My sister is a blogging machine. At some point during the time that the two of us went through a rough patch and didn’t speak for a period of time (I’m sure the reasons were stupid, at least on my side of the ledger), she decided to become a blogger and she’s been blogging with gusto ever since.
Julie-Ann’s a terrific writer and I enjoy reading her posts about her life, her love of gardening and growing things, as well as local matters. Occasionally, we write parallel posts, usually by accident, although now that we communicate regularly and ruminate on the ways of the world, there are certain themes that are apt to cycle through our posts.
One theme that I haven’t tackled is Reggie Black. I have left Reggie to Julie-Ann to corral and interject when necessary. I hope she doesn’t mind that I borrow him just this one time. Actually, I borrowed him once before. Since Reggie and I share parallel experiences of our own, rooted in youth and up through my leaving Maine for Indiana back in the day, the urge to plug him into a post crops up, but out of deference to my sister, I try to limit my Reggie Black usage to a few times a year.
When we have an accident and sustain an injury, or require medical intervention, there’s a tendency by most to pull back, at least at first. There are also those daredevils who don’t listen to their bodies and tempt fate by going right back out and jumping back on the horse that threw them.
I think I was apt to lean towards the latter category when I was younger, especially in my early 20s and even into my early 30s. As I’ve gotten older, I now understand that you can learn a lot by paying attention to what your body is telling you. That doesn’t always mean erring on the side of caution, either, even as the years stack up.
Since January, I’ve been training with a purpose. I started running in January to prepare for the Love On The Run 5K that Mary and I ran together in early February. Next were swim lessons and wondering if someone with an aversion to aquatics and with little experience could swim well enough to complete the water portion of a June triathlon. As the snow melted and the harshness of winter dissipated some in March, it became time to get the road bike out. Since then, I’ve been been rotating through a cycle of swimming, biking, and running six day per week.
This level of physical activity has beneficial to me physically. Maybe just as important–biking, running and swimming–is just what I need to prevent me from dwelling in my head too much. It helps ground me in the present, in my body, and delivers balance to my life.
I blogged about my bike accident Tuesday morning. While I was posting the details that occurred the night before, my left lung was leaking oxygen, as it had actually been punctured during my fall. I didn’t know it at the time. By 8:30, my shortness of breath and some of the reading I had done online convinced me I probably need medical intervention.
Here’s my Facebook update from Wednesday morning about my post-fall condition; since not every reader of the JBE is a Facebook friend, let me share the gist of the FB post and a few other details just so everyone’s up-to-date.
As I mentioned, I knew something was amiss on Tuesday morning, after experiencing a night of discomfort and shortness of breath. I called my healthcare provider, Martin’s Point Healthcare in Brunswick, and after relaying my symptoms, was told to come in and that I’d be seen by one of their family practitioners (my doc was off that day). After being examined, I was sent to Mid Coast Hospital for x-rays of my chest and lungs. Not only was I bruised and battered from my Monday night fall, I also had a fractured rib and a traumatic pneumothorax, or collapsed lung. My left lung was 80 percent collapsed. No wonder walking from the parking lot to the main entrance of the hospital left me winded Tuesday afternoon.
After my x-rays and diagnosis, they walked me down to the ER where I had a tube inserted into my chest to remove the excess air and re-inflate my lung. I spent a few hours in ICU for observation and they sent me home Tuesday night. I was told to report back to Mid Coast first thing on Wednesday morning for another x-ray. If it looked good, the general surgeon who treated me in the ER said he’d remove the chest port. The outcome was positive. The port was removed and I came home battered, but unbowed.
Wednesday was a lost day. After coming home and trying to get a few things done for work, I was wiped out. I ended up taking a nap and then getting up and reading, not feeling like doing much else.
My body has commenced the healing process. Cracked ribs can take 4-6 weeks to fully mend. I’m also extremely sore in my upper left quadrant, as well as having one of the nastiest, technicolor hip contusions I’ve seen. Since I took a pretty direct blow to my left side, especially my shoulder and impacted the upper left side of my body, it’s painful to breathe deeply and move my body in certain ways. I can’t run because the impact hurts too much. I certainly can’t jump on my road bike, as the angle of my body places too much weight on the left side that’s bruised and sore.
It’s difficult getting helpful information online about how long it takes to recover from a traumatic pneumothorax, particularly if you’re an athlete and desire to get back to previous levels of activity, especially the kind of intensity that I was at prior to my fall off the bike.
When I was in the ER, staff there told me that I wasn’t the “usual kind of patient.” By this, I took it that they meant healthy, in shape. In fact, so much of medicine has become about treating people that aren’t healthy due to poor choices. If you are healthy and fit, how soon can you resume normal activity?
I am listening to my body and using pain as my guide. However, I’m also attuned to some advice that Reggie Black sent me across the transom of the internets.
“Good to hear you’re alive. Becoming sedentary will be more painful than doing what you can. Obviously, bone has to heal, but push yourself. Docs are always too conservative, and as active as you’ve been, you’ll ache up more by just not doing. Even walking will do wonders. Keep your chin up.”
I’m not sure if the chin reference was intentional; it made me laugh. Reggie and I both share chin scar stories, although his is much more interesting than my dive over the handlebars four years ago. I’ll let him tell that story, however.
Reggie will be happy to know that I was out in the yard yesterday afternoon, doing a little bit of light yard work, including pushing my old wheelbarrow up and down the hilly backside of our property here at the JBE complex. I even managed to work up a bit of a sweat. My chest hurt during deep-breathing, but I think Reggie has a point.
I’m feeling pretty good today and I’m going to try to gradually up the ante each day, within reason of course, and make sure I listen to what my body tells me.