27 May 2014

Remembering My Cycling Accident :: Bruce Snyder's Status

The first write-up about my near-fatal cycling accident was posted about two-and-a-half weeks ago. In that time I have done a lot of resting, healing and reflection upon the accident. My condition has improved by leaps and bounds in that time and I am just simply elated to be alive.

During that first post, I wasn't truly feeling 100% myself because it was only two weeks after the accident. I was still dealing with a lot of pain and I was beyond exhausted due to the shock my body incurred. I also experienced a tremendous emotional strain from the accident. In the beginning, I had nightmares about it. Even though I was completely snowed by heavy narcotics, the accident played through my head over and over again. I had trouble distinguishing dream state from reality. I was really fucked up, both physically and emotionally. But in the last two or three weeks, I have spent a lot of time meditating and thinking very deeply about the whole experience. I can confidently say that I am truly feeling much better now. I finally feel like myself again. My wife Janene has even told me I have that old spark back in my eyes. But this doesn't mean that I'm completely past everything. I still have moments where it's difficult to think back through it all; where I break down in tears out of the blue. I feel like I lost a part of myself that day. This accident has changed me.

Because I find it therapeutic to write about difficult situations I have experienced in my life, I think it will do me some good to recount everything I remember from this accident in writing. Here is what I remember about the accident.
On that Thursday afternoon, my buddy Tim and I went riding out north of Boulder to Nelson Road, to 75th, around the Boulder reservoir on a dirt road and back to downtown Boulder. It's about a 30 mile ride. Usually I would have felt completely spent by this point in the ride, but that day I was riding my brand new bike that I purchased less than two weeks prior. This new bike changed my riding because I did not have nearly as much body fatigue as I did with my old bike. So when we got back to downtown Boulder, Tim went back to work and I decided to ride up Flagstaff Mountain before going back to work.  
After riding up part of Flagstaff, I came back to downtown Boulder via 9th Street. There was another cyclist and a slow car in front of me so I couldn't go very fast. I was riding at a rather slow pace and cars were passing me. Out of the blue, I am slamming on my brakes for a car that came gunning through the intersection of 9th and Marine like rocket. Because I slammed on my front brakes, I went flying over the handlebars, landed directly in front of the car that came gunning through the intersection. Everything happened so fast that I couldn't process what was happening... until I could. 
Only seconds later, I realized that I was being run over by the car. In the midst of the chaos, I was thinking to myself, 'I am being run over by a car and I'm going to die. Where are Janene and my girls?' The next thing I remember as I am gasping for air and screaming from the pain, someone is speaking to me (who I now know was Gareth) asking me my name and telling me to calm down my breathing. I focused on his voice until the EMTs arrived. 
Unfortunately, through it all, I remained conscious. All the way to the hospital and into the emergency room where a small army of people descended upon me to assess the damage. I was in excruciating pain. I begged them to knock me out. But they said they could not do this because they needed to know from me what parts of my body hurt and what parts did not. Then a surgeon is asking me if he has my permission to inject some dye to check my organs and then take me to surgery. At least I had the sense to tell them that they were not doing to do anything to me until Janene was there. Unlike me, she would have a clear head and be capable of making decisions. I had to tell them Janene's phone number at least two or three times. They said they spoke to her and that she is on the way. Then they start giving me doses of Dilaudid, a heavy narcotic pain medication. 
After the pain meds began to be injected, I can't recall much. I have flashes of memory like a haunting dream. I vaguely recollect Janene arriving but after that everything went black. The next thing I remember is a series of near waking moments in the ICU. The pain was unbelievable and I kept half-waking up only to be thrust back into a shroud of pain that engulfed every part of me. Then I was given more pain meds and I drifted out again, everything faded to black. Over and over this happened for the first week. 
Janene told me only a couple days ago that back then I didn't even realize the seriousness of the situation until I recognized that both my parents and Janene's parents and my brother were in my hospital room. All of them live in Illinois and would have driven 15 hours to get to Boulder. She said that the look on my face told her that I realized how grave the situation was at that time. The next week or so was a confusion of dreams and a barely lucid state for me. It was only after this first week that I partially awoke out of the snowy narcotic-induced state that I had been in. I had many visitors the first week and even into the second week. Although I recognized them at the moment, I have little memory of who actually visited and what we discussed.

As painful as this has been for me to write down (this post took me two days to write), it has already helped me to deal with the whole situation. This is definitely the most difficult experience of my life.

The good news is that I am healing well and continuing to rest. My projected release date from the hospital is June 17th, a whole two weeks before the original deadline. My doctor says he has no choice because of the rapid progress I have been making.

Tonight Janene and I ate dinner at a small Thai restaurant near Craig Hospital. It made me feel good again, like I'm returning to the real world.

08 May 2014

Car vs. Bike in Boulder, Colorado :: Bruce Snyder's Status

On Thursday, April 24, 2014, I was in a very serious cycling accident in Boulder, Colorado while riding my new CervĂ©lo S3 during the lunch hour and I am currently hospitalized in Denver, Colorado for at least the next 60 days. 

Damage Report

In the wreckage, I suffered 11 fractured ribs (10 on the left side, most in multiple places, and one on the right), fractures of the L3 and L4 spinal vertebrae, one collapsed/punctured lung, one deflated lung, a nasty laceration on my left hip that required stitches and loads of road rash all over my back and left hip from being run over and rolled by the car. The worst part was being conscious through the entire ordeal, i.e., I knew I was being run over by a car.

Current Status 

After undergoing emergency spinal surgery involving the insertion of mounting hardware, rods and screws from the L2 - L5 vertebrae to support the fusion between L3 - L4. Also, L3 and L4 were dislocated which is what damaged the disc between them requiring the fusion. They also had to clean out much debris from various spinal process fractures (fractures on T9, L1, L2, L3, L4) that punctured the spinal dura and required repair. There was also damage to the left psoas muscle and I experienced an ileus, a disruption of the normal propulsive ability of the gastrointestinal tract. Luckily they removed my chest tube while I was in the ICU under heavy pain meds. When getting out of bed, first I must put on a rigid clamshell brace from my armpits to my pelvis, two pieces that velcros very tightly together. This is not fun due to all the rib fractures. I am now able to control everything from the knees up with the exception of my butt. I do feel my feet somewhat as I can distinguish sharp vs. dull touches in some areas but I am not able to flex my feet/ankles or wiggle my toes at this time. After the surgery, I was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Boulder Community Hospital for 10 days or so. Since this time, I have been transferred to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Craig is a world-renowned hospital for it's spinal and brain injury rehabilitation programs.

(For those who are curious, I'm told that the bike was left almost untouched. But I will certainly have my family take it to Excel Sports in Boulder to be fully evaluated. )

A Very Special Thank You 

There is one guy who deserves a special thank you for his compassion for a stranger in distress. Gareth, your voice rescued me and got me through the initial accident and your clear thinking helped me more than you will ever know. After you visited me at the Boulder Hospital, I totally fell apart just because I heard your voice again. We will meet again, my brother. 

Also, a special thank you to Mike O. for introducing Gareth and I after the accident. Thanks, buddy. 

To My Family and Friends 

My wife Janene has truly been my rock through this entire ordeal. Never did she waver and, for me, the sun rises and sets with her. She and my girls have given me such strength when I needed it most. I am truly blessed with my family and friends.

My brother, Michael, was like a sentry -- by my side, from early morning until late into the night, supporting me in any way he could. I love you, Michael!

The moment my brother, my parents and my in-laws received the news of the accident, they packed their cars and hauled ass through the night 1000 miles to be by my side. I love you all so much and I could not have gotten this far without you. You are all amazing!

Thank you to my close friends for whom this experience only brought us closer. Karen, Dan, Anna, Sarah, and Sasha, I love you guys! Filip, you are very special to me and your dedication to visiting me and helping me keep my spirits high is stellar, thank you! Mike O., the chicken curry was delicious! Who knew this dude can cook *and* write code, thank you! Tim R., you have been my cycling buddy for a number of years and we were riding together the day of the accident just prior to its occurrence. You've stayed by me and met my family and helped in any way you can, thank you!

To all my friends and neighbors who immediately mobilized to provide my family with more delicious meals than they could possibly keep up with eating, you have really made us feel loved and watched over. Not only has Louisville, Colorado been ranked as one of the best places to live in the USA by Money Magazine for the last several years, the community of friends and neighbors is like an extended family -- you guys are the best!

Thank You To Everyone 

Thank you for all of your phone calls, emails, texts, tweets, concerns, hospital visits and well-wishes from everyone around the world. The level of compassion that I have experienced from near and far has been absolutely overwhelming for me. Please understand that I am not able to communicate directly with every single person simply due to the sheer volume of communications and the amount of time I am now spending doing rehab at Craig Hospital. I still get exhausted fairly easily doing rehab and just trying to live my life right now at Craig Hospital -- and this is coming from someone who could easily run 10 miles or ride 30+ miles at lunch just a couple weeks ago. This whole experience is absolutely flooding me emotionally and physically.

The Gory Details 

For those who want more details as the shit went down, please see the Caring Bridge :: Bruce Snyder website set up my extraordinary friend Jamie Hogan. This website is where Janene has been posting updates about my experience since the beginning. I will be adding my experiences henceforth here on my blog as I travel the winding road of recovery.


Life is precious and I am so very happy to be alive.

And please, please do not ever text and drive.