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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Part 1: Afraid of Nothin'

For my entire life, as long as I remember, I was risk taker. As a kid, I was curious about everything. I was fascinated by things that were dangerous. I quit counting stitches at 172, which was 30 years ago.

When I ski, I view blue runs as a necessary evil to get to the good terrain, which is steep, deep and bumpy. I mountain bike the same way. I look for gnarly trails to hone my skills and get my blood pumping. I like speeding along winding and rocky trails between trees that are just a few feet apart.

Although I have run some road races, I have become exclusively a trail racer. I like running over the same gnarly terrain that I mountain bike.

I often to push to the edge. Then just a wee bit beyond. How do you know you have reached the edge if you don't push? As a result, I have had some spectacular crashes. I have determined that I don't feel pain the way most people feel pain. I can turn off pain. If I have a little warning, I can decide not to feel pain. Which, I think, makes me a little less cautious than I maybe I should be.

Part 2: Uncharacteristically Cautious

I only throw caution to the wind, when I am in total control. I don't walk against the "don't walk" signal when crossing a road. I am a very courteous driver and let other cars in or out in heavy traffic. Although I get an occasional speeding ticket, in over 40 years of driving I have never caused an accident. I have only been hit twice and both times it was not my fault.

I also ride my street motorcycle and road bicycles with utmost caution. So what happened on May 22nd 2013 at 7:05pm took me by surprise. I was pedaling my Specialized Allen easily along the Cherry Creek Bike Path in Denver, Colorado, on a beautiful spring evening. I was averaging an easy 15 mph. I was on a section of the path that runs along 1st Avenue. There were no bikes in front of me. This section of the path is slightly downhill. I picked-up a little speed and hit 20 mph.

I approached the entrance of the Denver Country Club. I had the green light. I quickly checked for cars exiting the Country Club. There were none. There were no cars signaling to turn into the Country Club. I have been there before. I knew I would clear the intersection in a few seconds.

Little did I know that my life would be changed in less than 9/10ths of a second. Without warning, a speeding Toyota Forerunner made a ragged and unexpected right turn off of 1st Avenue onto the Denver Country Club driveway. The distracted driver saw me and hesitated. She then gunned the engine and drove directly across the bike path. Later she said, "I thought I could beat you". As soon as she started across the bike path, I knew there was nothing I could do to avoid a collision.

I had already reached for my brakes when I saw her turn off of 1st Avenue. Given reaction time and braking distance, it takes 36 to 42 feet to stop a bike traveling at 18 to 21 mph. I had less that 12 feet to stop when she pulled in front of me. I watched a massive wall of silver sheet metal loom directly in front of me. Although it seemed to take forever, I had less than 1/3 of a second after she accelerated her car into my path before I got clobbered.

I had turned as much as I could toward the rear part of her car. However, 4 feet of her massive car had not even begun to cross the bike path. I saw I was going to strike her rear tire. I closed my eyes and relaxed.

As I struck the Forerunner there was tremendous noise, but no pain. Due to the Forerunner's speed, I was catapulted off my bike and struck my right side first. All subsequent chronic injuries are on my right side. I felt my neck being twisted and knocked backwards over my left shoulder. Mostly it was just noisy, like somebody hitting a metal trash can with a bat, over and over again. I suppose it should have hurt. But I decided It wasn't going to hurt.

Here is my first blog about this incident:


In retrospect, I needed an ambulance and the Denver Police. But I didn't have a cell phone. The at-fault driver, or the Country Club security guard, made no offer to call the authorities.

I had a serious concussion and was not thinking straight. It was getting dark and I wanted to get back to my office to park my bike before the sun set. I was bleeding, battered and bruised but was not feeling any pain. So how bad could it be?

Part 3: How Bad Could it Be?

Well, it was a lot worse than anyone, including me, expected. It took me a couple weeks to go to the doctor because I thought I could just tough it out. I then went through eight weeks of formal physical therapy.

Unfortunately, the physical therapy was a temporary "fix". What had really happened is that I figured out ways to not aggravate my injuries. My unconscious way of dealing with my injuries flew out the window when football season started. I officiate high school football. When I took the field, I had to move in ways that showed me I was really banged-up.

I started falling apart!

Part 3a: Severe Neck Trauma

For lack of a better word, the doctor's are calling my neck injury severe "whiplash". However, my neck damage is impact trauma. My neck is torn-up pretty badly. I am currently undergoing Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections for pain management.

Here is a link to a video off the procedure. This is pretty gruesome so don't look at this if you are squeamish. The only difference between this video and me is that I don't need any local anesthesia. I just decide not to feel any pain.


My neck is pretty torn-up so this is just to manage the pain while I getting other things fixed. There is some ligament damage in my neck that may need surgery.

Part 3b: Right Eye Damage

I am not going to show a photo of my right eye damage because it is too gross. There is a gooey substance in your eye called vitreous gel. This gel is in a membrane that is supposed to be attached to the retina. In my case, this sack of gel in my right eye slammed forward during the impact with the Forerunner and tore my retina. I have been seeing little spots in my right eye, which are red blood cells because my retina was bleeding. An eye surgeon sealed the tear with a laser. I am now seeing a lot fewer spots. There may be follow-up procedures that amounts to sticking a needle in my eye.

Part 3c: Torn Right Rotator Cuff

I am not too worried about this one because I can still use my arm. The right rotator cuff was torn during my tumble from the roof of the Forerunner. I fell about 8 feet at an odd angle after bouncing like a rag doll off the right-hand side luggage rail. That is why it felt like I fell forever.

Part 3d: Big Hurt - Right Ankle

Here is a big surprise. My right ankle is toast! Here is what my ankle looked like a day after the accident:

This is pretty swollen and it turned all purple and ugly a few days later. I spent eight weeks in physical therapy trying to rehabilitate ankle that was hopelessly ripped apart.

The Superior Peroneal Retinaculum is completely ripped apart. My Peroneus Longus tendon is also torn.

What's that mean? It means my foot rolls over on the little toe and has no stability. It flops around like a fish if I am not really careful.

Pretty much all ligaments on the right side of my right foot are completely torn apart.

My orthopedic surgeon told me that this much damage is very unusual and takes a lot of force from a lot of different directions to destroy so many different tendons and ligaments. He told me he saw this level of damage only a few times. Somehow, that is not comforting.

After I rode away from the scene of the accident, I stopped after pedaling a few 100 yards. I clicked out of my right pedal and put my right foot down. My ankle completely rolled over and I fell down. I had the distinct impression that my right foot was no longer attached to me.

I am going in for surgery this Wednesday, January 29th, to have all these ligaments and tendons put back together. I will be in cast for 6 weeks. Then if everything is healing OK, I will be in a walking boot for 4 weeks. I then will spend 8 to 10 weeks in physical therapy. This time, I will have a hope to rehabilitate the foot.

Part 4: Scared

I am really scared.

I can live with pain. I am not afraid of pain. I am not even afraid of being banged up. I have made adjustments. Well, to be honest, the bleeding in my right eye is disconcerting. But I can ignore that.

I am really afraid of being useless. I cannot imaging anything worse.

Thanks for reading my blog.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Going to follow your blogs. My left foot is in the same place as your right one was. However my foot has been in a boot for 3 years waiting for surgery. Because of this my gait was so far off I have completely destroyed my right foot, which is also now in a boot and the surgeon wants to do surgery in the fall on that foot first because a bone scan I just had showed that bones in that foot need to be rebuilt. They are going to take bone from my hip to fix my foot. After recouping from that surgery I will be getting the surgery to fix the tendons and ligaments on my left foot fixed. So please keep up with the blogs for me to follow. emoticon
    1870 days ago
    Oh my god, I am so sorry. I went back and read your other blogs. What a scary 8 months you've had.

    One thing is for sure - you will not be useless because you are clearly not the kind of man who allows himself to become useless.
    1907 days ago
    My oh my oh my oh my.

    Once again you have described your topic with incredibly honest details. I am so sorry that the subject is of your injuries from the horrific crash. I echo the sentiments others have expressed here: You will never (underscore) be useless--have faith in your resilience.

    Your inner drive speaks clearly to you about speed, and fearlessness, and the next rush of adrenaline. There will always be opportunities to push through pain, but now is the time to turn your laser focus to the details about healing....and, clearly you are very good with details.

    So Bruce, I'll join with your other SparkFriends and real-time family and friends in sending you best wishes in this next race to vitality.
    1907 days ago
  • SCOOTER4263
    Wow, Bruce. You've really been through the mill on this one.

    As one "risk-taker" (my late husband preferred 'reckless") to another, I've gotten my share of injuries, but never so many at one time. All I'm healing at the moment is a rotator cuff. I can tell you, though, that as we get older, Adjustments Must Be Made. We don't bounce as high and it takes much longer to heal.

    What you shouldn't do is be afraid of being useless. That's not going to happen. With your attitude? Are you kidding? If you have to modify, you'll modify. If you have to give up one sport, you'll find another. I don't even know you and I can tell you're not going to be giving up. Doing too much too soon might be a legitimate concern, but useless? Never. Don't even give it a thought, my friend.

    1908 days ago
    oh Bruce! (((((hugs))))) but remember that doesn't make you useless!
    1909 days ago
    Holy cow Bruce...my heart really goes out to you. I know you are a man's man and these injuries are damaging to your soul as well as to your body. You have to flip the problem over and say it could be worse...I could be a para pelagic or I could have some horrible incurable disease. I know this isn't all that great of news for you...but if you ponder it you will know you are one lucky, lucky guy.

    I believe that the universe has some pretty powerful lessons to teach to each and every one of us...I'm certainly learning my share right now. When we get injured it's usually our higher powers way of tapping us on the shoulder..and saying...hey guy...why don't you give yourself a little break here and slow down for a while.

    I have full faith that your doctor will be able to help you and that you will recover to the degree that you can once again be happy and maybe not such a dare devil.

    Give yourself another creative outlet that is a little quieter but still satisfying and useful to you. Like better safety lanes for bicyclists...and obviously better training for the people that are in charge who come upon accidents involving them! That guy was a TOTAL twit for not insisting that you needed medical attention! emoticon

    AND...I hope you track down that stupid driver and throw the book at her! Why should YOUR life be totally altered while she's probably out STILL cutting of bicyclists in her own self absorbed twitty way?

    I remember your post about the accident and I just kept thinking WHY isn't he more angry about this bonehead motorist. Maybe your pain will spur you on for better safety for your fellow 2 wheel cyclists.

    Hugs, hugs, and MORE hugs my friend. I'm finally SERIOUS about my health and making great strides in weeding out some of the stress makers in my world and managing my eating 100% better..it feels GOOD to stick up for yourself...so GET to it my big huge teddy bear of a guy friend! emoticon emoticon emoticon Start demanding that this idiot woman is held accountable!

    1909 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/31/2014 11:55:02 AM
  • HILLSLUG98239
    1910 days ago
    Oh my gosh Bruce! I had no idea of the extent of your injuries all this time. You not only are a master at blocking pain, you are also very skilled at hiding it from others. You certainly have had your share! Hoping and praying for successful treatments for you. Being scared is normal and expected. Along with a bit of resentment for having not played a part in the "blame"...I know that's exactly how I felt with my latest brush (here I was taking preventive steps and could easily have died from it. And there you were riding your bike to/from work instead of sitting on your butt in your car.) Take care of you..body, mind, and spirit.
    1911 days ago
    Yikes! Not sure what to say and not sound cliché.
    Hang in there, Bruce. You're a resilient guy.
    Let's assume the best outcome and just believe it'll be so.
    Hugs, I'll be thinking 'bout you.

    1913 days ago
    the body has tremendous capacity for healing. for what doesn't heal properly, we now have many adaptive technologies to help, like a new system for foot drop that improves walking.
    1914 days ago
    I really appreciated reading your blog, both for you and for me. I have different problems but amm struggling to come back also. On Halloween Day a few months ago I had a severe stoke with brain bleed and wasn't expected to live. I spend 5 weeks in a couple of different hospitals. One thing that the doctors and therapisits have told me is that the shape I was in before the stroke has helped me so much to do better than expected. I'm sure that's true for you to. Before the stroke I went to water aerobics, walked usually at least 7 or 8 miles a day and sometimes up to 20 miles for a Wounded Warrier or other project. I did some strength training exercises. I don't know about you, but when I did these things I though of the benefits to my body and mind then, and not about the benefits if something bad happened. Now I tell my friends that being in shape is for now but also for later. I can't do many of the things yet I want to do, and I'm also scared of being useless. I don't know if I'm going to be able to work again and that scares me. I started off with a few feet on a walker,, and gradually walked more. Once I came to my son's house from the hospital in Texas I did some short walks outside with the walker. By Januayy 1st I had gotten rid of the walker. I still weave sometimes but haven't fallen and am doing physical, occupational, and speech therapy. My right side, which is my dominate side, is more effected. But the good news is I have also seen a lot of progess, and you will too. And I am now walking some days 3 or 4 miles and will build up. Not quite as well as I used to, but so much better than I did and I believe it will get back to where I was. No matter what we face, one thing that has helped me is that if I'm not dead yet, there is stlll a purpose for me. And regardless of what happens there are still things for you to do to make a difference. You will not be useless. The ways you make a difference, or that I do, might change, which is hard to understand, but we have a reason to be here! And I believe we are both going to regain so much of our lives back!
    1914 days ago
    Bruce, I had no idea of the extent of your injuries. Sorry to read all this. Use your superhuman strength and tenacity to ride this out.
    1914 days ago
    So sorry to hear about this. Your tolerance for pain may not have been your friend this time round. I am sending warm thoughts your way. I trust your doctors will do their utmost to fix the issues and then give you get well orders that put you on the path of future biking.
    Warm wishes,
    1914 days ago
    wow! What got to me reading your blog is not that you have gone through all of this, lived through all of this, and lived to tell us all the details of this unfortunate occurrence, but that you are admitting to something you cannot just push through.

    This is a time for healing the inner self. And, that is the true fear.
    Wow! I'll be thinking about your blog for quite awhile.
    1914 days ago
    Bruce, As you can see there are a lot of people here who care about you and are wishing you all the best. You are a tough guy and I'm hoping for a skillful surgeon. Hang in there.
    1914 days ago
    Oh my. What a shock.
    You are not useless.
    Start swimming in a warm pool, and keep moving forward. Life is all about the adjustments that we have to make. Give yourself time to process the changes that you have to make. Wow. I am in shock!
    1914 days ago
    Wow! I pray for your full recovery.

    1915 days ago
    I admire your ability and determination to handle pain. Use that same determination to ensure that you will never be useless! Perhaps that is easier said than done, but many people make major contributions and live great lives despite great obstacles; my sister is one of those people. Her daily determination and tenaciousness is remarkable, living with the results of a boat wreck/drunk boater over 30 years ago.

    What a terrible thing you've been through. I know I'd be really angry, which might or might not be an obstacle to recovery. Wishing you great healing.
    1915 days ago
    So very sorry that you are dealing with all of this over such a long period of time as the result of one person's reckless decision to value her time over yours.

    You are clearly very brave and very determined. You will follow the prescribed therapies and do your best to recover.

    However, anyone would be scared and worried in your situation. I'm hoping that you've spoken to a first rate personal injury lawyer.

    1915 days ago
    Oh, Bruce, I'm so sorry to hear about this--I had read the other blog about your accident a while back and thought you had recovered. This is crazy. Wish I had some wisdom to impart, but I really don't. So glad you have gotten medical care. I understand your feelings of 'being useless', this is a tough one for an athlete such as yourself. Please hang in there, whether by faith or family or whatever support you have. emoticon
    1915 days ago
  • WILLIS9301
    emoticon I am keeping you in my thoughts and sending prayers for healing!
    1915 days ago
    1915 days ago
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    1915 days ago
    I am sending you a big hug, because I don't really know how else to respond. You could never be useless. You are far too active and engaged to be useless.

    Good luck. Here's to a speedy and completely successful recovery.
    1915 days ago
    I remember the blog about the accident. You've been through so much. All of this coming up is scary for sure but useless you are not and you will not be. Like run4food said, you are rebuilding. That's a good thing.

    Think of yourself as the six million dollar man. They have the technology, they can rebuild you, better, stronger, faster.


    Well all be with you in spirit.
    1915 days ago
    You are in a really tough spot. I remember your first post about this. Mentioned to my wife how lucky you were to still be alive and healthy. Well, now I have to say still alive.
    Please don't loose hope. Determine hat the worst case is likely to be and start now thinking about rebuilding. What areas of the body and mind can you work on now and build. You'll need all the mental and physical strength you can get to hold everything together.
    There is hope, you just have to find or create it.
    Hope you don't mind, I've said a prayer for you. I'll say another later today.
    1915 days ago
    Hi Bruce,

    I am so sorry for that last 6+ months and all you have had to go through. I don't know what I can say to make you feel less scared except modern medicine is pretty dang amazing nowadays. Do you trust your surgeon? Have you talked with them about your concerns? I think it is totally normal to be worried about the worst case scenario, but that is what it is…worst case scenario out of 100 good, possibly GREAT scenarios!

    I will keep you in my thoughts and wish you a speedydog recovery!


    AmyR> emoticon
    1915 days ago
    I just want to hug you. emoticon
    1915 days ago
    I came across your blog just browsing through blogs and WOW, that is really scary. I CAN'T believe no one called the police for you or ambulance after you'd been in such a crash! That is horrible! I hope that your injuries heal with the treatments you've been receiving and the orthopedic doctors you've been seeing. Don't write yourself off as useless, you went through a very traumatic accident!!
    1915 days ago
    You've had a huge shock! I'm so sorry! As for being scared. . . well yes! Of course! But you are not useless. Even if you were never able to walk, you are a worthwhile and useful person. And it sounds like from your past that you are a strong, energetic, and determined person who will find this to be a great learning experience in your own strength and support of others.

    1915 days ago
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