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A Thought On Protective Gear from the Trenches

TurnerGrl

Monkey
Aug 20, 2002
165
0
Metrowest MA
Ok, this is a crossover post from my other two-wheeled endeavors that was posted at http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=412282

But I've been thinking lots about the carryover to mtb as not only have I had MUCH harder falls, but I have pedalled this very trail many a time and it seems like a good story to share if it helps even one other rider.

So please adjust any pre-set prejudices and approach this from a rider's point of view...I was pedalling long before I was twisting a throttle and this was a first gear, slow speed fall (and you will see I'm even sporting Ridemonkey colors in the pics!). I know I am am at least second-guessing any future downhilling with anything less than a DOT & SNELL approved helmet. Granted, YMMV.

THE EVENT

A local club hosted an enduro trials in one of our state forests that is legal for motorized use in some areas.


Man, this was a total blast of a format. I am NOT a fast rider, but I love to test my technical skills whether it be on the mountain bike or now the dirt bike (although given that I've been riding since only the end of March the latter skillz still have a loooooooooong way to go towards improvement).

Basically you were required to be on a full-sized bike (i.e., no trials bikes) and there were five sections for judging (one...which would be my ultimate downfall...uh, literally!...that was a twofer hill climb where I never figured out the dividing line and never matched my beginner's luck of zeroing the first lap...for those unfamiliar with the format it's a golfish scoring system where the lowest score wins and a penalty for each dab and a "5" for a crash) with some sweet trail riding in between each of them.

And major props to KPTR for again treating me to a fantastic event.

THE BIKE

Here was my weapon of choice for the day (picture as of today - no bikes were harmed in this endeavor - just the Grlll):





Kamala has spoiled me rotten with the mods to my '07 KLX (among other things ) and I have to say that I freaking LOVE this bike.

THE WEATHER CULPRIT

Ok, so I've lived in MA since September of 1995 so I should know better, but I actually believed the forecast. The precip was supposed to hold off for most of the day and I expected chilly and some ice/mud conditions for the event but not much different from when I had been out to Foxy the previous weekend for a re-acquaintance ride of the area on the mtb. Alas, that was a true lapse in faith. I was signed up in the Woodsrider class (aka "got outta my way you noob!!!!") and we were to do four laps. By the end of my second go-round, the sleet was steadily falling.

Sliding out in a couple of the trail sections was my first clue that this was a whole new venue now, but I did my best to pick lines carefully and modulate throtte, clutch, and brake use. I got to the last two (linked) trials sections and set up to wait for my entry. At that point I was 50/50 on this section, having cleaned both parts on my first lap but blowing the second. I was hoping to better that record and then it was my signal to start. Into the first turn, start the climb, hit the first section of rocks and I'm just about to clear that when whammo...out goes the rear wheel and I'm shot off the back of the bike. Hey, who ordered up this frozen layer of leaves here???? Ok, that wasn't my exact thoughts at the moment as I landed and the back of my head bounced off the rocks hard enough to make me instantly dizzy and naseous. But it did occur to me later.

In any case, the scorer helped me right my bike and I finished the lap, saw Kamala at the scoring table, and (ok, in retrospect, foolishly) said I'm fine and I want to complete my last lap. The dizzies and the slick terrain saw me hit the ground several more times but with I don't think much more damage than the effort of having the pick the bike back up again. Finished the last lap, collected my third place trophy (helps to only have three in your class...heck, I'd have claimed first if there'd been a Women's category ), and drove home with Kamala there to help unload the bike. Once again, my hero.

Monday had a wickedly important meeting for work (which included a presentation and 135 miles of windshield time) and then back at the office for 7:30 AM on Tuesday.

Yeah, I felt like crap from the moment I whacked my head but this isn't a sport where you don't expect some bumps and bruises. I gave it until mid-day yesterday but just really didn't feel right (hard to explain more than that) and seemed to be in more pain than I would have expected. Called the doc, they were booked for the week and referred me to the emergency room.

THE RESULT

Apparently when you use the words "dirt bike" and "fell backwards down a hill" and "whacked my head on rocks" you get the first class ticket through triage. I was collared and on a backboard before they even finished my intake information. Was stoked to finally get the cervical x-rays done and get cleared enough to come off the backboard and be placed out of the hard collar in a Miami-J and thought I would soon be discharged with instructions to wear the collar x 2 weeks and then if still in pain see a neuro to determine if further diagnostics were required.

So imagine my surprise (well, that wasn't exactly my reaction...) when the resident came over with the attending doc to tell me they had found a small bleed in my brain with the CT scan of the head. Better yet, I was going to get to take a little ambulance ride to the other campus of UMASS because I was a trauma patient. So first call was to Kamala, who valiantly rushed off to dog care at my house before meeting me at the University Campus. Second to the boss saying that, uh, I probably won't be in tomorrow AM...

As soon as I knew I wouldn't be going home under my own power they started loading me with painkillers. I was shocked that not only the Percocet but multiple doses of Morphine were doing next to nothing to ease the pain (which had worsened considerably after 4.5 hours in a hard collar on a backboard and during and after also being poked, prodded, and placed in unnatural positions by doctors, radiology techs, etc). Bummer, would have been great to be looped out on all those drugs, eh?

Well, the explanation for my additional discomfort was another bit of a freakout moment. The trauma team felt pretty good about my neurological status after a full exam and interview but wanted CT scans of my whole spine. Bonus! I have a compression fracture at T6. And as you can see from the "representative" photo I've included, I am sporting some lovely new colorful areas on various parts of my body.








So the good news is that despite a small bleed in the brain, a non-displaced compression fracture at T6, and multiple contusions/sprains/strains, I was allowed home free of the Miami-J cervical collar and even a back brace. Sent with pain meds and instructions to take it easy and follow up with the spine surgeon in a week for repeat diagnostics to make sure the fracture is still stable. The bleed in the brain is expected to be re-absorbed without any further intervention. Oh and for the ATGATT questions, I was in full moto gear (minus a neck brace such as a Leatt) to include a full face helmet, Dainese safety jacket, MSR knee guards, O'Neal moto-x boots (Thor moto-x pants and Fox jersey but not as if they added anything other than some abrasion protection with the logos on the pants).

__________________
2007 KLX 250s
2008 Ulysses XB12X (the faster black one)
 

strangeland2

Monkey
Jul 11, 2007
305
0
masshole
Damn thats rough. Glad your sort of ok. Reading off that list Id say you got off kind of easy. I assume its safe to say you ll be getting back on the bike so if it happens again at least see a doc sooner.

Hope you heal up quick.
 

BadDNA

hophead
Mar 31, 2006
4,168
113
Winning.
Well Jen, we're glad you're okay. Take it easy and heal well, you owe your pedaling friends some time.
 

berkshire_rider

Growler
Feb 5, 2003
2,557
10
The Blackstone Valley
Jesus, Jen. Glad to hear you are ok. I guess if there's a good time of the year to be hurt, it's now unless you ski or board. We missed you out on the trails this year!

Did they give an estimate on recovery and when you can get back out there?
 

Velocity Girl

whack-a-mole
Sep 12, 2001
1,279
0
Atlanta
Wow! Glad to hear you're on the mend and not in worse shape.

Glad you had the proper protection on.

I'd definitely think about a Leatt - a bit pricey and odd when you first wear them - but I think it's worth it (and I was happy I had one when I took a header off my 450 cc ATV pinned in 3rd gear!!! Don't know if it actually made a difference, but I'm glad I didn't have to find out ;) )
 

j.les

Monkey
Jul 21, 2007
475
0
Chicago
Glad to see your doing well after that spill. I broke 2 vertebrae in my neck last year and had to wear a neck brace for 3 months.
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,412
0
SF
In some people's opinions, it was your option to wear protective gear and a helmet. In this case, you saved your life.

Good see that you are only bruised. Feel better.
 

Slugman

Frankenbike
Apr 29, 2004
4,027
0
Miami, FL
Holy sh*t Jen... being a badass on the DH bike wasn't enough?

Glad to hear you're OK... anything spine and brain is scary!!!

If you ever feel that you want/need a second opinion - let me know, I've got some contacts with spine surgeons in your area. PM who you are seeing now... I'll check out his/her reputation.

Healing vibes from the AZ Boomers!
 

Nick

My name is Nick
Sep 21, 2001
14,832
3,251
behind you, don't wait up.
I'm glad you weren't hurt any more seriously. That sounds like it could have gone all kinds of worse. Also great is that you wore your ridemonkey tshirt to the ER, and somebody there didn't want to cut it off of you!

Get well soon.
 

KavuRider

Turbo Monkey
Jan 30, 2006
2,567
3
CT
Glad to hear you are ok!

A friend of mine crushed a vertebrae last year overshooting a Dirt Jump. Scary stuff, he was in full gear, but he hyperextended his neck. He was about a cm away from the worst...now he rolls in a Leatt brace all the time on the trails.

Healing vibes! Glad you will be able to get back on the bike to ride another day!
 

TurnerGrl

Monkey
Aug 20, 2002
165
0
Metrowest MA
Thanks for all the well wishes!

Berkshire Rider, I saw a neurosurgeon briefly at UMass University ER and he was a jerk so I didn't get much feedback. I saw my PCP this week, she had me repeat the head CT scan on Wednesday and I see a different neurosurgeon next Wednesday. I should have a better idea of recovery time then, I hope. The worst part is the head injury seems to have messed with my equilibrium and I'm constantly dizzy with vertigo right now. Very uncomfortable and certainly limiting my activity level. I've been told that it can take up to a year for symptoms from post-concussive syndrome to abate - hopefully my recovery will be much faster.

Slugman, I'll PM you with my doc's name - I know some of the neuro's at the Baptist and MGH but right now I'm sticking with UMass just because all my imaging studies are digital and it will be a bit of a hassle to try and jump out of the network right now. Certainly if I don't like the quality of care or have any complications, that will change.

Splat, et al...I've missed riding with y'all too!!!! Definitely look forward to getting back out on the trails with you.
 

berkshire_rider

Growler
Feb 5, 2003
2,557
10
The Blackstone Valley
Splat, et al...I've missed riding with y'all too!!!! Definitely look forward to getting back out on the trails with you.
We were thinking maybe Dave and Karl's hurtful comments drove you to MX. :huh:

In all seriousness, if your Neurosurgeon isn't working for you, change to another at Umass Memorial that does. They bill themselves as the premier trauma center in Central Mass........
 

TurnerGrl

Monkey
Aug 20, 2002
165
0
Metrowest MA
Once again, thank's everyone for the well wishes!

I am pleased to report that things are finally on the upswing. Repeat CT scan of the brain last week showed the bleed completely re-absorbed. I had been fighting since a week ago Sunday, however, some very bizarre symptoms that had me completely freaked out - in fact, had I not done some research on my own, I would have hesistated to bring them to the doc's attention afraid she'd think I was nuts (ok, so it's true but that's beside the point :D ). For the past week and a half I have a horrible case of the dizziness plus extra weird stuff such as feeling of numbness and weakness in my right hand, generally feeling like I'd been hit by a freight train (basically flu-like symptoms), insomnia, extreme feelings of anxiety, night sweats, and running a fever so I was like WTF? Last week I was operating under the assumption that I might be battling both a sinus infection and post-concussive syndrome. Then it dawned on me when the symptoms began and what helped and that led me to the conclusion that I might be suffering Percocet withdrawal.

For the first four days after leaving the hospital, I was taking the Percocet as directed: i.e., 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours. Knowing that last Monday (Dec 8) I needed to be back at work come hell or high water, I started tapering off the narcotic during the day. Lo and behold, that's when the weirdo symptoms started. Then I realized that they went away when I'd get home at night, take a dose of Percocet, and they would instantly disappear. I wondered whether the medication was masking the symptoms or causing them. Sure enough, a little work the next day on Google (nothing like a "professional" research effort!!!) and spoke with one of the nurses here at work - my symptoms could definitely correlate with Percocet withdrawal. Pretty freaky since I had been taking the stuff exactly as prescribed and this STILL happened. I haven't taken anything since Sunday evening and I'm finally starting to feel back to normal (but for my back frigging killing me since I'm taking nothing stronger than Naproxen now...I Do Not want to have to go through this detox period again...trust me (if you haven't experienced it yourself) it SUCKS.

So I saw the neurosurgeon yesterday and she was awesome. Very very good bedside manner and really listened supportively to everything I said. And she did not think I was a nutcase when I talked about the withdrawal stuff and affirmed that it could very well be a significant issue. She did say, however, that she can't rule out some of it from being post-concussive syndrome as the brain operates in weird ways when you bounce it off of hard objects. :lighten: Oh, and even though I already liked the doc she sealed it by asking before I left how I had done in the enduro trials. :thumb:

So she wants me to take Valium both to help with the withdrawal and for pain relief as it won't have the same consequences as the Percocet did. That and some physical therapy are my orders for now. She basically said that the ribs are enough of a support system for the fracture that I don't need separate bracing (woo hoo!!!). And I am supposed to call if I don't resolve with PT - especially if I continue to experience dizziness after the next couple of weeks. But that has already (crossing my fingers that it really is going away for good) diminished significantly even from just yesterday. The nurse here at work suggested to expect four days although the doc projected a week but either the Valium helped last night (I won't take it during the day so will have to wait and see if I get symptomatic later on) or the shorter period has been sufficient to get the Percocet out of my system.

OK, so if we don't get buried in snow it looks like I might be able to get back to pedalling sometime in the much nearer future than I feared (will hold off on motorized activities for a while - maybe the season - no interest in getting out in slippery conditions and repeating this experience). I will be horribly out of shape so I'll wave to everyone as you pass me! ;-)
 
Jen,

I was dizzier than a coot for almost a year after a similar head injury, especially if I looked straight up. It gradually went away over the course of about a year.

It turns out that the inner ear normally has calcarous accretions called ooliths in it. A good bang on the head gets them floating around and they confuse your balance mechanisms- I forget the name of the condition. Over time, they lodge and dizziness quits bothering you.

Stay off the drugs to the extent that you can.

J
 

TurnerGrl

Monkey
Aug 20, 2002
165
0
Metrowest MA
Jen,

I was dizzier than a coot for almost a year after a similar head injury, especially if I looked straight up. It gradually went away over the course of about a year.

It turns out that the inner ear normally has calcarous accretions called ooliths in it. A good bang on the head gets them floating around and they confuse your balance mechanisms- I forget the name of the condition. Over time, they lodge and dizziness quits bothering you.

Stay off the drugs to the extent that you can.

J
Thanks, JBP. Ironically the nurse at work I've been talking to was run down by an elderly driver while she was walking on the sidewalk a few years ago. :shocked: So she was more than just medical advice, but personal experience. I kept thinking that I was experiencing what you and she did (and maybe am to a certain extent) but I couldn't ever pinpoint one side or position that caused the dizziness and other symptoms. Plus they went totally away with an evening dose of Percocet.

No worries here on minimizing the meds...after going through the Percocet withdrawal I am EXTREMELY cautious and wary of what I take and how often. The detox was in many ways worse than the actually injury and even though I'm dealing with a lot of pain now, it's so not worth it to face going through the process again. Makes me wonder how people take it on such a regular basis (or maybe that explains it since getting it out of your system is so hellacious) but I sure don't want to go back down that road even though I was taking as prescribed and for real pain. It wasn't a matter of feeling "high" while I was on it that was the problem, it was the physical symptoms of stopping regular doses (i.e., every 4-6 hours) that made it such agony. I can't imagine the suffering of those that abuse it for whatever reason and develop a tolerance and then try or are forced to stop. :twitch:
 
In the course of a couple of broken arms due to crashing and some skin cancer removal due to being an old fart, I have been amazed by the load of heavy duty drugs they send you home with. In general I have consigned it to the toilet and stuck with an Advil before going to bed.

I'm glad you're healing.