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On Tuesday May 18th, right about 11:30am PST, my bicycle and I decided to part ways at about 20 mph coming down a hill outside of La Honda, CA. When all was said and done, I ended up with a fractured pelvis and clavicle, a 3 day hospital stay, and a serious detour from my planned 2010 agenda. Despite the pain and new daily challenges, the experience has started an incredible personal journey that has really affected who I am.
My first thoughts were with my family. Crashing and getting injured is a risk we all take as cyclists, but nothing makes it hit home more than finding yourself spread eagle on the pavement. I was happy to be coherent, but knew something was up with my hip as standing and transferring to the van with my teammates was seriously painful. Having a doctor in the camp (thanks KB!) was a boon as she was able to rule out most of the serious stuff and keep me focused until the hospital team could care for me.
After a battery of xrays and cat scans, they were able to determine the fractures. Thankfully nothing is displaced — so while it’s painful there’s really nothing they can do. I try walking in the ER and earn an overnight stay in the hospital because I pass out when I try to stand.
The passing out continues for Wednesday, and my body is still in shock. Visits from some local Endurance Nation teammates keep my spirits high, but the reality of my injuries (and lots of swelling!) is setting in: this is serious.
Thursday is spent trying to get out of bed and sitting up a lot. I get a head Cat Scan to rule out a concussion. I eat a lot more hospital food and begin plotting my escape. No walking yet, but I have learned that they won’t keep me either.
Friday comes and I have a frantic PT and OT session to prepare me for my departure. Carrie C comes to pick me up and after taking 20 minutes to get me from the wheelchair to the front seat of the car, I am a free man. Unfit to leave the hospital but unable to stay, Carrie takes me home for what turns out to be a five day stay.
Within a day of being at Carrie’s house, I am up and walking. Buoyed by her tough PT love and the support of a local army of triathlete friends who watch me 24/7, I quickly learn where I can be self-sufficient and where I need to rely upon others.
Soon I am taking (seated) showers by myself and even cooking breakfast. I can reconnect with folks online and continue to bond with my newly adopted extended NorCal family. Before I can even blink, we’ve booked tickets for Maura to fly out and escort me back home.
My last day is a blur of reconnecting with Maura, saying goodbye to the NorCal crew and getting pumped up for a red-eye flight to Boston from SFO. The flight was pretty uneventful, and by Wednesday midday, I am home in Boston watching my girls take rides in my wheelchair.
A Wake Up Call
The most amazing part of this whole ordeal — all the ups and downs — is the chance I have had to connect with people in my world in an entirely new way. What was initially an inconvenience has turned into an incredible opportunity. I had no choice but to get off the runaway train that is my life as a dad/husband/entrepreneur/triathlete/coach and rely upon others for physical and emotional support.
Man, do I have some kick ass friends and family members.
While other people mourned the loss of my season for me, I was just psyched to relax and hang out with some really cool people. I am not fired up to get running again; I just wanted to get home to my family.
I am simply not scared of the path to recovery, as I know I am not alone.
I am home on the Cape, with PT sessions lined up until the end of the summer. I have exercise homework and a pile of real work. But I am not stressed. It’s good to be back with the family, and as the accident has shown, the core elements of my life are in excellent condition.
While I plan to heal and make a full recovery so I can return to the active lifestyle and sports I love, I also know that I will never be the same person again. The new awareness I have about the importance of family and friends; the significance of caring / giving to those in need (and of accepting that care); even the perspective of understanding what really matters at the end of the day — all of these things have fundamentally changed in me.
While I can never repay all of you for the support and love you have given me — whether in person, over the phone, or via text message — know that I can (and will) pay it forward.
- Coach Patrick