Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The slow recovery begins

Anyone who’s ridden with me will tell you that I’m a fairly cautious cyclist. I’m especially skittish about fast and steep descents and actually see this as an area for improvement in my technique. So I was shocked and amazed to be hit by a car on the Endless Mountains 1000K on August 26. I was cycling through the quiet towns of Eastern PA in the early pre-dawn hours of the morning when I was struck from behind by a motorist on his way to work. As a responsible randonneur, I was, of course, lit up like a Christmas tree. My custom made Independent Fabrication was totaled. I have no memory of the accident.

Luckily, my bad luck ended when I was hit; I have been fortunate to receive swift and outstanding medical care right from the very beginning of this ordeal. I was rushed by ambulance to St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem where both my legs were operated on within a few hours of the accident to repair a broken femur (right) and femoral neck/hip (left). Two days later, I underwent another surgery to repair a badly broken left clavicle. All told, I broke 24 bones – none of which needed to be set with a cast. The cure for rib fractures seems to be refraining from belly laughs. I was incredibly fortunate not to have sustained any significant internal injuries, spinal damage or head trauma.

After two weeks of outstanding care at St. Luke’s I was transferred to the Helen Hayes Hospital in Haverstraw, NY which sits atop a hill overlooking the Hudson about one hour downriver from my home. At HHH, I am involved in what is called sub-acute rehab which involves stretching and muscle strengthening in a way that helps me recover without jeopardizing the healing of my many broken bones. I am living and working on the spinal injury floor, not because I have injured my spine, but rather because I have similar rehab needs with only one of four limbs able to bear weight. My fellow patients with serious spinal injuries are an amazing inspiration. I am able to get around with the help of a motorized wheelchair and spend a good amount of my time not in therapy outdoors reading in the lovely fall sun. Tomorrow I will enter my third week at HHH and I feel forward progress every day.

Despite everything, I also feel blessed to have received countless messages of hope and encouragement from family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. Tom R., the Eastern PA RBA, was especially nurturing and helpful as I got settled in St. Luke’s. It has been wonderful to feel that there are so many people behind me encouraging me at each turn along the way. Thank you. I hope to continue to heal and recover well and return home to my wife and children soon.


  1. Hello George,

    I'm very glad to hear that you are continuing to progress well. May your recovery be swift and complete.


  2. Great to see a new post, and even better to hear about your progress. I hope you handle your recovery better than a twisty descent: with grace and speed. God bless!

  3. Heard about your accident earlier, glad you're on the mend. Best wishes from far off Tasmania!

  4. Thanks Surly Dave - Hope all's well for you in far off Tasmania! Heading into spring and then summer I suppose. Season must be ramping up. I'm feeling better each day and hope to return home from the hospital next week. Be safe out there.

  5. Hi George,
    This is Mithun from India(Kolkata)...we too in India have just started the BRM events from this year... sorry to hear about your accident...from all the Randonneurs in India ..We wish you a speedy recovery...and then miles and miles of pedalling...!!!

  6. Thanks, Mithun! So glad to hear that there are now BRM events in India. One more reason for me to visit your wonderful country sooner rather than later. Thanks for your well wishes. I just returned from the hospital this weekend after 6 weeks of treatment. I sure am glad to be back home again. Building strength and making progress every day. The doctor told me to stay off the outdoor bike for 6 months, but I hope to get on the trainer this winter to get ready for next season. In fact, the USA calendar was just published so I spent the past 60 minutes filling in all the possible events I can participate in before PBP next year. Sure hope I'm back in full form before too long. Be safe out there.