I'm thinking of changing my name to "Crash".
On August 29th (yes, I know that's 15 days ago) I talked to my brother in Sweden via Skype (god I love those free video calls!) for well over an hour. We talked about family stuff and skating. Mostly skating. He's been riding skateboards since he was about 6, and he's 46 now: you do the math. He's also been racing in slalom and Giant Slalom for many years and he's quite good. When he was here in July of 2007 with his family, he brought me a deck of his own design AND manufacture and I was so touched. It's a beautiful lightweight slalom race board, and I built it up with his coaching and advice. It's a blast to ride and very lightweight. It is also rather fragile, as it's made from foam and carbon fiber!
I started riding it around on my little cul-de-sac and enjoying it more and more. I started thinking about the giant steep hill I lived on and riding down it, but the concept was way too daunting at that point.
In January of 2008 I went to London with my mom to visit family there and attend a christening. I figured since I was already half way across the world, I might as well take the opportunity to go visit my brother in Stockholm. It was a short trip, but a total blast and we went skating with some of Sweden's premier skaters. It was just a routine practice day for them, but it was the first time I'd skated with anyone good and I was blown away by the talent there. I managed to pull a calf muscle, but not too badly and I was able to continue skating, using my other leg to push (I'm goofy footed and push mongo, and I had to learn to push regular that day: good practice!). We went to a skate shop the next day because I had started getting a speed bug, and my little slalom board was not really appropriate for bigger hills and the kind of cruising I was thinking about. Let me start by saying that the guys at the Kahalani skate shop are the most professional, knowledgeable and sincere skaters I've ever met. They make some of the worlds most sought-after trucks, seen HERE. They are ridden by many of the worlds top downhill riders, and some mere mortals as well (my brother Selle just joined the ranks of the elite with some Kahalani's on his new board). Back to the story:
Dan (or maybe it was Mike) helped me pick out a beautiful board by Fibretech along with some Holey trucks and Retrotech Big Zigg wheels (the Lime 78a, 75mm ones), Khiro angled risers and and a couple different Khiro bushings for different conditions. I couldn't wait to ride it, but I didn't want to dirty everything up and then have to pack it into my bag with my clothes, AND I wasn't going to have time to ride it when I got back to London, so I left the board unbuilt.
Getting the board home was a bit of fiasco with the airlines, but we got it sorted out eventually. (Airlines do not seem to like anything that's unusual in the luggage dept. so I had to do a fair amount of jedi mind tricking).
When I put the board together and rode it, I realized I finally had a board that would go as fast as I wanted to and was durable enough to survive my totally greenhorn downhill status *cue ominous music*.
I've been riding the shorter, lower-pitch grade at the top of the big hill and getting comfortable with the speed and feeling a lot more confident on my longboard. On the 29th, I talked to my brother (yeah, I mentioned that in the 2nd paragraph.) I got all amped up on riding and going fast hearing about what he's been up to lately (he and I are inspiring each other to try some new things). He's been practicing his downhill and he's getting better as well, though he's crashed a bit too. What i keep forgetting is his 40 years of experience. Yeah, that's 40 years of experience, which is about 38 more years than I have. You can see where this is going right?
So that night (the 29th) after we'd put the munchkin to bed, I strapped on my pads (knee, elbow), my helmet and my new Loaded Slide Gloves. I told the wife I was going to go out for a little skate seshion. She didn't think much of it and wished me well.
Out in the street, I thought I'd try working on the lower section of my hill, as my goal is to eventually ride the whole thing top to bottom. After a short run at the top (just to test turning and my own comfort) I realized I was in over my head and I needed to start WAY lower on the hill. So I walked down to the park and started from the top. What I SHOULD have done was to start at the bottom and work my way SLOWLY upward, but sometimes my brain writes checks my body can't cash (to misquote James Tolkan "Stinger" from Top Gun). I got to the bottom of the park and realized I need to blow off some speed. My MISTAKE was not using the slide gloves at this point to assist me in performing a powerslide. Instead, I tried to take a toe side turn onto a side street that goes back uphill. My line was all wrong and I cut in towards the turn way too early. Near the northeast corner of Pacific and Highland I got a speed wobble, which I managed to correct, but I panicked and target fixated... and those of you who known what target fixation means can probably guess what happened next. CRASH. I hit the curb/drain near the southeast corner of Pacific & Highland and flew on to the lawn across the sidewalk. As I lay there with my left arm lying agonizingly underneath me and my ankles/feet screaming out in pain, I thought to myself "Fuck, that was NOT supposed to happen, what have I done?". I managed to sit up with no help from my left arm (something was VERY wrong with it) and I nearly passed out when I jarred my left shoulder and left foot. It was no easy feat getting my slide gloves off (the palm pucks had diverted the abrasion damage, and the wrist support saved my wrists) with one hand, but using my teeth, I managed it. After that the helmet, and then I managed to get my backpack off. I retrieved my cell phone (glad I put it in an armored case!) and called my wife.
Now, getting a call that your husband has just chowdered himself on a downhill run can't be fun, especially at 12:35am. Yes, this was the middle of the night. She jumped in her car and came and found me, but it was one of the longest 8 minutes of my life.. I was in a bit of shock. She was visibly and vocally displeased with me and I felt bad for making her resuce me, but I was in no shape to rescue myself. My head was WAY out of it, though I never hit my head (pain can do funny things to your mind). Just after I'd got in her car, I thought maybe I would try sleeping it off with some ibuprofen. Then I mentally slapped myself and made the decision to go the hospital.
Just an aside (because so many have asked), I was riding this late because there are no cars on my street at that time of night, which makes for safer riding for novice downhillers like me. As well, it had been nearly 100˚F all day: too hot to ride!
So.. we get back up to our house and we discussed how to deal with getting me to the hospital. It was decided a taxi was the cheapest easiest way because she'd had a few drinks, I was in NO shape to drive and an ambulance is EXPENSIVE.
I sat in the driveway waiting for the cab. It was another VERY long 10 minutes.
I managed to get in the cab (somehow) and off we went, the driver taking corners waaaaay too fast and slamming me all over the vehicle. I finally had to ask him to take it easy on the corners, as the G forces felt like hot ice picks in my shoulder and ankle. He went a little over the top and started driving like my grandma, which of course lengthened the trip. We got to the emergency room and I had to ask the driver to go in and have them bring me out a wheelchair. One of the guys in admitting came out with a wheelchair while I threw money down for the cabbie. I was rolled inside to the ever-unpleasant glare of overhead fluorescents. I honestly believe the fluorescents are half the reason that A) everyone looks bad in a hospital and B) most people abhor hospitals. The guy admitting me asked what happened and relayed his own motorcross shoulder dislocation stories (3 on each side: OUCH!) while assuring me that they'd get it all fixed. His positive energy did wonders for me and I worked on being as jokey and positive as I could.
After being checked in with no delay, I gratefully realized that it was friday MORNING, not Friday night. I've been to emergency rooms on Friday nights/saturday mornings, and you better be bleeding bad or they're not going to see you that fast because EVERYONE seems to get hurt on Friday or Saturday night.
Got into a bed, and they gave me 5mg of Dilaudid, which did wonders for bringing my pain levels down, but started to make me nauseous, so they gave me some Zofram to get rid of that. On to X-ray and then back to the trauma room. Xrays revealed a dislocated shoulder, but no breaks in the ankle. The doctor used a mild technique called the Hennepin Technique to put my shoulder back in place. It didn't hurt much more than the pain I was already in, and I appreciated that. The nurses were amazed at both the doctor skilal and my ability to breathe through the reset process.
My ankle on the other hand was another issue. They tried to put me in a moon boot and have me use a cane, but the pain was intense (probably an 9 on the 1-10 scale). I went back for more xrays, this time on the foot and to check that the dislocation was reseated properly. They conferred with some podiatrists while I was sleeping and when they woke me up I found out that I'd supremely crushed my left foot. They decided to do surgery that evening, so around 9:00am I was admitted to the hospital. Spent the day wacked out... several friends and family came by to see me, but I don't remember too much of our visits. I was told the operation would be at 4:30 but it didn't happen until 6:30. Man, operation rooms are weird places, especially when you're the patient. I woke up in my room around midnight, disoriented and ornery as a wounded grizzly bear. They had put a catheter in me (my first, and hopefully my last) and I was sweating buckets under all the blankets they'd put on top of me. While cursing and ripping blankets off (or attempting to) I discovered the catheter and almost ripped it out (good thing I didn't because it was stil balooned... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!)
Finally made it to sleep... woke up in the morning and insisted they remove the catheter so I could pee normally. Part of me just wanted to affirm that I wasn't dead and that I still had some locomotive power under my control. I have to tell you, I hate catheters with a passion now. HATE them. I don't HATE a lot of things, but I fucking HATE catheters.
The doctors came back in the morning to tell me that I had pulverized the navicular bone in my foot and they were only able to salvage a couple of small pieces which were screwed back together. 2 pins and a bunch of bonegraft and they stitched me back together. He said the navicular bone looked a bunch of sand in my foot... wow. I hit the curb hard enough to turn a bone in my foot to sand. They asked me again how fast I thought I'd been going. I refrained from pointing out that my skateboard doesn't have a speedo on it and told him between 18-25 mph, but honestly, I have no idea. I'm used to much higher speeds on my bicyles when coming down my hill, and it's much harder to tell speed in the dark.
The nursing staff at Kaiser varies greatly in their abilities. My favorite (and very best) nurse was Susie. Thank god for susie: she made me laugh a lot, and she's not just a nurse, she's a healer. Susie, if you ever read this, thank you thank you thank you so VERY VERY much for all that you do!
They kicked me out on Sunday around midday. Jessi came to bring me home but lo and behold, the wheelchair didn't fit in her car. My mom was nice enough to use her SUV to bring it to my house for me, so I'm now a wheeled menace again. It's been 15 days since I crashed, and yesterday was the first time I let the house in 12 days. Went to a doctors appointment with the orthopedist yesterday at which time the informed that me that I need to be careful with my shoulder, as if I screw it up, recurrent dislocations due to instability in the shoulder can develop. Lovely.
I'm off to see the foot surgeon shortly... they are going to pull the staples an sutures, put on a lighter fiberglass cast and xray my RIGHT foot and leg. Why? Because while we know I sprained my right ankle, I woke up this morning with my right foot in AGONY. Ran the ice machine on it and took some ibuprofen and that helped, but all of a sudden, it's getting worse.
Wish me luck folks... hopefully I'll have gross pictures to follow later on tonight.
I'm thinking of changing my name to "Crash".