Sunday, February 26, 2012

How I was injured by a Christmas tree...or...Quads of paper.

3 months.  That's how long it's been since I've last graced these pixelated pages with silly drivel.  I could give a whole bunch of excuses as to why I have not been on here, but the first step in being able to move forward is to forgive the past, so I'll just tell my story.

There was some seismic data recorded after this crash.
My story starts WAY back on December 11th.  Cyclocross season had just wrapped up the previous weekend and I had a decent season.  I didn't get lapped by the "fast guys" like Eppen, Colston or Carpenter, which was a success for me.  The final race wasn't as good for me, crashing on the first lap and spending the rest of the race playing catch-up, but that isn't the purpose of this story.

So, back to December 11th.  This Sunday found me getting up early, getting the Boy ready and heading to Terry Peak for a morning of skiing and snowboarding, then going into the woods on the return trip to cut down a Christmas tree.  We have been going to the Dalton Lake area for a Christmas tree since we came back to SD, so this day would be no different.   Dalton Lake is almost an hour drive from our house.  Remember this as it will be important later on.

The morning went well and we went to the lake area around 1pm.  As is my anal nature, I drive all the way to the lake, scoping out potential trees along the creek, making mental notes of "good" ones and then turn around and get the best one on the way out.  This day, we decided to go past the lake toward the Little Elk Creek trailhead, turn around there and work our way back out.  Just as we get to the spot where the road dead ends, we see two perfect trees down an embankment and across the creek.  We decide to go down and check them out.

As we get down to the creek, I start looking for a spot to cross as it is only partially frozen.  I see a rocky spot about 20 yards up the creek which should work.  We get there and I step out onto the rocks and think I can jump across to a little outcropping on the other side.  I realize that if I jump across, there is no way the Boy can make it, so I turn around to see if we can find a different way across.  As I step on the next rock with my right foot, which is covered with ice, I feel my foot slip away.  As it slides out to the right, now with my foot off the ground and pointing away from me, I feel the MOST EXCRUCIATING PAIN in my quad (thigh) I've ever felt in my whole life!  It felt like someone took a searing hot knife and cut across my leg, mid-thigh.  After it happened, I said it felt like I'd been shot, to which some fucking smart ass said, "Have you ever been shot?  So, how do you know?"  I wanted to trade places with that ass to see what they'd say.

The pain drops me to the jagged, icy rocks.  As I lay on the rocks, my mind races, "What the hell just happened?  Did I break my leg?  How am I gonna get out of here?"  If you know me at all, you probably know I am fairly stoic when it comes to pain, so when I tell you I was in SERIOUS pain, you have to understand it was almost, almost, to the point of being unbearable.  This whole event took just a few seconds, but as I looked up at the Boy, I could see the worry on his face.  I am trying to reassure him, and tell him I need to get up.  I can't even bend my leg right now without blinding pain, so getting up on jagged, ice covered rocks is almost impossible.  I finally bite the bullet and get up, but again the pain is too much and it makes me fall back to the ground, at least on the snow covered ground this time.  As I lay there the second time, I can see this is becoming very worrisome to the Boy and now my mind has gone only to focusing on getting him home safely.  But, being the awesome kid he is and utilizing his Cub Scout Readyman skills, he says to me, "Should I go to the truck and get your cell phone to call for help?  What do you want me to do?"  I reassure him to not worry and that everything will be OK, but I am really glad he was there.

After lying there for what felt like a half an hour, but in reality was only 3 or 4 minutes, the wave of pain had subsided enough that I felt like I could try getting up again.  The Boy helped me out getting to my feet, which was about as horrible pain as I could take.  Once on my feet, I found if I kept my right leg perfectly straight with all my weight on the bones I could peg-leg it like a pirate.  Now came the couple hundred yard hike back to the truck, with the last 10 yards or so up the embankment which was quite the chore.  My leg buckled a couple times and I thought I was going back down.

I get back to the truck and we get in.  Driving should be a challenge, operating the brake and gas with the injured leg.  We get turned around and start heading home, sans Christmas tree of course.  As we head down Nemo Road, we are frantically trying to call my Lovely, who is at an art show with her students and is NOT answering her phone.  Unfortunately, we can only call so often as there is very intermittent service along this road.  Add to this a couple cars pulling out in front of us, causing some very PAINFUL emergency braking and it all adds up to a long, LONG drive home.

Long story short, we drive the painful hour back to our house so I can go in and assess what the hell is going on.  I take my snowboard pants off and drop my base layer down to find my knee has grown a gut.  My quad is so swollen that it is hanging over my kneecap like a fat old man gut over the top of his jeans.  We need to get to the emergency room to make sure it isn't broken and to try and find out what the hell happened.  We continue to try and call my Lovely without success.  I bet we called her 20 times.  So, off to the Civic Center where we can go in and let her know to come to the emergency room.  I peg leg it into the room where the art show was being torn down.  We let her know that we're off to the ER and to come there when she's done.

Once at the ER, I get in fairly quickly and after an x-ray and some poking and prodding, the Dr. comes to the conclusion that I have torn my quad.  Of course their answer is to give me some pills to make the pain go away, which doesn't fix jack-shit.  I don't want pills, I want my leg fixed.  So, they wrap my leg up like King Tut and send me on my way with some super-expensive crutches, which I only used to walk out of the hospital and haven't touched since.

A couple of doctor appointments over the next few weeks have confirmed that original diagnosis and now I'm about 4 weeks into physical therapy.   Everything seems to be progressing well, as I am back riding my bike, swimming 3 times per week (which is another story) and back snowboarding.

And as for the Christmas tree?  Well, I felt pretty bad about the whole situation, feeling like it was all my fault we didn't have a tree less than 2 weeks before Christmas.  I initially said we'd just go get one at Boy's Club, but the next weekend we still didn't have a tree and still had a permit.  I said I was gonna go get the tree that caused all the damn trouble.  So we did.  We went in from the other side, so no creek crossings were involved.  With my leg wrapped tight and doing my best "Blackbeard" impersonation, I peg-legged it back into the woods with the Boy and my Lovely, showed her where the incident happened, and we got the tree.  And you know what?  It was the best Christmas tree we ever had.  And factoring in the ER, doctor and physical therapy caused by the tree, probably the most expensive one in the history of mankind.