Thankyou for all of the "Get Well" messages
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
I have been overwhelmed by the number of get well messages following publishing the article about my most recent accident.
I have received so many that I do not think I can reply to them all individually. I never knew so many people cared.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Here is my reply, including doing the best to take on your advice and to answer some of the issues raised.
Am I seeking your sympathy?
Not at all. If I had been hit by a bus or a meteor while using a pedestrian crossing then, yes, your sympathy is most welcome because the injuries were due to circumstances beyond my control. It is a different matter when it comes to those that are sustained while voluntarily doing activities like rugby, mountain-biking or rock climbing, all of which come with inherent risks that may include serious harm. If I hurt myself while doing such activities I may feel very sorry for myself but the last thing I want or deserve is the sympathy of others. My injuries were self-inflicted.
In case you missed it, there was no speed in the crash. Actually, it was inattention and the lack of any speed that led to the crash. Would you believe it!
The irony of it is I was doing a skills session with Alofa intended to prevent the very accident that I suffered. In addition, I had just been talking to my Son-In-Law, Paul, to arrange a judo workshop for us to refine our skills for doing shoulder and forward rolls! Paul competes at the national level in judo. Tumbling skills are essential for everyone, especially cyclists and more so as we get older and more fragile (I'll sometimes stop at children's playgrounds and do a few forward and shoulder rolls before continuing on my way).
How I coped with the possibility that I may be permanently disabled?
As I wrote in my earlier article, I thought of the poor people in the Christchurch mosques, who lay severely injured waiting for ages for medical assistance and then facing weeks and months of painful treatment and rehabilitation. This psychological ploy is called "comparing down" and is explained here by the Dr Paul Wood, the husband of my beautiful and talented daughter Mary-Ann:
And by maintaining a sense of endless optimism when hope may be dimming. Again, Paul explains this better than I ever could:
One ploy that I have used is to ask the first responders to take photos of my injuries. Almost as soon as the dust has cleared, I ask the questions: "is there an article I can write about this and what lessons can we take from this?" It may be a personal catastrophe but let's make the most of it.
Here is another example of this ploy being put to good use:
The first aid demonstration of how to use compression and elevation (forget about ice) in that article is priceless. It shows how to prevent the gush of blood into the injury site which means you may get immediate surgical treatment instead of a week or two of delay while the swelling reduces.
Why don't I just take it easy and do something less dangerous like gardening and walking?
There is a war going on against nutritional therapies and the health professionals who practice in this area are losing it. There is no stopping Big Pharma, Big Medicine, Big Food and Big Agriculture. They are killing it and it is only going to get much worse. They'll keep at even after they are long past bankrupting the entire country.
Modern Emergency Medicine is a marvel, whereas the same medical model is an abject failure when it comes to preventing and treating the diseases of modern life, stress, malnutrition, toxins and the decline of ageing. It just does not work. Big hits like an antibiotic work well for quelling a rampant infection but not for reversing the gradual decrements of getting old or the "autoimmune illnesses" that happen to come from nowhere after, for example, bathing in an arsenic-laden mineral hot pool.
You can't beat a person back into good health! It won't work on your delicate pot plant that is malnourished and wilting, due to neglect, so why would it work on you?
I'm sick of arguing with the learned experts who rely on these big businesses, the naysayers, the social media trolls and the industry apologists who endlessly parrot the mantra that nutritional therapies don't work, only drugs work, that vitamins are expensive urine and that a balanced diet and regular exercise is all you can do to keep healthy. I have decided that the best riposte to these people is to lead by example, to walk the talk and to do so in the most emphatic way.
As we age, abilities that add up to "fitness" begin to decline. These are strength, endurance, power, flexibility, mobility, balance, reaction times, eyesight and the ability to make split-second decisions. Oh- and the ability to bounce well and to subsequently heal quickly from any injuries that may have been sustained during the bounce!
More than just about any other sport, mountain-biking requires all of these qualities that define fitness as we get older.
About six years ago my fitness had improved so much that the unthinkable occurred to me - that I might - just might be good enough to win the age group mountain bike world championships. Now wouldn't that silence my critics? It took me three goes over several years but I made it last year. I am now the current UCI Master 65 MTB World Champion. Two things are most satisfying with where I am nowadays: I won the world champs with relative ease against the best in the world, but more satisfying is the fact that I can now give most of the younger riders a good run for their money!
This latest injury is just another challenge along the way and I'm having far too much fun anyway to stop just yet. While I am a keen vegetable gardener and enjoy reading, the high-octane sports will continue to dominate for a few more years to come.
What I'm doing to rehabilitate from my injuries?
I took careful note of what the doctors explained about the damage. While there are two cervical disc prolapses, it could not be determined if they were recent or old and they were not protruding enough into the spinal canal to be causing my symptoms. There was no bone damage. The cause of my nerve pain and weakness was bruising of the spinal cord with consequent swelling. This should gradually resolve and recovery will be complete, hopefully.
It just so happens that my first real job back in 1976 was as an exercise therapist working in the rehabilitation department of Dunedin Hospital. The patients I assisted with were mostly head and spine injuries and lots of stroke patients. The first patient assigned to me was a young woman who was rendered a permanent tetraplegic following a cocktail of vaccines in preparation for her Big OE upon graduating as a teacher. I have had plenty of experience with spinal injury rehabilitation and now it was time to work on myself. My case is very mild and uncomplicated.
The first 4-5 days were spent not moving at all. I just lay back and tried to be as comfortable as possible, while eating nutrient-dense foods. I also commenced taking some special enzyme supplements that help quench inflammation and reduce swelling while aiding healing which anti-inflammatory drugs do not do. By early this week I began to step up the movement with shoulder mobilisations and some very slow running, followed by a long, hot Epsom Salts bath.
I listened carefully to what my body was telling me. Once I began to move about and to gently increase the range of motion of my neck and shoulders, the days are being punctuated with long periods of rest. Just lying still mostly in the deck chair, soaking up the sun while taking care not to burn.
My upper body strength is still about 40% of what it was pre-injury but improving. It is a priority that I have more strength than ever in my neck and shoulders, no matter how long it takes to get that.
I'm switching from cycling to running and will do mostly running for as long as it takes for my neck to feel 100% and more.
I've got dropper post seats being fitted to all of our bikes. Being able to lower the seat in an instant reduces the risk of going over the handlebars. I've also ordered in the best helmet on the market that has an inner portion that allows the helmet to slide and rotate on impact, thus reducing the energy being transmitted to the skull and neck. And I'll be doing those judo training sessions but only once my neck feels close to 100%.
While I am healing at a good rate of knots, there is no urgency with anything. Time does heal. Rest assured that I'm taking my time. I'm not pushing it. I'm listening very carefully to the signals being sent from my body.
"No pain - No gain" has no place in this household!
I hope this reassures you and answers most of your questions, including why I'm doing these hazardous sports.