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Going Forwards or Backwards?

Four weeks today still carrying on the same routine; breakfast in bed, nice and healthy to aid recovery, ease up, shower, potter about, possibly write some blog, do something anything within reason? Factor in exercises for the day, snooze if possible , lunch with wifey, potter some more, take drugs if required but trying to resist them, evening comes, weight and tiredness kicks in along with the burn, try to get settled in bed and repeat! You kinda get the monotonous picture now, Wednesday we thought try just one memory foam pillow again, in my mind it would let the neck fall back further and once asleep be relaxed enough to stretch them muscle groups out, well it didn’t induce snoring, bonus for Anita, I kinda think it helped the neck a bit. Going forwards or backwards!

Thursday 29th August again nothing to write home about but then it crept up on me late afternoon, into the evening a distinctive mood swing, a restless night just couldn’t get comfortable, up at 6.20am feeling shit, blank in mind, everything in my torso aching like fuck, sat alone with my thoughts and tears until 7am made breakfast that was a drag, even lifting a coffee cup seemed to hurt, bumbled into the bedroom, discomfort etched on my face, slumped on the bed in floods or sporadic tears, trying to find the words for Anita as to how I’m feeling instead of her guessing. I guess four weeks of being in pain, swapping to continuous discomfort, not really being able to do much (when normally active as) always reliant on someone mostly wifey to do stuff for you, cart your sorry arse around, not seeing improvement (in my mind/eyes), still possibly suffering from after effects of anesthetic, throw that in one emotionally unstable mind set and you hit your first low point. I couldn’t be arsed to do my exercises, just opted to hide myself away in bed at 8.30 not wanting to communicate just lay there feeling sorry for myself, sleep and awake in the same state of mind as above. Going forwards or backwards!

So offloading to Anita in the morning got it off my mind, albeit still in the shadows, trying to rationalise it. Body wise toes, feet, legs, hips all feel perfect as do my hands, fore arms, upper arms to shoulders 90%, eyes, ears and head all feel pretty normal to me.  My torso, shoulders, upper back and lumber, shoulder blades, neck, rib cage feel absolutely shattered, stiff, ache (if all your teeth had individual tooth aches) on a scale of just bearable to keeping you awake and making you feel like shit then that’s how most of my upper body feels and has done for weeks now, the edge now and then being taken off by painkillers, but the constant discomfort added to all the other bits does take its toll. Going forwards or going backwards!    

August 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 2020… Friday turning out to be a better day like a reboot/re-set button had been flicked, the rains had stopped and the winds died down a wee bit, caught up with writing, looking forward to seeing my mate Scott that evening and then more friends down for the weekend. OK I couldn’t join them on the bikes but I could get out and about in the woods always good for your mental state of mind.  Something did feel different over this weekend, not sure if it was the last lingering bits of anesthetic departing, I felt a lot looser around the neck and shoulders (still ribs and chest being most painful). No exercises over the weekend giving the operation and muscles a break from it, again seemed to have a positive effect, a try on the bike “nope still not feeling in the correct postural position” so that again can wait a bit longer.  The tiredness still comes late evening as the slow pour concrete feeling adds weight to your neck and shoulders, but a tadge bit more comfortable. Great getting out to the woods again on Sunday a longer walk with Tracey and Nathan (on bikes). Tracey testing out the hip fracture recovery on the Frenchman’s line and the sender out of Sleazy Mexican all seemed to be positive, I just immersed in offering advice, guidance, taking pictures catching up with other riders “good medicine for sure”. So here we are Monday and my positive feeling is still very evident, exercises at some point today with wife later I guess, the bike isn’t on the horizon yet but I feel it’s getting closer week by week. Going forwards or going backwards!     

27th August 2020 continuation of the exercise plan seems to be going OK, still have issues with the chest and rib cage, another sneeze yesterday felt like it ripped open again, a called the the GP who got up the CT scan done at MK hospital and advised no fractures or displacement to the sternum, or associated ribs! Hhhhhhhm. We concurred that it can only be soft tissue damage or cartilage at worst and localised anti-inflammatory and pain killers were the only solution as per a broken rib. DO NOT SNEEZE! Note to self.   Had a try in the van only a small journey felt OK but If I’m being honest like the bike not quiet there yet albeit mobility in the neck and shoulders is better day on day depending on my activity levels.  Diet wise we have added far more “aid recovery food types” to my diet, mind you with Anita being vegan as I said before we nearly had them all covered anyhow, so that’s the fuel side of things being taken care of. Waiting on the letter from John Radcliffe as to their up-date, also a local sports injury clinic as to an assessment and possible off site physio sessions, to again aid the recovery process, but more I hope get my neck’s range of movements to their optimum they can be with the surgery and metal structure in place.  Going forwards or going backwards!   

Week 6: post-crash and surgery and time seems to fly by when your not having much fun, storms have come and gone as has the last Bank Holiday which was meant to be a staycation pick me up with wifey, turned out not to be the case. A wet pre bank holiday start we’d booked a hotel in the Forest of Dean as Anita was joining the gang to go explore Mallards Pike on the Saturday. Traffic was bonkers on the A40 thought we’d stop for lunch in Burford but not a chance due to the torrential rain everyone makes b-line for shelter, cafes etc and we had a gin tour booked so time was ticking more so due to the traffic. This was the biggest journey I’d been on in the van felt OK apart from having to brace over any wallows in the road or sharp impacts. Local gin tour was good at Silver Circle Wye Valley gin, worth a visit if you’re in the area.  Found the Royal Lodge at Symonds Yat better be good for £150 a night, transpires NOT, no breakfast included and a £7 parking fee! What is it with accommodation in FoD it all seems stuck in some historical 70’s/80’s bubble or worse whether that be hotel, Air B&B, B&B it’s never been a great experience…..only one springs to mind the Forest Lodge self-catering chalets then I guess no outside influence.  Saturday was a sunny day at Mallards the gang duly arriving in time for the café to open. Looking on Trial Forks all the lines mostly come off the same hill so I thought at least I could walk up and take some snaps. Seemed a good idea at the time but only catching the gang once on Wookies middle I kinda started to sink into a low mind-set; want to ride but can’t ride and the whole thing starts on it’s downwards spiral add that into the mix of a constant ache all over your torso, your own self pity and bingo you have a “miserable git” I hate myself as this has a negative effect on Anita who try as she might can’t pull the dive bombing me up out of the dive of self pity which all took it’s toll on us both. Going forwards or going backwards!   

The following days were better. The weather cheered up, I joined the Sunday ride group and did some trail maintenance on Hogan’s felt good just to be in the woods, a mental mindset re-boot, standard coffee’s after to some kind of normality, it was good to see the gang. I’ve mentioned I seem to have reached a plateau or so I feel with exercises I’m currently doing, don’t get me wrong there is a marked improvement, no struggling like a novice escapologist in a sack getting my t-shirt off, bonus!  My side to side neck movements seem to be getting there too, but lifting my head back my front neck muscles and tendons seem to be in constant battle with my back neck muscles, small noticeable things like taking the last sips of a drink from a cup/can I’m having to lean back with my upper torso to achieve that, the same with shaving under your chin a real struggle crazy small little bench marks, but at the same time little goals to try and achieve in the big scheme of  recovery.  Going forwards or going backwards!   

6-8 week benchmarks seem the norm over medical advice on most things for your average person, but I guess that all depends on the severity of what’s happened and what’s been done to patch you up, I feel less foggy in my head currently and feel/think I can do more than I really should be!  We have been trying gravity assisted neck exercises laying over an edge with Anita supporting my head and chin and just gently trying to let the neck muscles ease back. Without a % gauge in my head it feels massive, reality is it’s small but it seems to help. Little fears creep in my mind as to will my neck ever be fully functional? We looked at mine currently against Anita’s and I’m miles off. Being realistic I guess the two titanium bars will restrict some movement backwards but as to how much I do not know, I sat on the bike this morning on the turbo and my head position is in a better position than a week ago, not as forced, but I’m not kidding myself it’s anywhere near being right as are the muscle groups in between my shoulder blade, still as taught as can be, but I’m going to take this little gain. With more aggressive sports physio due to start with Body Limits on the 15th September I hope we can see better improvements, yes it’ll hurt but my torso is hurting constantly every day in annoying tooth ache kinda way, so a little pain to gain and perhaps some tears will be a good thing .  Going forwards or going backwards!   

I have done some small jobs locally just simple tasks to keep me from going stir crazy, this is kind of exercise in a different way,  had another test drive locally again wasn’t too bad either but again as another gauge, my mobility wise is not too bad, things considering, but I am my own worst enemy constantly battling with my perceived what I can think I can do to what I can actually do, coupled with the constant ache come evening time I’m shattered. It was great  hooking up with James Fagan who again is a local lad who broke his back in the bike park the weekend before my crash and was in John Radcliffe the same time as me. Both on our own roads to recovery so I hope we can spur each other on somewhat, but I think between us we have pretty much broken a whole spine give or take a few vertebrae. So everything is kind of in place going forwards, the diet also helps aid recovery feeding those internal ambulance crews still working overtime fixing my body, loads of fruit and berries, nuts, eggs, chicken, fish coupled with healthy veg – don’t get me wrong there is still room for a few naughty snacks n sweeties. First outpatients at spinal injury is Friday 11th over at the Nuffield in Oxford fingers crossed they are happy with my progress.  Going forwards or going backwards! 

EGGS: It’s what’s on the inside that counts! Crack open some eggs to give your body a boost. Just one egg gives you a dose of protein, vitamins A and E, B-complex vitamins (including B12), riboflavin, folic acid, calcium, zinc, and iron. There’s a reason why eggs are among the first things served to recovering patients.

FATS: This one may come as a surprise to some people, but not all fat is bad fat! Following surgery, healthy fats help your body absorb vitamins from the other foods in your diet. It strengthens the immune system and can decrease your chance of infection. Other benefits of fats include providing energy and vitamin E, and they can also reduce the appearance of scars. Some healthy fats to add to your diet include: Avocados, Coconut Oil, Nuts, Olive Oil, Seeds,

FRUITS: Before and after surgery, you’ll want to get yourself a fruit bowl and fill it with all your favorites (simplify things and ask friends or family to send a fruit basket!). Fruits offer a good dose of vitamin A, C, carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidants. One of the best fruits are berries; they may be small, but berries pack a punch! They’re also a great source of vitamin C, which has been shown to rebuild collagen and soft tissue, healing your incision site faster. Not a big fruit eater? Get out the blender and make delicious smoothies. There are countless recipes online! Some of the best fruits to consider in your diet include: Apples,Apricots,Berries,Grapefruit,Mangos,Melons,Oranges,Peaches,Tomatoes

LEAFY GREENS: Greens are like nature’s multivitamin, providing a wealth of nutrients a healing body needs. Eating greens will give you a healthy dose of vitamin A, C, and E. Not familiar with vitamin K? It’s produced by plants and is well-known for its role in blood clotting, which aids in healing. Need more proof that greens are good? They also give your body a hearty amount of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Go green with these leafy greens: Bok Choy,Collard Greens,Kale,Romaine Lettuce,Spinach,Turnip Greens

MEATS OR ALTERNATIVES: It’s surf and turf time! The protein and iron provided by meats are important to repair damaged muscles following your procedure. The amino acids in meat help regenerate tissue and aid in the production of collagen, which protects the skin and ensures effective healing. If you’re one of the 7.2 million Americans who abstain from meat, there are numerous other sources of protein. Vegetarians (and even vegans) can get their proteins from soy (it’s even better in the form of tofu), buckwheat, oatmeal, rice, quinoa, beans, hummus—even that old favorite, PB&J sandwich!

VEGETABLES: Vegetables provide some of the most important vitamins and nutrients to help your healing body. Vegetables also provide a source of carbohydrates, which give you energy and help stop muscles from breaking down. A healthy amount of carbohydrates will help you fight some of the fatigue you may feel following surgery. These vegetables are great sources of vitamin A and C, and add fiber to your diet, which can reduce constipation, a common side effect of pain medication and lowered mobility. You want to keep yourself from becoming constipated as putting strain on your body can compromise your wound closure, even resulting in wound dehiscence. Vegetables to consider include:Cabbage,Cauliflower,Carrots,Bell Peppers,Broccoli,Brussel Sprouts,Potatoes

WHOLE GRAINS: Most of us know the importance of fruit and vegetables, but often overlook whole grains, which is a mistake we must not make. This essential food group contains an extensive list of vitamins and nutrients, many of which are necessary for wound healing: protein and zinc to help repair tissue, iron to deliver oxygen to the wound bed, and magnesium to up the body’s defense mechanisms. Some foods to consider introducing to your diet include:Barley,Millet,Pilaf,Quinoa,Risotto,Whole wheat or rye sourdough breads,Wild Rice


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No Ordinary Life Currently

The first week out of the way the exercises seem to be OK as one muscle group relaxes another seems to be taut, the upper rib cage and chest still the most painful bit.   The past weekend was a nice one some really cool friends stuck their heads in always a good pick me up when your immersed in your own limited bubble. The week was ramping up to one of the hottest of the summer and the weekly routine kind of now set; breakfast in bed, nice and healthy, take it easy getting up, decide on the day’s activities that would at some point include the daily exercises, a test at some point on the bike to see how the head position was, walk of some description, lunch with wifey,  the resist a snooze but the latter normally won, chill out might even treat myself to a G&T, beer or glass of wine, nice healthy tea before that evening burn and weight kicks in, neck a couple of pain killers before bed and get ready to settle down and let the bodies ambulance crews work into the night repairing me. No Ordinary life currently!  

Anita went for the regular Tuesday evening ride in breathless heat albeit 17.00. Life carries on outside my world and I wouldn’t want my wife not to do the things she/we love, she works bloody hard on all fronts, work and Flow, now having to keep my arse in check, keeping fit and shredding. I’m not missing it in a strange way because I’m not ready, nowhere near ready, head position feels forced, and I don’t think I’d have any control even riding the smooth redways of MK  ‘never be a passenger on the bike’.  I seriously thought it would be eating me up but right here right now I’m happy (in an uncomfortable recovery way) thankful that I can do what I can do as limited as that is I’m not in a wheelchair semi paralysed!  Wednesday came back to routine a surprise from a old friend from way back, was so good to catch up and added more sunshine to the cool summer morning and my exercises. Plan was to hook up with the Wednesday night crew at the burn bike park but I was absolutely shot that evening the heat taking its toll, adding to the discomfort it was going to be a long night. No Ordinary life currently! 

Days now settling into some kinda of abnormal rhythm for me feeling set in a recovery lul of easing up each morning, healthy breakfast, shower, write some blog, go for a walk, plan when to do the day’s exercise, lunch with wifey, snooze, evening meal, chill before the neck shoulders and head start to get heavy the neck burn kicks in, drugs, ease into bed sleep and repeat!  Progress in a way but it’s only reaffirmed when you meet someone who may not have seen you for a week or a few days “wow I can’t believe your this, your that, you look normal” (pushing it!) but it’s my gauge of my progress and it does make you feel good about things. Friday night pizza night always look forward to this, easy TV and early bed as Anita was off with the gang in the morning to ride Eastridge so I was going to be home alone Saturday! Yikes! Probably the first day I really did do sweet FA, heard Anita leave at 7am, dozed off again, up at 8.30am made breakfast and back to bed to eat, chill catch up on messages, coaching stuff, shower and up. Exercised early and thought about a walk into town but it was whazzing down and that was set for the day writing the blog, watching TV, Arsenal stuff, old and new, interviews, Moto GP, Rossi, Mandalorian, lunch snooze, hoover as best I could snooze again and Anita arrived home everyone safe. Too late to cook so we ordered in with some wine, choose a film and got cozy for the night, kinda normality even if you added the late evening issues kicking in. No Ordinary life currently! 

Sunday no club ride today “what would you like to do Mark?” looked nice out so I said “shall we go for walk up the woods go to the crash site?”  “OK if that’s what you want to do”. So a lazy morning we got there for 10am, no neck brace today as we walked in taking it easy, impossible climb looked greasy under foot so we opted to go down one of Jamie’s old lines next to it, then up the gully climb to the hub of a few lines in backwoods. Andy rocked up as did Adders & Kivas, also had a chat with a few other riders that had heard my plight & recovery. Wasn’t too sure how I was going to feel as last time I sat here I was about to drop into this line after having an awesome ride. Thinking back over some of the accidents I have had over the years some bike related, motor bike and car there are only two that still stick in my mind as thought provoking, one gives me the shivers still to this day, the other at 53 made me take stock of my riding, how was this accident going to fair in my mind and future riding?  No Ordinary life currently! 

My Crashography so to speak and thinking about it in line with my current position – historically there was always some point on that recovery road/rehab I could see myself getting back on the bike to some degree and then kicking on, this feels different here right now I can’t see that or when that might even be? Perhaps age and experience is playing a part here, I can’t quiet put my finger on it. Going back to when I was 17 and a serious RTA I thought it would be a good idea to knee a car out of the way, ripping my leg out of it’s socket and shoving it up behind my pelvis, fracturing the head of the femur cleanly, fracturing the knee cap too joys! Immediate thoughts were to get my bike, eeer no chance, and then asking the ambulance crew if I’d be fit for the cup final in a weeks’ time?  Wheeling me in to Northampton Hospital as they wheeled my boyhood hero Barry Sheene out, one consolation I had the same surgeon.   A month in and no chance of a hip replacement at 17, they decided radioactive dye in the bone to see if nature would do it’s thing it did and they pinned it to be safe, then home and a year non weight bearing (something they wouldn’t dream of now)  it fucked my left leg up losing mass something it’s never regained all these years on. Lots of pool/aqua rehab, dad adapting my 50cc bike so I could get me self to physio crazy days, and I pass that scene thousands of times and never bat an eyelid only think that’s were I had my bike accident. It never stopped me in my sporting activity’s only drove more determination. No Ordinary life currently! 

Always been sporting and good at most, county athletics & cross country, club tennis, 14 handicap at golf, club football and county trials for rugby, something had to give, ditched the running stuff, golf and tennis, too skinny for the rugby, so my energies went into football, later on this mountain biking thing. I trained at a local club (Bradwell St Peters) South Midlands league purely as it was close to home and all I wanted to do was get fit, wasn’t interested in playing  after a season got selected for the reserves, played for  several local teams at County level stepping up to MK Borough reserves, southern counties three tiers below Div 4 (no premiership at this point) but a good standard, plus I ran a small a side team SCF86, 5v5 / 6v6 / 7v7 leagues, became the team to beat for years and the only English club to win the Prague 6’s being the pinnacle of that team.

Started mountain biking in the late 80’s buying a Kona Lava Dome bespoke build in stealth black, project one fork, Deore thumb shifters and group set, Onza tyres and bar ends, side pull brakes and toe straps “let’s go race”. Local club level XC racing  over Herts, Beds and Bucks Bill Steele events, in the top three on all the races over two seasons bagging seven top spots.  Venturing further afield riding over the UK, raced one international at Cannock Chase and placed 27th out of 350 riders in category. Training for Peaks endurance event my knee blew up at Woburn and knowing Mark Booth (Uk rider/Tri guy) popped to see him “Jamsey your pelvis is all out of line you need to get that checked out”. No Ordinary life currently! 


OK I’d lost 20mm off my hip bang goes football, after a year battling NHS red tape got referred to the Nuffield Orthopaedic in Oxford (spooky eh) BHR Birmingham hip resurfacing was to be the outcome after a year battling with walking like Charlie Chaplin. Two weeks and I was up and at em, on my feet after 5 days post op. Set about getting fit once more, down the gym doing pool/aqua work outs, gym work, there was always a point I could see me being back on the bike and I was and duly competed the Nats Peaks off road challenge of 50K. Riding the UK once more, and my local Woburn and Aspley woods some 34 years now. Carried on the football for a bit but riding my bike was to end up being the main attraction and has been ever since. Clubbing era and owning a dance record shop kinda got in the way in those foggy dry iced years before re-discovering the bike Specialized Rock-Hopper with I hasten to add had Rock-shox Judy’s front forks, still side pull brakes but wow. No Ordinary life currently!

Overtime I apparently wore the BHR out and suffered aseptic loosening on the femur fixation! Bugger! Back to the Nuffield Orthopaedic in Oxford where it was confirmed and on November 11th 2009 had a THR but some swanky new hip tech Stryker Accolade system, cemented in my Femur, with ceramic head and cup enabling possible revisions, a guinea pig of sorts but in five days again I was back on my feet and out again in two weeks post op, cracking on with rehab de-ja-vu and I recall I was with Anita now and come Boxing Day that same year I rode my bike again around the streets and never looked back enjoying riding my bike home and over Europe before Manzine (Morzine became the Benidorm of MTB). The DH scene had really kicked off now something I wanted to get into, but again there was always the bike at the end of the recovery tunnel and I could visualise it. No Ordinary life currently! 

I have had a few crashes over the years knackering my shoulder, inflamed bursa, got that sorted, flat side crash thought I’d broke my THR but again just soft tissue and muscular. Big crash at Cwm Carn DH tracks, wet day few wash outs on my YT Tues – bike of the year 2013 – passing riders/friends/Anita asking if I was OK “yeah I’m fine”. I set off and that’s the last thing I can recall other than being strangled up-side down, putting my full face on the track hanging onto a tree f’ing and jeff’ing at myself as to what I was doing and where I was, then the photographer asking if I wanted a hand up with my bike. Rolled down the trail into the car park to the waiting Anita and mates “where have you been, you’ve been gone an hour”. To this day it’s an hour I’ve lost in my life only those broken flashes, straight to A&E at the local hospital on a loop asking for tea n cake before throwing up with concussion, wasn’t to be the last!  I never rode there again until 2019 booking on a course with Olivier Morris on a DH speed day, putting those demons to rest finally a cracking day even if I was on an enduro bike “the old boy can ride”. No Ordinary life currently!

Woburn bike park 2018, Anita about to hit the middle gap on transfer line. Set off quick, check she was on point that’s the last thing I recall. The M7 line gaps the transfer line and some guy had literally jumped into my head his peddle cutting a gash in my Fox rampage, his tyre marking the and my back, Anita dropping the F- bomb (un-heard of !!!) but again on the repeat loop of concussion and off to MK A&E; pointless night of waiting over 5 hours not even triage so we checked out and went home to recover via Google! Again never really fazed me and I was back on the bike doing all the crazy stuff, racing downhill, enduro races over the UK. There was always a bike or being back on it on the radar just a matter of when.  No Ordinary life currently! 

So the car crash was sandwiched in amongst this lot at some point 2007 I think, wet autumn afternoon, road through Salcey Forest a road driven countless times, long right hander felt the back stepping out on my Mitsubishis FTO, tried to correct it but it went into over steer, brace hands off the steering wheel (slow mo this one) cartwheeling through ditches bending the car in half before being spat across the road into another ditch falling out the car into said ditch cuts n scrapes and wandering on the road in a daze. Checked out at Northampton General and home but still to this day gives me the shivers every time I drive past that spot and never had any impact on riding the bike.

The other one is mountain bike related back in 2018 at Chicksands bike park. Windy as hell day but in the basin of the woods still as can be, one of those days when you’re riding just wasn’t happening, getting angry as the gang Anita, Carl, Matt, Steve, Mark, Nikki went off to run the snake run, I thought bollox I’ll go hit the bull run and gap adjacent to the walk way.  Something that had taken a while to get in my ride repertoire but I’d nailed it on a loan 26” inch Canyon Torque and had done ever since. Coming in hot perhaps too hot but thought speed on this run isn’t such a bad thing ghosting over the first rise and nearly landing to flat on the second leading to that gap, again thinking shit I’m quick, hit it and slow mo kicked in briefly before fast forward SLAM ending up sliding down the landing transition sitting up bike thrown 20 yards away feeling dazed. Off to MK General Hospital for another pointless wait, x-ray and possible fracture of my Acromion (shoulder blade) sling and home before the battle of the consultants ensued “is it broke, oh no it’s not! oh yes it is” I gave up in the end. Don’t get me wrong as I said in a previous post I have the uppermost regard for all the NHS staff regardless of position but like in any organisation there’s always some bell ends and until this day not sure why a foot specialist got involved!  This at 53 altered my riding perception and it was as clear as day “why am I doing this stuff, what do I have to prove, why am I chasing the next big feature were the consequences are far greater if it all goes tits up”. I can hold my own with most riders across the board, in races and out on the trails and bike parks I’m content and love my riding, racing and coaching. No Ordinary life currently!

As we entered into week four of my new un-ordinary life, easing up each morning, healthy breakfast, shower, write some blog, go for a walk, plan when to do the day’s exercise, lunch with wifey, snooze, evening meal, chill before the neck shoulders and head start to get heavy the neck burn kicks in, drugs, ease into bed sleep and repeat! May throw in a few extras if you’re lucky… visit from Dad so he took me out, trying to resist having any pain killers until it was really on the uncomfortable side of things, another try on the static bike, naaah not having any of it, parked again, Kieron came over for few days and helped strip down some bits in his bedroom ready for eBay all made for a change. Increased some of the exercises that do not stress the neck too much up to 20 reps.

So getting back to my current state of mind verse the other crashes where there was a most definitive time on the recovery road when I’d be back on the bike. Perhaps patience comes with age but I think the possible severity of what could have so easily been a different road for me has altered my recovery outlook in “I’m thankful I’m pretty much fully functional”. Visiting the crash scene didn’t seem to faze me looking at it, as per the picture above, it was nothing I really contributed to like if I’d cut a new line, hit a new big feature where the risk level increases as does the possible consequences if it does go wrong, this was just an ordinary trail ridden thousands of times. No Ordinary life currently! 

Thrown from the arrow at the bottom of the photo, into the stump and landing where Anita stands
The stump

I was bit taken back how far I got thrown from the bottom of the picture head n neck first into the stump, spinning to a stop where Anita was standing the rest is new ride history!   So the bike is there as are the trails. I need to feel like I’m fully functional when sitting on the bike with my head not straining to be normally positioned to ride, my shoulders need to be free of the stiffness and lack of mobility. The first of those benchmarks will be on the turbo bike, moving onto the cycle ways around MK, before moving to the bridleways of the woods. As to when those goals will be I can’t say currently but I’m working as hard as my body will let me to put them on the radar and I hope a defined marker on my road to recovery. No Ordinary life currently! 

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Road to Recovery Week 1

The weekend done and a week post op surpassed seemed so quick to reach this point, but again using them as time line references. Few more bits to complete at a client’s, again only sitting watching and advising but again a muggy hot day, and something so simple as a sneeze jolted the body into instant tear enducing  pain bent double sucking in deep breaths trying to get some composure back, my mate could see my discomfort. That happened three times this day each one ending the same way, tear filled pain and what seemed like my first major setback. My sol plexus and chest so, so painful I must have damaged something or cracked some ribs as this seemed to be giving me the most discomfort more than the other parts in the league table of pain and discomfort, adding to the late evening burn there was no way I was exercising today as bed seemed the optimum outcome. Road to recovery week 1!

Based on yesterday Tuesday was going to be a ‘doing F-all day’ to enable me enough energy to do my first set of rehab exercises. I decided to do these after breakfast in the cool of the summers morning.   The plan going forwards: gentle stretch out and rolling of the shoulders / 10xchin to chest / 10xlook ups / 10xhead turn to RH shoulder / 10xhead turn to LH shoulder / 10xshoulder shrugs / 10xlight resistant band double arm pulls / 10xlight resistant ban arm raises / 10xstanding push ups angles to wall/ledge / 10xneck retracts / 10-15min spin on turbo. Carl had been around to set up the Cycleops loaned by Paul and got an old eagle cassette fitted after much ado trying to figure out as it was so close to the cover on the turbo.  We tried a training app out FulGaz kinda worked with real video footage but felt way too uncomfortable to sit in ride position, head was no where near being right, slight low but an incentive to work the neck. Road to Recovery week 1!

Again come evening head and neck always seems to get heavy, the evening burn kicks in around the neck operation and always feeling shattered never quiet putting my finger on as only a week and a bit ago I was bang on fitness wise so did a little digging:

“The surgery itself causes tissue injury. After surgery, your body undergoes repair and recovery, which drives a higher baseline metabolic rate and draws on your nutrient stores. So it isn’t surprising such intense activity at a cellular level results in feeling tired after surgery.”

Post surgery with honeycomb dressing
After the doctor’s visit to remove honeycomb dressing
3 weeks post op healing nicely

Ah-ha kinda coin drops, so on top of trying to go about general activities the body’s inbuilt ambulance crews are on overtime.  Anita had been putting together some high protein meals and I was eating well including my snacks throughout the day, but I was burning all this up with consummate ease. Mind you my metabolic rate was high prior to this heaven only knows the energy I’m knocking out currently, but the body is an amazing bit of kit. The scuffs on my head and nose had almost gone as was the one under my arm, so I guess those ambulance crews could be moved else where in the body, well there was a lot of shit to repair let’s face it.  My chest again was the main cause of discomfort, neck and shoulders only had a say late evening adding to the joy! Fuck another sneeze Tuesday evening again jolting me back into pains-ville, feels like your rib cage is being pulled apart and it takes you a while to get any level of comfort and breathing straight after, wipe away the tears, take the hug from wifey re-group and go again, not a great way to end the day I must sleep now. Road to recovery week 1!  

Steady would be the optimum word for the rest of the week, exercise during the day mainly in the morning, a little walk, some blog writing emptying the mind, lunch and power nap knowing the day would eventually catch up on me. The burn would kick in around 6-7pm quelled by pain killers only Paracetamol  as the last batch of meds would finish this Wednesday another goal on that timeline. The laxatose and senna now reducing the hiking boot n crampons passing down to a silk slipper, phew! As stupid as they may seem they seem like small goals surpassed as you trickle back into some normality. Don’t get me wrong there was shit loads going on with the internal ambulance crews but you take these little goals as steps in the right direction. The exercises seemed to be going OK albeit feeling knackered after and when your immersed in it you can never gauge how you’re doing other than Anita or people revisiting after a few days exclaiming “Oh wow look how well you’re doing etc etc.” So that always makes you feel good about yourself no matter how small that may seem. Still more messages from people I know from around the world and those that have gone through this recovery process. Road to recovery week 1!

Heading towards the weekend always a good thing, been trying to do nothing all week, few little ventures out and the exercises then back for a snooze, feeling shattered.  A longer walk into town and back Saturday would be the furthest walk so far, break in town to have breakfast, mooch around a little then a walk back having to stop for a rest, if I had a fuel guage it’d be running on empty by the time we reached the front door, but another little goal ticked off with a well-earned snooze. More exciting was joining in the Sunday gang for a ride (well walk for my part) I took the neck brace this time just as a safety net in case I tripped arse over. I took the camera too, something else to do, see who was about shredding some of my lines on Barns Hill, taking it steady made it to Social Distance a line I cut in with Charlie (my empire of dirt). Hhhhmmmmm needs some TLC but that’s for another day. Got some shots and bumbled over to TT, then over to Sleazy and Hogan’s gave them a little scrape with my instep but both needed some TLC too, too many bell ends dropping in not knowing the lines and just fucking the trail up with their ineptitude!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr just scope first then shred you twats or F-off to the park………..Ooh must be feeling better! Bumped into a few local riders, hitting up the booter out of sleazy, few coaching pointers and some shots too, one dude giving it a look mum a no hander! It was getting into 11.30/12 where are the gang? It was ticking on a bit and the neck was feeling heavy and I was starting to feel tired so started to walk out down sleazy thought I’d stop by the bomb hole in case some riders came through, good place for some shots as they loft out. A lad dropped in way too hot, newbie, sent it off the lip and started to over rotate in slow motion “OMG” I thought he’s gonna slam into the deck that’s all I need!  Landing backside front wheel and him about to tomb stone it would go either way and it went the good way! Phew! His mate came through, very steady I couldn’t watch anymore so walked away passing those guys stating “you were lucky there bud” he knew it as well. Anita and the gang coming across a guy who had done exactly that a few weeks before but came out the bad side, that’s the fine line we ride. Road to Recovery week 1!

Fuel cells on empty as the gang came past just out of London End Lane, all safe and sound, it was good to be in the woods but that positive mental refresh had been worn away by the exertion needed to do a simple short walk. Still it was nice to see people shredding, the gang out and go for coffee adding some kind of normality to life, then home for a snooze and re-set, a chilled rest of the day before the start of a new week of I hope going in the right direction. Road to Recovery week 1!

Guess I’m kind of up to speed now so these blogs will be less frequent, not wanting to bore or anything, but there’ll be up-dates as we go along, so at this point thank you for spending the time to read my adventure thus far, as honest as it is, seems a long road at the moment but I’ve got some amazing people around me, there are some goals on that road as to when I’ll get to them I’m not sure at this juncture but they’re there waiting, teasing, incentivising – well that’s how I’m thinking. You all take care ride safe and enjoy your shredding YeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooooooW!”

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Going Home!

The plan was to try and time Anita’s visit to co-inside with the discharge as best we could so we aimed for 1pm just past lunch time.   Tea time came and went and the change of shifts and the vital checks and early evening tea trolley rounds, thought I’d go for a little walk, use the loo, just because I can now!, and try and settle down for the evening. The guy opposite (goby pub fight dude) was back from surgery after having his jaw wired; a rest from him talking bollox at least. Feeling pretty chuffed with my confident loo visit I got as comfy as possible circa 8pm and Jamie in the corner, still curtain bound, had already started the nose trumpet snoring so it was ear buds in and immerse in music, chatting with a close friend sharing music tracks and tunes.  I must have floated off on some chill out tracks jolted back to semi awake about 2am, the full ensemble giving it some beans nose trumpet wise. Going home!

A restless night but it would be the last one! Please be the last one?  In and out of sleep the night dragging on and then it was the change of shift and Thursday had begun in earnest. Last vitals and meds round done I drifted back off to sleep to be awoken by the breakfast guy; tea yes please! OJ, soggy Weetabix hhhhhhhmmmmmm kinda got into this now but can’t lie looking forward to fresh fruit selection, fresh coffee, croissants and Friday morning at home. Waited for the morning rush for the bathroom to be over, having a chilled morning eventually getting my slack arse out of bed for the shuffle to the bathroom. Same procedure getting up and at ‘em, getting more fluid each time, taking it easy waiting for the chest, shoulders and neck to find it’s weight level. Trying to go to the toilet seemed impossible, but they kept on insisting, a walnut was all they were getting, a shave and wash, some attempt to look half presentable for wifey. I was up looking out at the sunshine and outside world when the morning consultants came in and a sharp bark from Kat “get that chin up Mark !!” prompting a quickish turnabout chin up and smile, a smile that was reciprocated she was very pleased to see me up and steady. We kinda said our goodbyes and with that she was off to see her next cases at whatever stage they were at, amazing people. Going home!

Lunch came and went and Anita had arrived I said my discharge had been signed off we were just waiting on the meds to come from the pharmacy. The leaded clock hands kicked in once more as things were packed up, I wrote a heartfelt card of thanks to those amazing nurses and staff that had looked after me, some swanky chocolates too, again what could you give to say thanks that could even be measured on the same level, but all I had was words. With bags all packed up, finally the senior nurse came with my take away meds bags. This was the first time Jammie’s curtains had been open as they wheeled him off to physio and I wished him a good session, he actually responded with a thanks, but on leaving time he was zonked out but I said goodbye regardless, it was good to see him at least open to the outside world/ward. Him moving his arms was remarkable when you think about it and we walked gently out the ward past the nurses desk saying goodbye again them all smiling wishing me well, their job done for me setting me off once more and out the ward security doors we went. Going Home!

New territory for me feeling OK on my feet, into the lift to ground level the enormity finally hit me, fear and trepidation that I was leaving that safety of 24/7 care at the touch of a button, shifting that onus onto my amazing wife she just put her arms around me and said “it’s OK we’ll be fine you’ll be home soon”. Another amazing day looked so bright and felt so warm as Anita pulled the van out so I could step up on in, with a pillow to support my back we set off back to Stony Stratford. First time I had seen the route she had been driving all those times coming over, obviously better than my journey in via the ambulance over a week ago, I just gazed out the window can’t really recall my thoughts just lost looking at the world oblivious, a world away from being inside those hospital walls. Going Home!

Took the average hour getting home, roads now familiar as we pulled up our driveway and was in fact truly home.  All seemed a bit surreal walking into the house and sitting in our garden, looking forward to some home cooking, not forgetting to stick to the regimented time slots for the med 1000mg paracetamol, Codeine 60mg, and laxadol in the evenings the only addition being Tramadol 100mg in the mornings; had stock for about 7 days so that would take me into the following week at 4 times a day.  Tate was coming over to help out and keep me in check as Anita was WFH. Looking forwards to my own bed Anita had done some homework on pillow arrangements as I gently, with a little help, got into bed as ours was a lot lower than a hospital one, I was in almost a reverse of getting out then legs up and rest! Going Home!

Amazing full night sleep as Anita woke me with that breakfast I’d dreamed of, bit of a struggle getting to sit up but I was up hhhhhhhhhmmmmmmm so good, a great start to the day looking out into the garden and beyond through the glazed bedroom walls. Meds taken time for a nice home shower one you could actually stand under, up and into the garden taking in the warmth of the morning, Tate was up, felt quiet emotional today for some reason? Just pottering around Tate trying to keep me in check the I’m OK back to normal irrational mind-set I can do all these mundane things in my mind. Tate trying his hardest to keep me doing nothing I think this was going to be the next hardest step ‘Doing Nothing!’ Me being active in my daily routines and then also the coaching and just shredding all that now parked for however many weeks there was no time line currently to work to, only the first week I was to rest, that would turn out to be a hard first goal. Going home!

Yep it was, just a day being up and mobile took its inevitable toll as the recovery roller coaster went into it’s first low point, but visits from neighbours, family and friends and the countless supporting messages keeping you on the level with hope ahead that things will be alright?  Saturday again battling with doing nothing along with the gang off riding Breacon Gap on Saturday I prayed for a safe ride, Anita not doing the Sunday ride this time again her and Tate keeping me in check. We talked about putting together a rehab exercise plan with the help from a mate that spends most of his time mending  pro superbike racers, but again as I was already more advanced it was a matter of adapting the routines to my own personal work out with an aim to start in a weeks time. Going Home!

The days ticked by steady, Anita and Tate working well as a team keeping me in check, doing little walks around the block, catching up with neighbours who seemed amazed at my progress, a steady flow of visitors family and friends and again support from the MTB community I am lucky to have so many amazing people around me.  The laxatose, Senna and gravity combo plus the other concoction of drugs doing battle, as I was getting concerned as to where all this food was going? Oh and there it was normally regular as, things started if shitting a walking boot out your arse with ice crampons on was anything to go it wasn’t a pleasant experience, screwing up the macerator in the process oh for FS!!!!!!! Going Home!

That was to be the precedent for the next few days. Wednesday was here with a 10am slot to have my wound checked and scar dressing changed if required with a check for any signs of infection. Anita had purchased some large Mepore water proof dressings in case, but the nurse removed the honeycomb dressing and gave it a clean and confirmed everything was hunky-dory, but gave me some water proof dressings just in case. I guess another goal achieved in the recovery time line like taking a crap, next Iwas guess the meds finishing them all seem to be a goal on that line of recovery. I’d contacted some clients about outstanding work projects and arranged for a close friend to complete the works with me just being there sitting around on the coming Friday, I wasn’t going to be much use but I was there in spirt I guess. We got the job completed, well all the major works. The Friday was as hot as into the 30’s degree wise and the day and heat took it’s toll, I was shattered. The rescue team Anita, Gosia, Paul, Nikki and Carl were popping around for an evening alas Chris and Andrew could not make it, but I needed to see these people and say my heartfelt thanks in person. It would never be enough as their prompt actions most defiantly contributed in me being in the state I am now and not in a wheelchair For ever indebted, amazing people and with all the shit that’s going on in the world restores faith that the majority of people/human beings are just bloody amazing. Going home !    

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Change of Life’s Goalposts

Anita arrived and what a mood change, as uncomfortable as I was but not in any real pain, it was so good to be out the other side seeing her, a heeling tonic in itself. I’d been moved to a general ward of four beds, old guy opposite came in for kidney scan found cancer on the spine, to my right another old guy had a fall and bleed on the brain and in bay 4 a guy in his late 40’s who had a wake board accident and broke his back and had been in six weeks already in a proper bad way and spent most of the time behind closed curtains, they made up the triple brass midnight nose snoring orchestra. Back to regular eats now albeit trial and error with swallowing stuff, so mainly mince stuff, mash, soup, pasta, veg that kind of thing, backed up with goodies that Anita brings in, you know me and my snacks. Lots of amazing messages and thank god for video calls all again great tonic and I realise now a massive relief for all those on the outside that things had all gone to plan. Change of life’s goalpost!

Was it time for Anita to go already the precious hour (well eaten into and over) but she had an hour + drive back home and normal life to carry on. Hospital life carries on seamlessly through shift changes but the standard never slips. Laying there mind now changing tact into all those things, movements, actions we all just take for granted when we are fit and able and the simplest of things just shifting in bed, to reaching for something on the table right there, yes right there!! becomes something to achieve. Being able to sit up and eat properly and drink a cuppa without a straw, make it to the toilet just 3 meters away seemed massive goals to try and achieve, the whole thought of getting on my feet as Nik had said this very morning seemed so very distant. Change of life’s goalpost!

The battle of the visiting hour meant Anita could not come over on the Sunday as the slot was given to my parents, so a video call was arranged with wifey instead. Mind you both parents came walking into the ward how they pulled that off heaven only knows but all the same it was good to see them both. Both looking well and, putting aside any issues they may have had, both in their 80s now I was expecting the lecture on “should you still be doing this sport at your age!” but it never came because it’s what we do, it’s part of our life and if you give up on things you love and love doing then what have you got? My mum potters around doing her thing looks great for it, my dad still enjoys riding his various motor cycles even after a RTA last year; yes it’s knocked his 60 years of experience but he’s back doing it ‘inspiration right there’. There is lots of inspiration about if you look – Brook Mcdonald’s story a year after breaking his back in a UCI world cup DH race, more pro riders that have had big crashes, but even on a local level riders I know have had some big knocks and long recoveries and are back on the bike. Change of life’s goalpost!

No Sunday lunch today but again thankful for my lunch think I went for the sandwich option with added snacks that Anita had smuggled in. Looked a nice day out as much as I could turn my head right to peer out of the curtains. Had a video chat with Anita, Tate, my sister and responded to mountains of messages and well wishes, even from people I don’t know, made my heart smile. Anita told me of another local guy that was at SJR who’d broke his back, punctured lung, broken ribs – James Fagan, bro of Sam Johnson exceptional rider and trail building guru. We exchanged some messages and shared experiences but I couldn’t get to see him, due to the Covid restrictions, perhaps a hook up when we are out, sounded awesome. The goal of standing up would come tomorrow partially aided, but right now with the loo 3mtrs away and having to walk there seemed insurmountable – enter more tears, not running into my ears this time as 30 degrees bed tilt meant cheeks run off. Seems silly I know but it’s those simple things that seem so very f-ing hard as you battle with your thoughts. Change of life’s goalpost!

First shit night’s sleep as the JR philharmonic brass nose orchestra kicked off early, at best it was an hour here, an hour there, interrupted also by vital checks and another regular injection in the abdomen wasn’t good prep for the next day’s getting on your feet party! Getting used to the shift changes now and collecting my empties (urine bottles) was I plugged into the mains water system? Breakfast down, wash n brush up, visit from the consultants and encouraging words from Katarzyna saying “I want to see you up today and we’ll book you in for some x-rays OK”. She was so so gutted she could not attend the actual surgery procedure in person, but again spoke with excitement on how well it went. Text book, neat and tidy, “trust yourself Mark, your neck is super strong but use those muscles OK”. I felt energized but scared at the same time as the nurses arrived to get me up. Roll to the right hand side of the bad with feet slightly dangling over the edge ready to go for the sitting up first stage. On three… one, two, three big push with my arms and I was sitting on the edge of the lowered bed feet on the floor, the sheer weight of my head and shoulders felt like I was lifting half dozen bags of cement head feeling so so wobbly “trust your neck it’s strong” on repeat in my subliminal thought, you got this. Nurses on hand just in case I was too unsteady. Gather myself some slow breaths and here we go something you would just take for granted, one big push and I was up on my left leg with my right knee still on the bed, that immediate rush wasn’t exhilaration as I was hoping it was the opposite end of the scale the weight of me and gravity bearing down on my neck, shoulders and back was unbearable to the point the pain threshold had been superseded and I thought I was going to faint. I couldn’t move, I was hyper ventilating, the nurses unsure what to do, trying to ask me if I was OK, I couldn’t get any rational words outs, my thoughts were “no I fu-ing wasn’t”. I just collapsed on the bed in a blubbering mess nothing positive there to hold onto, more drugs to calm me down and I hope to re-group. Change of life’s goalpost!

Took a few hours to get to some level playing field aided by the thought Anita was due in around 3pm. With my music and funky blue tooth ear buds I sank into my music, catching up with friends until Anita arrived. Told her about this morning’s set back trying to hold back the tears again, but with her encouragement we agreed to give it another go when I was ready. Felt daunting once more but with her there it relieved some of that anxiety, as I got to the right hand side of the bed once more. De-ja-vu, legs dangling onto the floor ready for the push to sitting position and go! I was sitting again so good so far. Sat there for bit to steady my head and perception of balance, ok ready with her holding my hands I went for the two footed method unlike the scared effort of the morning and I was up ! I was bloody standing up! Bit like Bambi but I was up as gravity perched that weight on my neck, shoulders and back, what’s with these fuc-ing tears albeit ones of happiness I think. It must have been 5 minutes before returning to sitting then slumping to my right pleased and absolutely shattered a goal achieved. Change of life’s goalpost!

I still had no idea of what the metal works looked like in my neck or the gory scar, couldn’t really feel my neck shoulders or back as it felt like a scaffold plank. Had quick look at my 7iDP lid and examined the damage OMG! Well that did the trick and possibly saved my life or at worst some sort of life long paralysis. I just don’t get why people think they are uncool I’d gladly swap ya! James opposite was discharged to his local hospital and the guy to the right of me also going home, still curtains drawn for the other poor guy and then there was two. Only for a short time as a new guy came walking in undressed and plonked on the bed opposite, brief with the nurses, me eves dropping “well I was just standing in the pub and then some bloke punched me out cold! It’s OK as my mates got him and I hope he’s in the morgue” hhhhhmmmmm twat I thought and wanted to punch him too just had that way about him !!! Change of life’s goalpost!

Tuesday x-ray day and a possible challenge of walking 3 meters to the loo to save Ernie’s urine collection round or have a shower. How exciting, how daunting! Just after lunch they came to take me down “do you think you could sit in a seat Mark?” “I’ll give it a try” I said so going over the same routine as the standing up, roll right side with dangling feet touching the floor and push and sit on bed edge, phew done. Take a bit of time to compose for the switch to the porters chair with a little help to switch I was in, phew! Felt like a full body work out but it was good to see the corridors in different perspective, more normal as we made it to x-ray ghost town. Finally we found radiologist who went over the procedure and that she needed me standing “do you think you can manage that Mark?”. Knowing that the more stable I would become on my feet the more chance I had of being discharged “I’ll give it a go” I exclaimed. There were supports to grab hold of but geez it was hard work getting up and I think exertion and gravity resulted in me pissing myself a bit! Fuck sake how embarrassing! Nurses not perturbed not a jot “don’t worry Mark you’re doing great hold that position”. I must have said sorry over and over again but again they just batted it off as if it was nothing out the ordinary… amazing people. Change of life’s goalpost!

Back on the ward I just crashed out but pleased I got the x-rays out the way another goal achieved, now I was looking forward to seeing wifey and the possible toilet walk. Bang on time she arrived like a ray of sunshine. Had a little catch up and she took a look at my scar and the x-ray I had taken a snap shot of. My nose was healing now as were the impact scuffs on my head from the helmet. They say once I’m stable on my feet there is no reason I can’t be discharged. Massive incentive right there grasped fully, told her about the disaster I had at the x-ray, but again it just didn’t seem to both her either, more important was getting up for the shower walk we agreed! A few sits on the side of the bed going over that routine a few times feet firmly planted on the cool floor thinking it’s 3 meters away I got this with one big push I was standing once more holding Anita’s hands gently just getting my balance killing the compression sock anti slip sock combo playing havoc with my OCD colour co-ordination! Change of life’s goalpost!

OK lets do this – fear, anxiety, drive, goals, discomfort, can I do this thoughts all jockeying for prime spot in my thoughts. Anita my safety net as that first step, second step, third step albeit a little doddery, 2 more meters, 1 more meter the door handle, smile, welling up, I’m there I fucking made it! I said felt like was a doddery old man to Anita she replied “well you are old, and you were doddery” we both just creased up with laughter or as much as I could laugh it felt good to laugh. Change of life’s goalpost!

This would now set the president for the next few days pushing for that green light from senior ward nurse that I was good to go. Getting up to go to the loo felt a luxury although it was a bit hard to look n aim, but feeling more confident, walking to the ward window peering out finally to people going about their daily business in the sunshine, chatting with the guys in the ward, venturing outside the ward feeling more confident hour by the hour before crashing for power nap. More simple goals ticked off sitting up eating, no more straw or beaker, yes a proper tea cup. Wednesday came and a new goal added to my pottering around and being told sharply by Kat the consultant to keep my chin up, we had a little chat about things, life etc not related to hospital are things changing to normal life? Walked to the window gawping out to see if I could see Anita driving in, but she beat me she was by my bed looking for me, plan was to go for a bigger walk down the side ward corridor, feeling more assured on my feet now the weight still evident on my neck and shoulders, but able to just keep it under the pain threshold. We filmed the little 100 meter walk, then it was back to bed to chill and catch up on life, friends and family. We had a chat to the senior ward Sister and things were looking good for discharge Thursday 30th July. The consultants were all OK so it just tying up the paper work, discharge sign off and then getting the meds done, another night I could cope with that… this time tomorrow I’ll be home. Change of life’s goalpost!

Simple fractures usually take about 6-8 weeks to heal, although larger or elderly bones take longer. There are four main steps to bone repair:

  • The blood vessels ruptured in a broken bone cause a blood filled swelling called a haematoma at the site of the fracture
  • A cartilage callus forms in place of the haematoma. It acts to splint the broken bone
  • A bony callus forms, replacing the cartilage with a callus made of spongy bone
  • The bony callus remodels in response to stress placed on it, forming a strong, permanent patch at the fracture site

Promoting the wound healing process is a primary responsibility for most health care practitioners. It can take 1-3 days for a closed wound to actually establish a seal. Infections usually occur in 3-6 days but may not appear for up to 30 days, according to the CDC guidelines for preventing surgical infections. The wound healing process can be seen as an overlapping healing continuum, which can be divided into four primary phases:

1. Hemostasis Phase
The hemostasis phase of the wound healing process begins at the moment of the initial injury, and takes approximately 15 minutes. Whether a surgical incision or accidental breakage of the skin, a wound starts an outflow of blood and lymphatic fluid. This starts the hemostasis phase of the wound healing process, which aims to stop the bleeding. During this process, platelets adhere to the damaged endothelium and discharge ADP (adenosine diphosphate) to create clumping in the thrombocytes, which stops up the wound. The enzyme thrombin initiates the creation of a fibrin mesh, which stabilizes the platelets into a stable clot. After the vasoconstriction is finished, the blood vessels dilate to allow an influx of other blood cells and thrombocytes.

2. Inflammatory Phase
The inflammatory response is the defensive phase of the wound healing process that lasts 4-6 days, and is often associated with swelling of tissues, reddening of the skin around the wound, heat, and pain. This stage of the wound healing process focuses on removing debris and destroying bacteria. Within 24-48 hours after the initial injury, white blood cells called neutrophils reach their peak population, and do their work of killing bacteria and taking away debris. As the neutrophils leave after about three days, specialized macrophages enter the wound site and continue the debris cleanup. Macrophages secrete proteins that orchestrate:

  • The multiplication of endothelial cells
  • Sprouting of new blood vessels
  • Duplication of smooth muscle cells
  • Macrophages also secrete growth factors like TGFs, cytokines, interleukin-1, tumor necrosis factor, and PDGF, which attract immune system cells and begin tissue repair.

3. Proliferative Phase
Now that the wound is clean, the proliferative phase (which lasts 4-24 days) begins the process of filling and covering the wound with new skin. This phase of the wound healing process has 3 stages that operate in an overall and ongoing process:

  • Filling the wound
  • Contracting the wound margin
  • Growing new skin over the wound or re-epithelialization

First, red granulation tissues fill the wound bed with connective tissues and new blood vessels. Next, in contraction, the margins of the wound begin to pull to the center of the wound to close it up. Finally, epithelial cells come up from the wound bed and margins, and migrate until the whole wound is covered with new skin or epithelium.

4. Remodeling Phase
The remodeling (or maturation) phase of the wound healing process is where the wound bed slowly strengthens and gains flexibility. The collagen fibers reorganize, remodel, mature, and regain the tensile strength of up to 80% pre-injury. The collagen deposit in normal wound healing reaches a peak in the 3rd week, and maximal tensile strength is usually achieved by the 12th week. Depending on the severity and type of wound, the remodeling stage can last from 21 days to 2 years.

Primary Intention Wound Healing Process
Primary wound healing occurs when the tissue surfaces are closed by stitches, staples, skin glue, or steri-strips. A surgical incision that is closed by stitches is a good example. This sort of closure of the wound surfaces creates very little tissue loss, and makes the wound healing process as quick and easy as possible.

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NHS – They Can Rebuild Him

A restless night ensued, kept thinking to myself by this time tomorrow it’ll all be over and I’ll be recovering surely.  Losing track of the night, the vitals, nurse shifts coming and going, Friday was here already tired and exhausted through worry, no breakfast adding to that lethargy, there was no looking forward, no excitement, no positive thoughts, the lead handed clock again was ticking as the team of consultants rocked up with a bigger entourage going over the revised procedure, more reassurances and “we’ll see you later”. Another double check from the anesthetist, weight and height then back on the lead handed clock watch!

As the morning bled into the afternoon the hospital porters turned up around 14.30 “OK Mr James let’s get you down to theater” as jolly as can be.  Feeling of dread and fear was the main motion, more ceiling tiles and pictures on the corridor walls, passing the children’s wards as things became more clinical looking  – big sign above the door “Main Theaters” through the double doors and into a lift and upon exit exchanging for pre-med and anesthetist guys wheeling my into pre-surgery room dressed in what looked like space suits. I guess full over suits and full face mask protection fresh air assisted all in a day’s work for these kicking pub like mates conversations about what I do hobby wise, what brought me here as they went about putting more cannulas into me. I could feel the tears trickling down the sides of my face, dry throat, clammy with fear of going under – it’s not the first time so you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Hell scares the shit out of me every time. They can rebuild him!

As the anaesthetic started to send that cool chill in your veins we were just busy chatting away, sometimes they ask you to count but not this time and I was gone into that state where they take over your functionality, time becomes irrelevant as you have no concept of it, the next thing you know you’re in recovery with a kind nurse asking how your feeling and taking your vitals again as you drift in and out of that semi-conscious state, not knowing where you are, tired slurred struggling responses but with a hint of “thank God that’s over” Zzzzzzz ! Zzzzzzzzz !   It transpires the surgical procedure was 2 hours 20 mins but the whole time frame was circa 7 hours before back on ward around 19.00 ish. Oh boy that cuppa tea never tasted soooooo GOOD sucking through the straw, just had to have another. A better night’s sleep and the snoring brass nose quartet could knock themselves out I wasn’t waking for anyone as the meds were still on point. Arm on autopilot throughout the night as the night nurse carried out their duties, bonus having blood thinning injection in the abdomen. Joys eh, I was so out of it they could have stuck anything in me I didn’t care. They can rebuild him!

Saturday breakfast couldn’t come fast enough, again tea tasted divine, backed up with OJ and two Weetabix left to go soggy so I could swallow properly, breakfast never tasted so good after so many days of eating sweet FA!    More meds and “have you passed anything Mr James ?” eeeer like no, I haven’t eaten for 4 days I’m sure I could offer you some methane I thought, but my deflection tactics worked a treat.  Weekend shift came on and asked if I’d like a bed bath? I thought WTF I’d gone past caring about being prude, crack on I said and they don’t hang about and it’s wasn’t a scene out of roman gods being bathed in milk, more like wham bam thank you mam, never had so many ladies seeing me naked, and they didn’t hang about throwing a hot flannel around my rhubarb patch!  Roll this way, roll that way, change of sheets, dry off and fresh CK’s  and they were done! All in a days work, they are amazing people, they become your very function without batting an eyelid, deal with your mood swings, your pain and discomfort, fetch and tend to your every needs as you become solely reliant on THEM.  Clapping in the F-kin street an insult really as I have always held all nursing staff regardless of position in such high esteem they are all truly amazing people doing some real shitty jobs for the pure love of caring for other human beings, mending them, treating them with upper most respect and dignity no matter how long your stay is and only those of you reading this that have had a stay at any hospital will know exactly where I’m coming from here amazing, amazing human beings. They can rebuild him!

The bed bath set off an eruption of pain that I can’t put into context. Those pain filled tears flooding down my face, deeper faster breathing trying to quell the painful  feelings, fire burning down my neck and shoulder blades, like a Sambuca line had been set on fire, dripping with sweat, nurses jumping on it immediately connecting up a morphine drip, getting a fan set up, nerve drugs being administered, as the morphine started to filter through muscle groups relaxing, fire started to be put out as the dreamy calm took over the sensations and rest!  They can rebuild him!   Back on point in time for the morning rounds of the consultants. This would be the last time I’d be seeing Nikolaos, Head Surgeon, from now on in until discharge it would be Katarzyna, Trainee Surgeon.  Nikolaos he’s effervescent self “Morning Mark how are you feeling? The operation went really well your neck is super strong now, stronger than before so get yourself up and get yourself walking. Get your neck muscles working and try not to rely on the neck support or the titanium”. With that they were off on the rounds, I just pictured them in surgery after completion going round high fives and fist bumps such was their enthusiasm in the results of the procedure comforting signs I guess, it’s just a matter of  mind over matter now from me, trust in their work.  They talk in a different mind-set and language with consummate ease almost as if it’s a meccano building challenge. They can rebuild him!    

Stronger than before, they can rebuild him!
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NHS – The John Radcliffe Experience

World renowned it forms part of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is named after John Radcliffe, an 18th-century physician and Oxford University graduate, who endowed the Radcliffe Infirmary, the main hospital for Oxford from 1770 until 1979. (JR) is Oxfordshire’s main accident and emergency site. The JR provides acute medical and surgical services including trauma, intensive care and cardiothoracic services.

Another Covid test and more entry vitals taken continued in frequency into and overnight not having eaten since Tuesday lunch time I was allowed to sneak in evening tea time meal in who ever ordered the day before I was just pleased to eat anything by this time and have a cuppa before the 2am nil by mouth kicked back in again apparently I was booked to have an MRi scan Thursday. The JR Experience!

I had been put into a single private room just off ward, felt very privileged but also cut off again not being able to see anyone only nurse staff when they came in and no contact with Anita although I hope MK had told her I was now here?

Mornings start early in hospitals I should have remembered, circa 6-6.30 am first vitals followed up by meds, if you’re lucky you can grab a power nap again before the breakfast trolley and cuppa arrives alas not for me this morning “bloody starving”. Noise levels kick up as the night shift exchange with the day shift, they again seem to come around for another vitals check in and offer of a wash to get you looking nice n shiny for the senior consultants and surgeons visit. Still in my cycling under padded shorts and ride shirt, there was no way they was getting my shirt off over the neck brace so finally they cut it off to reveal more dirt and forest floor assortment, oooh and new one on me anal swab ! You gotta be f-king kidding, this has to be You’ve Been Framed, c’mon where’s the camera crew? Apparently MRSi related and SJR procedure, OK cotton wall bud up the jacksy it is then.

Feeling more refreshed with just my CK’s for modesty now pain killers and morphine doing a grand job as I met the consultants who went over vital stats, the CT scan results and advise I’ll be in for a MRi scan later that day and from then on they can advise the correct procedure to get me up and running again. Knowing also by this time Anita could come pay a visit and bring me up to speed with the outside world. The JR experience!

“CT Findings: Mr James sustained a mountain bike accident and fractured sublaxaled his C6-C7-C4 and also T1 and a strain of the posterior band between C3
& C7”

2 days in and finally Anita is allowed to visit

The leaded hands of the clock hardly seem to move as the lunch service came and went, so jealous at this point I could have eaten a dry Jacobs cracker and it would have been Michelin 5 star rated. Think it was about 3pm when that amazing lady, my wife, walked though my room doors looking fab, a brief rest bite from my own thoughts finally she was here to hold and take some of that anxiety away; sods law they only rocked up to take me for my MRi scan!! Benefits of a private off ward room Anita was allowed to stay past the allotted 1 hour permitted time slots as I was gone for 55 mins. The JR Experience!

Now MRi this was a new one on me never quiet making it into one, not that I was hankering or anything, but they prepped me and advised Karen (lovely nurse on the ward) I’d be about 15 mins. “Ok Mr James we want you to keep very still and you’ll hear lots of loud noises so here are some ear plugs and if you feel anxious at any time press this button – insertion of pad into hand – and we’ll pop you straight out”. Hold tight here we go, slight purring as I was fed into the space tube like a human torpedo, all seemed very Star Wars at this point as you just listened to all the noises as things engaged. Then the techno sound check started and I’m sure some of these noises had been sampled by some of the worlds finish techno DJ’s! Well that was some 15 minutes, transpires it’s was 50 mins. Karen had gone, replaced by another nurse who appeared to seem nervous about conversing unlike Karen who could have been a lifelong mate, still awkward conversation better than none and that wasn’t as bad an experience as it’s made out bonus going back to see Anita it’s all good. The JR Experience!

Back in the room I was allowed to nibble some cookies, grapes and have a cuppa before Nil by mouth kicked in again at 2am. Great catching up with Anita and what had transpired that fateful evening still not coming to terms with what had happened it most definitely was on the distorted 2020 script for sure as we had so many bike plans crammed into the latter part of the year due to the pandemic putting pay to everyone’s early 2020 plans. I was glad the visit seemed to drag in a very good way but all good things come to an end and I had to say a tearful goodbye to wifey, knowing at least she would be in tomorrow, Friday I think?

A bit out of the norm, a second visit from Head Surgeon Nikolaos and Trainee Surgeon Katarzyna with feedback from the MRi scans. If hospitals had air steward training they would have instructed “Brace! Brace! Brace!”. At this juncture as Nikolaos advised the findings and what they proposed to do “yes it was serious, more serious than the CT scan had shown” and “yes it was surgery” with fractures and damage to various vertebrae C7 & C6 fractured and displaced by 7mm fractures to C4 & T1 and a whole array of other issues highlighted in this report. Emotional wreck would sum me up nicely as the surgical procedure sounded horrendous and they both knew it was a lot to take in no matter how much they tried to comfort me their worry was paralysis at this juncture and to stabilise my neck paramount, going in via the throat, with all its gory sounding issues, and bone grafts etc. way too much to take in drugs or no drugs, again left alone to comprehend all that was laid on the table, with this looming the very next day scarred was an understatement. The JR Experience!

“MRi Findings : Patient was discussed in MDT and posterior long fixation was recommended. Un-displaced spinous process fracrure at C4 and bilaminar fractures at C6 with fracture extension into the right C6 facet, fracture dislocation at the right C6 C7 facet joint with perching of facets. There is a grade 1 anterolisthesis of C6 on C7 with circumferential disc bulging and fracture throughC7 superior endplate with anterior displacement of the anterior corner. Further superior endplate oedema seen at T1,T2 and T3 with oedema extending into T1 pedicles associated with acute bony injury. Extensive soft tissue oedema extending along the anterior longitudinal ligament through this region – into C3 to C7 consistent with high grade acute ligament injury. There is discontinuity of the ligament flavium C5 and C6 with a defect measuring up to 7mm in keeping with rupture (sag series Im: 5-6)”

A short text to Anita telling her about the consultation, fat fingers stabbing at the phone pad through tear stained eyes the severity VERY REAL now and any thoughts of riding again seemed torn up and thrown out the window. Emotions are very powerful more so when left alone to dwell but positive messages came flooding in as the news broke in the outside world, better than any drugs the thoughts and well wishes took the edge off a bit. The JR Experience!

The plan was an early morning or “first thing” as they said, I now know that could mean anytime depending on surgeons shift so Anita hadn’t booked a visitors slot knowing I’d be in theater most of the morning and recovery ward thereafter. Still Nil by mouth hours drifting away, the anaesthetist came took some weights and dimensions promptly followed by Nikolaos, Head surgeon and Katarzyna “Ok Mark we still plan to operate but after further consultations we feel we need to go in via the back of your neck, less complications but priority being stabilisation of the fractures better recovery options too OK, please don’t worry all will be fine”. I did feel a little wave of relief wash over me as the second procedure sounded a much better option, quick message to wifey then back on the waiting game and running over in my head… by this time tomorrow it’ll all be over operation wise, bit of a sadistic way of looking at it but it meant the start of mending, the damage would be fixed-ish, I’d see Anita positives. The JR Experience!

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In safe hands now

I don’t think any of us at that time and throughout really knew the severity of what had happened or what injuries I had sustained, just something bad. I just felt numb and a tadge uncomfortably the whole time. The guys had kept me stable and immobile throughout those hours on the woodland floor and only time would portray what a life saver those actions were, at worse stemming off a real possibility of paralysis of some degree.

Bumping gently over what I now know was Woburn Golf course was the most direct access point to get me out of the woods and on my way to MK General Hospital. Still numb but not in any real pain time had become irrelevant, the last check in the woods was 22.30 and I hadn’t a clue what it was now as my view changed from ambulance roof to a brief waft of night air before A&E ceiling tiles. It all started to become a bit of a blur, tiredness aiding to that sensation. “Ok were going to get you to have CT scan” (a computerized tomography (CT) or computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan combines data from several X-rays to produce a detailed image of structures inside the body ) So nerrr nerrr… In safe hands now!

Into the CT polo and back out again into trauma ward. Still non the wiser as to what I had done to myself but getting used to ceiling tiles in various formats now and finding grit, sand leaves and twigs in various places that my hands could reach and still dressed in my full riding kit. Coughing, moaning, distant shouting, muffled voices of nurses, doctors going about their duties, I just lay there still taught and stiff, hungry, tired, mind just a wash of thoughts about what had transpired that evening; why me, what did I do wrong, why can’t I move my neck but things seem to fine everywhere else, how was Anita, where was Anita? Vitals being checked all seemed fine and part of the course, a senior doctor introduced herself and advised my wife had been informed of my current status (haven’t a clue on time at this juncture) 2am it transpires, initial reports from the CT scan look promising she advised and they were looking at getting me comfortable with an adjustable collar, with observations overnight and we can get you home in the morning. A warm rush of relief washed over me, I think a little smile too. In safe hands now!

How quickly that can change as the medical safety carpet was suddenly pulled from under my feet as the same senior consultant came back to see me. I could make out in the dimly lit ward lighting a totally different persona, that optimistic look had gone replaced with an almost tear teetering serious face “Hi Mark I’m so sorry but after several more in-depth consultants have reviewed your scans we think you have some serious fractures to some of your neck vertebrae we are transferring you to St John Radcliffe in Oxford tomorrow”. My happier mindset draining away with every word, being replaced by a mirror image of the senior consultant serious face but soon overtaking her in the fast lane of emotions with fear, uncertainty, distress and floods of tears trying to be held back “because that’s what blokes do eh”. A comforting hand , more reassurances and sorrys did nothing to quell my current state “I just wanted to hold my wife x” In safe hands now!

Anita had been in and dropped off some essentials but due to Covid-19 restrictions was again unable to visit directly, heaven only knows what she had been dealing with mentally and emotionally. Drifting in and out of sleep states, vital checks, noises of the ward, pain killer drowsiness – emotions running riot in my semi-dream state, Covid test, MRSi test, more vitals and senior doctors talking all seemed blaa, blaa, blaa, blaa they could have told me anything laying with just my thoughts for company. Apparently Anita was told all this at 4am not that that’s any comfort as I’d lost track of anything. I managed to get my spd cycling shoes off by now and my knee pads off my knees before crashing out through exhaustion. Woken by another vitals check and nurses offering some kind of wash only to find more squirrels bedding; Woburn sand literally and a few twigs. Most of that day was a blur to be honest up until the ambulance crew arrived to carry out the transfer to SJR, paramedics and staff getting me onto the clip board and spine board, more straps and head blocks, plus the added face mask to complete this year’s transfer catwalk look. In safe hands now!

Greeted by a warm summer’s day and light breeze, change of ceiling tiles again as I was extracted from MK General to the awaiting ambulance, a quick journey brief and we set off what on a good run was approximately an hour. Tried to play inside my head the game guess the road were on but soon lost interest and the mild excitement of another ambulance ride and transfer lost its appeal to be replaced bumpy minute by minute discomfort laying prone on these boards the ambulance going a smoother speed as feasible prolonging the discomfort, that an hour plus in changed to anxiety as breathing deepened and overwhelming nauseous sensations started to kick in, inducing those tears once more to the point they pulled over to offer some rest bite, install a cannula into my arm to administer anti sickness drug as the cool sensation trickled into my vein systems and 30 minutes later I was back on some sort of level to continue. Transfer taking some 2 hours 40 mins before another glimpse of the summers evening sky and warm air and a new set of ceiling tiles ending up on West Wing Neuro Green ward. In safe hands now!

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Not the last run!

Goes without saying or at least it’s an unwritten MTB rule “the last run of the day” seems to be linked with most accidents so has become taboo in a way, mind you it wasn’t and my mind was looking forward to running the sweet fast descents on Barns Hill – TT, Hogan’s Run and Sleazy Mexican perhaps not Social Distance but any of the above a smile inducing whaaaahoooo. Never the last run!

Sitting at the meeting point start of Frenchman’s and where a few other lines start our plan was going to drop into one of Jamie’s old lines, I’m sure it was magic torch when he cut it, anyhow a few sweeping turns in you have options to split right for the chute or left to drop off a plateau land and immediately sweep left carrying your speed back up the embankment and back on the gas as you start to pick up speed and hit some gnarly roots n ruts, trail splits again to high and low lines again strewn with roots and ruts leading onto the embankment ridge line, options to hit a little booter or roll the embankment. A rooty exit out into some sweeping corners with deep pump ditch to negotiate before the trail splits again to do the full run or cut short and peddle up towards the impossible climb and Barns Hill side. Never the last run!

Let’s go “Hartley”! Anita leading the charge as I set off after her followed by Carl and the others, she had a gone out the blocks like a hare! First section I had been dialling in over the last couple of rides and had a mint line leading up to the drop; fast sweeping corners, tip the bike in to the left of the tree stump and inside the tree on your right-hand side not a lot of room for error but oh so smooth nailed the drop catching sight of Anita disappearing back up the bank. Chase on up the bank letting the bike flow and absorb the hits through the root section picking up speed, opting for standard high line onto the ride line. Accidents happen, or seem to, in one or two distinctive modes… slow mo or you’re on the deck before you know what’s happened. Mine was most definitely the latter, a loud crack followed by an immediate loud clatter of human hitting dirt and objects with a sprinkling of having Anthony Joshua hitting you in the sola-plexus or deflating bag-pipes, coming to a halt on my knees head in hands disorientated. Never the last run!

Crash landing, on all fours and unable to move

Immediate reaction is always to get up check bike. No chance as I couldn’t lift my head and was trying to suck in as much oxygen as possible as the lungs started to fill with air once more, being washed over with adrenaline, numbness, disorientation and WTF happened. Lucky the guys on hand have first aid and carried out the initial assessment – called for an ambulance straight away, checked for bleeds, movement etc. and stern instructions not to move. The gang going into rescue over drive not that I could see anything that was going on still face down and numb. Paramedic crew #1 promptly escorted in and assessed the scene and what had been done already, the next few hours all becoming blurred into some seamless timeless nightmare and series of comical errors as the contract paramedic crew couldn’t find us or an extraction vantage point, time to roll. Never the last run!

With the help of the gang rolled over
On with the neck brace

Friend Chris and Paul were now also on the scene which meant enough hands around to support my neck and carry out log-roll procedure “on three and roll” neck brace on and at least a different view after an hour and half being on my knees. Still no news of paramedic crew #2 as I lay there numb looking at the tree canopy gently sway in the late evening breeze, that view becoming ever more obscured as dusk settled in knocking on night times door. The guys moving bikes, stopping riders coming through, blankets and jackets being rustled up, crackle of radios and anxious responses as to WTF are you, jokes and laughs keeping everyone just above the edge as dusk gave way to night and the stage changed to torch lights flashing in the dark like a prison break search scene. Reassurances that the second crew were nearly here, new muffled voices and more torch beams changed the atmosphere as evac was now happening, getting onto the clip board to then go onto a spine board, head blocks and a blur of friends faces, torch light, straps and braces and the lift began laying there trying to picture the trail in reverse to the gate were the sanctuary of the ambulance was waiting. Never the last run!

Crew #2 finally arrive
Clip board, check. Spine board, check. Head strapped in, check. Body strapped in, check. Let’s get out of here

Having been on the lifting end before I know how awkward and heavy spine boards are to carry on flat terrain let alone up and down rough terrain and embankments, night air awash with puffing and panting, instructions, light beams and directions as they negotiated the trail obstacle course backed up with reassurances of “nearly there now Mark”. The ambulance door beckoned and I was inside with a different view; white fibreglass roof, lights and medical looking equipment, didn’t realise at the time that Anita wasn’t allowed on-board as the whole Covid-19 thing had paled into less importance but was now back in focus, hate to think what she must have felt? Never the last run!

Out of the woods and onto the trolley, ready for the ambulance
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21/07/20 No Ordinary Day!

Do we really have any ordinary ones? I guess it depends on your view on life and what makes you tick, certainly some exciting adventures on the bike to look forwards to, having just ridden an epic ride in the Peaks. Work projects all exciting and coming to completion and the world lurches back into some kind of normality. Riding was good and getting even better after receipt of my new YT Capra Pro, I was feeling pretty hooked up on this new carbon bike. Family and friends all seem to be doing well under these strange pandemic times, just off the back of an 18th birthday celebration and with my youngest to celebrate this very day. No Ordinary day!

5am start for a drive up to Stockton Heath to collect some materials for a project to finish this very week that had ground to a halt due to the pandemic. With the roads empty and the morning breaking it was a pleasant trip there and back and had the opportunity to catch up with some awesome friends, albeit fleetingly. Made it back home for lunch and to see wifey and wish my son happy birthday and look forward to seeing him to celebrate properly the following weekend. No Ordinary day!

A decoration job to complete that afternoon then a proposed early evening shred with an old friend, alas the day took its toll and feeling tired and hot decided to can the ride then battled with my head all the way home promptly turning around to head to the woods as I knew Anita had packed my bike and kit; subliminal mantra saying “it’ll do ya good, blow those cobwebs away”. Arrived just in the nick of time, quick change and it was on the bike and off with the gang; wifey Anita, Carl, Nikki, Gosia and Andrew throwing together their usual Backwoods loop and Barns Hill finish. One of those rides when everything felt in sync, perfect trail conditions, warm summers evening, great company, the bike really hooking up on everything, sweet line choices, corners all feeling fluid perhaps it was a good choice after all, love riding my bike. No Ordinary day!