Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Post I have Been Itching to Post (Warning somewhat Graphic Pictures)

One normal day at work I get word that my new patient in the next few days is a triathlete.  I already get pumped about that but once I reviewed her chart I knew this case was special.  During the initial interview my jaw dropped.  The words BIKE VS BUS shook me.  I have had close calls personally and can identify with that as a possibility, she lived it.

Chelsea decided she was going to do some cycling hill repeats on a minimally busy road with a long challenging hill.  She climbed and came down the same side of the road.  She saw the bus, the bus did not see her.  In fact, the bus did see recognize her until the driver heard the screaming.  She was screaming because the bus WAS STILL ON TOP OF HER.  The bus ran her over her, stopped on her, then rolled off.

I am sitting there taking this all in.  I keep reviewing the list if injuries in my head.  I review it and review it and I am trying hard to keep my composure.   CAN I RUN?  I stumble and stumble to put these pieces together.  Multiple spinal fractures, pelvic fractures, complex open femur fracture, ACL/MCL tear, compound ankle fracture, multiple skin grafts on both ENTIRE quads, non healing superficial wounds with infection, and now I am seeing her 2 days after her ACL and MCL are reconstructed....and she says CAN I RUN.


My first thought is "grrl you are lucky to be alive and you want to RUN?"  I LOVE IT.  My advice at this point is not an uncommon thing for me to say.  I say "Chelsea, you and I are going to be close.  I am going to promise you at no time will I sugar coat things for you.  No one benefits from that.  I will provide you with what the science and literature says and I will provide the facts and you will decide.  I will say that you have a lot of work to do in order to run.  The way this goes is to get on the progression to run and see what happens." She replies, "If I am OK by next years RAGE can I race?"  My first thought was that I would be surprised if she can even run a 5K at that point.  I say "If you are ready for RAGE, we will do it together"  She says DONE.  Straight face and confident.

At this point she is 3-4 months into this recovery already.  The multiple skin grafts, various fractures, and infections had to heal.  She had to graduate to be a candidate for the ACL/MCL reconstruction.  She is not your average triathlete or ACL reconstruction.  Her rehabilitation was hard.  We held her back and went slow.  We applied the latest running science and traditional rehabilitation to her and she put the work in.  She did everything the Dr and I asked and she simply put the work in.  She is going to go from this:
to this:

to top it off:  We are doing the OLYMPIC.  Another PT in my office will race with us.  Chelsea has been running at or around 9:30 pace and can go for up to about an hour.  She is an absolute winner and has never taken no for an answer.  She's had and will continue to have set backs and still is struggling.  She is overcoming the challenges with a grace hard to find in most people.  She was lucky she had tons of fitness at the time of injury, she needed it.  She's lucky she had a mental attitude that stayed positive, handled pain, and kept her nose to the grindstone.  She's lucky she had experience with triathlon and personal training and knows what real pushing is.  You see people like her are reason I go to work everyday.  She requires me use every once of knowledge, experience, and personal courage that I have.  I am so exponentially proud at the work she has done, at the commitment she has made, and at the job she has done to get herself ready for a healthy and fit life.  Chelsea gave me permission to use these pictures and write this post.  THANK YOU CHELSEA for showing me how real life challenges can be overcome and allowing me the opportunity race side-by-side with you.  This situation is the real reason I love triathlon and I am honored to share this experience with you.  I just hope I can beat you.


Unknown said...

Wow, tell Chelsea congratulations! She is a true inspiration, and I wish her the best.

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

These types of stories never cease making me emotional.

Congratulations Chelsea. You've earned every inch of RAGE and I'm sure you'll appreciate it more than most.

"Can I run?" Hahaha I don't know if I would have laughed or cried, but that's the best first question ever!

Redhead Running said...

Wow. Just wow. That is so awesome and inspiring!!! GO CHELSEA!!!

JFord said...

Awesome Post! Thanks for sharing and Go Chelsea!

Chuck said...

Wow! After reading this post I will never complain about a little knee pain. Chelsea, you are awesome!

Ron.....Please keep us updated on her progress.