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.


  1. Bruce, I was following your tweets and report about this accident, and I am so glad you are recovering well.
    What a terrible experience ! but writing about it and talking to others really help to process it, so keep doing it.
    Are you able to feel knee down, or maybe you can already walk ?
    I wish you a full recovery, and I hope to see you again (soon) in Colorado !

    1. Hi Simone, it's wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts.

      I still don't have complete feeling below the knee, but I am starting to walk on my own with the aid of some leg braces. Yesterday I also walked with the aid of a robot called a Lokomat which is an absolutely amazing piece of equipment. After using the Lokomat, I walked with the leg braces and it was so much easier. Very amazing stuff!

  2. Bruce, I'm not surprised your progress remains much faster than average! Keep it up man.

  3. Bruce, you are a very blessed and fortunate man on many fronts. You are very fortunate to have the community of support that you have. Your positive attitude is remarkable and inspiring. I'll continue to pray for a full and complete recovery for you as well as peace with the whole event. Can't wait to see you on Saturday!