Anyone that’s known me for a while, or reads enough of this Crazy Ass Blog knows that I’m a bit of story teller. There’s the time I flew head first through the car window, the time I drown myself in the pool, and the time I ate a tub of Marshmallow Fluff in 1 minute and 46 seconds.
While I’ll try to blog about those stories at some point, none of them compares to this one. It’s a story I’ve been meaning to tell since June, but with the baby, foot surgery, and rehab, I had a number of other things in the forefront of my mind.
But during the last couple of months, as my recovery from foot surgery has been a bit slower than I’d hoped, I’ve been repeatedly reminded of the most challenging recovery of my life.
In early 2004, on an easy bike ride with a buddy of mine, I crashed and landed on my head. In pretty sever pain, my buddy rode home to get a car. We loaded me up, and drove to the Stanford Hospital – taking it easy around the corners, “because my neck hurts pretty bad, dude.” When I eventually got diagnosed, I had 5 fractures – a shattered C1 and broken odontoid process of C2. They called it a Jefferson’s fracture AND a Hangman’s fracture. Yes, Hangman’s Fracture is what you think it is.
I had 4 screws and a plate put into my neck. I went from riding 20 hours a week to a month mostly motionless on a couch, 7 months in a hard neck collar, and another 2 months in a soft collar. Needless to say, at the time I believed my athletic career was over. It was easily the biggest physical and emotional ordeal of my life.
Earlier this year I gave full accounts of the accident and the aftermath to two publications representing Sony Medical and Carestream, both of whose products were vital in my diagnosis, treatment, and rehab. I encourage you to read both articles if you’d like to hear the full story.
- This article in Imaging Economics focuses on the injury itself, how it happened, how it was diagnosed, and the technology used to help my doctors stabilize it.
- This article in Physical Therapy Products focuses more on how I rehabbed, gained strength, made my way back to normal activity and eventually competition.
Reading these articles reminds me of two things that are super pertinent to my current recovery:
The body can do incredible things if you give it enough time, patience, consistency, and you back it with fortitude. I honestly never thought I’d ever compete again. I thought I might not ever be active again. But with enough time, your body will adjust and you can get through whatever it is.
I am really really lucky. That was a close call, and obviously the outcome could have been much different and infinitely worse. It’s amazing how much has happened in 9 years, how lucky I am to have a 2nd chance at an athletic career. Regardless of what happens, I’ll never forget that.
Thanks a ton to Sony Medical and Carestream for helping me put these stories in writing, and their support this year through the ups and downs!