Welcome to the start of a series of articles over the course of this week about the experience of a broken pelvis, covering the immediate consequences, rehabilitation and long term outcome.
I’m not sure why, but I need to get on and record my experience before I forget any more.
Chatting about it with Matt over post-ride beers, he thought it might be of interest to others so I agreed for him to post it onto the Mole site when done.
I wrote it for me, but to make it a bit more digestible and give it some semblance of order I have broken it into five parts, namely, the accident, awaiting repairs, the operation, rehabilitation and long term.
So first to the day of the accident. It was a freezing cold day, sub-zero temperatures with the ground frozen solid. Me and the other Moles braving the weather that day were dressed for the cold, layered up in our cycling gear. We set off at 8:30 as usual, heading for Leith Hill.
Riding up and over Ranmore the trail conditions were sketchy, but everyone was riding carefully and we got up and over Ranmore safe and sound.
We relaxed a bit as we headed onto Hole Hill Road before the trails started again. Pedalling slowly up Hole Hill Road to Westcott chatting, we hit a large area of black ice from water that had flowed down the hill the previous night.
I was in the front with Tony and Kev and we hit the ice first. My bike whipped out suddenly from under me and I went down, with no chance to break the fall, landing directly on the point of my hip.
As I hit the ground there was a complete visual white out like a phosphorus grenade had gone off in my head and then just an explosion of pain.
I have had a lot of accidents and injuries but nothing comes close to that moment.
I knew it was bad. Like all bad accidents, the body is brilliant at protecting you as there was an immediate and massive adrenalin and endorphin surge which kicked in and damped down the pain and shock.
Tony and Kev got back up, but when I tried to move my right leg did not respond.
After quickly establishing it was serious, a call was made for an ambulance. Someone headed up to the top of the hill to stop the ambulance trying to drive down, sliding down uncontrollably and running me over. An irony I would not have appreciated.
As I was sitting on a sheet of ice I was cooling quickly and starting to get severe cramping in my groin and hamstring. I could not move my leg to relieve it, the muscles just kept on knotting up. It would be quite some time before the knots eased.
After a while the Moles slid me gently from the ice to the verge but as the ground was also frozen it did not help much.
Pain was now building as the adrenaline started to wear off. I was trying to move to see what was possible but could feel grating in my hip area every time I tried – so I quickly stopped that.
Amazingly and thankfully the ambulance arrived within 30 minutes.
The paramedics arrived and immediately attached me to some laughing gas and lifted me onto the trolley for the push up the hill.
A bit of comedy and near farce followed as Elliot went to help push the lady paramedic up the slippery slope and realised the only place to apply his hands would be her buttocks, and so sensibly kept his hands by his side.
I was having a bumpy ride up the grass verge (the road was impassable) and nearly went over the side on more than one occasion. Despite the laughing gas, I was not laughing. But we made it up the hill and into the ambulance leaving the Moles to see who would call Mrs B. Tony drew that straw.
In the ambulance I made a very, very bad decision. They asked if they could cut my cycling gear off to do a physical inspection.
As I had a number of (some costly) layers of cycling gear on, the accountant in me said no. So, they pulled off all that nice tight cycling gear one piece at a time. If I had known the amount of pain this would entail, I would have shot the accountant and said go ahead!
In safe hands
They took me to the nearest hospital, Guildford.
When I got to Accident & Emergency, the doctor came over to ask what happened and so I told her there was something broken inside. She gave me a patronising ‘we will see’ smile, gave me 2 codeine and said they will wait to see what the x-ray shows.
In the x-ray room they said they needed to roll me to get me on a sheet to slide me onto the x-ray table. Without waiting for me to enquire what this entailed they rolled me one way and slid a sheet under me and rolled me the other way to pull it through.
There was a very loud scream, which I realised was me. The pain was unbelievable. Fortunately, I was now on a sheet so after the x-ray was done, they could just slide me back to the trolley, so no more screaming.
Diagnosis – bad news and good news
Back in A&E the doctor came back and said I was right about something being broken and gave me the news that my pelvis was shattered on the right side and was in pieces.
She also helpfully pointed out that the head of the femur was pushed up into the pelvis and was rubbing against the broken bones, so try not move. I can confirm there are not many body movements that do not translate into some movement through the hips. So nice to know, but not very helpful.
But there was some good news. I had been lucky; the femoral artery goes over the pelvis very close to the break point. I was fortunate it had not been cut or pierced by the impact or the broken bones, as that would have proven terminal.
The doctor then proceeded to give me a big syringe of morphine and said just to ask when I needed more – finally some relief from the pain.
Morphine was to be a big part of the next 2 weeks, both good and bad. It brought blessed respite from pain for short periods but it also made me extremely nauseous and constipated.
It was now mid-afternoon and a new problem arose.
I had not had a pee since early morning – I needed a pee, badly. A bedpan was brought but every time they tried to manoeuvre it under me the pain was so intense there was no way even a drop could be squeezed out.
Eventually with a bladder fit to burst they brought a catheter. The tube is bigger than you might think is strictly necessary, but the relief was so worth it. It would be 2 weeks before it was taken out again.
I was then taken to a general ward for the night. The night passed as follows, pain, morphine, relief, short nap, repeat.
The broken pelvis series:
- What to expect from a broken pelvis: Part 1 – the accident
- What to expect from a broken pelvis: Part 2 – before surgery
- What to expect from a broken pelvis: Part 3 – the operation
- What to expect from a broken pelvis: Part 4 – rehabilitation
- What to expect from a broken pelvis: Part 5 – long-term outcomes