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Sunday, February 15, 2009


Friday, September 5

So, I have a broken collarbone. But I am still in Switzerland and still want to finish out the tour with as much elan as I can muster. It won't be on the Trek, of course, but this was to be the last afternoon on the bike anyway. So, by the time Laurenz gets us back to the hotel in Madiswil, I can ease back into the program as it was planned to be.

We go through the hotel lobby and dining room and emerge into a pleasant garden area decorated with bicycles, painted and arranged in a variety of cycle-sculptures. And then there was the "snack!" A cold plate of thinly sliced beef with salad greens. This is accompanied by the classic "cycling kit:" beer and pommes frits with mayo. All this works to ease the pain of the fracture better than the wimpy analgesics from the hospital. Later, Bill would offer a 600mg Motrin; very effective and I was thus off on a months-long experiment to see how much ibuprofen I could tolerate.

Laurenz Enjoying the Mid-Afternoon "Snack" at Madiswil
If you recall, I was unsuccessful in finding the jersey I'd seen in Zermatt in my size (and that continues to be the case; exhaustive internet searches have failed to scare one up). But Bob showed off a pretty nice looking jersey he found at a bike shop here in Madiswil, so after finishing up at the table, Bill and I went off to find the shop... Now this was not as easy as you might think. Remember, the directions are being provided by Bob of the infamous "I think this is the right road to Ricken" suggestion. Walking was OK, but only if I moved slowly. Any pace at all and each footfall would send a twinge through my shoulder. We eventually find the shop and the jerseys. But there was this problem: there were only two of the right size (extra small!) and one was long sleeved. After a bit of "No, you choose first," we settle on Bill taking the long-sleeved one. It turns out to be an OK choice, as Bill finds the lining and long sleeves making this a good option for cool day riding around La Crosse, those rides taken during a time soon after our return when I'm still trying to figure out how to put on a pair of socks.

Swiss Jersey - Short Sleeved Version
Speaking of jerseys as we are, I must point out the nice surprise I got several weeks after our return as Bill presented me with a brand new one, proudly sporting the Georgia Tech theme!

The New GT Jersey - Thanks, Bill
Upon returning to the hotel, "we" disassembled the bikes and packed them up for the trip home. Of course, my contribution to the effort was limited to handing a few things to Bill and sitting on the bike boxes so he could latch them shut.

The really official, final, last of the tour, we are not kidding this is it farewell dinner is at the hotel tonight - in a very nice dining room. Thinking that my no-jersey, jacket-wrapped-around-my-shoulders outfit might not be fully appreciated by the others at the table, I decide to face a new challenge head-on: taking a bath. We have been given a room that is clearly confused. It is on the first floor and labeled as handicap accessible. But, it has one of those really deep European tubs with sides just shy of high enough to require a stepladder for entry (and regress). I manage to get in without doing any more damage to myself and it goes pretty well until I'm done and realize I can't get up. As in "can't get UP" not, "can't get OUT." I'm reminded just how incomplete my knowledge of anatomy is as it is now clear that every muscle in my body is connected to my left shoulder. No matter what I try, very unpleasant sensations emanate from my shoulder. I cannot lift myself off of the bottom of the tub. Bill suggests he grab under my upper arms and pull me up. There is no way whatsoever that I'm entertaining trying that. Then it comes to me. I can roll over onto my knees and then rise up. IT WORKS! First lesson in being a semi-invalid. There would be more.

At dinner we continue a discussion of the most pressing of issues regarding my injury: how to tell Shirley. This would take some thought at any time, but there was a real concern now, it being early September. This is because Shirley and two other ladies from the Bible Babes group are going to Alaska with their mothers; or mother in law, in the case of Eileen - Bill's wife. My fear is that Shirley would think she needed to cancel the trip and be at home when I returned. And I did not want this to happen. So, how to approach this issue as delicate as my painful shoulder?

The general plan was to convince Shirley that everything was under control and that I'd do just fine at home during the week she was away. This in spite of growing evidence that it wouldn't be quite that easy. Consider for a moment the bath experience. Anyway, we decide that Bill would call Eileen first so that she would be prepared to support the story or "conspiracy" as he called it. Then, I'd call Shirley, sounding upbeat about the whole thing. Basically, I'd be minimizing the difficulties, not realizing how much of a struggle it would turn out to be. But at the time, the story seemed plausible so, that's what we did. My conversation with Shirley went so well that not going off on the cruise never even came up. I will say that the tone was a little different the next evening when I called. She was, of course, concerned, and asked more about the accident and injury. At one point, she asked, "Did you hurt your head?" (my take), to which my answer was, "No." Her take, explained after she returned and I showed her my broken helmet, was that she had asked, "Did you HIT your head." Now technically, the answer was still, "No," as it was my helmet that hit the road. But I'm sure you see where this is going...

Shirley's Cruise Journal
The Alaska cruise NOT MISSED because of a broken collarbone. The top image shows the front (right) and rear covers of one of Shirley's clever topical journals, this one devoted to the cruise. In the middle you can see the entry about my riding in Switzerland. Then, in the bottom image, the note that needed to be added because of the news I had just delivered. You might need to click on the image to open a larger view.
It was finally time to turn in and I got to experience more of the challenges that taking care of myself for a week would present. As far as my shoulder went, I was able to find a semi-sitting position that was comfortable enough. But that's not the way I normally sleep, so I just dozed off and on during the night. And then there was getting up and down, something I had to do several times...that was pretty UNcomfortable. And so it went, the end of my first day with a broken collarbone.

Tomorrow: Going Home

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, the concept of living problem-free on your own with a broken shoulder bone is invalid . . . or semi-invalid . . . sorry, couldn't resist. Do we need a photo of the interior of that helmet . . . inquiring minds want to know.