Subluxation… Again

Not my shoulder, I don’t see a doctor for this.

Sigh. Another Saturday afternoon on the couch nursing a boo-boo. Someone added a new mountain biking obstacle—a bridge of logs lined up perpendicular to the trail, maybe seven feet long. The bridge doesn’t actually span anything, the only purpose is to have fun. Like a rumble-strip on steroids. In the future, as I ride my bike over it, I envision singing out Aaaaaaah. “Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah!” I think a log is missing. Where I would lay the second to last log, there’s a gap.

My ride today already kind of sucked. I chose some lousy lines. I bailed on obstacles I’ve ridden in the past. I fell on a flat section because I turned too sharply and jack-knifed my bike. By the time I hit the bridge, my mojo already evaporated. My confidence vanished. I rode it too slowly, too cautious. My front wheel settled into that gap, and my rear wheel lifted. I hit the fulcrum point on my front wheel where everything balanced perfectly. Time stopped. My brain began a casual observation. Hmmm. Something exciting is going to happen now, I can’t wait to see what.

My wheel popped up out of the gap, fell fifteen inches to the ground, and landed just beyond the fulcrum. Slowly, my nose-wheelie washed over, I dropped over my handlebars, and I landed squarely on my right shoulder. I always land on my right shoulder.

“Hey dad, you OK?” Eli caught the action out of the corner of his eye as he followed the trail around a bend. “That was the quietest crash I ever heard.”

I got back on my bike and started riding. “Oh crap, I’m hurt.” My most common injury is a shoulder subluxation. This is a partial dislocation. My shoulder pops out of joint but then snaps back into place. I don’t need to mess around with all that painful manipulation, grabbing a tree, twisting this way and that, trying to get the joint to slide into the socket, but the damage is still done. Everything is stretched and torn and swells internally for six weeks or so making it painful to raise my arm.

The first subluxation happened in high school track. A string of frigid, icy days had us running the upstairs halls of the school. The squared-off corners made negotiating turns tricky. Coach Dunston was curious how running in the halls affected our speed; he had us sprint timed laps. As I rounded the third corner, I stumbled and fell headlong into a row of lockers. My shoulder (right shoulder) squarely hit the lock apparatus. Because it was 1980 and I was seventeen, I never went to the doctor. I just suffered and complained through the pain every time I tried to drive the family stick-shift. At some point over the next few weeks, each member of my family told me “Oh, you’re all right.”

Since then, my sloppy shoulder joint, weakened by the initial injury, subluxed again and again. Lifting weights at Holiday Spa, boogie boarding big surf in North Carolina, falling off a log I was tight roping in Peru, and mountain biking, countless times mountain biking. Yesterday as I did my morning pushups, I realized that my shoulder finally stopped hurting from the last time I fell off my bike six or seven weeks ago.

Based on a fall I took eighteen months ago, mountain biking should be tolerable by Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meantime, I’ve got the couch to ride plus any activity I can do with one arm. Not exactly how I planned to spend my three-day weekend, but all things considered, this could be worse.

32 thoughts on “Subluxation… Again

  1. Please tell me you do where a helmet while riding? You are the perfect example of why people should where protected gear. Sorry your weekend plans had to change but very happy your ok. Maybe a lazy day binge watching TV or reading is something you should enjoy this weekend. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always wear a helmet. It clearly saved my life when I was hit by a car once. My wife suggested I invest in some body armor for mountain biking. It’s a real thing but I think they leave the shoulders flexible for movement, so I’m not sure it would help. I’d get less scraped up though. I’m sure I’ll find things to do. And look, today I wrote.

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  2. Brutal. Heal up quick. Loose shoulders suck. So many friends with little screws and bolts in their shoulders from doing this a few too many times. And so many trailside re-locations. On the bright side, enjoy your rest day(s)?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. At least it didn’t pop all the way out, right?! My ex dislocated his shoulder falling off a skateboard and popped it back in himself. It was loose forever after that, and would occasionally pop out doing something as simple as pulling a Hoodie over his head.

    I think I’ve seen bike gear that has shoulder, chest & back plates. Like shin guards for soccer🤷🏼‍♀️

    I hate those Slo-mo falls. Why do our brains do that to us? It’s not like we learn to stop doing dumb stuff that gets us hurt😂😂

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    • I’m sorry Angie, I’m up early and reviewing a couple posts to make sure I didn’t miss anything and I see I never commented here. Bad form. I’ve been checked over by a doctor and diagnosed with a strain or a tear in a shoulder tendon. Not optimum, but certainly able to fully heal. I doubt I’d ever actually get body armor. I hear it’s brutally hot to ride in. Really, I just need to stay on my F#&$* bike. Seems so simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Jeff! I am sorry to know of this injury. Still, I applaud the way that you have, of bringing your wry sense of humor to even this. I could not help smiling when I noticed it here: “My brain began a casual observation. Hmmm. Something exciting is going to happen now, I can’t wait to see what.” Wishing you a speedy recovery, friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ouch! Sorry to hear this, Jeff. I can’t begin to imagine how agonising dislocating a shoulder must be. Well, I do have a rough idea from your painful description, but that’s the nearest I’m ever likely to get, thank goodness. I admire you for all the physical activity you seem to pack into your days. It’s got to be good for you (unless you fall or go careering over rocks). I’d need danger money to even think about attempting something like that (physical issues aside). My idea of a thrill is trying to get Alfie, my wheelchair, through a narrow doorway when the chances are that I’ll scrape the skin off my knuckles or when I have to ride at 30 degrees over some really ugly tree roots in the pavement. I hope your pain heals soon, Jeff, and you are back out riding again. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm. I wonder if there’s any danger money for almost-senior-citizens risking their lives participating on youth activities. Just yesterday, my wife was suggesting my dad get a scooter to go buzz along the bike path behind his apartment. I related your experiences of breaking down and needing a paid service to come bail you out. She was like, oh, maybe not then.

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  6. That sounds painful.
    I had my Ancestry DNA done a while ago. One of the new “services” they have added on is predicting certain traits–whether you have straight hair, or are more likely to perceive certain foods as bitter tasting. Allegedly there are genes that can predict whether one is risk averse or not.
    Allegedly I am more risk averse than 80% of the population. I guess that has saved me from the fun of activities like mountain biking!
    But at this point in my life I am thinking my motto should be No Guts No Glory!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WIth the exception of being somewhat terrified of heights, risk adverse isn’t an adjective I’d use for myself. Or maybe I’m just clumsy. I’m constantly hurting myself and to me it seems to be due to being uncareful. My kids did one of those tests – 23 and me I think. Lot’s of neat info there. My wife and I need to do it so we can settle the question of which genes came from where.

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