Tuesday, August 5, 2014

First Crash and First DNF Post Mortem: Two Weeks Beyond

I made a vow on the last day of July that I would leave all negativity behind me. This is sometimes much easier said than done when recovering from an injury. On July 19th, I suffered my first ever crash on a bike (race or training) which also resulted in my first ever DNF. (Crash Course blog post HERE.) Two weeks and three days after the injury and five days into my self-proclaimed "nothing but sunshine" proclamation, I'm having a hard time keeping my happy face on. Locally, the Ironman Boulder was running on Sunday August 3rd.
In the E.R. before the chest tube was put in

While I had no plans to race at the Ironman level this summer, I had big plans for my accomplishments in shorter courses. I'll admit, it has been tough to see all the social media posts on my friends who competed in Boulder. Don't get me wrong, I am happy for them and very proud of some of the results I've seen. Regardless, as the stories came out on Monday, my pain had not waned by much and I still struggle to sleep more than 1-2 hours at a time at night even with heavy doses of narcotics. Knowing that I'm still at least a month away from my first run or swim makes it even tougher.

With that, a progress report of sorts on what's happened since my accident at the Rocky Mountain State Games Triathlon in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

First off, I would be curious to get some candid feedback. The RMSG Triathlon Race Director knew I was in the hospital as he showed up on the scene with his walkie talkie once I'd pulled out of the race and the medics were arriving. Would you expect to hear from a race director (particularly in a smaller race) if a competitor had a severe crash that sent them to the hospital? I'm a bit shocked I never heard a word from them.

The Body and the Drugs

Drugs were a very bad thing while I was in the hospital as I discussed in the Crash course blog write-up as one morning, I nearly didn't wake up as my blood oxygen consumption dropped to 50%. From what I've seen, anything below 80% can be dangerous or potentially life-threatening.  My oxygen has been a wild "magic toad ride" since then starting with the car ride home. Knowing I was at least a couple hours away from the Target Pharmacy and my home medications, the nurse gave me a full dose (three pills worth) of my Oxy for the ride. I was still quite buzzed by the time we reached the neighborhood Target store and apparently, I was scaring some of the small children and at one point stated out loud that I was "really high."
3D Image showing some of the broken ribs.

Yeah, no shit.

The pain continues to be centered around my right rear scapula. If I was a Game of Thrones character, I would have taken a crossbow arrow through the front chest plate out out the shoulder blade if I was describing the pain to the "Medieval Barber."

The Dr. sent me home with two variants of Oxy; Oxycontin which is my twice a day pill, and the other was a 5mg short-acting (every 3-4 hours) "roxy" oxycodone. At some point, I will move to "over-the-counter" drugs. By the time Saturday night rolled around (four days at home) I realized I was going to run out of the short-acting pills (Roxy) before the end of the weekend so had to start rationing the pills and went to a combination of Tylenol and Motrin during the day.

Chest tube scar to the left of my arm
(SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU"D PREFER NOT TO HEAR BODY FLUID DETAILS) Aside from the obvious side-effects, the worst was constipation (I know...TMI...) Fortunately, I was able to take one small "number two" while at the hospital so they were able to release me without going to any extreme measures. My appetite has been fine so I've ingested a ton of food...including some varieties that you would expect to "get some things going" like burritos, chili, and lasagna. All attempts of maintaining a gluten-free or gluten-light diet have "gone out the window." Approaching my tenth or eleventh day post-accident at home, my stomach (and bowels) were no longer able to manage all the "short-term residents," but normal attempts of "emptying" over a period of twelve hours yielded nothing. Taking matters into my own hands, we resorted to an emena which finally resolved the clogging issue. I won't get into details, but let's just say if Snooki ever had a baby...well, you get the idea.

Much of my road rash is healing fine although I've got some respectable scabs on both elbows, shoulderblades, and along my right side. I had stitches removed on Monday from my right elbow where tendons were exposed during the crash. After three days of having a dressing on my chest tube entrance wound, I've now exposed it to being "air healed." The wound (and eventual scar) is pretty intense and resembles either a prison "shiv" incident (I've watched too much "Orange is the New Black" T.V. show) or as I nicknamed it, a "Cabbage Patch Doll" vagina. Both gross and inappropriate.

I will have my primary care follow-up on Thursday, but stopped in to the Emergency Care to get my pain short-term "Roxy" medication refilled on Monday as my first day back to work with over the counter during the day was not working and had run out of night-time help.
Trek bike is totaled. Cracked carbon frame. #doh

The Bike and Gear

Before I came home from the hospital, I asked my wife to hide my bike. Mentally, I was still wrestling with my "brush with death" emotions and didn't want to see the mangled Trek Speed Concept 7.0 in my office as a reminder. It wasn't so much about the cost (at that time, I still thought it might be reparable) but the visual memory of the wreck itself. She took my advice literally and took it to Bicycle Village where I'd bought it a mere two seasons ago. All three bike techs labeled it as "totalled" with the most egregious damage being a cracked carbon frame in the center of the crossbar. They were also shocked to learn that I only had four cracked ribs and a collapsed lung based on the amount of damage. They were further impressed that I got back on my bike for another two miles thinking I might be able to finish. (I pulled off course shortly after one of three loops on the bike course once I realized my body and bike were not going to make it.)

As energy allowed, I started looking at the other components of my race and realized they were in equally poor shape. My Bontrager helmet was cracked. Again, at first I wasn't worried so much about
the cost of getting a new helmet, but the fact that my head did in fact strike the asphalt. The whole right side is dented and there's a crack near the rear of the helmet. I also found a scab inside my ear that had gone undiscovered for two weeks. I felt like I'd once again dodged something that could have been much more serious.

I had a curious injury to the top of my right foot and my Louis Garneau carbon shoes showed (again) that my right side took the brunt of the fall as the right shoe was ripped up by the black asphalt. My Tyr Tri Suit was equally surprising. Inspection of the suit showed tears starting again on the right shoulder, but the whole upper back of the suit took either a bounce or roll  as it is ripped up across the back. There are also blood stains mainly around the right hip where I took a fair amount of "road rash."

Insurance

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield have proved to be a complete circus on this whole fiasco. I wrote from my hospital bed (under heavy drugs) that my Dr. had recommended "plating" my ribs due to pain management and the severity of the breaks. Short version is they denied insurance coverage while I was in the hospital, but when I called (from ICU,) they initially said, "we'll call you back in 48 hours."  "Ummm...you don't understand, I'm in ICU and trying to get this surgery this week." They offered me a appeal which would provide a verbal answer within 72 hours.  They never called. Out of sheer curiosity and still in pain, I called yesterday (six days after they said they would get back to me.) Giving them the call reference number, the woman said "it was denied." The appeal....the original? "I'll call you back today," she said. I still haven't heard back. I it didn't hurt to laugh, I would. What a joke.

With a totaled bike, helmet, shoes, tri-suit, etc., I am in the process of submitting to insurance to see about mainly getting a new bike. Yes! I do plan to get back on that horse. Unsure if I will go with the same Trek Speed Concept 7.0, Specialized Shiv, or some other tri bike. Only thing that makes me hesitate on Trek is out of superstition, but may be the route I have to go as far as getting the most out of insurance.

Races and Recovery

I was scheduled to race in the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon next weekend and that's obviously not happening. I wrote to the race director hoping for a refund, deferral, or even
offering some volunteer efforts to apply my registration to 2015. I was unable to break 1:29 last month at the Slacker Half Marathon and felt training was putting me in a decent shot of cracking that time. That's obviously not happening as the Dr. has put me on a strict "no activity" routine for at least six weeks. It's not just the matter of healing the ribs, but the dangers of the recurring pneumothorax which could be quite dangerous.

I am not taking the Doctor's guidance lightly and have no plans to try and come back early. Having said that, I did get in three half mile walks since I've been home, but my chest and breathing is not ready for much more than that. On Saturday, we went out to the reservoir where my son trains with his triathlon team and soaked up some sun for about 45 minutes while he was training and we were enjoying the coffee and rolls. While it was tough to watch athletes out there training (and wanting to do the same,) I enjoyed the dose of Vitamin D.


Lungs

I was sent home with an Airlife Inspirometer which I'm supposed to use ten times every hour which measures the capacity of my lungs. While pain still persists, my efforts are paying off as I've crept up to 3500--the scale only goes up to 4000 so my conditioning as a distance runner put me at an advantage with my rehab. A long road ahead, but perhaps something to build on.

To end on a high note, the outpouring of support from friends, family and my blog and social media has been phenomenal. This has been very helpful to keep my spirits up and focused on recovery and "getting back out there." A special thanks to Runner's World and their PR team who sent me a get well care package to my house that was waiting for me when I got home from the hospital. As posted on Facebook, my thank you card to them below. Unexpected, classy, and greatly appreciated!

6 comments:

  1. I wish you nothing but the best. It may be hard to but count your blessings for it not being worse. You will recover from all of this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sending you healthy and recovery-y thoughts. Hopefully the next few weeks flies by and you're out running before you know it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm hoping for a speedy recovery for you! I'm glad to see that you will be climbing back up onto the horse once you're recovered! Keep your chin up :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dude, I'm wishing you nothing but speedy healing vibes. I know you're just starting to realize this but you're really lucky. Bike crashes are no joke. As for a new bike, take a look at the Cervelo P3 if you can.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am glad that you are looking better and feeling better. I am so sorry about your accident that sucks big time. I am excited to read about your come back I am sure you will be amazing once again and take good care of yourself.. You look better than your bike, you are very inspirational to a bunch of us..Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sorry to hear about your accident. All the best with your recovery. I hope you can get back to doing what you enjoy before too long.

    ReplyDelete

About Me

My photo

Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine