It should never have been this complicated.
With Mel’s ride coming up, I wanted to get in some climbing. Went down the Big Wow, up the Ridge Trail, and down Rush. Rode PMS, climbed Bitter Bitch, Lower Jekyll, Little Sister, Vortex and took gravel to the tank trap. For not being on my bike for 10 days, I was feeling great.
Sailed down WTF and Vortex. Jekyll was smooth and fast. I had decent speed. About 100 yards in, there’s a shallow rut and root on a right turn. Not sure what happened – other than operator error – but my wheel went hard right coming out and I dead-centered a tree next to the trail with my right shoulder. Perfect karma – the impact was directly on my Hurts So Good tattoo.
I could hear ribs snapping when I hit. Fortunately, I didn’t hit my head and never lost consciousness. After I lay there for a few minutes, I got up and did a quick check. I was shocked that it didn’t feel like I’d broken my shoulder or clavicle, but I was having a lot of pain on the right side and breathing was getting more difficult.
I’ve had a pneumo-thorax before and this felt very similar. Blown lungs can be serious if you don’t get attention quickly. Fluid and air build up around the deflated lung, putting increasing pressure on the remaining lung and the heart.
I walked my bike to the road but knew it would take way too long to hike out. Riding was painful but much faster and not all that much worse than walking. My main concern was not passing out.
It took me 45 minutes to cover about 3.5 miles to the house and another 30 for Sher to get me to ER. I was starting to have more severe pain and breathing trouble, but figured if I got in fairly quickly things would be okay.
This is where it all fell apart.
I think what happened was that the nurse that did the initial assessment thought I had just fallen down and was a whiner with a few abrasions.
After nearly a 90-minute wait, the pain moved to an extreme level and I was making a lot of noise trying to get a breath.
Finally, someone else came by and realized I was in trouble. I went from having no care to being in a room with 8 to 10 people, including an ER physician and a cardio-vascular surgeon.
It was an ugly scenario because when they declare a “full trauma” a chaplain shows up to talk with family members. As you can imagine, this scared the crap out of Sher.
I wanted drugs before the MRI and CT scans because I knew it was going to really hurt when they lifted me on and off the gurneys. No such luck.
After the scans confirmed the broken ribs and blown lung, Dr. Morrison numbed the area, made an incision and inserted a chest tube to re-inflate the lung.
I got moved to ICU and spent the night there. They gave me a hydro-morphine pump, so I had pain meds with the push of a button. I tried to abuse it, but the machine was programmed to release doses on six-minutes intervals.
The next day I was moved to a regular hospital room and began lobbying to get out. Before I could be considered for release, I had to demonstrate a specific level of lung capacity; fortunately, I am not a smoker. I was lucky to have a mountain biker as my PA, and he signed off on my discharge on Wednesday afternoon.
I have some good drugs – although I’ll admit it’s tough without the morphine. Dr. Morrison said I can’t lift for a month, but I can get back on my bike in the next 7 to 10 days if the pain is tolerable. Right now, it only hurts when I move or breathe.
I’m sure many of you are wondering about the Sultan. It came through just fine. Not sure how it happened, but I taco-ed my rear wheel. Either the bike came over my head and hit the tree or the rear wheel got torqued when I came out of the rut. I will need Kevin or Jeff to take a look at it.
I’m very bummed about the fact that I will not be able to sweep Mel on her 40th ride. However, Kelley is in great shape and has volunteered to take my place. I will help Dave with the logistics and be there to cheer Mel on.
I’ve had to endure multiple safety lectures from family members. As you may know, I am hard of hearing.
I am in debt to Dr. Morrison and my new friend, Jennifer the RN, in ED. I also received great care from a number of people when I was in ICU and when I got transferred to the regular hospital room.
Thanks to those who stopped to see me – Patterson, Lipton, Eric, Dave, Diane, John Mughal, Skip Mezger, Jack, Becky, Vaughn, Lance, Paul, Mel, Kami and Sher, of course – and to everyone who sent best wishes. Special thanks to my fantastic sister-in-law, Diane, who was there when Sher needed her most.
I’m gaining flexibility each day and hope to be on the spin bike next week.
And I’ll be back on trail soon.