Monday, September 28, 2009

Picture this

Just a quick one.

Recovery is going well and having had a second set of xrays on my collar bone no damage there either.... phewy!

Bike just has a rear flat, although I've not given it a thorough going over yet.

Physio starts today - which is as well as, from the shoulders down, my body is yearning to exercise!!!

Here's a little picture of where I was (taken from my Garmin download) when the accident took place. Very lucky to have been right next to the fire track so when the ambulance did get there it was a relatively painless extraction (for those carrying me I mean..LOL)

On the second pic you can see the resevoir (bottom right concrete square) which is where the helicopter landed. The ambulance ride from the accident to the LZ was particularly bumpy and painful from what little I remember. Bizarely I can't remember going from ambulance into the helicopter - very odd as I know I wasn't knocked out but the brain was a bit scrambled.

On the tri front, what with it being the end of the season thoughts are already turning to next season. The "gang", which seems to be growing in size, are talking of Quelle Challenge Barcelona 70.3 which is at the end of May. Will be odd not doing an IronDot event but Quelle Challenge has a great reputation so we'll see. Other plans are for Reading Half Marathon which is March time and then maybe going down to Oly Distance races after Barcelona. All slightly vague at the moment but then it is only September!! LOL!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There by the grace of ....

There by the grace of {insert your personal preference here} go I

I know I owe you some, but before I continue a normal service let me tell you about my Tuesday. My, Tuesday 22 September 2009.

I'll try not to be too indulgent and I'll be as honest and brief as I can. My Tuesday;

I awoke Tuesday morning with the morning light just creeping around the edge of the curtain. I awoke with a feeling of odd contentment, like the world was a peaceful place today. As I lay in bed wondering about this feeling a bird, probably a Great Tit (no smuty comments please), evidently fluttered closer and had a good sing song very close to my window. It was lovely. Very clear, if a little shrill. Yes today the world was wonderful, I felt an immense sense of calm and peace and happiness. I have no idea why I felt this on Tuesday morning. It was like any other day. Except I woke up feeling rested, feeling good, feeling happy to be alive and very much at peace.

Maybe I felt like that because it's been a strange summer of leaving my job and moving on. Maybe it was just the feeling that all was going to be ok. I'm generally a happy person, but I've never had such an overwhelming feeling like that on that morning.


I went for a "happy" morning run. Just a little pre-breakfast jog. That was nice too! Maybe someone had sneaked some drugs in my dinner the night before?!

I had spoken with a friend of mine a couple of days before (who coincidently has lost her job this month) and she mentioned she was going out for a mountain bike ride with some friends today, Tuesday. So I thought, well it's been a while since Rocky and I have been out (like about 18months), and I was thinking of doing an off road Duathlon at the weekend so why not go too.

And so it was. A glorious day, clear autumn equinox blue skies. Five of us head up to Swinley Forest for some fun. It was a great day to ride, great conditions; dry, not too hot, not too cold.

And then "it" happened

A mixture of operator error, tree roots and a drop too far saw me taking off over the handle bars with no control of how or what I was to fall on.

Let's just say I clearly attempted to "header" the world and the world came off best. There was no shifting the why the world spun around the sun, even on the autumn equinox.

As I took off over the handle bars I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. My forehead hit first, then I flipped, then my head hit again and I finally came to a crumpled mess at the foot of the slope. I wasn't knocked out. My first reaction was to shout at the people behind me to not come on (how sensible was that)..... mentally I did a check; feet not broken, legs not broken, hands not broken, arms not broken, nothing is sticking in me, my head hurts, my neck hurts, my neck.... my neck made a big noise when my head crunched the earth. My neck hurts, my head hurts. I'm not going to try and move.

Fortune was on my side on this lovely day. The next rider in our group, a lovely lady called Terri, happens to be a paramedic. How lucky was that. Poor Terri was also the first on scene when I last came off my bike and broke my hand, in fact that's how I met Terri .... So, she took over and sussed me out. There was no point taking any chances so 999 was called.

To cut a long story slightly shorter, I lay there in the woods while Terri supported my neck and the girls and I try to keep our sense of humour up whilst we waited for the ambulance. I dared not think about my situation. I thought once - what if.... and I stopped myself there, best not think about it. The ambulance got sent to the wrong place and took an age (like over an hour) to reach us. They did an assessment and decided to board me up. Bless the girls, the warden and the ambulance crew, they had to carry my lardy arse out of the bike run I was on and back up to the fire track to the ambulance. They then decided that it wasn't worth the risk of the bumps of the forest and road getting me to hospital and called in the air ambulance.

I laid in the ambulance for a while having a nice bit of oxygen. My head hurt, my neck hurt and then he stuck the cannula in my arm.... now doing that really hurt too, but I think it was clever distraction technique by the paramedic.

We slowly drove off to the landing zone of the helicopter, which also took a while to find us. I tried to be happy and have a joke with the paramedic, I was not thinking "what if"... I got offered drugs but didn't want any.... I would rather know what was going on then not. I kept wiggling my toes and my arms. All of which were feeling odd, but I was convinced this was because I'd be on the ground so long and been at an angle. I could feel everything. I kept wiggling.

The helicopter came in and they loaded me in. Now the last time I had been in a 'copter it was in a war zone - so this was a different experience, and it was much smaller. I was told if I felt like I was about to be sick (which had been close a few times) to wave my hand - I joked it would be a shame for me to die in the helicopter having choked on my own vomit!!

Here's a picture of the chopper taking off.....

And here's a picture of the girls taking a picture of the helicopter! Elaine is taking the picture of them so out of shot and Terri is the far girl in blue. The warden doesn't seem to happy but he was a star too as he gave the girls and all the bikes a lift back to Elaine's house!

The trip was thankfully a short one to my local hospital.

When I got in, they got a crew of staff together so get me off the back board. They did an assessment and although took the board off kept my head and neck in a neck brace and between head blocks. An xray would show if there was a problem. At this point I asked the time and was surprised to find it was 1645, I looked at the nurse and said "I need to call my Mum, I'm due there at 4.30 I just need to tell them I'll be late".... she said "maybe we'll get the xray done first then worry about that"..... "oh, good point" I said.

It was only in the xray room as I lay there under the light did I finally think "what if I've broken my neck"... "what if",.... I thought back to the start of my day. About the bird that had sung so clearly. I thought, strangely enough of Christopher Reed and how long he lived with his injuries and in many ways how awful that must have been (I know he chose that and did a lot for charity in the time but still). I thought of my friend Carol who had a bike accident a month ago who had a head injury and a broken neck and who was being discharged from hospital that day (having had an operation on the neck and who is wearing a body brace but who is walking and talking all ok). I thought I can move everything, if it is broken they'll fix it, like they fixed Carol's. If I was going to die I'd have died already.

These things are not normal things to think. But then this was no ordinary Tuesday.

I had the xray. I was wheeled back to the cubicle. The doctor came over me and held my hand and said they were ok...... my xrays were fine.... and there by the grace of God go I.

If I had not been wearing my helmet I'm convinced I would not be here now. My helmet saved my head. Had I not been as fit and strong in the neck and shoulders from my sport I'm also convinced by injuries would have been much more severe.

As it goes I have a sore head, a sore neck. A spot of whiplash. Some purple patchs. Golly, I'm in once piece. I had brief moments in Iraq when I had a momentary thought "today I could die".... Tuesday evening I had a thought "today I could have died".....

My mum reckons I was a cat in a previous life and didn't use up my nine lives so am getting them in this life!!

If there is one thing I have always been passionate about when biking is wearing a helmet. It does infuriate me when I see people without one on. It really really winds me up when I see someone on a bike carrying their helmet - what IS the point of that. But that is their choice. I choose more wisely.

..... and in case you are wondering.... I have no intentions of ever EVER going on small mountain bike tracks ever again. They are fun. They are simply not for me. Rocky will be converted to more of a road mountain bike. A bike to be used, a bike to be ridden only on big paths, possibly all tarmac'd... that is assuming Rocky is in one piece. Currently being looked after in my friend Elaine's garage. I think my head saved the bike from greater damage!

That's all for now. I guess I still owe those race reports!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ssshhhh - the first rumblings of activity?

It's been a while

- Antwerp race report (which will now, thankfully for the reader, be brief(er the usual), as it's been a while)
- Bala Std Distance Race report (may be longer as it was only a week ago)
- Random thoughts and thinking

I may be back.... at least I think I might be ;o)