Screwed back Together

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

Yesterday went pretty well, considering. I still haven’t spoken to the doctor, but he told Trudi that everything went perfect and I should heal up fine. It turns out that the break was one of the “better” hip fractures you can get, and that with just 5 screws and a metal plate, it is all back together.

I can’t believe how much less painful it is now. Like 10% compared to before. Something like just normal road rash. I think my main problem right now is that my left leg muscles seem to be all seized up and it is really kind of impossible to move my leg. I’m not so good with anesthesia, so am pleasantly surprised I’m not all jacked up from that. No one has really said much about the pelvic facture, so I guess that just takes care of itself. Kind of strange. It is probably just all the pain medication? I just only realized that I have a catheter to urinate. You’d think I would have noticed that before?

I guess I’m supposed to spend a few more days in the hospital. I’m not sure why. To me, I think I’m pretty good to go and wouldn’t mind just heading home. I guess I’ll find out more later this morning, when everyone else is awake.

My few observations from this whole ordeal, medical-wise –

#1 Hospitals are really loud places. Like super loud. Don’t expect to get any sleep or rest. There is always someone coming in to check vitals, change IV bags, turn off alarms, give pills, something.

#2 Teaching hospitals, such as the University of Iowa, has more traffic going through your room. Like tons. Residences, nursing assistants, medical students, ect. It is mind boggling how many different people have introduced themselves to me.

#3 The food here is really bland. You have to “order” salt and pepper, or anything else, like butter for an English muffin, etc. I’ve only had one meal so far. I thought I ordered a ton, but was starving when I was done. For breakfast, I’m ordering the whole menu.

#4 Ambulances have terrible suspensions. The two ambulance rides I took to get from the race to the hospital and from the hospital to Iowa City were horrible. I know that having a broken hip exacerbated the bumpiness, but come on, most people in a ambulance are in some sort of pain I’d think. It is like riding in the back of a one ton pickup truck. Horrible. You’d think that they would have that figured out by now. For the amount of money it costs to get into one of those things, you would think it would be the most luxurious ride you could imagine. Exactly the opposite.

#5 Out of all the people at the hospital, the nurses are the ones that are the most important for the patients. I have two really great nurses. They are working 12 hours on, 12 off. I don’t’ know how they do it, but they seem to stay cheerful and busy the whole time here. It is the most important part of the stay so far.

I’m pretty optimistic about the next bit. Like I said above, I haven’t spoken to the doctor, but from just word of mouth, I might be back riding way sooner than I could have imagined. I believe that I got really lucky, considering, and that the whole season isn’t going to be a write off. Not that it is the most important thing, but I do like riding my bike.

Trudi drove straight here from Pro Road Championships in Chattanooga, just in time for me to head down to surgery, so she is here. She went back down to Davenport to hang with Bromont and stay with Jeff and Deb. It would be a waste having her up here. It is such a perfect set-up down there for them. If I would have known, I should have brought her bike with me and she could go out riding on the bike path system they have down in the Quad Cities. It is pretty good.

I don’t have a photo of the post operation hip, just the broken one. In the photo below, the break is the dark area at the top of my leg bone, where it angles to the left. They put in two long screws through the femur, into the head of the hip, to pull the whole thing back together, then a plate and three more screws below it to strengthen the whole area, I guess. I wonder what would happen if/or more accurately, will happen, when I fall on that stainless steel plate. Maybe there will be enough soft tissue around the area, the plate is deep enough, so it just doesn’t come poking through the skin? I wonder if I’m going to set off metal detectors at the airports now? That would be weird.


Little gory looking.  I didn't think the incision would be so huge.

Little gory looking. I didn’t think the incision would be so huge.

38 thoughts on “Screwed back Together

  1. H Luce

    “It is mind boggling how many different people have introduced themselves to me.” LOL – I’ll bet a lot of them read this weblog and know who you are… or they know about you from the news or something like that.

    If I were you, I’d make damned sure you were healed up entirely before you started road riding again. Ergometer in the living room until you get enough bone density back, then I’d take it easy for a while, as easy as you can possibly manage and then about 50% less than that. I’d ask the docs about osteoporosis and osteopenia and if calcium/magnesium supplementation along with Vitamin D were a good idea; for that matter you might want to get your Vitamin D levels checked.

    You’re close to 55, your recovery times from injury will be a lot slower than they were 25 years ago. You’ve been racing for 40 years now, twice the length of the average rider’s career. Although I don’t see you retiring in the near future, I’d make appropriate allowances for recovery. You had a lucky break this time – the next time you may not be so lucky, so you might want to see what you can do to reduce risk.

    “These data indicate that master cyclists with a long history of training exclusively in cycling have low BMD compared to their age-matched peers. Although highly trained and physically fit, these athletes may be at high risk for developing osteoporosis with advancing age.”
    “In conclusion, endurance road cycling does not appear to be any more beneficial to bone health than recreational activity in apparently healthy men of normal bone mass. Higher BMD in the mountain cyclists suggests that mountain cycling may provide an osteogenic stimulus that is not inherent to road cycling.”
    “The high percentage of male master cyclists with low BMD, combined with a high risk for fracture from falls associated with competitive cycling, warrant attention among this population. Coaches and health professionals interacting with cyclists need to promote alternative exercise such as weight training, plyometrics, or other high impact activity as a complement to cycle training to help minimize bone loss in this population.”

  2. The Cyclist

    Just like a normal … NORMAL … road rash. Right. That’s a good one. Also, a mental note to self not to go out riding whenever I feel “a little torqued” or “just kind of overall fatigued”. That’s when strange bad things usually happen. If I remember things correctly. Get well.

  3. donkybhoy

    I had my femur pinned with a metal rod down the middle screwed at each end of the bone. Broken when a car pulled out in front of me on my motorbike.

    Surgeon wanted to leave the rod there for rest of my natural life! I said what happens to the bone with a metal rod in it and the same scenario accident wise? He said don’t get on a motorbike again! Forced them to remove it after the bone had healed. Surgeon not too pleased. He then told me there was a possibility of breaking the same bone taking it out! I think he told me this for to cause me stress more than anything else. Idiot!

    I dont like the idea of metal in me if i am going to be riding bikes and motorbikes. The internal damage they may cause doesn’t bare thinking about!

    Glad to hear the op was successful. Keep asking questions.

  4. Jim

    Steve, don’t worry to much about falling on it. I broke my acetabulum about 15 years ago, it was repaired with a stainless strap and about 6-7 screws. I realize my injury is buried under quite a bit more muscle than yours will be, but I have had no noticeable irritation from the repair. The first few falls on it freaked me out but after that I realized it was ok and haven’t really thought to much more about it.

  5. Robert

    It’s said that “hunger is the best sauce” that’s especially true of hospital food 🙂 Wishes for a speedy recovery!

  6. kcspinman

    Hoping you have a SPEEDY recovery…!
    From someone who loves to read your website…

  7. stacie

    Steve sustained a 2 part intertrochanteric fracture of the hip. The fracture was fairly stable secondary to the fact the fracture line was somewhat horizontal than vertical. the more vertical the fracture line the less stable the fracture.
    There are 2 major types of hip fractures and the classification is based on anatomic location. There are fractures that involve the femoral neck and fractures that involve the intertrochanteric region of the hip. Femoral neck fractures are problematic secondary to the fact the major blood supply of the femoral head, the ball of the hip, runs through that region: the medial femoral circumflex artery. When a femoral neck facture occurs it can and usually does disrupt the blood supply to the femoral head cause avascular necrosis or death of the bone. If a young patient has a femoral neck fracture we like to try to surgically fix the fracture but tell the patients it may fail and ultimately they would need a conversion surgery to a hemiarthrplasy or a total hip replacement. In the older patient population we typically default to a hemiarthrplasty.
    Fortunately in Steve’s case his fracture location was in the intertrochanteric region therefore the blood supply to the femoral head is not disrupted and an ORIF could be performed. Potential issues with the surgery is if the hip is not reduced back to its normal anatomical position and heals rotated it will affect knee alignment. So every time Steve has a pedal stroke it would irritate his knee, that is why he needed an expert like Dr. Matt Karam to perform his surgery.
    Fortunately he fractured his hip in an area of the country where it is a powerhouse of orthopaedics. Special thanks to Dr. Karam for agreeing to accept Steve as a patient in transfer and Dr. Ned Amendola , who is head of Sports Medicine at Iowa for hooking me up with Dr, Karam to arrange the transfer.
    I have no doubt that Steve will be jamming on his bike before we know it!

  8. Nathan

    Glad it isn’t more serious than it is, but sorry you broke your hip and pelvis. When a teammate broke a hip similar to yours, the team support was very nervous until they got to the hospital. She said that breaks like this can sever the feroral artery. Hope you can enjoy your “rest” and on the bright side, think of all the super hot days you won’t have to suffer through. Heal well and enjoy life!

  9. JoeV

    Riding’s a drug. Racing’s the same drug x 100. Good luck with the withdrawal. Though I bet you’ll be back on the trainer in two weeks. That will help but still, it’s not going to be easy to down shift from those 80 hour months.
    Deep breaths, find your happy place – a new happy place – and go there. Often.

  10. Dana Albert

    Steve, I doubt you’d remember me, but we met at the Coors Classic DVD Release Party in Boulder in Dec 2006 (among the guys who went out for pizza afterward). Since then I’ve enjoyed reading your blog (though “enjoy” isn’t exactly right for your latest posts!).

    I crashed my bike in Nov 2011 and suffered a spiral fracture of my femur. My surgery involved a titanium rod going all the way through my femur from the hip to the knee with big screws at both ends. So, I have a pretty good idea what you’re going through! I’m glad that you have good nurses because I did not. My hospital experience was absolutely awful–it was like a prison. In case you feel like doing some non-light, non-uplifting but highly germane reading about my ordeal, here are some links. I’m including a link about physical therapy to give you an idea what’s ahead. (Hint: you’ll have to be patient. It was two months before I could ride the trainer, and four months before I could do a hard road ride. Perhaps your surgery was simpler and/or you’re a stronger man than I, so take all this with a grain of salt.)

    Good luck with the recovery. By the way, I had also worried about the metal in my leg causing injury if I were to crash later on (which I have). The ortho said, “Don’t worry about it. You’re reinforced. Better than new.” I asked if the “reinforced” femur might be TOO strong–i.e., could I rip my knee off or something if I landed on it? He said not to worry, that my body would handle it fine. So far he’s right, for what it’s worth…

    Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about recovery, etc. E-mail [email protected].

    Dana Albert

  11. The Cyclist

    … and what about CX riders who run a lot and jump on and off their bikes a lot?

  12. JS

    Sorry to hear of your accident and glad you’re in good hands. It helps to have friends who can advocate for you (and to explain your injury to your fan base). Heal fast.

  13. Jan

    Get better quickly, and take good care of yourself!

    And thanks to Stacie for the additional info. I’m glad to hear that it’s a more repairable fracture, and that you were able to get expert surgical care.

  14. Voiceofreason

    Why isn’t anyone saying the obvious? STOP CYCLING! It’s not helping you……. AT ALL. In 2 years or so I remember multiple shoulder injuries and surgeries, shingles, a deep vein thrombosis, severe thumb injuries, 45mph crashes, car accidents, and so many more. How in the world is this a healthy hobby? You raced with Lemond, Hinault, Hampsten, Phinney, Kiefel, Cadel, Lance and 4 million more. Now you race with kids who are close to being young enough to be your grandchildren, the fast guys can’t stand you in the pro races….it’s no secret.

    You’re a living legend and a walking encyclopedia on cycling history, mostly because you lived it and raced it. No one has more interesting stories concerning old racing days, but nowadays I enjoy your “human” posts so much more. You’re an animal lover for sure, you’re a great and loyal friend, you’re extremely resourceful and industrious, not to mention insanely talented across the board. But please stop killing yourself for another bike ride or another bike race. If you never have another injury you’re gonna spend your golden years in a lot of pain, yet you’re laying in a hospital bed AGAIN having just had surgery for a broken hip and pelvis and you’re talking about when you fall on this same hip again. Just find your peace with cycling, your time is through! You owe it nothing, it owes you nothing. Ask your closest and dearest friends about this comment and get their honest opinion. Don’t die from being a “bikaholic”? And don’t do even worse by ending up paralyzed.

    You could coach, or have a daily or weekly column in cyclingnews or velonews. You could turn all your pictures, articles, memorabilia and stories into a cycling museum. You could start up a small business in home improvements and make a killing, and then go for a mellow 20 mile spin a few times a week. You could stop putting Trudi through this torture, and spend even more time with Bromont.

    Please stop, because lots of us fear that the blog we read every day will just not have a post one day, and instead there will be a story in the news explaining what happened. No one wants that, we all love reading about your daily stories, but the cycling stories are now, by far, the least interesting, unless you’re talking about the old days….

  15. gerrycurl

    I wasn’t quite so blunt, but I did suggest he stop thinking about racing for now. Here is what I wrote:

    “From a (former) bike racer who also once broke his hip…and yes, the word “former” came into use because of my injury…

    So if you’re where I think you are (surgery plus one day) then you’ll be getting that visit from Physical Therapy. They bring a walker with them. It’s for you, not the old lady in the room next door. Today’s probable goal: get you out of bed and standing up. Then back to a seated position. Perhaps a leg lift or two. Maybe a two foot trip to the commode. And it probably wasn’t easy to do. And that is today’s PT. Humbling, eh?

    Ask them to order the CPM machine. Continuous passive motion. I see you’re mentioning that leg stiffness that I remembered having. It kills your sleep. This machine is a gift from God. It should be standard issue for a broken hip. For me, it helped immensely. I could sleep again.

    The catheter will be gone soon, and you’ll need to pee into a container. Stock up on those containers (IE, ask for more of them), as you’ll either be asking Trudy to make lots of trips to the toilet to empty them in the middle of the night, or you’ll be filling multiples. The latter will allow Trudy to sleep too. I don’t know why, but you’ll pee more often than usual in the next 2 weeks.

    Tomorrow’s PT goal is probably taking you to the gym (IE, Fred Astaire’s Academy of Dance) to see how strong you are, can you use the walker, crutches, etc. The goal after that is to see if you can load yourself into (and extricate yourself out of) a car, get into a tub/shower, sit on a toilet, etc (OT). Pass those tests and you get to go home. That was day three post-op for me.

    The challenges at home are tough. You’ll need someone there to help take care of you, get you food, help you to the edge of the bed, empty your pee buckets, etc. The “she must really love you” kinda stuff. You’ll probably have a home health nurse come and teach you to self-inject heparin to help prevent blood clots. You’ll probably also start having a PT come visit you every other day to help get you going on your home recovery exercises.

    I see you writing about racing already. My advice to you (as a racer myself) is to table the thoughts on racing for a while. At least for now. Pushing this recovery process too hard could backfire on you. Don’t overdo it. Be willing to accept that you are indeed hurt right now. Explore some new things while you recover. You already know how to train and get back to fitness. I’m not sure what your doc is going to say to you about racing with that hardware in your leg, but you should seriously consider the risks associated with a crash while that hardware is still in there. The biggest risk is a severe femoral fracture, the kind of which requires pantani-like rods and screws to correct. They’ll need to insert a steel rod INSIDE your femur on that one. Not good. Remember, 75 years ago, a broken hip almost always meant death for the patient. Usually by pneumonia caused by being bed ridden. We are very fortunate to have some good “furniture repair” ortho surgeons in the world right now.

    Oddly enough, the worst damage is the soft tissue damage caused by the bone fluid and the bruising itself. You are gonna be really sore. You’ll meet people in PT who just had both knees replaced, hips replaced, etc, and they’ll be up walking better than you. Because they didn’t fall down. They had scheduled surgery. So don’t look at yourself as “behind” the little old ladies with double knee jobs. They didn’t bang anything up. You did. That takes time to heal.

    Hope you’re doing well. Get rest and stay rested. Relax and let people help you. Just enjoy the help you get.”

  16. H Luce

    I’m surprised your medical insurance is still covering you for racing injuries, given the last year or so. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to cancel the policy or simply not renew it. Statistically, given your age, the incidence of osteopenia/osteoporosis in aging cyclists, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up with a crippling injury that will end your career. I’d *really* have a good long consult with a specialist in sports medicine about this *before* you attempted another race or, for that matter, serious training rides. The fact that all it took was a short slow fall to cause this kind of injury should be cause for concern. If you decide to risk it – for the little gain possible in your remaining years as a racer – I’d figure out some sort of physical training regimen, probably including weight training, which will increase bone density. Taking up a martial art in which falling is a commonplace event – after you’ve got the bone density back – might also be a good idea. I *do* know of a good local sensei…

  17. euro

    My pot said the same thing in far fewer words VoiceofReason. I agree with you 100%.

  18. Robert E

    Real sorry to hear about this. Have a speedy recovery. Do what they tell you! Brighter days ahead.

  19. mark

    People telling you to hang it up , do not understand your mentality. Most of us regular readers do,and want you back on your bike ASAP. my budy had double hip replacement , finished top 20 downeville two times . You will be fine ,good luck with recovery . HAWKS WIN !

  20. Gary

    I was brought up that after you fall off your horse, you get back on. Walk away from the sport? Are you kidding me, the sport is a way of life for many, especially Steve! take your passive aggressiveness somewhere else.

  21. Nate

    Voiceofreason’s thoughts are nearly spot on. They fail to mention one cycling discipline that Steve can still do safely — hill climbs. Not sure what the scene is like out in the mid-west / west, but there is a pretty vibrant series here in the northeast called BUMPS. Over the past few years it’s actually become fairly competitive. The Mt. Washington hill climb / Newton’s Revenge, especially. Steve, you could probably set an age group record here.

    While hill climbs don’t have the same thrill as traditional bike races, like any TT they require a tremendous amount of mental focus and drive.

    Could be an option to get your ya-ya’s out without more bone breakage.

  22. Jeff

    Got the chance to say hi to Trudi about the time you posted those pics Monday, ironically to ask her if she’d heard how T Phinney was in Chattanooga. You’re lucky to have her! Speedy recovery.

  23. kcspinman

    If you choose to race – GREAT!
    If you choose not to race – GREAT!
    Your life, your choice…

    FYI I don’t race but I still enjoy every free healthy minute on a bike or on the lake in my Kayak.

    Your Life’s experiences are awesome to read about even if they are not about the bike!

  24. Rod


    I’ve had a number of facial reconstructive surges for a genetic disease I was born with. I have a number of screws and plates in my face. I have a doctors note that I travel with just in case I set off the X-ray machine at the airport. I’ve never needed it and probably never will, but I figure it’s better safe than sorry.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

  25. Mike Rodose


    I understand what you’re saying, but…

    A true bicycle racer can’t walk away from the sport. They must be airlifted out.

  26. Mike Rodose

    Please don’t express surprise at what is normal…Steve having fair coverage and services after crashing.

    I’m surprised we must cover illegal immigrants that walk into Emergency Rooms after a gang shooting.

    Steve simply crashing his bike and getting treatment (while paying health premiums monthly), is normal. They should cover Steve, and any cyclist, for whatever the heck happens.

    People smashing bicycles is a statistically insignificant expense for Health insurance companies. The healthcare and insurance companies bleed money in many wrong directions. This is not one of them.

  27. euro

    Wrong Mark-I have ridden and raced for 30 years, and decided to walk away this Spring. Distracted drivers mostly, but also just too much to risk, since I have a family to take care of. I wouldn’t expect Steve to quit since he is single and has no one to live for but himself.

  28. Skippy

    Just finished with the Giro d’Italia , most of which messed up by the London Bus hitting my rear on a Cycle Lane west of the Vauxhall Gyro on the 2nd May . Now i read of the 6th Cyclist in 2014 London being killed there today .

    My elbow is still troubling me at this time , but no where near as bad as your injury . Trying to get back to full fitnerss depends on your way of life and motivations ! After 40 years of Racing , what do you have to prove ?

    Thanks to Staci , we have a better idea of your injury , but reading the other comments confirms the fact that you will do what most would prefer to avoid , be back next year with a new series of injuries?

    Life is full of surprises , so choose carefully the path you will follow , WE will continue to be reading whatever you decide .


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