Start of Bicycle Ride
My Sunday morning group ride started off just like any other. There was still rain on the streets from the night before, but we didn’t have any rain while we gathered on Broad Ave in Memphis Tn.
We were taking a turn. The cyclist in front of me slid out on a right turn. In an effort to avoid him, I also slid on the asphalt. I never lost consciousness. I quickly knew I was going down. Once I had come to a stop on my right side, I wasn’t able to breath for 60 to 90 seconds. The wind had been knocked out of me. When I was able to breathe I knew I would be leaving the scene in an ambulance.
Call to My Wife
This all happened directly in front of the house where my wife’s dad grew up.. I had been shown the house just a month before. This was a blessing. When I called my wife on my side in the street waiting for an ambulance, all I had to say was “I crashed in front of big daddy’s house”. This was a blessing. She didn’t have to search on her phone for two unknown roads. She knew exactly where to drive.
Headed to the Med
My pace line was quick to react. My wife had made it to the scene before I was loaded into the ambulance.
I was now on my way to The Elvis Presley Trauma Center Regional One Health. Memphians might better know it as “The Med”
Everyone in trauma was amazing. They begin by checking my neck and spine. Then determining my pelvis and right leg and knee have no breaks. My parents have arrived at this point. My wife’s parents arrive just after them. I can feel my ribs shuffling around every time I’m dragged off the bed onto an x-ray or CT scan.
The Initial Results
- 6 Broken Ribs on my right side
- Broken Collar Bone on my right side
Later we would learn I had
- Hemothorax – build up of blood between lung and wall of chest
- Pneumothorax -a collapsed right lung
As Promised Plot Twist… The Reason I Published This Story!!!
I would be given a heavy dose of pain relieving drugs. I would able to punch a button to increase the drip to feel better. I would be in a zombie state for the remainder of my hospital stay. Going to surgery to scrape blood out of my lung would be just another blur in my doped up state. Then my family and friends hope I don’t become another statistic in the opioid crisis in america.
Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time to take a different path.
Alternative to Usual Opioids Treatment
I avoided the highly addictive opioids by using nerve blocks to minimize my pain.
Everyone should know about the Acute Pain Services Department at Regional One Health.
Director of Acute Pain Service Regional One Health, Dr Jerry Jones (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jerry-jones-m-d-59101368/) used an ultrasound to place Peripheral Nerve Catheters in just the right locations to block the pain I was feeling in my right ribs and right shoulder. This process was done while I was in my hospital bed Sunday afternoon. I was able to watch the screen while he located and inserted the catheters.
My first night in the hospital
Miserable, I could not get comfortable the first night. My wife listened to me shallow breathe and moan all night from the discomfort.
Monday I was up walking
Moving around in the bed was challenging. I was trying to keep my chest as still as possible and only had my left arm to push and pull .
Monday I had visits from physical therapy and occupational therapy early in the day. Due to the strength of my legs(thank you cycling), I was able to stand up and sit down on my own. Getting up and walking with physical therapy felt amazing. I still had to bring my yellow nerve block boxes with me on a rolling pole, but that was no problem.
At this point it was transitioning from one place to another that brought the most pain and discomfort. Once I was still and settled my pain was dropping away significantly. At this point I thought I’d be getting out, heading home in a day or two.
Kenny Spart with Dr. Jones group was helping me navigate the nerve blocks and how to interpret what I was feeling in my chest and shoulder. These blocks took away the pain and instead made me feel “pressure”. It is an odd new feeling. Kenny had to coach me on determining if I was feeling pain or pressure. If it was pain, they need to know and possibly make adjustments. If it was pressure, this information would be valuable the following day, I just didn’t know it yet.
A turn for the worse, Monday night was far different than Monday morning
Monday afternoon I found out I was moving rooms. It was better for me to be on a floor where nurses could better monitor my breathing. After getting settled on the new floor, I went for a CT scan. It might have been 20 minutes after returning to my room, a doctor walks in carrying sterilized equipment and has some news for me. He tells my wife and me that there is a significant amount of blood in my right lung. We are going to have to put a suction tube in place.
I’m Getting a Tube Inserted into My Right Lung
He ran through all the what I need to know about getting this tube. One line that stood out was “This isn’t a quick easy thing, but we do it often”. Sarah signed the consent for me and then my bed was surrounded by nurses just in case something unexpected happened.
I was given some shots to numb the area. My rib nerve blocks also helped to hide the pain. Sarah was sitting next to me on my left side. I held her hand while listening and feeling the last hard push as a plastic tube was shoved in my right side and into my lung.
I could hear a small amount of blood splatter on the floor after the last hard push. I thanked the Doctor for putting in the tube. His response was, “I’ve never been thanked for a chest insertion” This took place around 1am Monday night(Tuesday morning). I was able to get about 3 hours of sleep before waking up for something. X-rays, blood draws, breathing exercises, it was constant for the next few days.
Tuesday Come To Jesus From Surgeon
Now that I had a suction tube in my lungs, we have to watch the amount of blood being removed. We watch my “lung blood box”, as I called it, and the x-rays to monitor my status. . Tuesday afternoon a surgeon paid me a visit. He gave the hard truth. The suction is only going to remove so much. If we don’t get enough blood out of my right lung I will have to have surgery to scrape it out.
I could do something to make a difference
There was a way to get more blood out of the suction tube. I could breathe deep and cough hard to shake things up. There was a challenge to those two activities, especially the coughing. It was extremely uncomfortable. I felt a sharp pain and I felt tremendous amounts of pressure. Kenny and Dr Jones had educated me that pressure was ok. I could and must push through the pressure. My brain however was freaking out at the unfamiliar sensations.
Push Through the Pain/Pressure
I wanted to avoid surgery if at all possible, not interested in taking all the risk. I could see on the faces of my family the topic brought a level of fear to their faces that they couldn’t hide. Tuesday I went to battle with my physical limitations and my mental barriers.
It was physically exhausting to push my lungs on the spirometer(“my toy”) and the machine that forced air into my lungs in a pulsating pattern. The more physically worn down I got the more it weakened my mental strength. My wedding was just 10 weeks prior to this. It was an overwhelming display of how blessed I am to have so many amazing people in my life. Thinking about Sarah and I’s wedding weekend was motivating To be honest, when I would think about my wedding weekend too long, it turned dark. My mind would think of it as a possible fare thee well if I didn’t fight my way out of this situation I found myself in. When my mind would get dark, thinking about the “what if I don’t get out of this” listening to “Everything’s Right” by Phish at moments of weakness (Link to YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_CidBi8S9o ) helped. I also reflected on the lessons in the book Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. Not many friends knew what I was going through. I stayed off social media and did very little texting. Getting a periodic text from a buddy with “#Goggins” was more motivation than they will ever know. I also got a video recording from Bam Margera thanks to my buddy Vaught.
A recent book and the use of a phish song for a mantra was helpful, but it was all the love and support and prayers begin poured on me by my wife, my parents, my wife’s parents, family, friends aware of what was going on, hospital visitors, members of my church (Idlewild), members of my Sunday ride with Victory, all the amazing care I was getting at Regional One and countless other blessings that got me through that dark part of the path to recovery.
What have you gone and done
Wednesday morning arrives. I’ve been putting in as much work on my breathing and coughing as I fell I can. For those of you interested in more detail, my wife took amazing notes with date/time stamps of everything! For everyone else here is a quote from that doc
Wife’s Notes 8/28/19
Chest x-ray looks great surgeon said fluid looks to have gone out and change to water seal instead of suction—-surgeon said all his work is paying off and very pleased. Surgery not out of possibility until tube is out but he’s super happy with where he’s heading
The above was just after 9am.. It was some amazing emotional news.
That night around 8:30 pm they turned the suction back on 🙁
Lung Tube Suction Back On, I’m Getting Stronger
Thursday morning I’m feeling stronger than the day before. I’m up walking with my nerve blocks on a pole and carrying my lung blood box in my left hand.
Suction was again turned off around 10:30 am.
I’ve passed the climb 3 steps with no handrail test. I went up and down 5 steps with no handrail.
Continuing my breathing and coughing.
Tube Comes Out
My lung tube came out Thursday evening just before 6pm.
Friday morning there’s a chance I’m headed home. It’s Labor Day weekend around 5pm and I’m outside the hospital headed home.
More Links to Scott Finney Bicycle Articles
Regional One Health
When Scott Finney was hurt in a training ride, doctors helped him heal without dangerous drugs that could undermine his goals
cityCurrent Radio Show
Radio interview before the cross country bike ride.
Finnious.com Journey of Hope ride 2017
Coast Country Bike Ride