in the group, but I thought he was a mute. He didn’t talk much and he seemed to have one expression on his face all the time.

After a time, I eased off of the shop rides. They were just way to fast and technical for me! I started to do more riding by myself as I tried to improve my handling and endurance. Of course, the headquarters for all of this was Sunshine Cycle Shop.

Then I had kids, started a business, got involved in politics, and all kinds of other stuff. It wasn’t long before the bike was gathering dust in the garage. It was actually a vintage Vespa that brought me back into the shop. Mike McMillan was trying to help me get it running.

That introduced me once again to the bicycle. However, this time it was a road bike. I found it was a bit easier to keep up with the group and that is when I started to get to know John a little better.

At first it wasn’t very positive. I thought John was a snob. Turns out, he didn’t think that much of me either. He thought I was one of those flash-in-the-pan riders that would never learn anything and just be in the way.

At first I just avoided him on rides. However, as I slowly started to get stronger, I would end up around him more and more. I also started to hang out at the shop a bit asking questions about how I could be a better rider.

It wasn’t long before I learned that first impressions — even ones that go on for awhile — can’t always be trusted. Ultimately, it was John who ended up making me believe that I could actually ride the bike quite well. He was the one that took me under his wing to explain how you are supposed to behave in a group ride — or race.

That is really one of the great things about cycling. It is an activity that gives you common ground with people across social, cultural, and personality divides. Before long you find that you are knocking down some of your preconceived notions and you discover a friend.

John will probably kill me for posting this. He doesn’t like the attention. Maybe that is why I’m enjoying doing it!

Thanks, John, for being a mentor and a friend. Get that collar bone set and get better soon. Summer is coming and I’ll miss you on the Thursday night death march!

What the inside of my finger looks like

Today we have another video log because I can’t type well with a club for a left hand.  Plus the Oxycodone is making me feel really lazy.  Still, that stuff helps keep the pain at bay.

This will be my last posting on the crash and the surgery.  I’m getting tired of it and I’m pretty sure you all are as well.  Spring Series is only two days away.  There is more to look forward to than to look back at.

Oh, one warning… there ie a photo in here of an open pinkie finger.

See you out on the road!  Look for more about cycling and less about fingers in days to come at LowCadence.com.