I don't know if I have told the story behind what made me an amputee. Back in August of '07 I was coming home on my CBR900RR and highsided through a ditch that had I been one more foot to the right, would have chopped me in half in a drain pipe. As it happened, I hit the embankment at an estimated speed of 110MPH. I flew through the air almost 200 feet and landed on an asphault turn lane. I broke my left foot off entirely. I was missing four inches of bone between my ankle and knee. My left wrist and elbow were broken, as well as both forearm bones in a compound fracture. My right ankle was broken, which I didn't realize until two weeks after the accident. My foot was completely crushed and burned from the water pump housing breaking with the impact. My thigh, and whole leg were poached. I also had road rash over the majority of my body.
I was life flighted to Grady, and underwent 13 surgeries to be put back together. I had the foot amputated due to various reasons, most of which was the result of the burn not letting blood flow properly. I was extremely lucky not to have any head or spinal injuries. I was in danger for some time of ribdo(sp?), which is a dangerous condition to the kidneys from having so much dead tissue and blood clots, ect. flowing through your system. I also caught clebsiella(sp?) in my stump end from improper hygene by a nurse or doctor. I could not go to the bathroom or feed myself for months. I was discharged from the hospital and recovered at home with home care, and physical therapy. I was in a wheelchair for almost a year. During that time, I went from a fairly fit, muscular build, working mans physique at 220#, down to a very fragile looking 140#, mostly from atrophy and the inactivity during the healing process.
When I got home, I watched a lot of tv, ate a lot, and did my physical therapy...like teaching myself to eat, how to get out of bed with one arm and nothing else, showering, shaving, etc. All with one hand. I gained weight like crazy and it was all fat. I was completely sedentary. I decided right away that I had to do something about it. I had started playing paintball, one of my old loves, but realized that the extent of my injuries, the surgeries, and the medications and strong anti-biotics had taken a toll on my body. I was not able to go out and do those high impact sports anymore.
I was standing in the garage one day and noticed my old GT mountain bike hanging on the hook, like it had all but a few moments since I moved here in '02. I decided I would pull the old commuter bike down and give it a whirl and see how things went. I had not done more than ride a wheely up the street on it in the last decade and a half or more. It needed tires, and new brake pads and whatnot, but I decided just to leave it alone, service what was a danger, and ride it for a while.
The first few rides were pure hell. I couldn't do a mile without feeling sick. I pushed on through. Changed some eating habits a little, no extreme diets, just learned some good tips from folks on here and made my portions a bit smaller. I went from maybe five miles a week, up to a couple of 10, and up to doing 15 or so at a time. I realized pretty quickly that staying on the road, and low impact was the way to go. After around 300 or so miles, I decided it was time to get a new road bike. I went out and found an '09 Trek 1.5, and it was wonderful. I instantly started riding 10 miles instead of the five I would have done, and it was just exponential after that. I was riding more and more, getting faster, and getting used to riding with my prosthesis. I got some clipless pedals and shoes, and made life so much easier. I no longer had to check my foot position on the pedal where it had a tendency to float around. I started slowly loosing the weight and feeling better.
It took a while for me to make gains, but the more I did, the more rewarding the riding became. I am still the slowest guy on any given ride most of the time. I have learned not to ride beyond my ability (most of the time
). I should finish my first 400 mile month since I started riding again in August. I am down to 205# now and looking forward to getting my weight below 2 after the holidays pass. I have found an interest in common with my son, and we spend many a beautiful day riding together talking. I finished a 45 mile ride today with him on a trip up to Panola Mountain. It was awesome.
I think about it. I could have just continued feeling sorry for myself due to this happening, and the subsequent challenges that my family and I have faced. I could have just kept on sitting around and put myself in danger of further health issues. I just decided one afternoon to pull the bike down. I made the time to keep doing it and it has been a real pleasure most of the time. Sometimes I had to force myself to do it, my body would throw a tantrum and want me to stop. But I didn't. I kept on riding. Today I went on a ride with my son that I will remember for the rest of my days.
Don't let a disability, or partial inability hold you back. Find a way to adapt. Find a way to overcome. Get out there and take a quiet ride through the countryside, or a spin around your neighborhood.