If you’ve spent much time in the emergency room, you’re familiar with the 1-10 pain scale. At this exact moment of bloggage, I’m hanging out in the 4’ish range and thanks thanks largely to this. (I’ve long been honing my clip-art skills, so please take note of the orange arrows.)
Here’s another shot from the other side, this. Although “sides” are a moot point since these are x-rays so there is no front and back. Just radiation pulsing through my body with no depth perception to it.
That second photo really draws a nice picture, hence the four arrows. Instead of a thousand words, it says, “Ted, you broke your collarbone. You shattered into no fewer than four pieces, in fact.”
So Grinduro was something of a bust for me. Namely, a busted collarbone. I took a corner at decent speed but nothing ridiculous, then found that the enormous slab of rock hard… rock beneath me smoothly segue to a corner full of deep moon dust, so somewhere in that 145 degree switchback, turnaround mix-up I went sailing over the bars. My initial thought was that the ground is very very hard. Painscale: 3.
The Sierra mountains are not as forgiving as a nice plush patch of Appalachian moss. The wind was knocked out of me, but accustomed as I am to the world of pro bike racerhood, I quickly jumped to my feet just trying to breathe and to get back on my bike. Reaching for my fallen steed, everything in my vision got cloudy white as a shock of pain akin to an axe being struck deep into my shoulder took place. Painscale: 10.
I had the wherewithal to sit down, took lots of deep breaths, stood up, saw white again, sat down, collected myself, stood up, yup, sat down again. I thought to myself that this could be a long long day, but thankfully the next time up I didn’t pass out and so probably fifteen minutes from the time I hit the ginormous slab of stone, I first walked for a bit (painscale: 9), then rode out of the forest before a kindly shuttle driver took me down a washboard bumpy fire road to the goldrush town turned sleepy lumber town of Quincy, CA. Painscale: 8.
Fastfoward 24 hours and I can be found boarding a plane back to the east coast. In his day, Dear ol’ Dad was an orthopedic surgeon, which is a title he keeps even though a stroke thirteen years ago cruelly tore that career away from him. Dad started an impressive sports medicine practice over his benevolent career. My initial flight was to be Tuesday afternoon so my hope in expediting the trip home by 48 hours was that surgery could patch it all back together, thereby allowing me to ride the King Challenge this Saturday. That seems reasonable enough in my head: Drill a hole through the bones, put a pin through it all, and some sort of magic gluey adhesive to mesh it all back together, but after seeing these scans doctor number one said no. As did the two other docs to whom I pinged for their input. “What would you do?” I optimistically asked. Answer: nothing. You hurry up and wait. Frustration scale: 8.
The King Challenge is far from turn-key, set it and forget it, easy to operate. It’s the result of countless hours, emails, phone calls, and manual labor to go off without a hitch. It’s worth it because each year beginning in inaugural 2011, this is the happiest day I experience on a bike over any calendar year. And here I am sitting on the sideline.
I’m in lots of pain.
I really hate using my left hand to eat, brush my teeth, button my fly, type on my phone, and do, umm, everything.
BUT this one-armed reality is what many people with brain injuries are forced to live with every day for the rest of their lives. There is no, “You’ll be back at it in a month! Just be patient son!” There’s no e-stim’ machine that expedites bones healing for the brain. I’ve seen the crippling effect of a brain injury via my father, and still I know that’s a reality I know so little about, not personally having to live it. To use dad’s words he’s a prisoner in my own body, that’s such a harsh blow, I don’t know how I would deal with it. But he does, and so many people with brain injuries do without complaint.
It’s through their resolute determination to slowly and surely get better, to be great people, to share a community and uplift each other that I helped start the King Challenge. This Saturday will be eight days since I broke my collarbone and six years from the initial King Challenge. We’ve raised an incredibly half-million dollars entirely for the Krempels Center since then, which still shocks me to say.
Of course I’m already anxious to get back out there, but I’ll embrace this time off to spend with my family, friends, and the Krempels community. I won’t be pedaling (although I’m still looking into recumbent options), but I’ll be surrounded by so many happy people equally excited to make it an incredible day.
If you’d like to make any donation to the best cause I can think of, here is the perfect place to start.