Otherwise all rides have been snowy trail grinds, or icy trail skidfests. The snow riding really works on skills and power. Power from riding through the snow. Skill from riding a trail that is typically narrow, and if it isn’t snowy it is icy and lumpy as hell due to hikers walking in the slush that then freezes. A couple of times, managed to ride off a narrow, bumpy, icy trail and take a spectacular looking fall off the edge of the escarpment; result...nary a scratch. However, Rod witnessed one of these falls and mentioned that he ‘threw up in his mouth’ a bit cuz he thought I was dead...he did ride fairly tentatively after that too. J
Took a couple of small, innocent looking slips on the ice, one that hurt the ribs a tad...which scared me somewhat after an incident during Thanksgiving of 2011 (I think I made mention of this in an earlier blog post). Anyways, I am need of a story, so here it is...
It started about 10 minutes in to a trail ride with Gord and NewfieSteve at Kelso (a popular MTB set of trails in our area) in October 2011. I simple slip on a rocky trail had me fall over before I could clip out. It didn’t look like a bad fall, but landed on some sharp rock, knocking the wind out of me a bit but not enough to interrupt the ride. As we continued on with the ride my back and chest muscles began to cramp some, so I took it easy but kept riding. I played hockey a couple of days later, but afterwards my chest was tender enough I thought I had better take a couple of days and let the ribs heal.
I figured that I had probably cracked or broken a couple of ribs as I could feel the ‘crunch’ occasionally (they call this crepitus). I have broken ribs before, and knew that there was little medically that could be done, other than rest, so I planned to take some time off and let them heal. However, I started to sense a gurgling feeling in the area, especially when I lay down or stood up. I thought, ‘this can’t be good’...Lois agreed and made me a doctor’s appointment (which, of course, took almost a week anyways).
So, at the doctor, get an X-ray (trying to make this longish story a little shorter...), the doctor looks at it, and says, “Well, yes, you do have a couple of broken ribs, but you also have a collapsed lung”, and she showed me on the X-ray.
Me: “So, does that mean I need to rest to let it heal?”
Doctor: “No, I think it will need to be treated, but let me call a specialist at the hospital to make sure.”
Doctor returns: “Um, the specialist at the hospital is sending an ambulance for you. You need to get to emergency ASAP.”
Me: “What? It has been two weeks...I can drive to emerge if it is really necessary.”
Doctor: “Yes it is.”
So, off I went to pick up Lois and we went to the hospital.
Once into emergency, the specialist instructed an intern and nurse to ‘take care of him...pneumothorax’. So I’m laid out shirtless on a cot, the intern rolls up a table that looks exactly like this sans the suringe.
Nurse: “Doctor, no local?”
Intern: “No, there’s no time. Sir, I need to insert a chest tube.”
Me: “OK..what does that mean?”
Intern: “I need to insert a tube in your chest to drain the air and fluid collapsing your lung. This may pinch a bit.”
If a doctor ever says to you, “This may pinch a bit”,...kick him/her in the groin, followed by a punch to the face, then turn and run and never go back.
Anyways, the intern cut a small incision (two centimetres?) in the side of my chest (remember "no local", so yest that 'pinched a bit' but it didn't come close to what happened next).
Then he slid that long spike in the pic above, into the clear perforated plastic sleeve beside it, then inserted it into the incision and proceeded to try to push it through my chest wall. It took him several attempts, like a musketeer with a rusty dull blade, or a teen boy on his first ‘date’; he was pushing hard enough to jostle my 200 lb body, before ‘POOF’ the spike found its way through my chest wall and slid a good 10 inches into my chest.
Me: “Holy crap, that burns!”
Nurse: “Um, doctor, you realize you inserted the tube between two broken ribs?”
He then repeated the procedure in a proper position...seriously...it took two full times to get it.
He must have noticed me getting fidgety (I was ready to strangle him!)...cuz he says "Sir, please relax."
Me: "Why don't you lay here while I stab you repeatedly and see how relaxed you feel??".
Anyways the spike gets pulled out, leaving the perferated plastic sleeve in the chest; this sleeve gets hooked up to a vacuum contraption that sucks the gunk that is collapsing the lung, and lets the lung re-inflate...but it took 5 days in the hospital for it to happen. I am happy to say that the specialist was much more competent than the intern, because that was one of the most brutal procedures I have ever experienced. Lois visited every day, to make things better, and my friend DickBall even visited once. (The nurse said only family was allowed, he said he was my brother...they let him in. He is a pale faced, full British accented Englishman...I am Metis, and I look it.) Plus DickBall smuggled in 6 dark brews that day...so we shared them. A Brit and a Metis...brothers to the core...thanks DickBall!!
Anyways, that is why I was nervous when I thought I may have injured my ribs this winter...but don’t worry...there is no way I will ever go through that again...I will live with one lung first.
So, even Superman can get hurt...but apparently a hero can die. RIP Mr. Stompin Tom Connors...a true Canadian hero. I have always been a fan.
But to end on a somewhat brighter note...something that I thought just was not ever possible happened after one of our rides this winter. I’m still so floored I don’t know if I can tell it right.
After a ride at Dundas with Fig and NewfieSteve, we stopped at Cafe Domestique for a recovery refreshment and .... wait for it ... Fig bought a round!!! Now I have mentioned in previous posts, that Fig is stupid fit, and silly fast on his bike...but the only thing that eclipses his fitness is his cheapness (don’t worry Fig would be the first to admit it). He is also a secret billionaire (OK...maybe only a millionaire...so far). Anyways, since we have never seen, and may never again see (like the Haley’s comet, once every 76 years), that diamond encrusted platinum gold card escape the steely confines of Fig’s wallet ,NewfieSteve made sure to get these pics for posterity:
Thanks Fig, for the beers!! J
Anyways, I am still here, still riding, still trying to get faster. It’s fricken snowing out as I write this, but the squirrels are molting, the doves are moving back in, and robins have been sighted, so maybe nature is saying spring is almost here! And I will be posting more regularly as race season nears so...