Tag Archives: injury

The Freakish Femoral Neck

First off, thanks to all those who reached out to me after the injury news. I received a lot of encouraging comments here, on Facebook, Twitter, and a lot of text messages and emails. Whether the comments were simply well-wishes or constructive advice, they were all appreciated.

Now that the shock of the diagnosis has worn off, I’ve been able to come to terms with the injury.

One thing I discovered pretty early is this is a freak injury for a cyclist. I scoured the internet for examples from others, but found only a legion of runners. Unlike running, cycling has no impact whatsoever, so it is boggling that any type of broken bone can occur. Even though I had run a couple times leading up to the climbing events, it was not nearly enough to suffer an injury of this nature. There is no other possibility than for this to have happened while climbing, probably out of the saddle as the doctor suggested.

Here is the best description I found of the injury.

Another common subject that came up when I talked with others was that I trained on the stress fracture. While it would be easy for me to brag about riding around with a broken bone, it really was not as impressive. The symptoms of the injury were more like tendinitis. When my body warmed up, I often would feel very little, if anything. There were only a few situations where it hurt during the activity. Six Gap was notable. Beyond that, it often hurt quite a bit after the events, but would improve with rest.

Speaking of rest, that’s what I’ve been doing, and will be doing for the next number of weeks. Kelli worked with me to find the best vitamin recipe to get the Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium to help heal my bones. I’ve been making it a point to eat things that are richer in nutrients, specifically calcium. I’m also walking around with a crutch for the time being. I could function with a slight limp, but the doctor thinks it is best to keep weight off the hip as much as possible.

I feel pretty good about the recovery process and getting back on the bike. So far I have not noticed a significant difference, but that’s to be expected. Bones are slow to heal. One thing I noticed when reading a lot of the testimonials from runners is that it is difficult for them to return to activity. Fortunately I will not be running. I found many examples of runners that will cycle to get their legs into running shape. Even though the doctor hasn’t told me this, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to start some light pedaling after the initial healing process. That’s a good thing. Climbing may have to wait awhile.

On the brighter side, my friends at Vork Cycling showcased their amateur Photoshop skills to make light of the injury. This was hilarious.

aaron recovery


Diagnosis: Broken Hip

hip_stressfx_anatomy01

Today was the day I would get the results of the MRI. After doing plenty of internet research, I figured that the best case scenario was further inflammation of the same hip flexor strain that my General Practitioner had diagnosed months back. The worst case scenario would be a tear somewhere in my hip labrum. Depending on the severity, that could require surgery. Whatever it was, I was looking forward to getting an answer and starting the path towards recovery.

It turned out to be neither of those.

“How does the hip feel?” the doctor asked. A little sore today, but not as bad as this last week.

He came right out and said it. “You have a Femoral Head Stress Fracture.”

Wow, I thought, not really understanding what he said. It turns out the fracture is in the plate of my hip, the right side, not far from the socket (labrum) that connects to the pelvis. He said that the labrum is also off, which points to another injury. Whatever I did to that poor hip, I did it real good.

He asked questions about my activities, trying to figure out how this happened. I never noticed a snap or any moment where this could have happened. He said that it’s more common with running because of the impact. When we discussed some of my rides in a little more detail, he said that it could have happened when riding out of the saddle on a steep climb. That is when I would be most at risk for this type of injury. That jives with my Grandfather Mountain theory.

The only prescription right now is rest, and lots of it. I will not even think about treatment for the next six weeks. The only activity that is at all acceptable is swimming or upper body exercises.

My first question was whether my plans in France are still possible. Yes, he said, with some work. We’ll revisit this again at the end of January, and I’ll work myself back into shape slowly. The goal is to resume training sometime in March. Since the event is in the late summer, my recovery fits within the training timeline.

Even though this is somewhat of a bummer, I am relieved. Finally I can stop training and aggravating this injury, which to be frank, has not been a lot of fun. The next time I ride, it won’t be on a broken hip, and it’ll feel a lot better.

Whatever happens, this story ends in the Alps.


The Injury

A smart person once told me that injury is a part of activity. It is going to happen at some point. What matters is how you handle it.

I am officially injured.

It started sometime around Bridge to Bridge. The exact moment when the injury occurred is a mystery, but my guess it was somewhere along the final climb up Grandfather Mountain. Symptoms first showed up a few days afterward.

I knew around Six Gap Century that this was not a simple tweak. I rode through most of those hills in pain, most from my injury, some from the difficulty of the ride.

Since then my training has been off and on. After a lengthy rest period, the hip felt a lot better and I was able to begin Phase I of my off-season training. That was short lived, as the injury roared back after riding around the hills of Asheville.

Yesterday was my first step toward diagnosis and treatment. I saw Evan Ekman, a local sports medicine guru who has treated the best and brightest athletes in the area. He checked me out, took some x-rays, and asked a lot of questions. When did it start? When does it hurt? Do I ever hear a popping sound? He moved my leg in different directions to determine where it hurt.

Dr Ekman's office was adorned with sports jerseys.

Dr Ekman’s office was adorned with sports jerseys.

He had a few ideas of what the injury could be, perhaps an issue with my labrum or hip snapping syndrome. After hearing about the injury that Alex Rodriguez is enduring, my hope is that it is the latter if either. It could also be just inflammation, but since I have been dealing with it for several months, it is best to diagnose the problem and move forward with recovery.

The next step was to get an MRI for a proper diagnosis.

I showed up not quite sure what to expect. Being slightly claustrophobic, I was worried about being inside the tube. Fortunately my head extruded out the other side, so that was not an issue. Everything was going fine until she added that one final touch. She put a band around my feet to keep them in the same position.

Ow!

Remember that I have a hip injury. That band essentially pulled on my injury, like pulling on a gaping wound. It caused excruciating pain. I told the tech right away that this might not work. She said to do my best, but there was literally no wiggle room. I had to suffer through it.

This was my prison for 40 minutes.

This was my prison.

Holy mother of God, this was painful. I stayed as still as I could, but with every minute it hurt more. I felt like I was doing a plank with a knife stuck in my legs. Loud noises came from the machine. Some sounded like loud rumbling or humming. Others sounded like electric guitars. Even though they were unsettling, they somewhat distracted from the pain.

About 40 minutes passed. The Tech told me that there was one more test, just four minutes remaining. I gritted through, just thinking about the relief I’d feel shortly afterward. My lower body was shaking, quaking uncontrollably from the pain. The noise stopped, then she said there was yet another she had forgotten. Another round of suffering and it was finally over.

As I scooted out, I could not feel my legs. It has been a couple hours and they are still numb.

Oddly enough, after I limped away and sat down in my car, the hip didn’t hurt as much. It was as if the pain was squeezed out by the machine.

The results will be ready Monday. In the meantime I’ll be at the bar.


A Series of Setbacks

Setbacks are not sexy, but they happen and must be dealt with. This blog has been a little quiet over the last couple weeks because that is exactly what I’ve been dealing with. I had hoped they would pass quickly, and my training path would continue towards a triumphant descent into Nice, France next year.

The first setback was the nagging hip injury that bothered me throughout the latter part of the cycling season, specifically on Six Gap Century. It had gone away for awhile until I experienced soreness after riding up in Asheville. No problem. I could rest a couple of days. Unfortunately it became worse, and continued in that direction for a few days. I knew that this was going to slow me down significantly, as the hip heals very slowly.

Since I cannot afford to spend the next few months on the couch, I made another appointment with my doctor. He talked to me, looked me over, and told me that since I’m an athlete, I need special treatment. I almost laughed when he told me that. Me? An Athlete? I’m just a dude that rides a bike, but I agree that the normal measures are not going to work.

As it turned out, I started getting a sore throat the day before my appointment. Uh oh. Yes, I was getting sick. When I’m training, I hardly ever get sick. Sometimes I’ll get a little something that will slow me down for a day or two, but my body usually fights it off. This time I had not been training, and it ran over me like a mack truck.

The doctor diagnosed it as a common cold. Good. That would pass in a day or two, and I could resume some light training. Coach Bobby told me that as long as the cold symptoms remain in my head and not my chest, that I would be able to continue.

That wasn’t happening. As the cold progressed, it knocked me down hard. I was on the couch, drinking sodas, chewing cough drops, and eating as much soup as I could stomach. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was watching episodes of Breaking Bad.

This private hell continued over the next couple days. Training of any sort was out of the question. I started to clear up yesterday. The dry cough became productive and phlegmy. My sinuses loosened up, the voice cleared up, and I could feel it flowing out of me. For the first time all week, I felt like I could function, and I wanted to get outside.

I’m still not there yet. The cold is passing through slowly, and might not be completely gone until the middle of next week. Hopefully the rest and the new doctor will be just what I need, and I can continue going hard in a week or two.

By the way, Breaking Bad is a fantastic show.


2012 Ray Tanner Home Run



As an avid South Carolina Gamecock fan, the Ray Tanner Home Run was an event I’ve wanted to run for awhile. I couldn’t three years because of my running injury, and the last two were date conflicts with cycling events. With my recent injury, it looked like this might be another scratch, but determination counts for something. I kept my registration with the intention of walking the course.

Ray Tanner, for those who don’t know, is a local legend. He was the Baseball coach who led the Gamecocks to consecutive College World Series championships. He has since been promoted to Athletic Director, and is now overseeing the best football team in years under Steve Spurrier. On the day of the race, the football Gamecocks would be away playing the LSU Tigers. A win would vault them to the national championship race. Needless to say, this is an exciting time to support the program.

What’s great about this ride is the location. It begins bright and early at Carolina Stadium, where the Gamecocks play their home games. It ends at home plate, with the awards presentation at left field. With just over 1,800 athletes participating, it was a crowded and festive atmosphere.

Because of the Ray’s new position and the LSU game this evening, he could not make it to the event. Instead, Karen, his wife, hosted thousands of riders, family members, and volunteers. She gave us some thanks and words of encouragement before a young girl (sorry, missed the name) started the race with an air horn. The 12k runners started first, with the 5k pack leaving half an hour later.

The weather changed my plans. It was a cool morning in the low 50s, with a chilling breeze. As we lined up, I moved further and further towards the back of the pack. I was only allowed to walk, as I kept reminding myself, and didn’t want to be motivated by other runners.

The race started, and I started walking with the pack. This wasn’t working. I had to jog slowly to warm myself up. Oddly enough, it felt alright. I kept at it for maybe half a mile. Then I forced myself to stop and walk. I walked/jogged the rest of the route, not wanting to push myself further into injury. When I crossed home plate, it had taken me 37:29, which I will take for my injured state. According to the official results, I finished 393rd out of 659 finishers of the 5k. Having expectations of being close to last, this was fantastic.

The run was encouraging. The hip was slightly sore afterward, but it mostly held up. It should be fine to train on in the next week or two. I could also tell that the rest was good for me. I had a lot more running power than I expected, especially on the hills. There were times I felt I could pick up the pace, but kept myself in check just to be safe.

The event was awesome. It is a great feeling to finish at home plate to a cheering crowd. The ride director, Ken Lowden, did a phenomenal job. As Karen said at the beginning, it simply would not happen without he and his volunteers.

Running is probably not going to be in the training plan for France. This will most likely be my last one for quite awhile.

IMAGE GALLERY