Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Crashed and burned, huh Mav?" - My first concussion

Trying to sit up as the room was spinning.  I had to get myself up to walk in order to be discharged.  What a chore!
 
Sunday morning, as I was swimming my 2100 plus yards at our "Coached Workout" at Gunderson with my IronTeam, I had thought to myself, it's been a while since I've blogged anything.  I really need to update everyone on my Ironman Training.

Well, I guess the BLOG entities thought they would help me out a bit. I mean I wanted a story, but not this way. 

The morning started off great.  I arrived at Gunderson about 5 minutes prior to our start time to jump into the pool.  I was excited to swim today.  I had been pretty disciplined the last two week about getting into the pool on my “OYO” (on your own) workouts, doing 2000 yards at each workout.  This morning started with a quick 200 yard warm up followed by several drills and then a pyramid set of 100, 200, 300, 400, 400, 300, 200, 100 yards and lastly with a cool down.  I felt great the entire time.

Afterwards, we were set to do a 60-minute group ride.  Everyone geared up and off we went.  The route was from Gunderson High out to Camden and Hicks to Shannon Road.  Once we reached the top of Shannon Road we were to turn around and make our way back to Gunderson.

The ride went well and the weather was perfect.  Our group was pretty large and I was in a pretty large pack for the first half of the ride.  As some of us turned onto Shannon Road the group began to ride at different paces and the group spread out a bit.  

I loved the climb.  I found myself standing in a few spots, and then sitting back in the saddle.  I felt strong, controlled my breathing and felt great!  As I neared the top of the climb, I began seeing some of my teammates descending.  Several shouted to the others, “Good Job” and me I knew I was getting close.  Once at the top, I saw coach Karen and teammate Mikhail.  Once at the top, I turned around and began my descend.  I don't recall passing anyone, but did give shout outs to several team mates who where still climbing up. I love the “TEAM” aspect of training.  The support we provide one another is so comforting and makes it so much easier to give it your all when you have others cheering you on and encouraging you to keep going! 

As I hit the bottom of Shannon Road and turned onto Hicks, I do remember catching up to a teammate whom I've never met. When we finally hit the bottom of Camden and Hicks, I asked him, "We turn right correct?"  He said, "Yes, and then a quick left".  So we proceeded, and positioned ourselves to make that left turn.  As we waited for the light to turn green, I introduced myself and he to me.  I told him that I was doing Vineman Ironman and he shared that he was actually with the TRI team and that he was riding with us today since the ride they were scheduled to do was scheduled at the same time as ours. 

When the light turned green and I took off.  Pete had taken off a little slower than me.  As we headed down Coleman, a few minutes later he passed me on the left.  At that moment I wasn’t looking at him but moments after, when I re-focused on him it appeared he began losing control of his steering.  Seconds later, I saw his rear end slide and I knew he was going to fall.  Unfortunately, when he did fall it was in horizontally across the bike lane.  He had been about 10 yards ahead of me when the inevitable was to happen. Yes, I ran right into him.

The crash I don't remember much of.  I recall bits and pieces of it.  I knew I was about to hit him, hitting him and then falling. 

As I lay there on the street, I think I went into shock. I remember not being able to move, don't remember my surroundings too much, but only the face of one. That nameless face remained in front of me the entire time.  She kept me calm, she talked to me, I don't remember what she said but I know she was there and that was enough to keep me still.  I could hear voices, I could hear bits and pieces of conversations, but was in a daze.  I didn't feel pain but knew I was in pain.  It was difficult to move and can't even remember if I could move.  She did ask if she should call anyone, and I asked her to call Matty and my Mom.  And then concern overwhelmed me when I said, "I don't know where my kids are.  I can't remember."

When they tried to move my leg, we found it was still clipped onto my bike.  I don't remember much more than that until I was loaded into the ambulance and the paramedic began asking me questions.  It wasn't until then I asked where they were taking me and the paramedic told me, Valley Medical because I was considered a trauma patient and they had a trauma unit. Upon entering the hospital, I could hear the loudspeaker say, "Trauma has arrived."  I think they were talking about me.

As we entered the trauma unit, there were several doctors and nurses in the room.  I had one removing my clothing, one putting little stickers on various parts of my body, one asking me questions, another taking my vitals.  This caused me some concern because it was then I realized I had been placed on a backboard and was wearing a neck collar.  I assume this was all procedure, but I think part of me was freaking out.  The doctor began asking me where my pain by touching various parts of my body.  He then ordered a CT scan and x-ray on my left shoulder by the assessment of my complaints.

They quickly moved me to the next room and placed me in this machine shaped like a tunnel.  This was the CT scan. Once that test was done, they rolled me out of the room and placed me in a hallway. It wasn't until then that I finally got to see Matt.  He assured me that he spoke with my mom and also got a hold of the kids to let them know what was going on.  But as quickly as I saw him, they rolled me away to take an x-ray of my shoulder.

Once done, they brought me back to Matt where I felt so much more relived that we were together.  A few minutes later, Coach Ron appeared. Seeing his smiling face was a relief as well.  He updated me on how Pete was and confirmed that Marianne was the nameless person who stayed by my side the entire time, but also told me that the entire team was there.  I feel blessed to have such an amazing group of individuals in my life.

Ron was very positive and encouraged me to rest and recover.  He told me not to worry about anything right now but just to get well.  Matty had also told me that Dennis was there at the hospital to make sure I was okay.  The people of Team in Training and LLS are one of a kind. 

Shortly after Ron left, the doctor arrived to let me know that both the CT scan and x-rays came out negative.  The doctor said that they wanted to observe me for a while to ensure I was okay before they discharged me.  The nurse came by after the doctor left to ask that I give a urine sample, which meant, walking. As I tried to stand, the hangover from hell hit me!  The room spun round and round.  I was in NO condition to walk.  She wheeled me over to the restroom and helped me out.  Part of the condition of me being discharged was the ability to walk, so they said they would want me to try every 30 minutes until I could walk on my own.  The second time around, still unable to walk.  I was walking sideways favoring my left side where I took the brunt of my crash.  But by the 3rd time around I was determined to get out of the hospital.  When I heard if you can't walk, we will get you a room and you will stay the night.  Once the nurse saw I could walk, even though it was slow, she agreed I could be discharged but if any of my symptoms worsened, then I needed to return back. 

Discharged with a diagnosis of a concussion, a prescription of vicodin for pain and aftercare instructions, off I went.  The night was long and painful.  The vicodin helped a bit but I was up every hour because of the pain the inability to get in a comfortable position to sleep.  Matty was wonderful, waking me every two hours as the doctor instructed. 

Two days later, as I reflect on it all. Seeing the visible damage, (bruising, scrapes, broken helmet and dinged up bike) makes me realize how fortunate I was to be able to walk away from this accident with, although painful, very minor injuries.  
2 Days after my crash - left shoulder has minor bruising & road rash on the up the leg.

I never gave “helmets” the respect they deserve.  I recall when the helmet law came about; I didn’t think much of it.  Today, I’m living proof that helmets save lives and prevent injuries.  Although, my crash resulted in a concussion, if I had not been wearing my helmet in the proper position, securely with my chinstrap, my injuries could have been far worse. 

Perhaps Sunday’s crash was a lesson for me, perhaps it was a lesson for others, or maybe it was just a reminder as Coach Dan stated in an e-mail, "Accidents can happen anywhere - today's accident happened on a flat road with a wide bike lane and shoulder.  The important and critical piece is they were both wearing helmets.  The helmet did its job for both riders. Take a good look at the inside of your helmet - if there are any cracks at all it's time to get a new one." 

So please, friends, family, kids…. Wear your helmets!!
A chunk of my helmet missing.
The helmet was cracked all the way across.

Last night I was pleasantly surprised to see my mommy show up with my step dad to check up on me.  My oldest son, Vincent even made a visit and plans to stay with me for the week.  It made me realize how much people care about me.  Several of my friends called me, my brother had text me and my IronMatt has been amazing in taking care of me. I can’t express my “THANKS” enough to everyone.   

Coaches orders - Take the week off to rest and recover.  
Doctors orders - No contact sports for 2 weeks.  

I'm taking the time to rest, recover, and reflect on the whole experience.  I'm grateful beyond words for the amount of support from Friends, Family and My IronTeam family.  I'm so proud to be a part of  Team and Training and in awe by the organization itself.  

Sunday's crash is only a minor setback for me.  I will recover and get back to right where I left off.  The training helps me as an individual to reach my goal to complete my first full Iron distance event, but I remind myself that my purpose is to help others.  As long as I'm able to help fight blood cancer, I will NEVER stop!

Go Team IronTeam Woo!!


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