A Spiral Fracture

A Spiral Fracture

On March 17th, 2024, I crashed in Southeast Ohio, riding off-road and broke my leg. As I picked myself up off the ground, I looked down and saw my leg twisted and mangled, I had the dramatic realization that I was actually in trouble. It was more serious than any training I’d ever done. It was actually a life and death situation. I was out in the middle of nowhere, completely alone, in the cold, and my mind immediately started whispering about coyotes and bears out in the woods around me. I worried that I wouldn’t have cell signal. I quickly realized I might have to crawl back to a main road or figure out how to pick the bike up and ride it with a broken leg. For a few seconds, which felt like an eternity, I milled over the options in my mind. Adrenaline and shock were setting in. I knew I had to act with diligence.

I really didn’t want this situation….

But… I knew I had to “embrace the suck.” I had butterflies in my stomach, and my hands were shaking with adrenaline when I pulled out my cell phone. My eyes focused like a laser on the top-right corner, looking for the little icon which indicates signal strength. Luckily I was up on a hill and it appeared I had 3-4 bars of signal. I quickly dialed 911, and after several seconds of popping and clicking, I heard a female voice say “911, what’s you’re emergency?” I explained to her that my leg was broken, likely a tib-fib, as they say. I waited on the phone with her while she contacted 4-5 different emergency services to see if somebody could come help me. I could hear pieces and parts of the conversations. Several departments said they couldn’t help. I nervously waited maybe 1-2 minutes, and though I couldn’t hear the entire conversation, the operator eventually said help was on the way.

At that point, the knife’s edge of mental anguish tapered off. I knew that the next few moments were more similar to much of the hardcore endurance training I’ve done. It was mostly just enduring pain, until somebody came and got me. Though, there were some major differences which I didn’t foresee. Waiting on the phone with my partner was easy, until a local guy who was listening to the police scanner showed up with his wife and kids. Waiting for the volunteer firemen to arrive was pretty easy. Getting an IV with Fentanyl was nerve wracking, but fairly easy. Waiting for the ambulance to make it’s way down the crazy dirt road, and then riding to a rural hospital was pretty easy. Honestly, I was super thankful to everyone around me and my spirits rose quite a bit. Just knowing I wasn’t alone was amazing.

At the time, I really did not fully grasp that “one does not simply set the bone with a spiral fracture”.😂


Then it got weird. I was at a rural hospital in southeast Ohio, and drug overdoses are a big problem. Right as the doctor and nurse were getting ready to set my leg, they got called away with another patient in the ER. I spent the next 2-3 hours watching and listening to the medical staff scramble, trying to save an overdose patient’s life. They scrambled around, grabbing equipment out of my room. They discussed whether the patient was responsive. It was surreal. I’m 99% sure the patient died, but I didn’t ask for confirmation.

Strangely, I felt thankful and lucky that all I had was a broken leg, that I wasn’t dying like that poor soul….

Until I woke up from the twilight drug. Only minutes before, everyone was joking with me and saying, “goodnight sweetheart” as they injected me with Etomidate, which is apparently used for colonoscopies! Well, apparently Etomidate is clinically ineffective on me! At least, that’s what the nurse wrote on a piece of paper for future reference! Now, I was screaming like a soldier who had stepped on a landmine. It. Was. Incredible. I have never felt pain like this in my entire life. I had to scream out loud. I mean, really scream. It seemed to take about 1-2 minutes for him to reset my leg bones, and I screamed at the top of my lungs the entire time. I felt terrible, because I could see the stressful look on the doctor’s face. He would jerk sometimes when I would scream.

Again, I thought things were getting better now…

I was wrong. I waited for my fiancee Lisa to come get me, which took several hours. The ride home was definitely painful, even with Oxycodone. That night was worse, my leg swelled up and I needed to go back to the hospital. I didn’t want to wake the kids up (3 and 6 years old), so I tried Uber and Lyft which failed in the worst way possible. I waited and waited for a car. I tried to see if any local taxi services were still in business in Akron, OH… nothing. Finally, I started calling friends. The first one didn’t answer, the second didn’t answer. Luckily, the third one answered.

At the hospital, they cut my splint and loosened it up. That made it a little better, like from a 9/10 pain-wise, to probably a 7/10. I didn’t sleep for two days. Four days after the accident, I had surgery. They put in 18 screws and two plates. It hurt at that 9/10 level again. Then it dropped to a 7/10 for about two to three weeks. Honestly, it was the worst pain I’ve ever endured. I never thought about suicide, but I gave up on everything. I just moaned. I couldn’t eat at all for 3-4 days. I ate one meal a day for the rest of the week. I lost 10lbs.

The next step was getting off of the Oxycodone, which took about 10 days. Then, I followed a recommendation I found to take Tylenol and Aleve, back and forth, staggered by three hours. It took 3-4 weeks to ween myself off the Tylenol/Aleve combo.

I started dying leg lifts and bicycle kicks within a day after surgery to keep the blood flowing in my leg. I was doing push-ups within a week. When you’re in that much pain, doing calisthenics really doesn’t hurt. If anything, it felt better. Laying in bed hurts in a different way, and moving feels less bad. Nothing felt good. Even food didn’t taste as good. It’s difficult to explain the level of suffering in those first couple of weeks. I told myself that it wasn’t that bad, but 13 weeks later at the time of this writing, I’ve finally admitted to myself how bad it really was. I think your brain won’t let you admit it in the moment. Probably some kind of survival thing.

The first time on crutches was painful too. My arms and hands hurt much worse than I expected. After a couple of months, I got pretty good, and my arms got beefier. My right leg compensated and got stronger and more coordinated. I spent about a month in a splint, and about a month in a plastic inflatable boot that was like the Reebok pump shoe from the 80s. Then, I walked in the boot for about 10 days. Then, I was in an ankle splint for about a week. Then, I started walking with regular shoes on.

It was pretty incredible how quickly I was able to ride a bicycle again, and walk fairly well. At the time of this writing, I still have a little bit of a limp, and my dorsiflexion is limited to about 10 degrees (my other foot has 18 degrees). I don’t seem to have any arthritis yet, which is good, and I’m getting stronger every day. That said, I wouldn’t wish this on anybody!

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