6 weeks has gone by since the Mountain biking adventure at Stevens Pass Mountain Bike Park ended with two broken vertebrae. I have gone through many emotions during this time. The hardest part was not being able to do anything! I have to wear a full torso brace which prohibits my upper body from bending or rotating.
I have always been an active person and never at idle. TV time was counted in a couple hours during the course of an average week. My family and I would ride bicycles 3 times or more a week, along with hiking, and enjoying the outdoors. This all changed when I came home from the hospital and was basically confined to a power assisted reclining chair. You take a lot for granted in your everyday life, until something is taken from you. That first night home I attempted to sleep in bed. It was agonizing. I was able to remove the brace at night, but simple pressure on my back would force me to waken every hour. I made it until 3 A.M., when I finally broke down to ask my wife to help me out of bed. I felt so bad for her. She had been up for almost 2 days while we were at the two hospitals, until that first night we came home. She helped me put the brace on once out of bed. It was a challenge getting up from a horizontal position with all of the pain, and fear of further injury.
That morning I decided I really needed a reclining chair to get through this ordeal, and I needed it now! After calling around town, and looking online, I finally thought about renting one from a furniture rental company, since I didn’t really have room permanently for one, nor a need. I was in luck! They had one in stock, which they could promptly deliver that afternoon. Whew. What a difference that made. I was able to adjust the tilt to vary the pressure at different times, which allowed me to comfortably rest during the day and make it through the night. It also had power assist to get into the standing position. I used this feature extensively to get up out of the chair and avoid straining the injury.
Heat was a tremendous help during this time with the brace off. Growing up, my parents would always use a heating pad for aches and pains, and I never really caught on to the practice. When a friend brought one over, I decided to give it a try. I had stopped taking pain meds after the first week, since I try not to take any meds unless necessary. Some days I would do a little too much, whether standing too long, or moving around too much. This would cause sore aching muscles since they were not used to being used at all. The heat applied to the back would sooth the ache, and allow a better night’s sleep without the tossing and turning usually associated with an “active” day.
My 6 week medical review is just around the corner, which will confirm the initial thought that no surgery was needed, and time alone would properly heal my back. I have patiently done the best I can to heal my back through proper rest and positioning. I really hope it pays off. If that evaluation goes well, I will still have 6 more weeks until the brace comes off. Then the road to recovery will start. I have been looking into exercises to perform which will help gradually condition my core back into shape. My plan is of course to start out small and build upon that. I hope to get on the indoor bicycle trainer as well at that time for my lower body.
We usually participate in an annual 200 mile bicycle ride, the Seattle to Portland (STP), every year, and I would normally start picking up the pace in January to prepare for it. This will provide an added challenge, but I am committed to still participate this year. Having that end goal in mind will help provide the mental motivation to keep me focused and heading for full recovery.