So my leg has had some weird appearances over the last few days. It has swollen like a tree trunk when I didnt keep it raised. The foot is a nice purple / pink colour. The back of the leg is extremely bruised when nothing hit it there, from the knee all the way down.
So I was mountain biking in Stellenbosch with friends, and loving it, as always. We had done some pretty hairy things that day. Big jumps, steep and long drop-offs, steep descents on rough terrain, fast tracks with intruding objects, all done without any bad happenings.
Then when going through an easy part through the forest, at high speed, and I suppose my mind had drifted a bit and was thinking about the expression and style and how that was what I was concentrating on now, and how beautiful it was in the forest with the sun through the trees, and how much I loved riding, and I somehow didn’t see that a fallen tree had a stump about 10 cm thick that stuck into the path, and I hit it at high speed. I saw it at the last instant, and knew something on me would break. Luckily I improved the angle a bit as it could have been much worse. It was bad enough though. The stump caught me really hard on the outside of the right shin. So hard that pieces of flesh and hair were stuck on it after. The shin and stump didnt move after that, but the rest of me and the bike were going just under 50 kms / h, which caused me to be swung around and my knee to twist in ways it should never, at great force.
Agony. I roared out, and then hyperventilated a bit to try and deal with the incredible pain. So I rode the few kms home, mostly downhill, and then the next day went to hospital. After a few days of Xrays and CAT scans, it turned out that I had a bad fracture in my tibia. Not even where I hit it, but were the tendons pulled at the bone as the knee twisted horribly.
So, here I lie, leg in the air. I am someone who gets really grumpy and irritable and irritating when I go more than 1 day without exercise, and now it is going to be 6 weeks after the surgery before I can even stand. Wow. Life in the slow lane for a bit. It’s a different experience, thats for sure.
For the first week, I allowed myself to just wallow in depression. I had to. Sulk, DVDs, and TV games. Luckily I am being really well looked after. After that first week, I started to look at it more positively and constructively. Life is not random. While nothing can seem more random than a stump from an overturned tree sticking into the path and me not noticing it in time, life tends to work according to reason. With me generally being in an frantic rush daily, being forced to sit still for 2 months does allow one an awful lot of time to think and reflect.
Phew, I am a bit weakened and battered by that experience. A two hour long operation where they cut the knee wide open and cleaned it out, and put two 8cm screws across the top of the tibia. The fracture was a 5 out of 6 according to their scale. They also attached a big plate to the tibia with 8 screws between 4 and 8 cms long into it. Typically for me, the drill bit broke off while they were busy so that is also in my shin bone. Surgeon doesn’t want to open again to get it out, so its basically like another extra screw.
Hospitals these days try to avoid administering morphine, but for this operation I was on a 24 hour painkiller drip plus morphine injections every 4 hours. I was in a daze for days, and slowly started putting longer time between the injections until I could go without and leave the hospital. While my nature indicates that I am not the best patient and would be up and about way too soon, the fact that there is searing agony when I stand up on my crutches, even with no weight on my right foot, means that I will be obeying doctors orders and be seated on my ass for the next few weeks.
The surgery was a success though, in terms of the bones being nicely aligned and now I must ensure that nothing jolts the leg to move the plate. The bones must settle around that scaffolding and regrow. There will be Physio work later which I will dive into. It is difficult for someone as health and fitness conscious as me too see your body waste away. I suppose it will just add to the relieft when I can eventually start working on it again.
Bit absurd especially as the plan was to ride as hard as possible on my bike until December and get my riding and fitness to a really high level before I took my new dream bike in December, a 2010 Commencal Meta 5 Carbon. Black beauty. Now I am going to be hobbling onto it.
There are a lot of philosophical questions that I am pondering at the moment. A lot of people, from doctors to parents to employers to friends, have said that I am turning 35 not 19, and am not elastic any more and should be toning down on the adrenaline sports and treat it as a closed chapter in my life, especially as I have a responsible professional position and other responsibilities.
On the other side, there is the encouragement to stay the person that I am. Not to let obstacles or resistance break me down, but to grow stronger through overcoming it. By putting ourselves in the position (through mountain biking or snowboarding or surfing or rock climbing) where we are challenging ourselves with environments and situations that are outside of our comfort zone, we grow as people to develop to a place where those challenges start to be within our comfort zone. yes, there is risk attached to it and it is never easy, but wow, that is where the real reward is too.
Anyway, now I am going to slowly come back to life and working from home, and reading and playing games and enjoying all the care I am receiving.
Below is what the leg looked like 2 weeks after surgery – yuk!
SIX WEEKS LATER:
Well, today I drove for the first time in 2 months. I drove to work and with my own music pumping in my own, new, car, I felt alive and independent again. Gave me hope for the rest of the recovery process
Also started swimming and riding on the exercise bike, which is a great frustration relief and shows that the worst is over.
Check out the Xray!