I got interested in triathlon back around 2009, signed up for Ironman Canada, trained a bit and raced in August 2010. Went skiing in March 2011, and woke up a week later in hospital. Apparently a ski had popped off while I was going 80km/h and I fell instantly, getting knocked out with a concussion. That wouldn’t have been so bad on its own, but this happened right before the run steepened significantly…
I am told you could see me flying from the chairlift, and I landed about 100 feet down the run. Sliding another 100 feet and stopping right next to a paramedic that does ski patrol on their days off, my luck was not all bad that day!
A helicopter took me to the hospital, and an onslaught of tests/scans/surgery followed. There was a bleed in my brain, I had a Glasgow coma scale of 3 for some time, a simple fracture and a spiral fracture in my left femur with the piece in between being broken in two. The upper part of my femur broke through the acetabulum (hip socket) and continued through the SI joint. That wasn’t enough though, and it continued all the way to fracturing two of my vertebrae (the L2 and the L4).
So all in all it was no nice day in the park.
My family was given the troubling news that it may take up to two years to physically recover fully, but given the head trauma it was possible I may never wake up. Now of course luck played a huge part in my recovery, but having spent the previous year learning about exercise, nutrition, and health in general must have helped as well. I was conscious in less than a week and moved out of the ICU, then spent the next week in the orthopedic ward. After these two weeks I was discharged in a wheelchair.
Ten weeks later I was on crutches, and two weeks after that I moved to a cane. I then stayed with the cane longer that it felt necessary, just to play it safe, but I was already back on my bike and having a blast at the hospital physio once a week. Before the end of summer I was running on a treadmill, and while my concussion had not yet released its reigns on me, I was off to school in September.
Moving across the country, alone and broken, my PhD began. I couldn’t memorize a complete sentence but had two give 2 hour seminars. (I felt terrible for the audience that had to sit through these!) While I was doing well physically, the mental side was much slower to recover. School was hard. Very hard. But slowly things were coming back, and I couldn’t help but feel my Ironman training helped my physical recovery immensely. I had to learn how to use my brain again, but my body had re-learned how to function after almost any new physical activity I tried. I started to look at everything with a new approach: health was more important than we tend to think.
That’s where this comes in. I have learned so much from so many great people, and now that school is done (successfully! Dr. Broken Triathlete…) I may have some time to try to help others by getting the word out. My plan here is, well, I have no plan, but I can share the things I learn and do as I try to get back to doing triathlons.