Three days, three bones

Dude, we are having some crazy times around here. These two orthopedic tales require some backstory, but they come together nicely (if tragically).

Knees and ankles

The Wife, before knee surgery, before she became The Wife.

Some of you might remember that last fall The Wife had back-to-back ACL reconstructions. That was zero fun — featuring infection, drug interaction psychosis, severe dehydration, lack of sleep, inability to drive and general misery.

But we pulled together and got it done. Her left knee is still weak and sore, but she’s been walking, driving, riding the trainer, finally getting back to living.

Wednesday afternoon: She steps out of the car onto ice and eats it. Legs sprawled everywhere, a shriek of terror. Extreme pain.


Her right leg has two breaks: a chip off the back of her tibia from her foot hyperextending, plus a radial fracture of her fibula.

The only happy moment came when Dr. Koch asked her what color cast she wants.

“Hot pink!”

She’ll be rocking that action for four to six weeks. And let’s not forget that bum left knee.

This morning I drove The Boy to school, then went to The Fix for a little DJ session. It was my first day jumping the GT cruiser, it was below 20 degrees F, I was tired, and I wasn’t paying proper attention.

On a jump I’ve buttered a thousand times, I came up very short. The bike stopped, I kept going, you know the rest. When my hands met the ground I felt/heard a pop in my upper back. Tumbling violence. Extreme pain.

Now some backstory:

My left shoulder had labral repair surgery in 2002. That wing is still weaker, sorer and more limited than I’d like, but it works. Dr. Koch says he’ll eventually have to go back in there.

I broke my right clavicle in 2003. The bone was very displaced, but the doctor told me not to get surgery; to just let it heal. OK. I was hyper diligent with my rehab, and, although my right shoulder hangs a lot lower than it used to, the doctor said it’s all good — the bone is misaligned but strong.

For the past 4+ years I’ve been very consistent with range of motion and strength exercises. The left shoulder has lagged, but my right shoulder has been solid. Sure, it feels like the deltoid tendons aren’t running right, and the shoulder gets really sore after DH and moto, but it’s been working fine.

So this morning I’m gasping for breath in the trough of a rhythm line. A fire is spreading from the back of my right shoulder to the rest of my right side. Muscles are clenching. I’m imagining broken ribs.

I make it home. The Wife throws on some clothes that clash with her cast, and we drive to the urgent care center. I worked the pedals, and she turned the wheel. Dude — the pain! But dude — the teamwork!


First the good news: I didn’t break anything today. Other than a spasm in my trapezius and general soft-tissue anger, I’m fine. Three cheers for Percoset and Valium!

But the E.R. doc had the funniest look on her face. “Come look at your X-ray.”

It turns out the two pieces of my clavicle never fused. Today’s doctor said the bone segments were too far apart. Everything healed nice and smoothly — but separately.

You could clearly see a big space between the ends of my clavicle. We all shook our heads. I asked, “So what was holding it all together?”


Sheesh. Thank goodness for pump tracks, divebomber pushups and upright-rows-to-presses.

This was information I did not want, but I suppose it’s important. In 10 days The Wife and I will see Dr. Koch together. So romantic.

Lee Likes Visuals

Right after the break. October 2003.

Today, more than four years later, with my arm rotated inward.

Today, with my arm rotated outward. Look how far the bone moves, just standing there. No wonder that shoulder hurts after a hard ride. And pullups have been so hard …

This whole thing is so ridiculous it’s funny. Who knows what’s next?

In the meantime: I work the pedals. She turns the wheel.

24 replies
  1. jeff says:

    Lee, only a mutant could function for 4 years with a “healed” clavicle like yours. You’re like Wolverine! Get well soon!

  2. o says:

    Lee, get well soon! I second Jeff, functioning for four years with muscle instead of a bone is not entirely human.

  3. Chris says:

    Great story. Great physical triumph.

    I’ve said it before on this site and I’ll say it again: you break the clavicle, you pin the clavicle.

    I hope the cost of your surgery is coming out of that doctor’s yachting fund. How did he determine that the repair was “strong”?

  4. esteban says:

    i know the kind of team work you’re talking about…was it mechanical or automatic?…i once did the wheel and the gear stick because i had a cast on my right leg and my mate did the pedals with a broken clavicle….sure we crunched the gears a bit but we made it. hope you get better soon, and since you re kind of hyper and a maniac i’m sure u will be fine.cheers!

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    Esteban: auto tranny … dang what a story … what do you mean hyper and manic??

    Chris: The doctor checked my range of motion and tugged on my arm. Apparently my hyper-manic physical therapy regimen was enough to fool him.

    Sheesh. Trying not to worry, trying not to be pissed.

  6. Bob Burnes says:

    WOW! I’ve seen people do some amazing acts with bullet wounds, head trauma, burns, fresh broken bones, but I’ve never seen or heard of anybody still rippin’ it up on the bike with a broken clavicle 4 YEARS AFTER THE FACT!

    This is a sweet/sour moment. On one hand your poor wife and her broken leg. I hope she gets well soon. On the other hand, you’ve been riding with a broken bone for 4 years!

    Hard to top that one.

  7. brett says:

    Lee! Interesting on the clavicle. Did they have any explanations as to why you had the malunion or whatever they call it?

    Sorry to hear about the tribulations of the Wife. Good luck to you both!!

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    Malunion. Nice. Word of the day.

    Th E.R. doc said the pieces were just too far apart to fuse. I sure would love to run this past Dr. Wall in San Jose. He’s the guy who did the left shoulder surgery (now turning funky) and pronounced my right shoulder all good — after insisting that pinning it wasn’t worthwhile.

    This would be a lot more interesting and cool if it wasn;t my shoulder.

    Hey Brett, How’s yours?

  9. Chris says:

    The juxtaposition of this and the previous posts creates a ‘Tango and Cash’-like situation: “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that my body adapts to adversity. The bad news is that my body adapts to adversity.”

  10. Tony Santoro says:

    I don’t EVEN wanna see what mine looks like in Xray form after the years of healing. I can feel its set very badly. HAHA
    It does everything I need it too though…
    We’re gonna be some really sore old men, when we’re old men!

    Other than this issue, I hope all is well for you Lee.

    Las Vegas

  11. tea party says:

    Perhaps our past feats of strength comps weren’t fair afterall…..maybe I should have to do double your amount of dips to “beat you”. 🙂 And Lopes…you crushed him!

  12. leelikesbikes says:

    Oh yeah! Ha ha! … More dips and half-bodyweight pulldowns than Lopes … with no clavicle!

    But — pound for pound — Bobbi Watt wins every time!

  13. leelikesbikes says:

    I did 31. Bobbi stopped at 32. She had more in her, but … you know … such a lady!

    Yes, policed.

  14. Chris says:

    That is an enormous amount of dips!

    Speaking of Feats of Strength, sort of, when you release your jersey I still fully intend to donate the cost of one (and postage) to the unsponsored person that can do the fastest 10 figure 8 laps (around cones/objects X feet apart) on flat surface/asphalt/concrete in the least amount of time. World Championships! I’d also like to see Pro riders times too!

  15. Walt says:

    I bet I have the same thing. My shoulder always clicks and I sometimes get sharp pains in it from a wreck 3 years ago. It makes you wonder if it is worth it to not wear your shoulder protection whenever you are doing something like that in spite of how dorky all the 20 year old riders think you look. I mean like wear the stuff all the time on anything where there is a chance of going over the handlebars.

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