James Huang blog: This still sucks but it could have been worse

Huang marvels at brace breakthroughs, re-discovers trail running

So it's now been ten days since I broke the fourth metacarpal in my right (dominant) hand and while I can't say that it's been a pleasant experience, all things considered it could have been much worse. According to Dr. Robert Koch at Boulder Community Hospital, my fracture is stable and non-displaced, it's well supported by the surrounding network of ligaments and muscles – not to mention the adjacent bones – and I should hopefully be mostly good to go and out of this bloody cast in five weeks.

But what a cast it is. Things have apparently progressed quite a bit since the days of heavy plaster shells covered in magic marker and fingerpaint as I'm now donning a fancy Boxer's Fracture Brace from Exos Medical. Built from heat moldable materials and sporting the same Boa lace and reel technology as some high-end cycling shoes, it's surprisingly comfortable, much lower profile than traditional casts, adjustable (both in terms of tightness and shape), waterproof, and semi-breathable.

The best part, though, is that I can remove the thing for a few minutes a day for showers (and just to wiggle my fingers around a bit, too) and have been cleared to ride on a trainer or even on the road pain and comfort permitting – win!

Moreover, Dr. Koch fitted the heat moldable cast around my broken paw in less than ten minutes (with no mess to clean up, I might add) and I've regained the use of my thumb, index finger, and middle finger – a huge improvement over what was previously little more than a useless club. Under the direction of the local Exos sales rep, I've even already remolded one pressure point using a hair dryer.

Still, I obviously wasn't able to participate in the UCI-sanctioned 'cross races that came through town this past weekend so I instead played the spectator role (and downed two paper cups of freshly fried frites in the process). While there, though, I spoke to a surprising number of other cyclists who had suffered bone breakages in the same or similar areas. A couple also used Exos braces (the company makes a number of different models for upper and lower arm injuries) yet most didn't even know they existed – but wished they had.

This is not my idea of a good time - though it did provide a convenient head start on a mummy costume for Halloween.

In the meantime, I'm going to give myself another week or two before I try to grip a handlebar with my three available fingers and have already taken delivery of some indoor trainers to review and a pair of one hand-friendly Sentinel trail runners from The North Face so I don't get too fat going into the holidays.

So yep, could've been much worse – like my buddy who broke his tibia in Sunday's race – so relatively speaking I'll consider myself lucky. Lemons and lemonade and all that.

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