Monday, March 23, 2009

"Go Hard or Go Home" is an Understatement

One of my husband's favorite sayings is "Go hard or go home." We apply this phrase to everything in life: work, flight school, grad school, having fun, surfing, snowboarding, and of course with running and triathlon. It's something we continuously remind each other of when we aren't giving 110%.

I've tried to maintain this mentality through all aspects of my life. Last Thursday however, I think I took it too far. Like I said in my previous post, I crashed off a huge jump in Park City in my attempt to "go hard." I failed to clear the landing and hit the flat bottom. For those non snowboarder types out there: I fell 15 ft and landed on my board. Yes I did land on my feet but the force was so great it ripped my pelvis in half.

Being what I would call an aggressive snowboarder, I fall all the time trying to do silly things off rails and jumps. I've broken bones before and have suffered many sprains. I have usually dusted them off and continued riding. I knew I had to be careful with my big race season coming up even though I've been snowboarding hard all season. Think I would learn my lesson right? WRONG.....

This time was different. As soon as I hit the landing, I knew I likely broke something. I instantly rolled down the slope, writhing in pain. My sister quickly came to my rescue and took my board off for me. Ski patrol was luckily close by and they came quickly to my rescue. I was placed in a neck brace and transferred into the sled with some oxygen. I was hastily drug down the mountain to the onsite clinic. The pain was so intense it almost felt like my leg was going to fall off.

At the clinic, x-rays were taken immediately. The left pubic ramus fracture popped off the x-ray. Doctors expressed their concern of another poster fracture near my SI joint. Being at DPT student, I knew immediately my race season for 2009 was over and this was my worst nightmare coming alive.

Because of the risk of internal bleeding, I was quickly shipped off the to the University of Utah hospital via ambulance. With a few shots of morphine, some of the physical pain was numbed.
Once at the hospital, I was surrounded immediately by a dozen doctors poking, prodding, and cutting. My clothes were cut off immediately, a cathether inserted, and a finger inserted you know where to check for rectal bleeding. Did I say nightmare?

After the violation, I was sent for hundreds of CT and x-ray images of my pelvis, abdomen, L-spine, T-spine, C-spine, and ankle. Luckily all besides the pelvis came back negative. I was sent to "my room" and instructed to wait until the head trauma orthopedic surgeon came back the next day. The residents continously insured me that I wouldn't need surgery. I remember being so thirsty but wasn't allowed to drink or eat anything. My sister swabbed my mouth with ice chunks and water. I must say it's the best thing I've ever tasted.

Finally around 1 pm the next day, an orthopedic surgeon destroyed my hope. I did need surgery..... They informed me I would be scheduled for late afternoon or evening. They also finally removed my neck brace which I had only for over 48 hrs despite no neck injury. ( Some attendant forgot to read the CT scan).

I was pulled into surgery around 4 pm. I was super upset as I couldn't get in touch with my husband scott and my sister had left to retrieve some things for me at the hospital. What if I died? I had a chaplain pray for me before just in case....

The ortho trauma surgeon eased some of my worries by telling me about his previous snowboarding accidents during his fellowship. He actually broke ribs and had internal bleeding. I just had some pelvic fractures so I should be ok right?

Surgery flew by and was a blurr. All I know is that I was getting a plate and 2 screws. I remember the nurse telling me that if she gave me any more morphine that I had to stay 20 more minutes. I so wanted to get out of there so I sucked it up so I could leave and see my sister.

Overall it went ok. That night however in the hospital was the longest, most painful night of my life....I rang my nurse call button several times, begging for morphine and a bed pan. ( my catheter fell out). Not fun.

So now it's day 3, I'm feeling a little better but woosy from the drugs. To my surprise around 11 am, the surgeon came to visit. I was begging him to walk. To my surprise and the rest of the hospital staff, he got me up and walking on a walker for my first time! It was painful but felt so good just to move my body. I also had my first meal and liquids in 2 days: jello, a banana, milk shake, and water : ) PT came again toward the end of the day and I got to practice my first stairs.

So day 4, I'm supposed to be discharged. I try crutches for the first time today. I get to walk around the nurses station yah! My sister said it looked like I was trying to run on the crutches.
It still hurt but I didn't care the least bit. I finally thought I was doing better until that afternoon. My stomach began hurting so bad it almost masked my pelvic pain. My stomach was so distended it looked like a budha belly. No discharge for me until I could do "you know what"......

After some rough laxatives, I finally felt a little better on day 5 which was Monday. I went home with my sister for the day and flew back Tuesday to Pittsburgh.

Now~Here I am... almost a week and a half later. I've gone back to class and have learned to navigate through the city on crutches. I've moved back into my apartment and have learned how to go up the three flights of stairs. Little things...

So I keep asking myself? What am I supposed to learn from this and why did this happen to me?
I don't know. I've made up endless lists in my head but am not sure any of them truly answer my questions.

All I do know is that I am happy to be alive and getting better with every day that passes. Yeah my season is gone and yeah I'm stuck on crutches.... But go hard or go home right? Now the recovery begins. I will go hard and I will get better.


  1. HOLY CRAP HEIDI! I didn't realize how bad your injury wasuntil I saw your x-ray. Just hang in there and if there is anything that Jen and I can do please let us know. I know you've heard this a million times, but things will get better, and you'll become stronger through this process. I know from experience how devastating an injury can be, but I like to say that it comes with the territory. If you go hard enough, your body is more than likely to push back eventually. Look at it this way, folks like us definitely live life to the fullest...and I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Jen and I are thinking about you!

  2. Hey Heidi, I've been thinking of you and praying that you were ok. I hated not seeing you post because I was worried! Glad you finally did and that you did make it through surgury fine and that you are ok. That is hte most important thing. I know it is hard to say goodbye to the season but there will be plenty more if you rest and recover like you need to and take care of yourself. You're friend and family will be there for you...and so will I if you need me! I will be in town this weekend to run that Just a Short thing in North Park. I'm not sure what your plans are but I would love to bring you a get better basket and get some food or something. Let me know how you are email is Thinking of you and so glad you are ok!!

  3. Hi Heidi - Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! I pretty much know exactly what you're going through... I crashed on my bike last year and snapped my sacrum in two...and had some pretty bad nerve damage as well. Your experience in the hospital - surgery, scans, braces, pain, ice chips, lack of food, distended tummy, pain meds, fear - everything sounds almost exactly like my own. It was right around this time as well... I'm just so sorry - but you WILL get better, become stronger as a result. Go easy on yourself...I know its tough (I actually "raced" other walkers in the spinal ward at my hospital...yes, we were slow - but I was so determined to pass all the other spinal patients) - but take the time to heal. You will be back before you know it! I'm at mchrislaut@aoldotcom....please feel free to shoot me an email or if you want to talk, I'm at (252) can call anytime. I'm just so sorry this happened... I'm thinking of you - get better soon!

    It seems like you've flown back to PA...that's good! When do you start physical therapy??? What CAN you do???

  4. Thanks everyone for your support! I get my staples out Friday and will find out more as far as PT and getting off the crutches. For now I'm touch down weight bearing on my bad side.... I'm just trying to not to go hard too early :)