Mountain Biking Can be Painful

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As mentioned in my previous article New Years Resolution (update) I have been trying to get a bit fitter again this year.  Starting with some brisk walks, turning into a bit of jogging and eventually some running, with a bit of MTB thrown in for good measure.  Whilst writing that article it became clear that the MTB had taken a back seat more than I had intended.  So a decision was made to try to get home from work a little early and make amends, this is where the problems began...

After rushing home from work and a quick change I checked over the MTB, we dont want a repeat of what happened in the Always Check Your Equipment Article and I was off.

It was a glorious afternoon, the sun was out the sky was blue, I set off without a care in the world.  I had no real time scale other than sunset was about 1hr 45mins away and that was plenty of time to have some fun.  Sticking to roads for the first section across to Benissa, through the back of the town before turning back inland towards the Jalon valley and some bits of single track.

The first piece of single track leads you down the hill into the valley running parallel with the main road.  This trail is quite rocky, as with most of the trails in the area, they are cattle trails, not the manicured loveliness of a trail centre. down the hill I went building confidence, life is good.

Reaching the bottom of the trail brings you back to the main road which you can cross and then climb slightly towards a small urbanisation of houses.  Through the urbanisation you go following the gravel road before turning left just after a driveway and down into the woods.

Having completed this section on many occasions in the past, it had become second nature, or had I become complacent, its hard to tell really.  Dropping off the road there are a couple of rock steps and then a slope into the woods, all in all a drop of maybe 1 - 1.5m.

On this occasion however things did not go quite to plan, i would love to describe for you here exactly what happened, but I can't remember.  What I can say is that I made the approach in the usual way and aimed for the best line.  The next thing I remember however was being hit in the jaw by what appeared to be my right shoulder, then a bit of blackness and finally opening my eyes with me laying on the ground.

Standing up was OK so I hadn't broken a leg although there was a bit of claret leaking from my right knee, my right shoulder was the problem however.  No pain as such, not yet anyway, just a feeling that something was wrong and a strange sensation that, when I moved my arm the bits were not joined up correctly accompanied with a strange almost tickling feeling inside, which if I'm honest made me a little queasy.

Straight away I pulled my phone from my pocket to check for damage, i was in luck it was OK and I had a signal.  Next pull the bike out of the undergrowth where it had ended up, not easy with one hand as by this point the right arm was starting to smart a little.  Back up the slope that had just bitten me and onto the gravel road out of the urbanisation.

A call was made to International Rescue, my lovely wife, to start the rescue mission.  "Hi darling its me", "What have you done this time?", "I need picking up and taking to the hospital", silence from the phone, "I've broken something, probably my collarbone".  Within 20mins she had found me, packed me in the car, driven me home to drop off the bike and delivered me to the medical centre in Benissa.

In Spain many towns have a 24hr emergency medical facility to deal with minor cases.  The staff there were great, once registered they jumped me to the top of the queue and saw me straight away.  They confirmed it was a broken collarbone and referred me to the main hospital in Denia. They even offered to provide an ambulance which we declined.  They fitted me with a sling, gave me a pain killing injection and we were back on our way in about 10 minutes.

Arriving at A & E at the new Denia hospital there were about 30 people in the waiting room ahead of me so I started to wonder how long I would have to wait. I sat down whilst my wife and son did the paperwork as even with the painkiller from Benissa the pain was becoming unbearable.

I needn't have worried, I was seen by a doctor within about 20 minutes, who took one look and ordered x-rays, I also had to admit that I hadn't had a Tetanus jab in about twenty years so that was added to the list.  Back in the waiting room for about 40mins waiting for the X-ray call, the pain was a bit stronger now, worse was to come however.

The X-ray call came and off I went down the corridor not far only about twenty metres or so, its a well designed hospital.  Once in the x-ray room I was informed that we would have to remove my necklace.  After a minute or so of faffing about I told him to snap it off after all it was only 3 Euros.  Then came the shocker, I also had to take off my cycling top.

As it is still a bit chilly I have been wearing a breathable T-shirt with an almost neoprene sports top over it.  This top is one of my favourites, its warm without being bulky and fluorescent, but unfortunately it is a little snug at the moment and has only a short zip in the collar to aid entry and it had to come off.  The X-ray guy was great, he very patiently removed it from my good arm, then gingerly over my head before removing it from my right arm, the pain was bad but at least it wasn't cut off.

Three X-rays later confirmed the prognosis of a broken collarbone and I was directed back to the waiting room again.  After another 15mins or so I was called In to see the trauma specialist who had already looked at the x-ray, and after a quick look at me decided that an operation was unnecessary.  A special harness like a figure of 8 was the order of the day, it would keep my shoulder blades in the right position to allow the collarbone to heal naturally.

Once fitted up with the harness I could move my right arm a little and didn't need a sling as that would keep my arm in the wrong position.  Back in to see the first doctor who jabbed me in the arm with a Tetanus injection and gave me some nice liquid painkiller to help me through the first night.  Job done and on to McDonalds for a celebratory Big Mac.

By the time we got home the whole process including driving and food had taken about 4 hours, which had I been in the UK would have been the time taken just to be seen in A & E.  Although not a pleasant experience, a big thank you should go to the staff at Benissa clinic, Denia hospital and of course my long suffering wife and son who managed everything for me.

- 30 March 2014 at 18:18

Think you are being a little unfair on UK hospitals there Chris.. when I broke my ankle I went to Scarborough A& E and was seen, had an xray, bandaged up and out in just over an hour. Went back next day, saw consultant, got boot (not pot) and was out in well under an they are not all bad!!! That said I'm glad you are on the mend. Lots of love. Xxx
- 30 March 2014 at 19:45

Not sure 24hr's to see a consultant is a good thing, I saw one within a few hours and all in the same visit.

A friend of mine in the London area went to A & E on a Saturday afternoon with a broken hand and was told to come back on Thursday just to get an X-ray. What is the world coming too.
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