“Heal Well; Heal Fast!”
I’m a 60 year old active male who loves slalom course water skiing, snow skiing and an avid cyclist. I’m considered a guy that always “goes for it.” I’ve been banged up a lot over the years, but always came back stronger. My long time orthopedist says I have big balls and no talent :).
Aug. 29th, 2014…Hit head on by a car going 40 mph while on my bicycle in Copake Lake, NY. I suffered a shattered left knee cap, pylon/trimellioar fracture of the right ankle, and a fractured right hand.
3 surgeries (Dr. Wellman-Knee, Dr. Helfet-Ankle, Dr. Fufa-Hand…fondly designated the “dream team.”), and 4 weeks in HSS later, I was released. I was non-weight bearing on my right ankle, left knee in a thigh to ankle locked straight leg, and a splinted/bandaged non-usable right hand. I left on a customized walker that used my right forearm as my right leg. Steps of any kind were out of the question. I forgot to mention we sold our home the week before, and were expected to be out within 30 days.
4 weeks in a hospital sounds awful. Quite the contrary. HSS became my home…it’s staff my family. I was almost sorry to leave. They are a huge part of the progress I have made. I will be forever thankful for the decision to be there, and the care they provided. It doesn’t get better than that.
I lived the 1st 2 weeks home in a “lifting chair” on the 1st floor of our home, in a dilaudid fog. I started 2XS a week in home therapy. I pushed the envelope every chance I could. Whatever I was told I couldn’t do, I tried to do…and many times succeeded. I learned how to crawl up stairs using my forearms…but I started to heal.
Nov. 1st, I started therapy at HSS rehab.
Milestone 1 – walker to crutches on Nov 10th.
Milestone 2 – 2 crutches to 1 crutch – Thanksgiving
Milestone 3 – Back in the office 2-3 days a week, 3-4 hours a day.
Milestone 4 – Got on my bike on an indoor trainer and managed to get the pedals all the way around 1 time.-Nov. 30th
Milestone 5 – Rode on the bike indoors for 15 minutes…at avg 79 watts for you power cyclists out there.
Milestone 6 – Saturday, April 11th rode outdoors for the 1st time for 14 miles…1 hour 15 minutes
Milestone 7 – Sunday April 19th, did the same loop on a time trial in 48 minutes.
I’m sharing this to quantify the progress for you. I got there enduring, and still enduring pain…but always listening to my doctors and my therapist to know what was “therapeutic” pain and what was damaging.
I still cannot walk down steps leg over leg. I still cannot stand on my pedals when I ride. I still hurt…But I’m healing.
Multiple trauma is a trip. You’re not focusing on 1 thing…it’s multiple movements, multiple sources of pain, multiple therapeutic protocols, and they all affect each other.
Like I said, I’ve been banged up (acl, meniscus, neck, shoulders, ankle, foot…and these are all surgeries) but I have never been challenged like this before.
The pain, and limitations have an effect. I guess people are all different. My friends and family have been supportive and encouraging, and it motivates me. But I still have moments of self-pity, the “why-me” thoughts, the anger, and the resignation. Some days I’m just tired…in all ways. But then I think, this is part of the challenge. It’s not just the physical…it’s also how we choose to deal with it…therapeutically, emotionally, personally and professionally.
Summer’s coming, and I don’t think I’ll be water skiing. But I plan on riding, pedal kayaking, working out, and finding ways to rebuild my body…and my spirit. I am not “There.” I feel a sense of accomplishment, and always embrace a challenge.
I’m incredibly grateful to my doctors, my friends, and most of all my wife and sons..they have inspired, coaxed, chastised..and loved me throughout this ordeal, and I promise myself to be a better person because of it. I owe them, and myself that.
Recuperation isn’t about therapy 2x a week. It’s thinking about it, working on it, and making the commitment to get better every minute. That’s my story.
Heal Well…Heal Fast!