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Getting there for sure

Week 8 post crash – still carrying on the healthy recovery diet, and as I’m doing more stuff, little jobs and been doing some trail maintenance bits just to keep me in the MTB loop kind of covers my daily exercise and some!   I guess with trail maintenance it kind of keeps me sane being as I can’t ride currently  and it gets me in the woods creating or just making sure everything is safe and groomed as best I can with the neck.  It’s a mental draw away from the everyday and you get to see regular riders, they stop have a chat; keep them up to speed, get some feedback on how the lines are running. Always take my camera; again another side line to the riding, racing and coaching it’s just my thing. Getting there for sure?

Week seven post-crash and surgery was a week leading into my first spinal outpatient’s appointment over at the Nuffield Orthopedic a place I know well from my hip operations. A little anxious but dying to get this one ticked off as a mile stone on the recovery road. With wifey leaving for a well-earned shredding trip up in the Highlands it was going to be a home alone week something I never look forward to as home seems empty, void of that soul mate that shares your passions for life and bike, but she has been an absolute star looking after my sorry arse, she needed this break.   Be my longest drive to date and whilst it’s not 100% due to the neck mobility there’s enough to fill me with confidence to drive and not be reliant on taxi services from Anita or my parents! So that in itself is another little goal ticked off. The drive over to Oxford was a steady one and got there in time mask on and signed in, wasn’t in the usual outpatients area but who am I to question. Getting there for sure?

The outpatients was a bit of a debacle and promptly changed back to the original outpatient’s area! Had an initial overview then was sent off for an x-ray. Back with the Consultant and everything looks OK, nothing out of place, some reflex testing like they do with your knee with hammer thing, but this was in several places along each arm, followed by some resistance tests all over my body and again all seems to be fine. I said I had lost the old pins and needles in both hands something I had had since my crash at Chicksands; the surgery seems to have sorted that! Bonus!  But the last two days leading up to this appointment I had a numb little finger on my right hand? So something to monitor but nothing too concerning at this juncture. The bike did seem a way off a few weeks ago when in the thick of things and I guess now with a clear mind and better perspective it’s there teasing me in the corner like some swanky I love bikes sculpture as my head is in the position it needs to be on the bike but it has nowhere near enough flexibility to go trail side yet. Getting there for sure?

I have been out on the trails with my son at the weekend as it’s a place I love and can switch off and immerse myself in, creating lines or just making them run awesome.  This in it’s own way has ignited some thought provoking moments and reflections sitting there in the woods running over where I was on the bike, the things I’d been hitting and racing the year leading up to today 15th September 8 weeks since that fateful evening, will I be at that level again? A small doubt, concern, fear I can’t quiet put my finger on it as it does battle with my subconscious mind-set primarily geared towards riding where I left off but it is part of my thought process now  and has been over the last week. As I’m writing this before I go into my first Sports physio session maybe this or ongoing sessions will light my pathway with more clarity as to what movement I can physically achieve with the titanium bars in place, I am a little anxious to be honest but I am where I am on the road life has put my way and I’m just going to have to deal with it and the outcome.  Getting there for sure?

Rocking up at Body Limits for my first session with Mark Booth stunning late summer’s days maxing out at some 30 degrees! Still a little anxious but here we go. A quick catch up and an overview on the latest x-ray followed by a quick check over “blimey you are tight and stiff in the neck upper back region! So what we’re going to do today is just try and loosen these neck and muscle groups up a bit get some blood flowing as they have been inactive for 8 weeks now, let me know if it’s too uncomfortable or painful.”  I do think Consultant’s air on the side of caution when it comes to recovery and rehabilitation whereas a sports physio, also someone you know and gets what you do, has a more positive view. Mark’s words filled me with a little optimism that my range of movements with work and manipulation would be far better than their current range is now 8 weeks post-surgery.  I keep having to remind myself as the consultant said “you’ve had a major operation to quiet severe spinal trauma so we are still early days!” Try telling my head that! Getting there for sure?   

Face back in the hole in the bed, thumbs and elbows pressing into my muscles between my shoulder blades up into my neck “he must be able to feel the metal rods I thought?”  I knew it was going to be uncomfortable as he worked my Splenius capitis and cervicis down to my rhomboids and trapezius muscle groups, taking on deeper breaths to try and breath out the discomfort, but I knew this is what was needed as my neck had seized and tendons shorted in that short space of time and still recovering from the impact damage and being cut into! Yuk!   Back to sunny side up on the physio bench to work on my front neck muscles and tendons, sternocleidomastoid being worked and this was only a gentle intro!  Getting back to sitting up feeling a bit light headed, but the neck in it’s current range moved with consummate ease until it hits the current stops, side to side, up and down I guess we are only talking degrees or millimetres of more movement but these are I feel steps in the right direction.  With some specific range exercises given to do each day for 10-15 mins these should keep what’s been done intact. Four more sessions pre-booked so something to look forward to! I think? Back out into the warm late afternoon sunshine, thoughts of Anita not being here to share this step in recovery, just sat in the van emotions washed over me a mixture of elation, optimism, relief and a little sadness, a few more tears then get my shit together and home we go. Getting there for sure?  

Trying my best to fill the week’s voids loneliness, few little jobs, going to the woods, friends inviting me around some evenings helped, but get home late to a big empty house, do exercises, sit and think! It was wifey’s birthday this week and our 6th wedding anniversary times we always share together but not this year and as selfish as this may come across, Anita way up in the highlands having a well-earned break doing something she/we love it did hurt seeing the posts, not being part of it so had to switch off from the social media so as not to rub it in anymore. It’s bad enough with the bike taunting you in the corner but we had a chat before she left about possibly going for a little spin when she’s back depending on how physio goes and how the neck position is! I know a few weeks back it wasn’t even on the radar and here we are thinking about it, I think that’s a good thing, right?  Getting there for sure?  

Wifey home after what transpires was an epic adventure and it was amazing to see her and hold her catch up face to face on her adventures and what I had been up to, cramming in the missed birthday and 6th wedding anniversary into one evening, heart n soul filled with positive energy. Sunday 20th September 2020 decided it would be a good day to try and go for a spin?  Un-coupled the bike off the turbo trainer and popped in the rear wheel, gave her a once over with the cloth, put new front mudguard on after it being ripped off in the crash. Dug out my new 7iDp lid and sat on the bike heart racing in the beautiful late summer’s morning, already the neck on full lock but with vision up the road/path, not like 3 – 4 weeks ago staring down at the stem and front tyre that’s how far it could lift up. Around the block soon led into a little spin further afield down along the local river Ouse, first pit stop after 1 km as the neck and shoulders were arguing WTF is going on!   As advised above my current range is right on the limits, but this was a great bench mark as to how far I had come, where I was currently and more important how bloody far I still have to go to even think of riding trail side. Emotions flooding in again and a re-assuring squeeze from wifey and off we set again for another couple of kms sat in the sunshine and got me on tape absolutely pinning it ! NOT ! lol.  Getting there for sure?  

With a gap between physio appointments due to them being stacked out a close friend sports physio Stuart Warnock who gave me my first set of exercises post hospital gave me a link to a TRX rehab video from a pro basketball physio – so working on upper body shoulders etc – ideal for my current state. Anita had just  got a set of TRX straps as a pressies so thought we’d give these a try. Press ups x 10 reps / Scap rolls x 10 / Alligators x 10 this one is a work in progress lol and inverted row x 10, popped these in after a second 5 km ride. Again the niggling doubt is still there with all the positive advice from Body Limits my dark mind is saying will my neck and metal work allow my head to truly be positioned comfortably were it needs to be to ride?  Another self-gauge for you all here, had a day out in Stamford lovely sunny day went to lay down in the sun on the grass something you wouldn’t think twice about “eeeeer nope” not having it! Trying to do it meant my upper torso and lower back had to lift and arch to allow my head to touch grass, so it wasn’t having any of it, like the shaving under your neck thing (lads only bit – unless you’re the bearded lady from circus) or taking the those last sips from a can or your drink, these my neck just can’t make it, so frustrating but adds to the doubts?  So sat on a bike in your ride position – your neck has to flex back more to achieve optimum position and as above mines at the stops currently, I don’t know if that’s just muscles, tendons all being tight and short, scar tissue etc or all 3 combined but it needs to be better, please be better! Getting there for sure?   

Had some strange twinges the last couple of days not sure if that’s due to the activity levels increasing wrestling with some muscles getting back to normal pulling on each other, it’s like cramp but in your neck and shoulders and can hit at any time. Still fighting the lack (my perception) of neck flexibility. Just watched “Anyone of us” (BBC iPlayer – Paul Basagotia – Rampage / slopestyle rider) quiet close to the bone for me totally had me tears due to how close I was to being on a different recovery road, with the next physio booked for 29th then week on week for 3 more sessions I’m praying my neck flex will improve. I’ll leave this here as we enter week 9 – thank you for taking the time in reading these blogs, thanks for all the kind support on a local basis and friends I’ve met on my MTB travels over my ride history it really means so much I don’t have the words – To my wife Anita you are amazing.  Getting there for sure?  

Any one of us