For those of you who have or may in the future get hit by a car and have to deal with the injuries, here's a bit of what I've learned from my experience. I got hit in late June 05 by a car and had a compound fracture of my left tibia (the big bone near the foot), my left heel was torn off, and my right shoulder was cracked. Immediate surgery sewed my heel back together, had a Ti rod inserted in the tibia with two screws top and two screws bottom, and iced the shoulder. Over six months later and the skin has healed up fairly well. Through many hours of physical therapy and lots of determination I walk without a limp unless there is pain, which happens a good amount. So I don't like to walk anywhere but thankfully have found that cycling is much lower impact than walking, gives me about as much pain as walking, and gives me plenty of exercise as well as a much better mood/life outlook.
Every day I ride, the two top screws on the rod move around and start to hurt a lot, especially if rising off the saddle or climbing a hill which is frequent here in S.F. This is the only pain I feel now, as the bone isn't giving me as much grief as the first five months (it hurt a lot, first real hospital visit and painful injury). While I'm weezing up the monster hills around my house I have more energy than my leg allows. Hopefully when a year has passed since the surgery, I can have the rod and hardware removed permanently to ease the pain.
Rides as of this week consist of at least half an hour a day going up and down hills as much as possible. Today I put in an hour of recreation/training in the morning and an hour of commuting to school. Both times I hydrated with an electrolyte mix in water, Gu gel, and lots of food. I can feel I've lost weight and built up the muscles in the leg that atrophied while in the cast for a week.
This was my first goal: to build up the muscles that I lost due to being incapacitated. My new goal as of today is to maintain the muscle, continue to build endurance, and drop from ~215lb to 180lb. To meet this goal, I've cut intake of saturated fat and cholesterol to a bare minimum (also I have cholesterol of 210 so this meets another of my fitness goals), have reduced lean meat intake to 5oz/day, and a whole host of other healthy choices from eating fruits/veggies to eating lots of fiber.
I'll keep you BF members posted on my results. I felt really unhappy about life after the accident but riding the bicycle again after four years hiatus and training properly have given me a reason to be happy every day. The pain doesn't go away completely. But you can manage the pain to a certain extent and force your mind around the thoughts of pain. It's hard to not think about the agony of an injury and keep going anyway, but it's possible if your mind, body and soul are working together at the task.
In closing, do you have any tips for this beginner to bike training? Any way to ease the leg hardware pain?
If the screws are loose enough to move around, they aren't doing much at this point and should be removable. Rod is another matter, its removal is more optional. Screws, especially those whose heads are just palpable under the skin, are easily removed under not much more than local anesthesia (light general sedation). Orthopods are not much for telling people they face a year of intensive work to regain lost muscle, range of motion and conditioning for major injuries like yours. Looks like you have a good start.
The orthopedic specialist I went to advised that the hardware and rod may be removed after a year from initial surgery. It's an out-patient procedure which will leave me on crutches for about a week. I'm going to have the surgery as soon as I'm allowed, but until then I have to build up my muscles and build up fat so that leg won't experience as much atrophy as it did after the accident. It's amazing, there was nearly no muscle or fat left in the leg after six days in the hospital, in a cast.
Whether the screws are actually moving or just causing pain from their location, I don't know. In any case I'm going to hold that 37mm Ti rod in my hand one day. Perhaps I'll melt it down and make a bike part out of it