On July 5, 2013, I crashed my mountain bike.
Evie’s Mountain Bike Accident
On Friday, July 5, 2013, I had a severe mountain bike accident. My body was ravaged, but I was amazed at my recovery and I wanted to share my progress with you. I have recorded my injuries and healing each day.
That Friday was the last day of my holidays and on Monday I would be heading back to work after an extended period of rest and relaxation. You see, I had scheduled three days off for a Colonoscopy, which took place on June 20th. We were planning to go to Stage West on Friday, June 21 to enjoy the show; however, as you may know severe weather hit Calgary and the surrounding area and the city began to flood. A state of emergency was issued. Needless to say the show was cancelled. As my job is located downtown and that area was being evacuated, we were told to stay away from work and not work online for the next week! That took us to July 1st, and I had scheduled that week off work for vacation.
For the long weekend, my husband, my son, his girlfriend and I, all went out to Fairmont and Invermere where we had a wonderful time hiking, at the beach kayaking and we rented a Seadoo, and enjoying the Canada Day Parade and activities with my family. There was a wonderful presentation in Edgewater where my mother along with several other ladies, were honored as long-time pioneers of the valley. It was just and exceptional weekend.
We spent the week recovering and relaxing. I went to my first hot yoga sessions with my son’s girlfriend and enjoyed them enough to purchase a month’s pass! It was great. The week had been great and my husband & I had done quite a bit of biking for fun and fitness. On Friday, I wanted to fit in a nice bike ride before drop in dance class at one of our favourite places, ‘Dance Energy’, so we headed up to Nose Hill. The weather was looking a little sketchy, but I said we could turn back any time if it took a turn for the worse.
After only about 30 minutes of a great ride, the sky turned dark and black. Our normal route is to ride down to the parking lot on 14th street just up from the police station, and then take the paved bike path back along 14th street to the parking lot near Beddington where we left our truck. For some reason, I thought it would be easier to go back the way we came, even though I know it is the exact same distance and probably easier on a paved path. We turned around and headed back on the gravel trail. I suggested a shortcut. It was also a gravel trail, but a much steeper hill down and we would cut off maybe 5 minutes of the ride at the very most.
We stopped at the top of the hill and discussed how steep it looked, thinking we would not try it. Just then another rider, an older but very fit man, rode up and passed us going down the steep incline with ease. I looked at Charles and said, ‘Well, he did it. What do you think?’ Charles went down with no issues and stopped at the bottom looking up at me. I rolled to the edge, not that confident, but got on my bike and headed down. Immediately, I knew I was not going to make it. I remember thinking that it would be ok if I fell – no big deal. Apparently it was a big deal.
Charles tells me that I cart wheeled over my handlebars TWICE, without letting go. My face and head must have smashed into the ground because the helmet was cracked down the centre from front to back. Next thing I knew I was sitting on the ground with Charles’ shirt held to my face watching him call 911 on my cell phone. I did not know that he had already tried his own phone, it did not work, and I had told him to use my phone which was in my bike basket. I have no recollection of this.
A wonderful man, John, who was hiking up on Nose Hill with his two young daughters, sent them down to two of the parking lots to wait for the ambulance. They could not find us, as we did not know exactly where we were relative to 14th street, but were really guessing.
I began to panic as I realized I could not remember what had happened. I kept saying over and over to my husband, ‘I can’t remember what happened. Oh, no – I can’t remember.’ The 911 operator wanted to know where I worked and Charles told them the ERCB, but then he told them my company had been ‘taken over’ by another company. This really confused me because we had not been taken over, but rather, we had merged with two other government departments and just changed our name to AER. He kept asking me what our new name was and then he asked me what I did for a living, telling me that it was an oil and gas company. I suddenly got really scared because I didn’t know anything about oil and gas. I thought ‘Oh my God, I hope I’m not an engineer! I don’t know anything about oil and gas.’ I started crying, telling Charles that I couldn’t remember what I did for a living. After a while I realized that I work for the Regulator in Data Management, and I started to calm down. Whew!
A jogger came by and asked us if we needed help, but we said no because John’s daughters were both waiting for the ambulance. In retrospect, am so glad that people want to help, even when you think you’ve got it under control, because that jogger was the one who found the ambulance and rode back up the hill with them to where I lay injured. Thank you – I am forever grateful!
The emergency vehicle that came up the hill was actually a small fire truck. The paramedic walked up with one of John’s daughters and came to my aid. He radioed the truck and then turned his attention to me. Mark told me that he was going to have to look at my wound so I would have to move the shirt away. I pulled it back and watched his face as he said ‘okay, you can put that back a
nd hold it tight. I’m going to give you some pain medication.’ I knew it was bad. I knew that my lip was probably ripped and I could feel my nose hanging a bit. There was a LOT of blood on my legs.
That made me think and I told Mark that I was on Warfarin and have a pulmonary embolism. I got that at Ea
ster, but that’s another story. I just wanted him to be aware that I may bleed extra and it may be difficult to stop it.
The fire truck arrived shortly with the jogger sitting on the back of it with the fire men! They began assessing m
e and strapping me to a board with a neck brace. Thinking quickly, I asked them all if my husband could take pictur
es so that I can remember this experience. They said ok and he took quite a few – I am SO grateful for that. Remember everyone, in life we want to remember all of our experiences – good one and bad ones – they help us grow.
They loaded me on the back of the fire truck – two paramedics and four firemen holding me on – just as the thunder and lightning storm started. I managed to ask Mark if my makeup was ok (he laughed). These wonderful people put one of our bikes on the back of the fire truck and Charles rode the other down the hill with no shirt in the pouring rain. He is my hero. In the parking lot they loaded me into an ambulance with Mark and the driver Angela. Great people. They waited for my husband to ride back to our truck and return so he could follow them to the hospital. I could hear on the radio that flash flooding had begun again in the downtown core, and I felt so bad that I was taking essential services away from people who really needed it. Mark reminded me that I really needed it too.
I have no idea how I kept my sense of humour during this extraordinary event, but I was laughing the whole time. I remembered to tell Mark that I get severe motion sickness and he gave me some Gravol. Then he suggested that we take off my rings before my fingers swell up – good thinking!
At the Peter Lougheed hospital Angela and Mark left me in the hands of another fantastic crew of people, although I did not get everyone’s names. They hooked up two IVs, gave me pain medication (thank you) and did another assessment, continually asking questions to test my memory and consciousness. Dr. Roger Morris determined he would prefer to review my injuries with the on-call plastic surgeon (wow, what luck!) Dr. George Hamilton. They discussed and scheduled me for ‘surgery’, which was really ‘clean off the dirt and sew me up’.
My beautiful children and my son’s girlfriend all came in to visit me. The whole time I just had an overwhelming feeling of love, trust and goodness that everything would be just fine and I was in good (no – great) hands. I also had a craving for sour cream and onion chips (and I still do).
My husband came into the surgery room with me. Dr. Hamilton told me that he would need to clean out my mouth, but could not give me any sedative before doing that as my CT scan results had not come back and they did not know whether or not I had a concussion – it was going to hurt. My bottom lip had been ‘de-gloved’ from my teeth right down below my chin. He pulled back the lip and told my husband that he needed to look at it. Charles said that he could see the teeth and bones exposed. Dr. Hamilton went right to work scrubbing it out and giving me freezing needles as he went. It really did hurt a lot, but I figured moving around and complaining would just prolong it, so I continued deep breathing techniques to relax me and just lay there as quietly as possible. I actually check on him a couple of times as I was worried he would get tired working on me for over 2 hours straight. Actually, my husband said that I was pretty chatty and finally Dr. Hamilton told me that it would go a lot easier if I stopped talking. He pulled a large stone out of my right nostril which Charles kept for a souvenir. Perhaps we’ll make a necklace.
Charles rubbed my feet for the whole time – I think this was more to help him feel relaxed than for me, but it was nice. About two-and-a-half-hours later, I was sewed up and brought back to emergency to await admission to the hospital unit. While there, another patient had been brought in with her spouse. She was obviously having a miscarriage and had been bleeding all day. Making it worse, she was an alcoholic and had drunk two bottles of Listerine that day, and she was very uncooperative. Her husband spent the whole time yelling at her and calling her a ‘bitch’ and ‘stupid’, etc. She told the hospital staff that she had four other children at home, but she did not know where they were or who was looking after them. She would not put on a hospital robe because it was ‘ugly’. Another patient began yelling at them both to shut up. I finally said ‘It’s ok honey, just relax and do what you’re supposed to.’ My husband told me I should keep out of it. I felt bad because I had such great family supports with me and people who loved me and cared what happened to me. I am not sure what happened with that woman and her husband, as shortly the porter came to move me to a hospital ward and I never saw or heard them again.
I was put on Unit 54 and was bunked in with an eccentric older man who appeared to have a bit of dementia. He spoke with an accent that I could not place – something between German and Swedish. I guessed more Swedish, as one of the ladies who came to visit him was definitely Swedish and he often referred to ‘the Germans’ as some other ethnic group. This man had two ‘girlfriends’, a fact that he admitted to and advertised to anyone who would listen. The women came to visit him and both appeared to love him very much. He was probably in his mid-70s although these women were clearly in their 40s. His name was Oscar. He looked and sounded just like Albert Finney who played the character of Edward Bloom Senior in the movie ‘Big Fish’ and his stories were just as big.
My stay in the hospital was two nights. Over this time I slowly learned how to get up by myself, use the bathroom, and my husband helped me have a shower – which was painful and difficult. I never got to eat a thing while I was there, but they must have given me a lot of calories in those lactated ringers, as when I got home on Sunday I had gained 10 lbs! Crazy. I felt quite bloated, but my husband kept telling me how cute I was. Over the next couple of days the swelling went down and then I actually started losing weight. The first night home I was craving something more solid, so I made some instant mashed potatoes and put a little white wine in my smoothie. I soon regretted both of these decisions as I began feeling nauseous and got sick. To top it off, I had thrown up in a bucket, and then lost control of my hands and spilled it all over me, my blanket, and the couch. Yuck!
The next few days I did very little except sleep, surf the internet and watch TV. I was amazed at how quickly my wounds healed and how much better I felt each day. At first the wounds were oozing and bleeding, and then they began to dry out and get dry and cracked. All I used on them was Polysporin.
Wednesday I went to see Dr. Hamilton and got out a good majority of the stitches. He was impressed with my progress. That morning I also had to go for a lab test for my Pulmonary Embolism to check my INR to ensure the anticoagulant Warfarin that I was taking was working the way it was supposed to. I felt awkward having people see me in the lab and in the elevator on the way to the lab, so I explained to everyone I met what had happened. The following Tuesday I saw Dr. Hamilton at his hand clinic at the Peter Lougheed hospital again. They gave me some hand exercises to do and we booked another appointment for Thursday to get the rest of the stitches out.
I have featured pictures of my healing progress from that fateful July 5, 2013, date to August 23. I will continue to post updates and pictures every few months. Perhaps someone else can learn and benefit from this.