A crash to retire

May 7, 2004 

On April 18, 2004 I was racing near Boulder, Colorado. The weather conditions for the day were absolutely horrid. Not in the sense of rain or snow, but wind that blew anything and everything out of its path. From little critters to shaven legged, pigeon chested, lycra clad cyclists. Nothing was safe.

I was descending down a step section of the course when a very nasty cross wind caught me and completely blew me across the road and into the dirt shoulder. I tried to hang onto the bike, but the wind wouldn't let up. My efforts to stay upright quickly turned into an extended superman-like attempt at flying; all while going around 50mph.

As gravity got the better of me, I landed smack on the back of my head (broke the helmet) and then the rest of my body followed in a cartwheel-type fashion, whipping down on my knee with full force... I actually thought I broke my leg as I lay there in numbing pain, pondering what I'd do if no one found me at the bottom of the embankment.

2004-04-18 Emergency Room Prognosis....

I completely tore my left knee's MCL. It is so torn, that the ER doc had other doc's come in and take a look at how far she could bend my knee outwardly; almost as if I had another joint that was perpendicular to the knee. The knee is pretty swollen and there's not a lot an orthopedic can do about it until the swelling goes down. I have scheduled an appointment for Wednesday with the bone-doc's and will see what they can do. My initial feeling is I'm probably out of racing for at least 8 weeks.

As for my head - seems the helmet took the brunt of the force as all I have is giant bump, no concussion related injury.

2004-04-28 Post MRI Prognosis...

Initially, the orthopedic surgeon I saw didn't think I had done too much damage to my knee, however...

The results of the MRI came back with worse than expected results. In summary, here's what the MRI showed:

  1. A completely torn MCL which retracted up into my leg. On a scale of 1-3, this is called a grade 3+ tear.
  2. A partially torn PCL (ligament in the back of the knee).
  3. A partially blown Meniscus sack.
  4. A broken bone - not in the traditional sense. The MRI detailed the inside of the tibia leading into the knee at the ball portion - the inside is exploded like a grenade went off in there. The doc's were puzzled why the bone didn't actually break in 1/2.
  5. Surgery is inevitable.

Helluva birthday present, huh?

2004-05-03 The Surgery...

I had surgery on Monday and have been laid up on drugs since then.

When the surgeons actually got inside my knee, they found that the MCL was more than just torn, it was sort of shredded. The surgeons did their best to reset the MCL and had to use a couple of pins to keep it in place.

They also found that my PCL was worse than the MRI showed and had to do some clean up on it. If it doesn't heal properly, I'll have to go in for a second operation to repair the PCL.

note: the following photos may not be suited for the faint of heart as they are actual images of the surgery...

view surgery images

view images of me

And finally, the prognosis:

  • I'm laid up for a couple of weeks - I can get up and be out and about, but only for a few hours at a time as I get exhausted quite easily and the drugs can make me nauseous and delirious at times.
  • I have to use a CRP machine that mechanically bends my knee for me at least six hours a day.
  • I'm on lots of pain killers - this hurts more than I ever would have expected.
  • If all goes well, I can be back on the bike within a month or two doing just very easy spins, nothing with any pressure.
  • Within a few weeks after that, I may be able to ride a tempo ride.
  • If the rehab goes well, I'll be able to race by September.
  • I get to use a handicapped parking sticker for the next 3 months :)

Of course, the above are best case scenarios and assume that the pins in the MCL will hold and the ligaments will heal.

Kindler Chase

Kindler Chase
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