I've seen that quote in several variations and have always liked
it, too. Thanks, Matt.
And no, I don't remember the interest-free $100,000 I promised
to loan you and Anne when I was in that 30-minute period of
amnesia after my bike wreck!!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
The best thing that's resulted from my bike crash is/are the
wonderfully supportive (and sometimes humorous) letters and
phone calls I've received from family and
a few friends who we told about the accident about a week after it
happened. I wanted time to write the entries about the accident
and have some good news before I worried them needlessly.
I've also gotten some great e-mails and responses from folks who
here for the Leadville 100 race or who saw this web journal and
wanted to wish me well -- and I don't even know some of
them! I haven't heard from a few of them since I did the
Appalachian Trail Adventure Run four summers ago. I had no idea
they were still reading this journal.
That is so heartwarming. Thank you all so much!
I'll try to keep this update shorter than most of my recent
entries. The news is good.
First, here's a picture
Jim took of me in my new LT100 bike volunteer shirt
You'll notice a few other things in that photo besides the
- I got my hair permed a few days ago, so it's shorter and curlier for
a few weeks.
- My face is back to normal, with only a tiny scar on my
forehead from the nasty
lacerations and abrasions I received in the wreck. Even my shorter
hair covers it. I'll continue to use the Mederma or another similar ointment for a while
to try to "erase" the scar. Or maybe I'll keep it for a
Then (no, I'm not jaundiced; the lighting was very
different in the ER than it is outside)
- There is still some scabbing on my arms (and left knee, which doesn't
show in the photo), but major healing has occurred on what were very
abrasions. Compare them to what they originally looked like:
Then (see first photo for "now")
- I've also got a bit of leg and arm bruising that hasn't faded
completely but it's almost gone.
With about 1400 cyclists in Leadville this week and their collective
history of road rash injuries, I'm no longer embarrassed to walk around wearing
shorts and short sleeves! I keep getting these knowing looks . . .
My strained left shoulder and fractured ribs
are significantly less sore than they were a week ago so I've
begun walking 3-5 miles every day or two. It will take more time before
I can run; that's too much impact right now.
I still need to sleep with my head and chest propped up a little
bit so my rib cage doesn't hurt but each night I get closer and closer to sleeping in more
normal positions and with fewer pillows. [Note: after
three weeks, I can run and sleep like a normal person.]
could sure use some chiropractic adjustments for my neck, which
started hurting only recently. I'd much
prefer to see my own doctor in VA when we return in the fall
rather than start with a new one out here in CO now. I've
gradually resumed some of my physical therapy exercises for both
shoulders again, hoping that will help both my rotator cuffs and
The upper left side of my head, which took the brunt of the fall,
doesn't hurt when I touch it any more. The only symptom I think
I have from the
concussion, other than amnesia about the accident, is a lack of
focus sometimes. That's a common symptom of victims of head
trauma and it seems to be decreasing as time goes on.
Fortunately, I haven't noticed any of the other concussion symptoms I wrote
about in the August 5
My sense of humor hasn't taken a hit.
I'm talking to people and they ask me how I'm doing, I sometimes surprise them with a quick,
"I'm fine fine fine. There's nothing wrong with my head head
That gets a laugh after about a five-second
pause when they realize it's a joke!
One frame from my brain scan (proof that I
really do have a brain??)
If I'm on the computer for
hours I sometimes get headaches but I attribute them to my old
glasses and not the concussion. I need to replace the
better lenses that I destroyed in the wreck; I've
collected several price quotes but hesitate to order them while
we're still traveling. I'd rather get them either when we return
to Roanoke in a few weeks or wait until January, after having
another eye exam.
Although I have good medical, dental, and drug insurance, I
chose to do without vision insurance this year. That was
definitely a "false economy," trying to stretch an eye exam and
new glasses from October of 2008 to early 2010. My bad. I didn't
account for accidental damage.
I still have the same amount of amnesia I've had since the crash: no recollection of what happened and for about 30 minutes
after impact. And I'm OK with that. My insurance company will
probably have lots of questions, but I stopped obsessing
about the incident after the first week. If I had reason to think
that someone else caused
the accident (e.g., a hit and run), I'd probably still be harboring a lot of anger.
But that's not likely the case; it was most likely my screw-up
and I own it. Time to move on.
All in all, I'm about back to normal physically after that
near wipe-out. I'll talk more about the psychological impact
later in this entry.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE??
I contacted the San Juan County Sheriff's Office to see if the
woman from that office who responded to my accident, Sheriff Sue Kurtz, had any
more information about the wreck. Jim was so busy attending to
me at the accident site that he really didn't notice things like
skid marks or tire tracks (the bike's or another vehicle's). We
didn't see any evidence of either the next morning but by then
dozens of cars, trucks, and campers had likely driven over that
stretch of road. Maybe the Sheriff saw something right after the
crash that would give her a clue as to what caused it.
also wanted a copy of her report in case my insurance company
wants an explanation. I mean, I can't exactly tell them what
happened, now can I? I still don't know and there were no
apparent witnesses -- certainly no one who wanted to
stick around to tell the Sheriff what happened.
The Sheriff was out on a call but I think I got all I needed
from a woman who works in her office. She quickly faxed a copy
of the report to me -- a very sparse report, not because the
Sheriff wasn't concerned or diligent, but because she also has
no clue what happened! She'd love to know. She saw no signs of a hit and run OR
where I skidded. Nothing. Same thing Jim and I saw the next
morning when we went back out to the site (below) to investigate and see
if it would help me remember anything.
Just . . . nothing
to indicate what happened.
Get this: the woman in the Sheriff's office said they are so
interested in what really happened that they want me to be sure
to tell them -- if my memory of the crash ever comes back!
What's wrong with this picture??!! Aren't they the
ones who are supposed to investigate it??
I am glad they are concerned about my well-being, however. The woman I talked to
said they can't get any information from the EMTs
or hospital because of medical confidentiality laws. Well, you
know me. I told her about all of my injuries and the healing process
thus far. She was very relieved
to know I was released from the hospital the night of the
accident and have
done well since. For all the Sheriff's Department knew, I might have died at the
When we get our next mail drop, it'll be interesting to see how
my insurance company is responding to the claims they're
probably receiving by now from the hospital. There isn't
anything on my account on their website yet (claims status).
"I hope that you continue to feel better after your
accident. It certainly is a life changing experience even if
there were no broken bones. I think just the trauma of the
whole situation can put you off kilter for a while."
- ultra running friend Anne H., who had an even more serious
bike wreck 11 years ago
I mentioned in an earlier entry that the more people I tell
about the crash, the more people I hear about who have had nasty
bike wrecks. Some of their injuries and circumstances have been
very similar to mine.
Anne's was one of the worst accidents I've heard about and she's
been paying for it in various ways ever since --
surgeries, insurance and legal hassles, loss of balance and
subsequent injuries from falls while running, post-traumatic
stress symptoms, etc.
Although I haven't had major problems like these (yet, anyway)
and my injuries weren't as serious as hers, it it still a life
changing experience for me and I know what Anne means about
being off kilter for a while. As in any situation that is new or
stressful, it is reassuring to hear that others have experienced the
same or similar things. I am so appreciative of the empathic
responses I've received.
Most dangerous day (#141) on the AT: four flooded
streams with chest-deep (or deeper) water
I've mentioned several ironies since the crash. One is that I
nearly killed myself on a rather short, easy bike ride yet have
managed to avoid any serious consequences for sixty years when
I've been in much more risky situations during mountain trail
runs and hikes -- or simply driving or riding in a car!
Another irony is that I have assumed for the past two years,
since receiving the bad news that my knees are just about out of
cartilage, that knee replacements would spell the end of my
running, as well as any thoughts of continuing ultra-distance
hiking and walking. Now I have an even more compelling concern:
that I'll get another concussion if I take a bad fall while
trail running. I'm a klutz to begin with. I've never broken a
bone or knocked out any teeth or smacked my head on a rock but
it's certainly a risk as I age and lose even more of my sense of
balance and proprioception.
Learning that subsequent concussions could mean permanent
disabilities or even death does make me more hesitant to run on
rocky, rooty trails. Duh! That's probably the biggest
psychological consequence of this wreck. Even though this is not
a sport for which I'm particularly well-suited (at least on
paper), it's my favorite physical activity for many
reasons and not one I'll give up easily. I'll just have to
modify it a bit by running on smoother sections and walking on
the rougher ones to minimize the risk of falling.
Good running surface for a klutz like me!
(but oh, how boring compared to mountain trails)
I am not afraid to get on a bicycle again. It's like falling off
the proverbial horse and getting right back on --
I'm not going to allow one accident, even a serious one, to
eliminate an entire sport from my limited repertoire of aerobic
Neither one of us is wild about getting on this particular
bike again, however. Jim rarely rides it and would much rather
run. I'd prefer to have my own new trail bike that fits me
better than his and has better components (it's 20 years old,
was inexpensive at the time, and is simply out-dated). That may
not happen until I've got fake knees and can no longer run or
walk as much as I want. I'll have to have something
aerobic to do then. (If you think I'm a klutz running on trails
or riding a mountain bike, you should see me try to
cross-country ski! That's not a likely substitute.)
When we get back to Roanoke this fall I'll probably resume
riding my nice Terry road bike, shown above. Of course, I need
to get a new helmet or use Jim's; it's just like mine. The one that ricocheted down the rocky
slope into South Mineral Creek should be in the Gulf of Mexico by
I still have the goal of a
journey ride someday on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive
through Shenandoah National Park . . . if I can
talk Jim into crewing for me.
HOLD THE ROCKING CHAIR; I'M NOT QUITE READY
"I wouldn't expect this to put
you in a rocker permanently, but DO take it easy. We'd like to
have you around for many more (tamer) adventures!"
- my sister Nancy
That bike ride was so tame I didn't even consider it an
Nancy, the rest of my family, and most of our friends have
probably already figured out that this
incident isn't enough to render me a couch potato. I will
continue pushing my physical limits and seeking adventures until
my body won't allow it any more. I'll just try to be more
Our friend Matt also wrote in the same e-mail as the one I
quoted at the beginning of this entry,
Sue, I do disagree with one thing in your blog. You wrote,
" . . . so I suppose I should 'start acting my age' to increase my
chances of making it [to 100 years old]." Screw that. Be smart
but [stuff] happens. Do adventures as long as you are able.
Adventures and people we care about are the spice of life.
Dick Powell, Matt Watts, Sandy Powell, and Anne
Watts: four of the
people we care about
I wrote back to remind him that I ended that
entry with these words:
I have no clue if my bike crash three days ago was caused by too
much speed or other risk-taking behavior but those are two of the
possibilities. I'll probably never know. All I can do is try to
minimize as many risks as possible before and during future
rides, runs, and hikes -- without taking all the fun out of
them. I don't see myself making any significant changes in my
personality or lifestyle. I have too big a need for both
physical fitness and adventure.
And I'm not likely to "act my age" any time soon, either!
That still applies.
Next entry: LT100 Run pre-race activities from our
perspective as volunteers
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil