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The good stuff in life hurts

Five months ago to the day, I was hit by a falling tree. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or Mother Nature was aiming for me. The top of a dead maple tree snapped off in the wind. I never saw it, never heard it. I woke up in pain, laying on the ground, struggling to breath and coughing up blood, never a good sign. I struggled to move my left side. Digging my phone out of my pocket I called a friend of mine who knew the land behind my house. I told him where I was and told him I was hurt bad.

Dave showed up 15 minutes later and carried me to his truck. Every bit of movement brought severe pain. He got me to the Emergency room and they did a CT scan on me. I was bleeding internally and had damaged a bunch of organs, but my spleen is what gave them concern. They wanted to life flight me to a bigger hospital, I told them no. I would take an ambulance and not spend the money.

My daughter who is a Surgical Nurse is also knew the doctor who was working on me. He spoke with her and I was over ruled.

I got my first helicopter ride, not the way I envisioned it. Flown about forty mile away I was soon to be bounced from one form of X Ray machine or scanning machine to figure out what was damaged.

I had a broken shoulder, collar bone, scapula, three broken ribs, punctured lung, damaged spleen, liver, adrenal gland, twisted knee and badly sprained ankle. I spent the next three days in the Intensive Care Unit then got switched to the trauma section of the hospital.

That stay and the experience is one worth sharing in another story. Dealing with pain and being there is an experience like no other. Pain comes and goes, we all deal with it, some better than others, it is however not lasting. What hurt the most, what bothered me the most, were the words, "You will be unable to work for six months." As a business owner this was quite a blow. I have a partner in one business that would continue to move forward, one that could sit. The other business was my welding company which I have owned for 32 years. There was no one to keep that going while I was laid up. I had on going jobs and jobs coming up. I had customers who counted on me, ones who didn't ask a price, ones that did business on a hand shake. Without boring you with the details, I sold that company while laying in a hospital bed on a Sunday morning, to a customer who asked how much and said they would put a check in the mail. Two weeks later they called to find out what exactly they had bought as they had no idea about what equipment and inventory they bought, only that they wrote a very large check.

I am lucky that this worked out this way, no deal ever comes together this quick, nor does money ever change hands as quickly as this. It was sad to see a company I built, one of the last that did business on a handshake, and had the trust of the customers like I did. Seldom did anyone ever ask a price for my services, I sent them a bill. Over the years we had done over 2,200 buildings and bridges, millions of dollars on a handshake. That part of me was now gone.

My new job was to get better. I had no idea if it was really going to take six months before I would be back to working, laying in a hospital bed takes away a lot of perspective. I had planned to try and run 60 miles on my birthday. I ran 19 on Jan 1st, that seemed like an un-realistic goal at the time. When I finished that run, I wondered why couldn't I do more.

I have always had over the top goals. Epic success is paired with epic failure. I have always been comfortable with risks, comfortable with failure, the journey and the effort is always what kept me going.

With the badly sprained ankle my running days would be over for at least a year. This was like a blow to stomach. Pushing yourself, doing what others could not have always been part of who I am. It was pretty cool to tell someone that you ran ultra marathons, did Spartan races, even had an obstacle course in your back yard, something only crazy old guys have.

I threw it out there, I was going to try and bike sixty miles on my sixtieth birthday. I had no idea if I could, only that it sounded like something I would plan and try. I am not a biker, so this would be learning experience. I got an old ten speed bike and a bike trainer and set it up in my cellar. I would ride for ten minutes at time, which seemed like a lot. I bought a good road bike and did a few short rides the longest being 25 miles.

The months went by quickly, the healing process slow and painful. I had no idea if I were really going to be able to ride the 60 miles only that I was going to try.

My son and daughter decided to join me, they would ride with me, neither had ridden 60 miles on a bike before either. Russ rode as a kid more than 20 years ago, Cathy did short rides on the weekend. Both were up for an adventure.

We started out yesterday, with a plan and a goal in mind. We did not ride 60 we rode 70 We decided that 70 sounded much better than 60, that would have been the bare minimum, and all of have always done more than expected never less.

I share this to say, even when everyone says your down and out, you are not until you give up. Share your goals and your dreams with others, it is ok to fall short, not having them the real problem. Anything worth doing is worth suffering for. No part of this was easy, no part of it comfortable. The good stuff in life hurts and takes way more effort than you can imagine, it also is the stuff that makes success taste so good.


Well done, Bob! We must never give in and give up. Setting ourselves goals is important... and what is more important is to set S.M.A.R.T objectives as to how we will achieve said goals.

I am heartened to read this and it has made me even more determined to succeed.
"Dear Bob,
I'm glad you were not crushed by some random falling tree."

"Dear Bob,
Im glad you were not crushed to death by a random falling tree..." :)

Our bodies are amazing. Wow! Another close call. So it's been the machine that almost ate you, and now the tree that almost squarshed you. Dang!
I thought before, maybe it was a motorcycle wreck. You had mentioned you were laid up but I didn't know how seriously... Like how many injuries at once.

70 miles on the bike?

Good. You're body still works. Excellent.

I know a lot of guys that used to run, have switched to cycling because of ankle, or other joint issues. The pounding is hard. I guess that is one issue- the lack of stressing the bones which promotes density- even with college-age cyclists ( and swimmers too) so that's a drawback (something to be got around,and which can be) but better that than not being able to exercise.

I ride off-road ( no cars; fewer people, lots of nature) but road biking is a lot of fun. Especially with others. It's cool when you all can get to where you put it up into the big ring and just keep cranking. Our bodies are amazing.

Keeo at it. You are an inspiration.
Wow! Hearing the whole story is very inspiring! Sounds like you 've passed that strong will and ethics on to your children, too. Wonderful! So glad you are still here with us. :)
Kevin, I have been in many close calls, I have escaped death narrowly many times over the years. This was the least exciting, no drama, no cool story to tell about what I was doing. One minute I was up, the next I was down...no story there.

I bought what they call a cyclocross bike. I it is supposed to be for riding multiple kinds of terrain. I watched a few vids on it and figured if I had to go one way or the other it would be more towards the trail kind of riding. The 70 miles we did was on the Mohawk Valley trail system. it runs along the Erie Canal, crushed stone or pavement, not what you would call off road really. It connects in spots in town so there is always a section it seems that involves dealing with traffic and city streets up there.

Russ and I did the down hill biking at a ski resort. I rented a mountain bike for that, one with real front and back suspension and disc brakes. I have a mountain bike but it was nothing like that one. That was a blast, I had some pretty serious get offs, tested my helmet multiple times and tore so skin off. That was fun.

I still have to figure out what I am going to do for riding too stay excited about it. I have to stay in shape and I always love some type of goal.
one way for me is picking rides. There's nothing worse than being way out there and having to 'crawl' to the finish miserable, because I wasn't in shape for it. Some months-ago I did a group ride on the SART. I knew it was coming. Kind of like all my boxing matches I didn't want to get my ass kicked so I got myself ready. :)

It's great when you ask your body to do something, practice the thing, and when it comes time for a test, your body says "Okay". Love it.
Kevin, you would be a good one to ask. I have been looking at the clipless system for pedals. They often refer to mountain bike style shoes with the toe clips. Is this something you use. Do you practice bike style trials riding to get over logs and rocks for where you ride. I read a ton of stuff and so far my head is spinning with conflicting opinions.

I personally love to pick goals where failure is likely. Better to aim really high and miss, than just half way up the mountain and miss. Epic failure is much more acceptable in my mind. I was always surprised at how hard I could push myself past the point of exhaustion and still keep going. For the couple of Ultras I did not finish, I had mentally given up. One because of heavy rain and deep mud, the other was because I convinced myself I could not make the cut off time. I did not want to run another 8 hours only to miss the cut off by a few minutes and DQ. I kick myself for not finishing both of those races and failing verses quitting.

Do you still train for any boxing?
Bob -- your amazing story reminded me of another one that people might find heartening. I was in the RCAF in the early 60s. During my service I met an RAF munitions specialist seconded to the RCAF for a few months to set up some specialized training for our boys. To my discredit, I can't remember his name (I'll call him 'John'). He had been a tail gunner on a Lancaster bomber doing bombing runs at 18,000' over Germany in 1943. An ME-109 equipped with 20mm cannons shot off the entire tail section of the Lancaster. John was unhurt at that point, but his parachute was in the main part of the plane (the chest-pack parachutes got in the gunner's way when operating the machine gun). John tumbled out of the tail section and fell 18,000' into the biggest haystack in all of Germany.

He broke virtually every big bone in his body, damaged numerous internal organs, lost his hearing for a month and was blind for a long period of time (he couldn't remember how long).
German officials gave him a certificate confirming the fall, authenticated by his empty parachute harness. German doctors were intrigued by his case. He was in hospital over a year, and doctors performed so many operations, John lost count. They invented surgical procedures, developed other therapies never done before--John became a living laboratory for inventive surgery! EVERY hair on his body fell out, never to return.

The months rolled by. He was treated well. Now the real story begins. About a month after he started ambulatory exercises, he tried to escape (stole an ambulance and made a run for Allied lines). Didn't make it. Returned to hospital. He tried to escape four more times! They finally chained one of his ankles to his bed. The nursing staff made up a humorous mock certificate for him, poking fun at his tenacity and dedication to duty. John and one of the nurses fell in love. Two years after the end of the war, they were re-united and got married.

When John was recovered sufficiently to longer need hospital care, he was transferred to a 'soft' POW camp. Germany was a bombed-out shambles, security was slack, and one night John and three other men escaped. He was returned to his astonished unit a few months before Germany surrendered. His entire Lancaster crew had been registered as 'killed in action'. I saw John's German certificates, which were framed above his bunk.

John refused to give up. As far as he was concerned, he had a job to do and was determined to get back to it, despite his injuries. John was 19 when his plane was shot out of the sky. I hope a few Millennials are reading this. . . .

PiP;bt14216 said:
Well done, Bob! We must never give in and give up. Setting ourselves goals is important... and what is more important is to set S.M.A.R.T objectives as to how we will achieve said goals.

I am heartened to read this and it has made me even more determined to succeed.
That is a great story Clark, thanks so much for taking the time to share it.

I have Always believed that adversity creates character. I am sure John would probably agree. While wouldn't wish is painful ordeal on others, I bet he is thankful for experience.

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