Delivery to Foothills Medical Center in Calgary

The paramedics arrived a short while after my fall, after a call was made to 911.  They loaded me gently into the ambulance and prepared to ship me to the Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff for further examination.

I parted ways with most of the folks who had been my biking companions for the last six days at this point.  I clearly remember Sally making an extra effort to say a face-to-face goodbye.  (Apologies to the others if I missed their efforts.) Not sure how I responded.  The others had also decided that they would not continue with the rest of the ride.  Ben took them to a place where they could change for their journeys home that evening.   I  had been scheduled to fly home with Bob and KP very late that same night on the same flight as them.  They were trying to figure out how to help me out.  KP rode with me in the ambulance to the hospital.

There was a lot of waiting involved in the hospital in Banff.  I remember chatting with Bob while on a gurney in a corridor as he stood by my side.  By this time, since the ride was over, I was resigned to whatever was going to happen to me as a part of the process of possible recovery.  Bob told me that I was in such a confused state of mind after the accident that for a while I had insisted on continuing with the ride.

The X-rays and other tests revealed that I had broken a bunch of ribs.  Nothing else major seemed to be broken.  My spine seemed to be intact.  But they were not sure if I had a pneumothorax (collapsed lung).  All the damage was on the left side on which I had fallen. I also had a ghastly amount of road rash on the left hand, but strangely enough, I did not feel pain from the ugly looking bruises.  The fact that flesh had been gouged out of my side and shoulder by gravel did not seem to make a difference.  And my ribs did not hurt that much as long as I was lying down.  I suspect they may also have had me shot up with painkillers at that point.

Because of the ambiguity of the tests regarding the collapsed lung, and the absence of an operating CT Scan machine in Banff over the weekend to further clarify the findings, they decided to get me to the regional trauma center at Foothills Medical Center in Calgary. This trauma center served all of the province of Alberta and had a reputation as a top-notch facility.

I was carted off to an ambulance once again, to be shipped off to Calgary.  Bob and KP had come up with a plan.  Both were coming to the hospital, but KP was also going to delay his departure from Calgary in order to stay with me for a few more days.  He did this despite the fact that he had other travel constraints and family considerations to deal with.  Some people are too good.

KP rode in the front of the ambulance with me.  He wrote this to include in my blog.
Since you were not able, I felt I had to take some notes for your blog. Here are some things from the last couple of hours:

The first EMT Andrew said he was a champion cyclist himself who held local records. He was thinking of going Pro but that was when everyone was doping. He decided not to. 

Your ambulance driver was Leanne. She is normally a EMT for the air ambulance in the Northwest Territories and Kunuvit. They fly out to small communities of 100 to 2000 people. She works there for 4 weeks, on call 24 hours, then comes to Calgary for 4 weeks. Her partner is a pilot for Weather. 

There was an airshow by the Snowflowers as we were driving. They had 7 planes doing 2 loops while we watched.

As I waited in the hospital waiting area, they brought in a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit. He had a chain around his waist and his wrists were chained to his waist. He also had another chain limiting his stride.

Some of the conversations in the ambulance must have drifted back my way occasionally,  but I do not remember them.  I do remember the paramedic talking to me and giving me updates every once in a while.

Things went slowly at the Foothills Medical Center that evening.  They eventually did have the CT Scan of the whole body done.  The investigation was more thorough than in Banff.  There was confirmation about the five broken ribs and the pneumothorax.  They confirmed that there were no other broken bones (but they actually did end up missing  one relatively minor one).  The doctor in the emergency room thought I needed a chest tube to help get rid of the pnuemothorax (which is really air in the sac around the lung), but the doctor from the trauma center later arrived and told me that my case was not serious enough to warrant this kind of intervention.  Although I was prepared to go through any required procedure at that point, I later realized that it was a good thing I did not have to go through this particular one.

One of the consequences of the diagnosis of a pnuemothorax was that I would not be able to fly anywhere for a few weeks.

At some point during the evening, Bob departed from the hospital to catch his flight home.

I ended up in the McCaig Tower of the hospital, in Unit 44 for surgery/trauma. I was in a room on a high floor with three other patients, next to the nurses area.  KP spent some time with me before he departed to the hotel room he had found nearby.  Some time later I was moved to a room at the end of the hall, and to a bed next to a nice big window.  There was another patient with me in the room.  It was a quiet location.  The bed was extremely comfortable.

It was already a new day by the time I was officially admitted to the hospital.  I was still wearing the biking shorts I had fallen in when I fell asleep under the warmed blankets.

Meanwhile, there was already some planning underway at home to try to rescue me from Calgary.

Next post in this series here.

Jasper to Banff in the Canadian Rockies – Arrival and Day One

And so, another biking adventure begins…

Emboldened by the success of our bike ride last year, some of us have set off on another long distance bike ride, this time in the Canadian Rockies.  This ride through the mountains promises to be more challenging than our last one even though the distances we are covering are shorter. We are riding on roads rather than trails.  The first day has been fun.  I type this from the front office of the hotel in Sunwapta Falls where I can get a reasonable wi-fi signal.  There is no guarantee that that I will be able to continue to do this going forward. We are in the middle of a Canadian National Park, and somewhat far away from the crowds.  Lets begin the story regardless of the uncertainty of my being able to complete it in a timely manner.

We began to gather over the weekend. I arrived in Edmonton on a late evening flight.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was surprised to find that Edmonton was in the plains.   There was no distinctive feature to be seen in the surroundings.  The city is a center for the oil industry.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo of us stayed at a hotel in Leduc, next to the airport.  Leduc appeared to essentially be a highway stop with a lot of motels near the airport.  The sun rises early in these parts at this time of year.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe headed for Jasper, the start of the bike ride in the morning.  It took us about three hours to get to the park, where we began to see scenes like this from the vehicle as we were traveling.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture was taken in Jasper. This is the support vehicle.  We had stopped to pick up some of our other riders.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are just outside of Jasper where we are getting ready to get on our bikes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are getting instructions from Ben, our guide for the trip.  He runs an operation called the Mountain Madness tours.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd off we go! This picture was taken when we were crossing the Athabasca river.  The color of the water is due to the silt from the glaciers.  I cannot believe I am doing this!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome of the riders in our group. We are riding along the shoulder of the road that goes from Jasper to Banff.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt a stop along the way to regroup and replenish.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt Athabasca Falls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABen had set up a snack stop for us at the parking lot.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd we kept riding upstream along the river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the Goats and Glaciers viewpoint.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADinner at the restaurant at Sunwapta Falls. Great meal arranged by Ben!  This is where we stayed the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went for a walk (turned into a hike for some of us) after dinner. This is the upper Sunwapta Falls.  The sun is beginning to set and the mountains in the background are still lit up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the lower Sunwapta Falls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd now we are getting ready for the second day of the ride.  The first day was awesome, and quite an challenge for me.  The second day is going to bring more of the same as I ride through this awesomely beautiful land amidst the mountains and beside the river, ready for whatever challenge and adventure lies ahead.  I feel so fortunate to be in this place at this time.  It is indeed an otherworldly and out-of-body experience for me in many ways, and I am so humbled by it.

Before I leave, I have to note that there was a bear sighting by others in the group.  It was apparently just walking across the road while the others were approaching.  Some of us had already gone by and missed it!  Hopefully there will be other opportunities during the next few days to see bear, mountain goats, elk, and maybe even a moose!

This is a warning to those reading, and maybe hoping to read more as the the days go by, that there is no guarantee that I will be able to continue these blogs on a regular basis, but I intend to try.  At the least I will try to catch you up on our adventures as time permits at a later date, perhaps when there is a sufficient break from the activities and a good network connection.

And please excuse any mistakes I make in the blog because of the circumstances in which I am trying to post them.  I might return to fix obvious mistakes at a later date.


Back In The Saddle

The weather has warmed up enough for me to start training for my July bike ride from Jasper to Banff in the Canadian Rockies.  I am back in the saddle after a break of many months from biking activities, indeed a break from the time of my last long ride! Considering the tremendous amount training that I did for the Pittsburgh to the DC area ride last year, I was wondering how the body would react during my first ride this year.

I started off early in the morning with the intention of not going too far.  It was still quite chilly when got to the trail, and I had to bundle myself to defend against the cool early morning breeze.  It took me a little longer than usual to get prepped for the ride and for me to try to get back into the routine that I was so used to following last year.  I remembered that I needed to gather an adequate supply of food and water before I left home to keep me fueled through the ride.  I needed to fit the basket on to the bike to carry the supplies.  I needed to make sure that the bike was OK after a long period of disuse.

The ride went off OK.  The miles passed by quickly as the bike (and especially the basket on the handlebar) rattled along on the uneven surface of the towpath.  It was quite the different experience from running!  It felt easy at first.  But it did not take too much time to be reminded of the level of effort on the muscles to keep pedaling for a long time.   The muscles in the thighs were out of shape.  I was also beginning to feel it in the butt.  I have a way to go before I will be ready, but the good thing is that there is enough time to get the body back into shape.  We will be riding on a paved surface this time, and the distances we will be riding will for the most part be shorter than what we were covering last year.  So perhaps it will not be as tough.

It is not that one is not already in decent physical shape, but the difference in the kind of effort that is required for running and for biking feels quite significant.  I was reminded of this when I made my first run last year after an extended break when I was only riding the bike, an experience that caused me to take extra precautions in my preparations this year.  But all is good.  It is time to get back in the saddle once again.  Lets ride!