Injury and Recovery from the Wife’s Point of View

Having crashes while mountain biking is considered normal. You come to expect road rash, cuts, and scratches. Broken bones are not common, thankfully.

Usually Ogre only enters a couple races a year at the most.  His primary race is the Coolest 24 hour race.  It’s a cancer fundraiser held on a trail system fairly close to home.  The promoter of this race puts on several others and  offered an entry in the Boggs 24 hour.  Ogre chose to enter in the solo 24 hour category, a first for him, having raced in the past on teams.  I would be the team support, making sure he ate, slept, hydrated at the base camp.  He would suffer through the riding.  His plan was to ride like an adventure racer, push himself, but not over-do-it and to take breaks to recover as needed.  I was more concerned that he maintain his eating regiment as this had been a problem in past races.

We arrived at Boggs and found some friends that were also racing.  Collette was going to race the 8 hour option and then become team support while Al and several other guys were joining Ogre in the 24 hour race.

The race started at noon.  Weather was just about perfect for racing, not too hot or too cold.  The trails were a little too loose and dusty, but not impossible.   Everyone came in from their first lap looking good.  This was going to be an exciting 24 hours.  I helped everyone get what they needed at camp and back out onto the course, then settled into wait for the next lap.

While I waited for Ogre to return to the start/finish line for lap 2, I heard the dreaded news that a rider had crashed in the race.  I was already a little antsy because he was running behind on his second lap.  I decided either he had stopped to help the rider down or had slowed down.   A friend, Tim, who was watching the race with me echoed these same thoughts.  Then it just hit me, “No, that’s Ogre down.”  I was convinced that I was just over reacting. He was always careful and a strong rider.  It wouldn’t be him.  Then one after another racer came in with more news.  Several people who knew me and Ogre relayed that my fears were real.  He had gone down about a mile from the end of the lap.  He was in good spirits, but wasn’t able to move.  They had heard he had broke his leg or hip.  The promoter had already started sending out a team to help.   I headed back to start breaking down and packing up camp.  I needed to do something and if Ogre was hurt where he couldn’t get himself out, it meant the race was done.  Tim helped me get the camp taken care of while we waited for news.  He recommended that I drive down to the heliport and wait for the ambulance.  The guys from the race would be taking Ogre there and then he’d be transferred to the ambulance or helicopter for transport to a local hospital.

A painfully long wait later, the ambulance arrived and joined me in waiting for Ogre to be brought down.  What was taking so long, I kept wondering.  Turns out that he had to be carried off the trail by four guys with a backboard, loading into the bed of a pick up, and then, slow to minimalize jostling, driven down to where I was waiting.   When he finally showed up, he was obviously hurting, but still in pretty good spirits.  The EMTs checked him over quickly and moved him into the ambulance.   It was now between 4 and 5 pm I think.  After the ambulance left, I headed back to the camp to grab the rest of the gear.  Tim had finished packing everything while I was at the heliport.

As a local, Tim knew where the hospital was and offered to accompany me.  I’m glad I took him up on the offer.  It was 6 pm by the time we got to the hospital and Ogre had just gotten back from being examined and xrays.   The xray technician called me over to show me the pictures on his monitor.  I still vividly hear his description “splinters”.   I had to decide whether they would operate or prep for transport to a hospital at home.  It seemed obvious.  How soon can you get him into surgery?  Well, as chance would have it, they had already called in the doctor for another patient and caught him before he left again.  At nine they rolled him into what was not going to be an easy operation, telling Tim and I where we could wait.  The doctor had estimated the surgery taking about 2- 3 hours.  Just before midnight he came out to tell me that all had gone well and Ogre was on his way to his hospital room.  We found his room and checked to see how he was feeling.  Loopy on the pain medicine it turned out.  The doctor and nurses were all very professional and it was obvious that they dealt with this kind of thing all the time.  Before we left they had him hooked up to a morphine drip and as comfortable as can be in the circumstances.

The next day we headed back to the hospital.  What a way to spend Father’s Day, cooped up in a hospital, recovering from surgery for a broken hip.  I expected to find him lying in bed, still loopy.  He had talked the nurses into letting him roll around in a wheelchair.   So much for lying around.  I think having his laptop and iPod are what helped him not go stir crazy.

Monday the doctor was willing to allow Ogre to check out.  Since he had managed to get himself in and out of bed alone, he didn’t need to stay.  Now for the hard part, a 2+ hour drive home.  I propped pillows under his hip and foot and tried to miss every bump.   It must have been horrible, but he hardly complained.  We had to adapt things around the house so that he could move about.

The weirdest part of the whole thing was having to be calm and tell everyone else what was happening.  Friends had already spread the word that Ogre had been hurt and while he was in surgery, I started fielding phone calls from friends and family.  I wouldn’t want to go through something like this ever again, but having to watch the look of despair on his face when he was told he could ride a bike for at least 6 months and being there just a couple months later when he first pedaled again meant a great deal to me.   It is amazing how much power is in the human will.

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