Monday, September 20, 2010

Step-by-Step, Falling-Off-Your-Bike Recovery Program

I had this brilliant plan: rush down to Queen's Park on my lunch break to catch a glimpse of Michael Barry and Ryder Hesjedal at the PRO men's race. If I left at 1:45pm, I'd be able to see the last 40 minutes, visit with a few people and fly back to work.
For those of you who don't know, the aforementioned "pros" are a few of our best Canadian cyclists. Ryder Hesjedal placed 7th overall in this year's Tour de France and Michael Barry was on the US Postal Team in the glory days of Lance Armstrong! It is not everyday that these guys come over to grace our Toronto streets with the beautiful elegance of their absolute talent. For a little footage, check it out online:

Flying back to work with wind in my hair .. ok, I admit, I do not wear a helmet when I am commuting; when I'm really riding (on my race bike) I ALWAYS wear a helmet. Judge me if you like! I know that it's stupid. I know that helmets save lives. I know that regardless of what bike I am riding, I am probably riding WAY TOO fast to not be wearing a helmet, but there is nothing like feeling the wind in your hair. I suppose if it precedes a cracked skull on the pavement, it might be just as effective to use a blow dryer to simulate the sensation!

Feeling inspired (and with the knowledge that I would likely arrive back to work late), I rode even faster. Sailing across the via-duct with sun on my face, I chose to run an orange light. Coming up on a leisure cyclist at 35km/hr, I proceeded to pass .. at which point he decided that it was a good idea to, without looking, ride across the adjacent crosswalk. This, of course, resulted in his bike colliding with my high-speed front wheel, sending yours truly flying in the air, shoes smoothly sailing on the wind and both landing hap-hazardly on the paved surface below!

What do you do when you fall off your bike?

1. See if you can stand. If you can, clear the course; in other words, GET OFF THE ROAD! If you can move your limbs, they're likely not broken. If there are bones sticking out of your skin: well, that's not good.
2. After you've assessed yourself and taken a few deep breaths, assess the bike!

Before I go on, let me just say that the most life threatening injuries can be the one's that you can't see: a ruptured spleen for instance, which may cause some pain over the left side of your chest cavity and could lead to an internal hemorrhage if untreated, or a concussion, which could result in brain swelling and damage and may present with dizziness, inability to concentrate, nausea and fatigue.

3. Good back to work or, if you have the option, go home .. if you need to, wait for the ambulance! (I went back to work)
4. ARNICA!!!! Homeopathic Arnica is used to treat trauma, both topically and internally. An appropriate pellet dose internally for acute trauma is a potency of 30CH. Take it as often as you need to to relieve bruising, pain due to trauma and pulled muscles. Slather the topical form on liberally and regularly to expedite healing.
5. Take a bath with 2 full cups of Epsom salts. Epsom salts contain magnesium which will relax the muscles that tightened up during impact.
6. Keep moving!! Light movement will promote circulation and direct "cytokines" that encourage healing to the site of injury. In addition, GENTLE movement will minimize swelling. FYI: don't move broken limbs if they're not casted!
7. Get treated for ongoing trauma: kinesiotaping, acupuncture and massage all work well to assist in healing and will help you avoid developing chronic pain. (To all of my colleagues, I will be requesting a massage session between patient visits tomorrow)! :)

Since I'm writing this, I have not died. I am pretty battered: bruised left hip, knee and shoulder, sore back and neck and scraped up left hand. But I will survive! I leave you all with some cycling wisdom from 84 year old Gordy Shields, US record holder and National Cycling Champion:
"Yet in spite of the danger, this sport has a fascination that, to me, no other sport gives. Yes, I know I will crash and while I will do all in my power to avoid it, I will not give up any forms of my riding".

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