I have recently started playing bicycle polo with some lovely people from lfgss, I go to the beginners / casual session and while I had heard some mixed reports about polo-people they are very friendly, if anything my anti-social behaviour just shines all the more having to deal with talking to strangers. Its a gentle introduction to an odd sport and the sessions are held in a car park in Peckham, so a bit of a trek. Am I good? No, no I am not. Being very different from riding on the roads with a tiny gear ratio and a lot more movement being in circles than in straight lines, also most of the time you’re riding one handed with a mallet. I’ve scored a few points here and there, including the first of the day yesterday – squee.
Yesterday I was on my own, purpose built bicycle, the pedals had cages on because, unusually for a polo bike, its fixed and you need foot retention to be able to stop pretty much (I do have a brake though). All is going well until what was going to be the penultimate game, some time is spent in the corner which has been used as a urinal by other car park users and I’ve probably come off my saddle a couple of times, no real problems. Now in my head this is what happened next, someone tried to shoot, it was stopped and I tried to hit the ball backward into the goal. I failed at this and fell onto the floor. Cue laughing and intense pain, apparently my face was hilarious or some such, all fun and games. I’ve fallen off before and no doubt will do again. But something was up, and I had to stop playing any more because I’d lost the rotation of my right arm. I could still wiggle my fingers and sensation was in tact, someone gave me a rough once over and found nothing was broken but I was sore and we all thought it was just an awkward fall.
Still, no movement, so I asked directions to the nearest hospital to get checked out. Off I totter off with a loss of arm swing, can’t adduct and most other movements hurt like hell. I walked into King’s and gave my details, sadly I don’t know either my phone number or my GPs address so I got a bit of an odd look from the receptionist. I sat next to a sleeping mass of rags who smelt just like the piss corner, I was seen and my shoulder again felt. My clavicle was fine but apparently my shoulder felt funky. I was then taken straight through with the triage carrying my cumbersome bag with polo mallet sticking from either side. I was given some pain killers and directed through a confusing labyrinth to radiology before having two views of my shoulder taken. At the time I couldn’t really even hold my arm in the positions required.
I then saw the registrar who casually asked me what my pain threshold was, not being someone who goes looking for pain, I have no idea, let alone how this would compare to what I suspected was about to happen. I took my shirts off for the first time and instead of having a rounded shoulder it just went straight, with the humerus dangling down a bit. So, reducing a dislocated shoulder is painful, some people can’t deal with it and need a general anaesthetic for the procedure to be done. This being something I would not want because that sounds SCARY. So the nurse bring in a massive canister of nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”). The only time I’d used this before was recreationally where I hallucinated I was in a Mario Bros game for few moments. While the reg hadn’t really introduced himself, and no-one explaining to me what’s going on, I had seen my shoulder and knew what was going to happen. Commence the breathing of this, I start with taking deep breaths and don’t really stop, I involuntarily begin to giggle especially when the registrar asks how everyone’s voices sound. I was asked how I felt and I think I nonchalantly raised a finger and decried “I believe the gas is taking effect”, I started getting an internal thumping noise in my head at around 200bpm and was tunnelling in. The nurses joked about how people like the gas as they wrapped a sheet under my arm pit. Around then I felt my pulse going up massively and began hyperventilating on the nitrous oxide (I can only say that this must have been a very good thing). As the registrar took hold my arm and brought it away from my body I cried out “this is really going to fucking hurt, isn’t it” against the mouthpiece. The doctor reassured me it wasn’t and started leaning back on his heels holding my arm while two nurses pulled back on the sheet upwards.
It felt like Thor was cracking his knuckles inside my flesh. And afterwards: Bliss. From now on I have will describe things that are extremely good in terms of having your shoulder reduced. While it still hurts, instantly I knew my body was at least in a semblance of normality and regained limited adduction almost immediately, although I was quickly told to stop moving my arm. The wonderful nature of nitrous oxide and its short half life meant I was able a few minutes later to walk to the x-ray dept again for a repeat shot, being able to move my arm much more and in several degrees less pain. I was able to perform the required movements without yelping and as you can see it was confirmed my humerus was back in place.
As you can see my back is straighter and things look good again. I was given some codeine to take away and I slinked off and rode my bike home with my arm in a sling under my clothes. Thankfully polo comprises mainly of riding one handedly and are set up with the brakes on the left hand side. It was about 6 miles and thankfully there was almost no traffic all the way home and it being fixed and low gear made everything fairly leisurely.
I’ll give it a miss for a few weeks until my arm hurts less and I think before I play again I need to make some alterations to the bike.
- Change the pedals
Or at least switch from cages to a better form of foot retention, I think I landed so badly because I wasn’t able to get my foot off the pedals fast enough, and I generally find cages really uncomfortable.
- All other changes are unrelated to injuries and more practicalities.
And probably, do some solo polo or other practise to do with co-ordination, but definitely the retention has to be changed *shudder*
This is a video (warning, its pretty grim, turn the volume down)of the technique that was used, um, well, while this douche is calmly breathing only every now and then I was sucking on it like there was no tomorrow and I was not making much in the way of small talk. Anaesthetics – they only work if you take them, and fuck off would I do it without.