I am going to treat this post as an ongoing update rather than add new posts. For most recent part of this post, click here.
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I crashed at Ironman Muncie 70.3 on Saturday. I was having a great race. I swam hard and was approximately 1.5 minutes off the race leader. I stayed aggressive on the bike and pushed the whole ride. Towards mile 35, there was an aid station on my left. I had already finished two bottles of nutrition and was on my third bottle.
Illogically, I thought I should dump my empty bottle. I rode closer to the middle of the road, grabbed the bottle and was going to pitch it between the riders on the other side of the road. Obviously, I am an idiot. I am even more embarrassed to write that I was going 22.6 MPH when I decided to make this move.
As soon as I started the pitch with my right hand, I felt the front of the bike wobble with my left hand and then the wheel turned to a 90 degree angle and down I went. I never lost consciousness although I did lay there for a few minutes doing a physical inventory.
Fortunately, I was right in front of an ambulance and received medical attention quickly. I did want to get back on my bike but realized the crunchiness in my shoulder was not normal. Off to the hospital I went.
I have been thinking a lot about why this accident happened. I think I started to develop a cloak of invincibility the last seven years. I am a very durable athlete and overtime I started to feel very confident about my cycling. I crossed the line to cocky. Crossing that line is where most accidents happen.
I have also been racing harder and harder to get to the front. I don’t regret the effort winning takes but it does increase my risks. Despite the wreck, I think those risks are acceptable as I have learned far more about myself on this path than if I had chosen the less risky path.
On Monday, I was very fortunate to see orthopedic surgeon Dr. Timothy Steiner at 8am. KT brilliantly suggested I not eat anything that morning in case he could do the surgery that day. We discussed my athletic resume and plans to race Kona in October. He was immediately on board and scheduled surgery that day. He said I could be back on the bike (trainer) in two days but only if I dumped all the pain medicine after the surgery. Deal!
I now take one gram of acetaminophen every six hours. It is amazing how helpful it is for my broken ribs and incision pain.
After surgery, I have not worn a sling and can use my left arm like my right arm (but without lifting anything heavy). I am doing mobility exercises and my breathing exercises for my lungs and cracked ribs. It is really wonderful to type this with two hands.
Things I have learned:
- Always have a will and other medical documents in place to protect you and your family. Talk to your attorney.
- Have a spouse that will drop everything to be there in a moments notice and make all decisions when things get fuzzy. I would not be where I am today without KT!
- Be clear with the MD’s about what kind of athlete you are or plan on being.
- Let the surgeon and anesthesiologists know that you are a different kind of patient. As an endurance athlete I have a low white blood cell count, low blood pressure, low resting heart rate and can be at increased risk for DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). Both physicians listened and put contraction sleeves on my calves for surgery.
- Be aggressive about your recovery plan. Dr. Steiner knew the ultimate goal and bought in immediately with permission to get on my bike and start spinning in a few short days.
- Movement is everything. I learned from my sisters’ car accident and cancer treatment that walking is very important to recovery. I have been walking three times a day for an hour total. My little Yorkie hates me and now hides when I grab the leash. Does anyone need a sled dog for the Iditarod?
- Stay optimistic. I don’t do this sport for a living but fortunately my friends who do reminded me that this is common crash and usually involves a quick recovery. I believe them.
- Eat even healthier than when you train. I have reduced my food intake but am focused on eating very high quality foods. Protein four times per day and lots of water.
- My worst time is bed time. I am really tired, hurting and not looking forward to sleeping on my back. There has been some tears but no cracking. Fortunately, I am sleeping well and wake up in the morning ready to go.
- Ice is great for reducing pain. I apply to ribs and clavicle 2-3 times per day.
- Consider sleeping with a wedge under your mattress. Helpful to ribs and clavicle.
Thanks to everyone for their concern and support. Many of you have been great role models through the years on recovery from physically challenging events. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your knowledge.
First post-surgical appointment. Love when your surgeon starts with asking you to tell him what we need to do to get you to Kona. And then adds, I expect you to win. Oh and now he is officially an FeWoman sponsor. Hell, at the rate we are going I may tattoo his signature across my clavicle incision.
- Back in pool on the 28th for kicking only and right arm drills only.
- Can start swimming slowly on August 4th. Full return by August 11.
- Bike workouts on trainer can start immediately. Can hold body up with both arms and go aero.
- Running can start tomorrow. Two miles easy, rest day, again and build slowly.
- Rehab with rotational band movements 2-3 times per day 2 x 15. Back to PT on Friday. Already advanced out of first band.
- Bicep and tricep light curls OK with left arm.
- Will be using neuromuscular e-stim to maintain muscle mass starting Friday.
Surgeon started with:
YOU HAVE TO GO SLOW!!!!
Looks perfect, you are ahead of schedule.
1) Bike – Only on trainer for bike. You can go aero and have weight on the bars. Can not ride on road until you see him again in a month.
2) Running – At first he said not for another two weeks. Then he said you can start running now slowly. A couple miles and then a day off. You need to pay attention to how you feel because of the movement he wants to be careful.
3) Swimming – Can get in pool/hot tub two weeks from date of surgery. At that time you can kick board and do one arm strokes. At first he said 3-4 weeks for swimming and then he said if you started slow maybe you can start swimming one week after being in the water. Repetitive movement can cause the bone/plate to fatigue if you keep doing motion to early before the bone heals.
You can sleep on your side. You can drive. Start doing rotational exercises with good and bad arm.