I'm not "at it" anymore
I quickly realised that I had been literally just a whisker away from ending up in a wheelchair. I knew I was in trouble, from the moment I hit the ground. there was searing pain in my face and neck and no feeling in my legs and arms. It felt like a bomb had gone off in my face.
Image above and below: Several minutes after the accident waiting on the ambulance.
Alofa was kneeling beside me crying and sobbing with shock and horror as blood gushed from the facial wounds filling my eye sockets with pools of blood. I could not see a thing but could not move. It was not a good feeling I can tell you. I felt really bad that I was inflicting this horror on her.
The feeling quickly returned to my legs but my face and neck were agonising and my arms felt like they were on fire and being pierced with shards of glass. I could now move my arms but my hands felt floppy. I knew I had damaged my spinal cord and recovery was going to be uphill. That my legs worked was encouraging news.
I had struck my face on the bike computer that was sitting on the handlebar stem and it acted like an axe being driven into my face, slicing off the tip of my nose and digging into my upper lip to come to a halt above my teeth. It was hard to tell due to the numb feeling, but it felt as if my front upper teeth were in pieces. It turned out that what I took to be broken teeth was grit that had found its was in as I hit the ground.
How it happened
Alofa and I were at the Mountain Bike Skills Area on Mt Victoria. We were there to practice the basics of negotiating the smallest of obstacles to avoid the very kind of accident that was about to happen (I'm a stickler for practising the basics for safe cycling over and over again). While blabbing to Alofa and not really looking at where I was going I entered a small drop and pitched forward, catching my face on the bike computer.
Image above: Bike computer. In retrospect anything that protrudes above the handlebars is a potential hazard if the rider is pitched forward. This was particularly effective as a weapon because the bevelled edge represents an immovable wedge.
For sure, I was going to fall which I do often, usually doing a rather graceful tumble and roll, but not this time. The bike computer was like a weapon that blew my face off. I was completely discombobulated and have no idea of how I fell, although the landing was obviously face-first.
I tried to comfort Alofa by reassuring her that facial wounds always look worse than they really are and prepared for the agonising wait for medical help by thinking of the poor people who were gunned down in the mosques in Christchurch a week earlier and what they consequently had to endure and still are. What I was now facing was nothing compared to their suffering. Thinking of their horrific plight helped.
Image above: Being prepared for stitches. A patient is a person who quietly suffers. I think I'm a good "patient".
While I have been critical of the way Modern Medicine deals with diseases associated with ageing, stress, malnutrition, toxins and medication, I have nothing but praise for Modern-day Emergency Medicine. Thank goodness I did not suffer this accident a hundred years ago! The emergency care was wonderful to say the least. I was expertly sewn up. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs were administered to combat any spinal cord swelling and to give me some comfort.
An MRI and a CT Scan showed that there was bruising to spinal cord at the cervical level as well as there being two prolapsed cervical discs, however the scans could not determine if the prolapses were recent or old injuries.
Image above: Three days after the accident. "Smile - you are on camera!"
I spent three days lying in the hospital being monitored to ensure there was no deterioration as there was concern about the weakness in my arms and the nerve pain that radiated down them as well as blinding headaches. I was happy to lie still and to nap day and night for three days. I was feeling terribly beaten up and my neck needed to be rested. It was time for rest and nothing else. There was nothing to be pushed. No heroics here. Rest and nothing else. After three days I was ready to go home to rest in my deck chair in the sun, to have Alofa's nutrient-dense food and to take my healing supplements.
Image above: Five days after and getting back to my old self. Kind of.
By Day Five healing was going well and the neck collar was off now and then. Unfortunately, the headaches, insomnia, weakness in the arms and burning pain down the arms had not abated at all. But it was only five days post-injury.
By now into regular rehab exercises, carefully mobilising one very stiff neck and to strengthen the arms and shoulders which are extremely weak. While I'm feeling very tired I have begun running. I'll get back into running while going easy with the cycling for a few more months.
Image above: Six days later and I'm getting ready to have the stitches removed tomorrow.
At six days I had a long, hot bath and soaked my wounds for the first time to remove most of the congealed blood in preparation for removal of the stitches the next day. I'm not happy about the loss of the tip of my nose but we can't do anything about that.
I secretly thought of seeking permission from Alofa to audition for the Bachelor but decided not to. Apparently pouting lips are a thing of great beauty nowadays.
Image above: Eight days have passed, the stitches are out and I'm feeling much better.
By eight days and with the stitches out, I think I'm looking a lot better. The arms are still painful and weak and I have a disconcerting tremor in my right hand but the best they have been since the accident. The main issue now is the headaches and insomnia that are making me feel too tired to do anything other than sleep. I feel I'm doing well considering my age but it is still early in the process of recovery.
I've been taking a number of supplements that help to reduce swelling and inflammation and others that help with healing and removal of unwanted scar. I'm also eating very well. We had lamb's fry last night and leftovers for lunch. I'll write more about nutrition and ill health and healing soon.
I have a review of my progress at the orthopaedic department of the hospital in four weeks from now. My intention is to have made a full recovery by then. That is the goal. Ask me in a few weeks whether I've made it.
I think I'll sign off now and go for a run now. Goodbye!