Dr Hutch

The re­cov­ery from the Doc’s bro­ken hip has been a pain in the back­side, in a good way, thanks for ask­ing

Cycling Weekly - - FLAMME ROUGE - Doc­torhutch_­cy­cling@timeinc.com

Afew days ago I re­ceived an email. “Hi Dr Hutch,” it said. “I was won­der­ing how your re­cov­ery from that bro­ken hip has pro­gressed. You’ve very mod­estly re­frained from men­tion­ing it for sev­eral weeks, and some of us are get­ting rest­less for an up­date.”

I scanned this sev­eral times, try­ing to de­cide if it was sar­cas­tic. Even­tu­ally I de­cided it was sin­cere, and thought per­haps it was, in­deed, time to of­fer a self-ab­sorbed up­date. The email was from Keith White, if you’re look­ing for some­one to blame.

In some ways the big­gest is­sue with get­ting back to cy­cling af­ter an injury is ig­nor­ing ev­ery­one who tells you not to even try. Just a cou­ple of weeks ago, at an ap­point­ment where he told me the bone was healed and the or­thopaedics depart­ment “never wanted to see me again” (their words), my con­sul­tant still re­acted to the idea with hor­ror. “Oh, no,” he said. “No cy­cling.” “Why? I mean, if the bone has healed...?” “Well, the pedalling ac­tion won’t do any harm in it­self, but you might fall off.” “What about an in­door trainer?” “You might fall off that.”

Quite the vote of con­fi­dence, I felt. “What about swim­ming?” he said. “Swim­ming is much bet­ter than cy­cling.”

That set­tled it. Any­one who could ut­ter that as an opin­ion is a fool, and not to be trusted on any sub­ject. I’m amazed he got through med­i­cal school.

So back to rid­ing I’ve gone. Things are, how­ever, not quite right. I used to pride my­self on the power of my pedal stroke di­vid­ing ex­actly 50/50 be­tween left and right legs. It’s now 52/48, and if we’ve learned noth­ing else from the Brexit ref­er­en­dum, it’s that a 52/48 ra­tio means I’m to all in­tents and pur­poses one-legged.

So I went to see a physio. “Can you stand on just the in­jured leg?” he asked. “No prob­lem,” I said, took my good foot off the ground, and fell over. “You seem

to have a bit of an is­sue there,” said the physio, prov­ing him­self the in­tel­lec­tual su­pe­rior of my con­sul­tant.

The physio ex­plained that dur­ing my op­er­a­tion, the sur­geon had cut through a lot of gluteal mus­cle to get his Black and Decker to the right bit of bone. You can’t

“I’ve treated re­hab as a com­pe­ti­tion”

ride a bike with­out at least some but­tock mus­cle, and I have be­come se­verely lop­sided. The physio gave me some ex­er­cises and a gi­ant rub­ber band.

Need­less to say, I’ve treated re­hab as, es­sen­tially, a com­pe­ti­tion. One of my ex­er­cises is to walk side­ways, back and forth, stretch­ing the band be­tween my knees. The ef­fect is rem­i­nis­cent of a Space In­vader. I do it while watch­ing TV, which an­noys Mrs Doc since I do it in the space be­tween the sofa and the tele­vi­sion.

“I never thought I’d say this, but I hon­estly miss the days when you just used to ride a turbo trainer when we were watch­ing TV,” she said.

She said much more when I told her I needed a vol­un­teer to take a daily photo of my back­side so I could check whether it was get­ting more sym­met­ri­cal.

But I’m im­prov­ing. I’m up to 30-mile rides on the bike and the only dis­com­fort comes from the fact that my but­tocks suf­fer from al­most per­ma­nent pos­tex­er­cise mus­cle sore­ness from all the re­hab. And there is a real pos­i­tive — af­ter months off I’m ap­pre­ci­at­ing rid­ing in a way that I haven’t done in years. I’m even en­thu­si­as­tic about the ap­proach of win­ter with cold, crisp days and coming home to a bowl of hot soup.

It is, of course, pos­si­ble that this op­ti­mism won’t last. It might rain, for in­stance. And if it does, well, that’s a bit too close to swim­ming for me.

Re­hab nearly com­plete, the Doc just needs to bal­ance his but­tocks

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