I was riding my bicycle on Sunday, starting a thirty miler, and was hit from behind by a hit-and-run driver. I was doing about 12 mph; the H & R guy was doing 65-70 according to a woman he passed. According to her, I was knocked about 12 feet into the air and about 20 feet down the road where I hit flat on my back then rolled. The guy stopped for a second then took off. The woman he passed called 911 and stayed with me. I spent all day Sunday in the University of Arizona Medical Center Trauma unit in Tucson; I am home now. I am lucky I have only one broken bone but I also do have a lot of soft-tissue injury; my entire left leg is black and going green. There isn't a portion of my body below the ears that doesn't hurt. I have sixty stitches and they are still picking gravel out of me. I am eating vicodin as if it were salted peanuts.
Incidentally, there is a 4' to 5' wide bicycle lane along that stretch of the road and I was on the right side of that lane according to my guardian angel.
They caught the guy who hit me when he was trying to sneak past the accident site to get home; he doesn't live too far from me. The woman who was my guardian angel recognized the car as he tried to slink past and the Pima County Sheriff ran him down. He was under the influence of something, I was told. He has been charged with ADW as well as leaving the scene of an accident. My beloved road bike is now elegant junk.
I am mainly writing this note as a request for encouragement. I'm not depressed but am feeling a bit sorry for myself just now. I am in my mid-70's and I worry that I will not recover from this. I suspect that I will be nearly immobile for a month and will loose more of my physical conditioning than I will ever be able to recover. I would just love to hear some cherry stories of old guys who have recovered from stuff like this and went on to greater things. Anything you can come up with will be welcome.
This summer I was not going to be able to get out at all anyway. My wife is on the UMC transplant list for a double lung transplant so we are on a very short leash; I am her full time care giver. But so far, I have been able to get out enough for basic conditioning. Now, I can't do that nor can I care for her; she is helping with my care as much as possible. My son and his wife have been coming over every day to help out and I should be ambulatory in a week or so.
So, please, some encouraging words from my friends here. Thanks.
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I "crashed and burned" as we would say back in High School about 8 years ago. I was in my mid 40's so that wasn't too bad. Had a collapsed lung and three broken bones from going down on my mountain bike, taking a turn too fast on a FS road. Rode home, then went to get some abrasions checked at the ER. They called me back the next day and needed another X-Ray, turns out my damage showed up then. Anyway, I somewhat recovered but I have lost some full extension of one arm when trying to scratch my back on the opposite side. Not a big loss. I hope you do better as I am in my mid 50's now and worry about getting older and continuing with bping.
I can't remember all the details, but something similar happened to Colin Fletcher in his 70's or so - he made it a good deal of the way back, and his injuries included head trauma. There should be some news stories or Backpacker magazine stories about it, as I recall.
I'd bet there's a good chance that you'll come most, if not quite all, the way back and be able to enjoy everything you did before the accident.
Loc: Portland, OR
I'm tremendously sad to hear about your misfortune. That they caught the guy will scant satisfaction, but at least it is better than thinking he got off free as a bird.
The fact that you are starting from a very high level of fitness should partly offset the fact that you are in your mid-70s. This is a big setback, but you WILL COME BACK from it. Do everything the therapists tell you to do. Do it religiously. They will be your angels and they know a lot about comeing back from injury.
This summer, you may be on a very short leash, but keep your goals clearly in mind and don't lose heart. Things will improve. If you need a pep talk, or a place to spill out your discouragement, come here. We'll do our best to buck you up.
Good luck to you and your wife. Keep us informed. Have a balloon:
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I had to take it easy thru the Fall, luckily I had my firewood cut and shed filled, but did not do a normal bp trip in Oct. No big deal, took it easy. Come snow shoveling, I did ok, kinda tough at work stocking coolers, I just used my other arm for a bit until my injured side was better. If I would of exercised it more, I am sure I would have more movement, but I used it to stock some.
I know you are a better nurse than patient. It is your caregiver that needs encouragement.
I share your concern. The sooner you can get back in the saddle the better. The aerobic and strength training is important, but do not neglect core, balance and mental conditioning. Play challenging games and laugh everyday - even when it hurts.
I had an accident at age 59 and came back within weeks. My hiking buddy is 78 this year and still can carry a pack. The years go by faster - recovery is slower, but still realistic.
My sympathy to your son and DIL.
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not." Yogi Berra
I'm sorry to hear of your accident but am thankful you survived it. Also thankful that someone was nearby to help. Sometimes adversity seems to come from all sides, as it seems to be happening in your life right now. You will be in my prayers for a speedy recovery and quick return to the trails! --Pat
My goodness! You survived the nightmare I always feared when I was an avid rider....You had more than a 'guardian angel' watching out for you! I pray you have a speedy recovery and it sounds like you are the type to recover quickly and get back on your horse.
Pika, I rode/raced bicycles for almost 30 years when I came to the conclusion (and after losing a number of friends to accidents with cars) that I was pushing my luck. I gave up bikes for kayaks 3 years ago and have not had once close call with a car since!
Pika , I know you and I did not get off on the friend list with our knife discusion from the begining. However, my friend I wish you well and will pray for you dayly. I wish I had more words of encouragement, but prayer is best. God bless you and your wife I pray for your speady recovery.
I ride 6000 miles a year, and you just survived my worst nightmare. I am so sorry that you've been hurt---but I promise to post lots of photos of our adventures this summer, and hope that you'll take some pleasure in those trips, if only vicariously.
And if there's anything we can do--give us a shout. people on these boards would be happy to help.
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
Hey Pika, I am so sorry to hear this and am glad you are alive! Here's a freakish story for you, to divert your attention from the pain. My step-father was out at his storage barn a couple of weeks ago (in San Angelo)and a big storm blew in with high winds.
He went to shut the big, barn door and his hand got stuck in the chain and it slung him around like a rag doll and finally threw him on the ground and ended up bustin his nose.
Fortunately, no major broken bones but plenty of bruises and scrapes.
My mom says that he comes from an athletic background and has dealt with injuries before and knows what it takes to get through them (he's in his upper 70's). It just takes longer.
Make sure your doctor prescribes you physical therapy. I know it helped me when I broke my shoulder blade. With the therapy, I was able to get 99% of my range of motion back.
Get a lawyer if you need to and make sure you get everything you can out of the low-life.
Prayers sent up for you and your wife.
BTW, a friend of a friend has a double lung transplant going on 10 years. He's doing fine.
Edited by Tango61 (06/10/1012:04 AM)
If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't. Either way, you're right.
About a year and a half ago I made a similar post as you. I had herniated a lumbar disc and was looking for encouragement. It helped to hear other people's stories about recovering. Here's mine.
I was in so much pain I couldn't sleep, walk or even easily roll over in bed. I couldn't even easily talk on the phone because I was almost frantic with the pain. I went on to herniate the disc a second time during recovery and then to sprain a knee as I was stuggling to get up one morning. This too did pass, however.
Physical therapy was the key for me. I did and do about 40 minutes of stretching and strength exercises each day in addition to aerobic work. I'm happy to say that at 65+ I'm now backpacking and gardening again without pain.
Looking back I see the injuries as a good thing. It forced me to slow down, move more deliberately and relax. My blood pressure is now lower than it was prior to the injuries. I also have a new philosophy "any day without pain is a good day".
Hang in there and you will be writing an e-mail like this to the next person who is injured and looking for encouragement.
Pika, my prayers are with you and your wife. I know a number of people who have come back from injury in their 60's to be active again. All of them, like you, were active before the injury. Keep the goal in mind and get well!
If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?
Hang in there. My Dad fell off a 16-foot ladder when he was 80, broke all ribs, punctured a lung, got a concusion and was in the hospital for a week. Everyone said he would never be the same. A year later he was up and running like new, except for a drooped shoulder that looked funny but did not seem to affect him. Yes, it takes more time to heal when older, but you do heal. Good luck.
I will echo the usefulness of physical therapy. Show the therapists that you are willing to work very hard, and they will work extra hard with you. You can gain strength and fitness in your 70's and beyond. Each day try to discover what you can do and do not dwell on what you can't do. Be patient, but do ALL that you can. Exercise the muscles that will bear it, let the others heal. Make sure your diet is very healthy to encourage your body to heal itself quickly.
I've been meaning to email you to see how your wife's doing...and now this.
I think you can come back OK. Being in pretty good condition to begin with probably gives you some advantage there. I have no medical knowledge beyond applying a band-aid, but I would guess that "pacing" your recovery might be important. That is, doing enough but not too much too soon. Typing is probably enough for now I'm sure the physical therapy folks will help there.
It's scary to think how much worse this could have been. We're glad you're still around. Keep us up to date.
Loc: California (southern)
Pika, this really hits home. I lived more than thirty years in Tucson, doing a lot of bike riding when I wasn't out climbing or bike riding. My impression of Tucson drivers is that a distinct minority are very reckless and dangerous, like the one who hit you. I hope they put him away for a long time, and that your physical terrorist fixes you up for a long time.
Anyway, when you get better (not if) I think we should climb Babo - how about sometime in November?
Pika, Sorry to hear about this. I've been wondering when this would happen considering where you ride. As they told me when I shattered my knee - ignore the pain, rehabilitate every day and in a year you will be better. Doesn't sound like you have any really serious injuries though. Soft tissue damage hurts, but heals quickly. You may be doing much better in just a month or two. You're so fit it will heal fast. Stitches are nothing. If they can sew ya back up its better than internal injuries. physical therapy is for people who can't motivate themselves to work through the pain. My doctor refused to send me to pysical therapy. He told me I was an animal and he wanted me to take it a little easier on the training. You're likely in the same category. Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Pika, I'm still very new here but have gotten some very useful advice from your posts, and am very taken back by your news. I've also loved this community for the kindness and respect/honor the true backpackers posess and you certainly seem to hold these qualites...i can only wish the best and quickest recovery.
I don't know you personally but i can say is the mental aspect of healing is a huge aspect, and based on your OP i have to say I think you'll be just fine. There are also countless stories of people achieving great adventures after serious injuries as well, of all ages, and their motivation to continue living and enjoying life...and i'm betting you'll be added to the list
You and your family as long as everyone else on here who ventures will be in my thoughts and prayers...but i'll double them up for you...
I do it because I can...it also helps that you are not there...
Mockturtle believe what ever you want about PT, my doctor said it was for wimps who didn't want to take the pain of rehabilitating. Its not my comment, I have no opinion, I've never been to physical therapy, but I did recover from a shattered knee on my own. The human body can recover from great injury as long as the individual struggles to heal. Also a quote from my doctor, "Many people restricted to wheel chairs are only there because rehabilitation hurts." I think someone as tough as PIKA will be mostly recovered within a year, maybe less since there are no major broken bones. Even tendons can heal. Jim YMMV
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.