Your body is amazing. Really it is - and so is mine and so many others.
This really hits home for me as four years ago, my wife Lesley shattered her tibial plateau while hiking near Palm Springs, California. Basically, the top of her tibia, the main bone that connects your feet to your knee, was completely destroyed. We didn't know it on the trail. All we knew, or at least all that I knew, was that Lesley passed out (from the pain), and her eyes rolled up in their sockets. I was scared.
(X-Ray of Lesley's tibia pins)
Last June 30th, we were out for an evening bike ride, when it was my turn. Descending down the hill from the University of BC to Spanish Banks, paying more attention to the view of mountains and sea than the road, I hit a pot hole and went flying. We didn't know my injuries at the time, but later that night at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), I learnt that I cleanly broke three ribs, fractured four more and I perforated and collapsed a lung. Details in my July 2022 blog (link here).
What's amazing is our (you, me and others) ability to heal, albeit aided by top notch medical personnel. Lesley was told by the orthopaedic surgeon in California that her running days were over. That it would be months before she could put weight on the injured leg, even with new titanium rods and pins to provide interim structure. She would need to re-learn how to walk.
Lesley really worked hard on her recovery. Everyday, exercising and stretching. We got a stationary bike on the advice of physiotherapist Paolo Bordignon. Then nine months after the March 17 injury, just before Christmas, Lesley had her hardware removed. One of the retaining screws was irritating the surface just below her knee and the bone and tendons had recovered enough that removal was possible. The girl whose "running days were over" continued her daily training and within two years of the accident, ran about 50 km in the month of January 2021. Yes, I'm really proud of her.
My punctured lung healed within a couple of days thanks to a chest tube thoracotomy to drain the displaced air. That's normal, but still I think, amazing. I was told my ribs would largely heal in 6 to 8 weeks but full recovery would take 3 months. In both our cases, we were told that the body knows its injured and would respond to 'fix' the injuries and then return to normal function. For Lesley, that her body would direct more bone building materials to her shattered tibia, and once healed, would return to normal care of her whole skeletal structure. The same was true for my ribs. I think that intelligence, if that's the right word, in the body, is amazing.
But I also learnt the brain causes the body to compensate for the injured area, and doesn't relax that compensation quite so quickly, which can cause other stresses and hence add to the recovery time. In my case, while the ribs healed quickly, the tendons that protected the injured ribs stayed tight. Even today, there are certain movements that don't hurt, but alert me to a tightness around my back left ribs. For Lesley, her right hip stepped up to compensate for the injured left tibia and that is still a work in progress to address. For this un-programming, we need exercises that activate the compensating body parts, to effectively retrain them to relax a little. For that, I'm grateful for access to great physiotherapists (at Salus Physio) and Jerome Betrand, a personal trainer who works with us together about once a week.
This past Canada Day (and Independence Day) weekend, we celebrated the anniversary of my VGH hospital visit with a weekend in Tofino, BC, one of our "happy places". While the care I got at VGH was great, sharing an interior curtained space in a 5 bed room was not splendid, and it was no match for the views from our room at the Wickaninnish Inn. Yet I'm grateful for both. The good care that I received at VGH and the hospitality and scenery on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Yes, your body is amazing. You have probably heard many remarkable stories. I just read on the weekend about a Palestinian boy whose biking accident lead to a "internal decapitation" but has had a full recovery after his head was "reattached" to his neck at the Hadassah Medical Centre. Captain Trevor Greene, the Canadian soldier who was ambushed in 2006 with an ax to his head while caring for Afghan people in the Kandahar Province, suffered a massive brain injury. Through perseverance and extreme hard work he had a substantial, albeit long, recovery that is heartbreaking and inspiring. Or consider Silken Laumann, a famous Canadian rower who thought she may have lost her leg in an accident in May 1992. Five operations later, she was training again and in ten weeks made "the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history" winning bronze at the Olympic Games. Wow!
If you are currently injured, know that recovery is possible. With the help of medical interventions, physiotherapy, physical training and a strong mind set, its remarkable what your body can achieve. Yes, your body is amazing. Be grateful and care for it.
But I also want to recognize that sadly, no matter how hard we try, the outcomes aren't what we strive for. This past Canada Day, a good friend of youngest breathed his last as his body succumbed to a very rare form of cancer. He was a truly strong young man, and lots of friends joked they became really good at coming second to him in races. As he battled the cancer, he continued to look forward, even taking a first aid course last winter with the hopes of a career in emergency services and completing his driver's license test in May. His passing is heartbreaking but may he rest in peace, free of the pain he battled courageously these last three years.
PS We get many testimonials from people attributing accelerated healing to SierraSil. It's a joy to hear their stories. Just two weeks ago, I received these:
- My "rotator cuff pain had not reduced. But after a few days of Sierrasil, I feel it is about 90% back to normal"
- "My father in-law was told that he was going to need an operation on his knee and has been suffering just from walking around the house and after taking Sierrasil for only a week he is not wearing his knee brace and moving around better than he has in a while."
Please note that I can't and won't promise similar results, but if you use SierraSil for possible help in your recovery, I'd welcome hearing if you feel it made a difference (or not).