Testing a new kind of hardware


So it turns out the attending physician at Boulder Medical Center was right about my collarbone X-ray. It wasn't just broken, it was shattered. There were three or four separate pieces creating all sorts of havoc in there, and after my consultation with my orthopedic surgeon, Dr Robert Koch (who treated my busted hand last year), there was no doubt that I'd be getting the plate-and-screw treatment.

Fast-forward two days and I'm now the proud owner of a funky-looking plate and a bunch of bone screws. I'd heard from other collarbone breakers that I'd likely feel better after the surgery but I was surprised at how dramatic the change was.

Not only was I in much less pain than I'd expected (I only took Percocet to guarantee I'd sleep that first night, then immediately switched to pretty modest doses of ibuprofen) but suddenly my shoulder felt almost right. Go figure – apparently your body prefers that all of its pieces be situated where they're supposed to be and not just freely floating around.

Further helping things along was a loaner Game Ready contraption courtesy of Allen Lim. Replacing the old-school ice pack or frozen bag o' peas, this little gem circulates ice water and applies moderate pressure around injured body parts through a variety of custom wraps. No joke: this thing quickly became one of my favorite activities in the days immediately after the surgery and after just three days, the swelling was gone – awesome.

It's now been over a week since the surgery and I seem to be progressing pretty well. I'm down to just occasional doses of ibuprofen when needed and mobility is decent, all things considered. According to nurse practitioner Sue Rudy at my first follow-up, one of the breaks was very close to the distal end of my collarbone so recovery might take a bit longer than usual but I'm still hopeful I'll be able to get back on the road before long. 

In the meantime, it's lots of couch time in front of the TV and as many milk, cheese and calcium supplements as my liver can process. Pro triathlete Jordan Rapp is sending me his bone stimulator doohickey soon, so we'll see if that speeds things along. Crossing my fingers…

James Huang

Former Technical Editor, US
James was BikeRadar's US tech editor from 2007-2015.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA
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