This Space for Rent

Ayup, it can’t be fixed, so I’ll put off until tomorrow what can’t be fixed today

So I went to an osteopath on monday and had him look at my shoulder. He had another round of xrays taken of the offending shoulder, and, yes, the poor thing is pretty severely separated (the CC ligaments that my normal doctor and the ER people said were just damaged are “just damaged” to the point where I think they’ve either stretched beyond repair or have finally ruptured; during the last couple of days, I can poke at the offending clavicle and feel it depress, which means either no more CC ligaments or they’ve retired from active duty.) but, no, surgery won’t completely fix it.

Apparently not very many people are willing to try and suture AC ligaments together (because they don’t heal?) and the local osteopaths aren’t counted in that “not very many people” category. They can trim and suture the CC ligaments together, which means that the clavicle may drop back to a more conventional position and stop fouling the point of the shoulder (apparently it will also do some stabilization when you’re lifting your arm high above your shoulder, but a lot of that stabilization seems to be because part of the surgery is to resect the end of the clavicle, thus mechanically getting it the hell out of the way of the point of the shoulder.) But the cost of this surgery is, indeed, 4 months of immobility – the doctor I talked to said that for 4 months I couldn’t lift anything weighing more than 8 oz with that arm.

Now that’s a spectacular reduction in usefulness right there. I won’t enumerate exactly everything that this cuts out, but if it’s fun basically I can’t use that side of my torso for it. (And even if it’s not fun – things like climbing into and out of bed or getting a shirt on come to mind – it’s still not doable.) It is worthwhile not having the stupid clavicle leaning on my shoulder getting in the way whenever I do anything with the arm, and it would be worth something cosmetically to not have this horrible little bump (as if I was a pirate who had a giant ichneumon wasp as a familiar instead of a parrot) on my right shoulder, but 4 months offline is a considerable period of time when it happens right before the start of the summer brevet season.

And to add insult to that, apparently the best results for shoulder reconstruction surgery is if you do it within 2 weeks of the injury, which would have put the surgery before the spring 400k – I can wait until later for the surgery, but then I would need to have cadaver ligaments put in to replace the now scarred-into-uselessness ligaments that used to be there.

Given any luck, I can continue randonneuring until my 80s (offer not valid if I die before then, of course; zombie randonneuring might be amusing, but in any case I would not be around for it) which leaves me with 30 or so summers left to ride. Lose this summer and I lose 3% of my summers, and that 3% would be right at the peak of my fitness. I can, I suppose, hunt around for a tadpole and trike it for a summer (but that would require borrowing one, because a new one costs $1200 $3000 (for a racy model) and that’s a lot of money to spend for 4 months) but if I did the surgery now I’d still be in a narcotic haze on saturday, which would not be conducive to finishing a 400k loop, particularly on a new type of hpv.

So defer defer defer. Ride the 400 on Saturday (or DNF trying to ride it) and see how my crippled shoulder feels. There’s not much I need to use that side of my body for much these days, so if I can ride reasonably long distances with it I can make it through until the summer series is over, then decide whether or not it’s worth taking myself offline for 4 months to try and glue that side of my torso back together or not.

On the bright side I’ve got enough strength back I can wrench on my bicycles again – I was able to pull and replace the bottom bracket on my Trek this afternoon without having that side of my body completely explode on me – so I can do some routine maintenance around the house again.