Oddly Shaped Lump

If this post wanders, contains grammatical and spelling errors, or is exceptionally good, I blame the hydrocodone. I was hoping for Oxycontin, but I guess they save that for people who are hurt really bad, like Rush Limbaugh.

I took a couple of days off after the Zion run. I went hiking with the family, ran into Ricky Gates in Zion Canyon, and made the eight hour drive home on Sunday in my compression gear. By Monday I was feeling recovered, or at least recovered enough for a short mountain bike ride to my mom's house to say hi and drop off a check. She lives about 5 miles from me by road or 2 miles by trail. It takes me about ten minutes to drive to her house, or about 10 minutes to bike (it's steep with three stream crossings, and I'm slow). However, they are doing construction on the road near her house and the wait time is about 30 minutes before the gatekeepers in orange let you drive through. So, I was actually doing the smart, logical thing by riding my mountain bike.

Smart and logical doesn't really describe the way I took the final descent. The county has been doing a lot of trail work around Elfin Forest and they have decided to create foot-high berms every 10-20 feet on the hills. I'm sure there is a purpose for these, some kind of anti-erosion technique, or some plan to ensure that all of my mercury fillings will soon need to be replaced with a less poisonous compound.

I bombed that last hill, like I always do on this trail that I've ridden at least 50 times, but this time I didn't see the berm towards the bottom, conveniently located after a corner, and camouflaged by shade. I hit it hard, shifting my weight back at the last minute and too late, feeling the back tire lift and bouncing and rolling on the front tire and then flying, flipping seeing my bike still attached to my feet with a backdrop of clear blue sky and then hitting the ground hard in two places, the back of my head and the back of my right shoulder. I couldn't breathe, but immediately popped up and strung together different variations of the F word, mixing it with mother and stupid and bike and county workers, then I started to black out, so I sat down to assess the situation and do the requisite body scan.

My ankles were fine, no bones sticking out of my legs, I lifted my arms and the left one was fine but there was a sharp pain in my right shoulder and when I felt around back there, I felt a bump that should not have been there, not the swollen bump of a bruise, but the solid lump of bone poking out, not through the skin, but pushing against it like a beautiful and fitting mountain bike jump between my neck and shoulder.

I slowly got up and was able to walk, then slowly ride the rest of the way to my mom's house, who used her well-honed persuasion skills to get us through the construction and to my wife who was waiting to take me to Urgent Care.

They took me in the back room and the nurse that was taking my vitals got queasy and couldn't look at the injury. She said she was originally going to be an x-ray tech, but couldn't handle the sight of bones not being in the proper place...she wouldn't have lasted long as an x-ray tech.

I had x-rays taken and was sent to the orthopedic doctor who told me that I had a Grade 3 AC shoulder separation (that's the bad kind). The clavicle attaches to the scapula via the acromioclavicular joint, or at least it used to. Mine no longer attaches, and it probably never will. He told me the bump where the clavicle sticks up is probably going to be permanent; it's cosmetic and once it heals it shouldn't interfere with much. He said the healing will be exquisitely painful, which I thought was pretty poetic for a doctor, and it could take up to two months before I am able to start rehab and physical therapy, and I should be in a sling up to six weeks. The ortho told me a lot of hockey players get this injury, and that I'm just a couple of missing teeth away from looking like a badass.

I'm the guy who asks the doctor for my x-rays "so I can post them on my blog."
Of course, all I could think about was running and what effect this injury was going to have on my training, and if I was going to be able to run the SD100. I pulled out of the PCT 50 on May 12th, and I'm hoping to do enough vertical hiking, one-armed bike riding on the trainer, and hopefully be able to run in a couple of weeks to be able to get myself in shape enough to at least attempt the 100 miler.

I was feeling depressed and sorry for myself until I re-watched this excellent video from Lisa Bliss talking about her solo and self-supported Badwater to Whitney Summit run. My friend and running partner Cory, who I ran Death Valley with, sent me this video before the Zion traverse for some motivation. The timing could not have been better. The name of her speech is called "No Failure in Trying," and I plan to watch it again as I try to get over this injury, as I try to run again, as I try to get my fitness back, and as I try to finish a 100 miler.

As far as injuries go, this one isn't too bad and there are so many people that have it worse than I do. Plus, the injury could have been much worse (thank God I was wearing a helmet, and that my spine and neck were spared). I don't respond well to sympathy, so if you would like to comment, I prefer the humorous route. Try to top Jess' Facebook message "chicks dig oddly shaped lumps." Or my sister's "I think this qualifies you for medical marijuana." Yes, yes it does.

Thanks for reading, and if you have a spare 20 minutes, this video is awesome.


  1. Had a Grade III myself a few winters back. 76 days it took before I was running again. Short-term, it sucked. But those 76 days were the best thing for me. 76 days of planning, plotting, thinking, goal-setting, seeing the forest instead of the trees.

    Good luck. Remember, chicks dig scars.

  2. That's similar to mine. The torn labrum was "going to require surgery". I went through about 6 months of physical therapy instead, tried acupuncture, got a cortisone shot, massage, chiro...not sure which one helped or didn't but...it's not perfect, but it's about 90% now.....surgeon said 90% would have been a good result from surgery. I was back running pretty quickly, it was all the rest of life that took a while, best wishes in recovery!

  3. Ouchie! I am feeling your pain on this one. Hope you heal faster than fast and that we get to see you with arms high at the SD100 finish line in a bit.

  4. Dax, the exact same thing happened to me 10 years ago. The doc gave me two options for my AC: Surgery or no-surgery. I opted for no-surgery and have had that bump on my shoulder ever since. I occasionally get a touch of arthritis in it a few times a year. If I could do it over I might consider the surgery.

    We'll have to compare bumps... I'll bet mines bigger :-)

  5. "exquisitely painful" healing does not sound fun, but you are right, it could have been much worse. Speedy recovery.

  6. Dax,
    Thank you for posting that video, it is truly inspirational.

  7. Good thing you didn't have anything more serious than that! May you have a faster recovery!

    Thanks for sharing this post! Great video by the way... :)

  8. Bro. Not cool. This is what you get for cheating on your feet with your mountain bike.

    But seriously, you'll be up and running in no time - please excuse the cliche. Pretty soon this will all just be a rather painful memory.

  9. So when are you going to get a matching bump for the other shoulder? No falling down canyons when running with one arm allowed! Look forward to reading how you deal with the recovery period, hopefully it won't be too painful! Take care :)


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