There are some promises that are easy to keep, such as, I promise to mow the lawns this weekend, or I promise to fix blocked gutters before it rains again.
Then there are other promises that are more difficult to keep, no matter how hard you try.
One of my promises to my wife was that I would ride safe and be careful every time I went out on the road bike. Rain, blowing winds and sunny days, I would tell her the same thing as she lay in bed and I ventured off for my morning rides.
This was one promise I broke sometime in mid March 2017. My intentions were good and my years on the bike made no difference at all on this bright and sunny Saturday morning along the Melbourne peninsula. My lights were flashing and I was wearing my multicoloured cycling outfit. But still, a broken promise.
Having been on the road for close to an hour, I knew my halfway point for my outing. There was a slight headwind as I headed towards Point Nepean, and I was pushing myself harder than normal. It must have been the fantastic conditions, and I was out on my own and nothing but 80s music streaming through my headphones and a clear mind.
In a split second, my entire life was about to take a tumble for the worse. But it could have been far more serious. So I consider myself extremely lucky. And I was given a lifeline.
A car coming in the opposite direction performed an illegal turn in front of me. Obviously not having seen me. And I’m not what one would consider a small unit.
With less than a split second to do something. I did the obvious. I hit his front side guard at over 30 kilometres per hour.
The first and only thing that went through my mind was, it’s over. Goodbye!
I flipped over his hood, landing on my arse and then ploughed into his windscreen, shattering it into thousands of pieces with my shoulder. And my journey continued I somersaulted over his car, as I watched my glasses and iPhone fly well ahead of me.
Landing on the ground more than 12 feet away from his car, I later discovered I broke my back. My L4 to be exact. And in thst split second, my life had changed. Forever!
Pain filled every fibre of my body, but for some unknown reason, I was still able to move my arms and legs. A positive sign I thought as I screamed in pain as I was surrounded by some very helpful and concerned bystanders.
The ambulance trip to the Frankston hospital was one without all that much pain, but I would have to say the morphine in my system had a lot to do with that fact.
The next few hours with my wife beside me at the Frankston hospital and then at the Alfred hospital trauma centre were good, bad, anxious, concerning, and the scariest hours of my life.
I was eventually told I had a broken back, but signs were positive because I was able to move my arms and legs. No internal or neauralogical damage, so another positive sign.
After leaving the hospital five days later, and in a very uncomfortable back brace I was to wear for the following 12 weeks. In some desperate hope my back would heal on its own and no surgery would be required.
With all the damage I had suffered, I was extremely lucky not to have injured any of my spinal nerves and no other nerves impacted. I only have God to thank for that. And not having died on the side of the road was something I still look back at and wonder why?
The following 12 weeks were filled with some of the lowest points in my life. Not just the pain, but the not knowing how and if I would fully recover. And at the lowest point, if I really wanted to continue. I knew deep down I had to abandon all fear if I was to make it through.
With the help and support of family and friends, I struggled through and continued to make progress. First getting out of bed without assistance, and eventually able to walk to my letterbox.
I have to admit ut did get a little easier the more I moved. I ended up going on 5 kilometre walks as the weeks dragged by. My only outings were visits to surgeons and physiotherapists.
The long road of rehabilitation lays ahead of me, 6-12 months I’ve been told before I’m back to the condition I was in before the accident.
In the end, what got me through was love and friendship. And lots of pain medication.
My Scott carbon fibre bike was written off, but I still have my Avanti, which is patiently waiting for me to decide on my path forward.
As for the path after rehabilitation, do I go back to the one sport I loved with a passion, or do I take up stamp collecting, as suggested by my brother.
Whatever I decide, I have honestly found that love and friendship conquers all, physical and mental pain.
No Promises – Icehouse