Musings on Recovering from Major Injury – Part 2 – by Nic Coury

Nic Coury

 

Nic Coury is a photojournalist based in Monterey, Calif. He has had work published in Sports Illustrated, Cycle World and Bicycling magazines, and has shot commercial jobs for Specialized Bicycles, Ferrari and Bugatti. He also covers crime for a local newspaper. In his free time, he drinks too many espressos and wins mustache competitions.

This is the second of a three-part series on recovering from my bicycle crash on August 2 where I fractured my hip and had five screws put in during surgery later that night. I was knocked unconscious and have no recollection of the crash. Read part 1 here.

Part 2 – Not as hip as I used to be.

One of the doctors who came to see me in the hospital told me what kind of amnesia I had from my crash, but I don’t remember the name of it… It’s a joke, but I don’t honestly remember the name of it…

coffee

This was the first coffee I had nearly two-and-a-half weeks after my surgery. My discharge papers said no caffeine and I imagine it was so coffee wouldn’t mix weirdly with my pain meds.

Making jokes, many of the same ones over and over and over, has helped me. I’m over six weeks from the crash, my surgery, and still not fully back to normal, but getting there. Many of my friends have been making jokes too, including references to The Gimp in Pulp Fiction and often saying I was screwed.

It’s been a roller coaster of a few weeks. I’ve been tired a lot and haven’t slept through the night since before the crash. I started physical therapy, which has been non-weight bearing and harder than I expected. It’s funny, as my physical therapist says, how efficiently the body stands and walks in one flowing movement. During sessions, he has been breaking up bodily movements for me and working on individual elements of movement and muscle flow. It’s great stuff, but after I’m often exhausted for the rest of the day. I love learning how the body movements and the breakdown of muscles and joints in the lower back and legs.

Two weeks after my surgery I saw my orthopedic surgeon for follow-up. I had to wear mesh shorts to take an X-ray.

Two weeks after my surgery I saw my orthopedic surgeon for follow-up. I had to wear mesh shorts to take an X-ray.

My walker became my favorite mode of transportation around my parent's house. I've always loved their hardwood "ship plank" floors.

My walker became my favorite mode of transportation around my parent’s house. I’ve always loved their hardwood “ship plank” floors.

For the first six weeks, I stayed with my folks in Monterey who have graciously been taxiing me around to doctor’s appointments, my house for a few hours and coffee or lunch with friends. In that time, I stayed a few nights at my house off and on. My folks cook most meals and have been nothing but patient with my frustrated recovery as I’ve been mentally and emotionally ready to come back, but, with a sigh, have to accept that my body is physically not ready yet. That’s what family is there for though, right? Thanks Mom and Dad. I owe you one.

I switched locations where my bi-weekly physical therapy was to make it much more convenient for my parents. This is the Hartnell Professional Center in downtown Monterey.

I switched locations where my bi-weekly physical therapy was to make it much more convenient for my parents. This is the Hartnell Professional Center in downtown Monterey.

I got a disabled parking pass, which will help with moving around town, though I slightly feel a bit silly for using it when there are plenty of people who need that access more than me, but I suppose I’ll use it for the time being. I’ve gone to the store a few times and tossed my crutches into a shopping cart and hobbled around the store. Having to be more conscious of my space has made me a lot more aware of my surroundings and I appreciate what people who have to live with this sort of limited mobility have to deal with.

disabled parking pass

My disabled parking pass.

disabled parking

This photo was taken the first time I used my disabled parking pass and went to Trader Joe’s with my mom. I bought beer.

cart

I have gotten good at using a grocery cart as a walker of sorts while I put my crutches inside the cart.

Emotionally, my world has been a bit in upheaval too. I’m frustrated often and just flat-out tired. I think a lot, and I overthink a lot. At six weeks, I hadn’t driven my new-to-me car in nearly two months and that worries me that I might crash it again. I was an over-thinker before and the crash sure as hell hasn’t helped. I’ve been contemplating the deeper things a lot—how we treat each other, how to show better compassion, how to promote kindness better—and hopefully I will come out of this incident a better, stronger person.

My bedside table in my old bedroom at my parents house consists of various books, water—drank out of my cycling water bottle—Kleenex, Chapstick, pain meds and an iPhone charger.

My bedside table in my old bedroom at my parents house consists of various books, water—drank out of my cycling water bottle—Kleenex, Chapstick, pain meds and an iPhone charger.

At the time I’m writing this, I’ve moved back to my house and a more normal lifestyle has helped me feel more myself, but it’s still difficult. I ice my hip often and do my daily physical therapy, usually a few times a day. The muscles are recovering slowly and I’ll be back to my normal, neurotic self soon enough. I’ve been writing about it all and hope to get back into more creative, personal works.

One of the biggest things I am very appreciative for and stoked by is the community’s generosity. I had started a GoFundMe page to help get a smaller, pro-level camera as my Canon and Nikon bodies would be far too cumbersome and heavy. I raised enough to get a small Fuji adapted for older Nikon manual focus lenses, but someone flat-out sent me a Fuji X100s, because they saw my post. People coming together has given me an updated hope for humanity and humbled me quite a bit.

I saw my orthopedic doctor in mid-September after six weeks and he gave me another six weeks without bearing weight on my leg. So I sighed again, as seems common daily, and over-thought everything once again. I try to stay positive and talk out how I feel and heal through the commutative property of friends. I have a lot of friends call or stop by and see how I am, which has been very helpful. My friends have also graciously driven me around town, as have my coworkers on the days I’ve made it into the office and hobbled to a few photo assignments. I covered a murder arraignment a few weeks ago and found out that yes, indeed, my screws do set off the court security metal detector. So I’m part of that club now. Yay.

Four week and a day after my surgery, I had my first photo assignment for the paper again. I went to court to photograph the arraignment of a man charged with shooting four people and killing two a few days earlier. And yes, my screws beeped in the metal detector when going through court security.

Four week and a day after my surgery, I had my first photo assignment for the paper again. I went to court to photograph the arraignment of a man charged with shooting four people and killing two a few days earlier. And yes, my screws beeped in the metal detector when going through court security.

I think back on the crash daily. I remember being very upset when Dr. Walls, the director for the emergency department, came to my bed in the ER and told me I had fractured my hip. Walls called me personally a few weeks later and we chatted about the crash and my incident. He had been impressed by the amount of damage I had done to my helmet, which, despite me having any recollection about the crash, paints a good picture of the spill I took. Same for my bike jersey, which, blood and tears and all, I’m going to frame and hang on the wall. I’ll have a claw-looking shape of round dotted scars where they put the screws in and a nice, long scar from where they held the hip together. Battle scars are cool by me.

scar

This is the scar on my right hip on September 4, almost 5 weeks after my surgery. There are five dots on the side of my leg marking where they put the five screws in.

On a final note, a few weeks after the accident, I emailed Bell helmets thanking them for making a product that worked. Cheri from customer service responded fairly quickly telling me they have a crash replacement program. Apparently I can get 30% off a new helmet. That’s nice of them.

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