This past November 6th, marked a turning point. One poor decision made in seconds would change life in an instant…
The following footage was captured on my iON video camera. What unfolds in the next minuet looks innocuous, but would turn out to be the most painful crash/injury I have ever experienced in my 51 years of life…and that includes 40 years of sports, life, work/industrial and high-speed moto racing accidents.
Imagine being pile driven into the ground, head first! Nothing real exciting looking though, in fact a bit boring from a crashing standpoint… but the results were anything but. It’s 1:30 of me basically writhing in pain on the trail! This crash was the result of my lack of skill to perform a ‘drop’ off off a 4′ wall. This was completely, 100% my fault. Without a doubt my dirt skills are nowhere nearly as good as my road skills… C’est La Vie I suppose!
This seemingly ho-hum crash had resulted in significant damage to my head, neck and upper body:
A concussion, bruised forehead and neck, bruised left-side ribs, bruised left lung, thoracic contusions, bruised scapula and a lot of soft tissue damage. The consequence of this crash (albeit at a slow speed) was the most intense pain I have ever experienced and I have had countless serious crashes and injuries over the last 40 years. (unfortunately, this was my 7th concussion) Admittedly, I am worried about the long-term effects and possible consequences, but there is nothing I can do at this point, except try not to incur another one!
Hospital trauma room and home on the couch the next day
And with those past injuries, I can tell you that my body is able take a fair amount of pain, but those first 3 days, the suffering was absolutely un-fucking believable, in fact the first week was just brutal. The second week was difficult, though with a bit less severity. Third week, I was beginning to improve to the point of being able to get some decent sleep and almost eating like I would usually do.
I spent the first 9 days sleeping in a semi-upright position on the couch, as I could not lay down (though I tried) -this was due to the severe rib and neck pain laying down would cause- not too mention the difficulty in breathing. Just trying to do everyday normal things was nearly impossible. Movement was extremely slow (I think this was a glimpse of what it may be like when I am very elderly) and careful as the pain radiated from my entire upper body. The first week it was mostly soup and soft foods, because swallowing was very arduous, due to the thoracic bruising.
I owe a huge amount of gratitude to my eldest, Samantha who tended to me during this very difficult time. Cooking, helping the old man up off the couch, looking up nutritional and PT type treatments and giving me positive reinforcement! Thank you Sam! I also have to thank my neighbors and friends, Jim and Angelo who drove me and picked me up from the hospital then regularly checked in on me. Thanks guys!
Thanks to all my friends, cycling friends and buddies who were concerned and to those who offered their help as well (Mady).
Surprisingly I did make some significant progress during the first month and I put it down to many aspects; The fact that I was in relatively decent physical form to begin with. Sleeping on and off throughout those first days as much as possible and a constant alternating of hot and cold compresses. From the end of the first week, I began eating a lot of raw greens, fruits and veggies, while taking in extra protein via whey supplements as well creatine. I upped my fat intake, (no trans fats though) added supplemental vitamin C and zinc plus extra amino acids. Light yoga and PT stretches also helped in getting back on track.
Though I cannot put my initial recovery down to any one thing, I would like to think that all of these treatments I implemented (and still do) contributed in a small way. I haven’t had a chance to get back on mtb ‘horse’ yet (ironically, my mtb is an Iron Horse!) though I have managed to get one road ride in, that was a big mistake…it was too soon. Which set me back a bit in late November. It’s been 50 days since the crash and while my initial recovery was most remarkable, I am still in some fair amount of pain, though not nearly as intense.
I have about 90% range of motion in my neck, it is stiff, sore and I’m still experiencing pain taking deep breaths. These cold, damp days are not helping either. I’m continuing to do the prescribed PT exercises and of course some easy stretching, but the damaged tissue, tendons and ligaments will definitely take time to heal and at 51, the body just doesn’t repair itself like it did when I was in my 20’s or 30s!
While progressing in healing up, it seems this last 10% or so may take another month or two perhaps. At first I felt like it would be about a month in getting back to a somewhat ‘normal’ state, but recently I realized that head and neck injuries are a serious matter and it may be a full 3 months or more before I am back to where I was prior. Now that I am ready to ride again, the weather here has not be cooperating. Oh well, soon enough I hope.