This is Part 5 of Lloyd’s experience of a broken pelvis. The series starts with Part 1 – what to expect from a broken pelvis which covers the accident and immediate aftermath.
Cycling again! When the walking aids were gone and the bones had healed, I was now into the period of building my strength back up.
I bought a spin bike as part of the strengthening rehab because cycling is low impact. Then, I started going out on my own for short gentle rides. These built up slowly until I was able to do a 10 mile loop without knackering myself.
A cycling decision
The big question was whether to start doing proper trail rides with the Moles again, or like skiing, to consign that to my pre-accident life and move on.
This was not an entirely straight forward decision. The biggest factor to consider is the risk of another accident and damaging the pelvis again and the fact that it is not possible to mountain bike without having the occasional fall.
But it was something I loved and was my main form of exercise and I enjoyed the social side.
So I decided I would ride the trails again.
Patti was not entirely in agreement (an understatement) but understood my need to do something active and adrenaline inducing. Would any alternative be any less risky?
The important thing I decided about riding again was that I could not ride scared or be overly defensive as this would be more dangerous than just riding the trails naturally. So I re-joined the Mole collective on the trails. Of course there have been spills, but touch wood nothing too serious.
I can’t imagine not cycling as it is such a big part of my life, particularly during and now post Covid. This has been a good decision as I am now fitter and more technically able than I was before the accident.
The long-term effects of a pelvic injury
There are physical limitations post-accident.
I can’t run and I can’t walk more than an hour or so without a walking stick or walking poles and even then I can’t walk more than a few hours without pain. I can’t sit or stand still for long periods or kneel without pain. And it is simply not possible to sit comfortably, anywhere, on anything, ever.
The other main long-term impact is persistent pain.
Mostly it is low level discomfort, you are aware of it but it is back of mind not front of mind. But if I do any of the things above, walk too much, stand around or sit too long in one position etc, then the pain moves up, more front of mind and impacting what you are doing.
Fortunately, the pain is only occasionally severe.
Now 10 years after my accident, I have chosen to deal with the pain by accepting it and not trying to medicate it away. I view it like baldness, I would not choose either of these conditions, but I have them and I just get on with it. For me acceptance rather than fighting against the pain has made it easier to cope and live with without resorting to medication.
In terms of hip replacement, as the hip wears the arthritis is getting worse, but thankfully slowly. The surgeon said to come in when the pain becomes unbearable, that still feels a little way off.
I was told it may be 10 years or so when this might happen. If I get another 5 years before having it done then it will feel like a small victory and testament to the skills of the surgeon.
A surprise ‘benefit’
Despite all the preceding, there has been a silver lining.
When they did a bone density test after the accident (normal practice for hip and pelvic injuries) they found I had osteoporosis, who knew!
This helped to explain why the pelvis shattered like it did, and all the broken bones in the previous 50 years(!). But this was another condition that needed managing.
I found an excellent young specialist who recommended a 2 year program of daily injections of a growth hormone. Then a 3 year program of annual transfusions of a drug that inhibits the cells that break down bone. After 5 years of treatment I had improved markedly to being osteopenic, namely worse than normal but better than osteoporosis.
Ten years on, the accident has proven to be life changing, but not too life limiting.
There are some physical downsides to be accommodated, but the silver lining was finding out about and being treated for osteoporosis, which is to my long-term benefit.
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