April 11, 2016
A few events that led up to today made it this run particularly memorable.
First, on Thursday I went to the Long Beach Hash in San Pedro. It was rainy and I had gastro problems. I had to make a pit stop at a bathroom by the USS Iowa, and when I came out, most of the pack was gone.
I continued following the trail and when I got to the beer check, it looked like no one had been there. I thought I might carry the beer to the end, because it probably wouldn’t be too heavy or really far, but it turned out to be over 3 miles and weigh over 20 pounds. I was the last one in, but lauded for bringing in a nice surprise.
Saturday was the Seal Beach 5K/10K, which I had not planned to run. Instead, I made plans with AREC Greg to run the Redbox to Kenyon Devore to Wilson and down to Redbox route, which he had not run before.
The first 4 miles went relatively well. It was a bit wet and foggy out and even though we did not step in any puddles, the wetness of the bushes got us completely wet.
We tried to follow the West Fork trail instead of the Gabrielino Trail that Stephanie Harris and I ended up on last year, but somehow we made a wrong turn in a certain section and ended up backtracking DOWN Gabrielino to the cistern where you turn UP to head up Kenyon Devore.
This continued well under we reached the “waterfall crossing,” which is something I have crossed many times before. It is a small waterfall crossing the trail… with a little water a few feet up and continuing down two to three feet below. So, not a major cataract.
Because I am usually not fleet of foot, I usually just jump across. In all three iterations of Mt. Disappointment (50K, failed 50M, successful 50M), I have jumped across and gotten cramps when I reach the other side… so, this time, I thought, I’ll just walk across like a normal person.
I took one step on the slick rocks and my feet dropped out from under me. No chance to swing my arms or try and regain my footing. Just slipped straight down and hit pretty hard on my left elbow, right on the funny bone, right on another rock.
Since it was cold and wet out, I had Moeben sleeves on and they kept me from seeing if I was hurt badly or not. A quick glance down the sleeve seemed to me that my skin was puffy and that I was bleeding a bit, but no need to alarm myself.
It took me a little bit to extricate myself from where I had fallen, because I was blocking the flow of water and I couldn’t push up on my left arm to get any leverage, and I certainly didn’t want to fall again. I ended up sliding down the waterfall another foot or so (scraping up my leg through a branch on the ‘fall) so that I was at a spot where I could stand up without any leverage.
Once I was back on the trail, I needed to lie down for a bit because my adrenaline was pumping and I felt a bit faint. A few runner-hikers passed through while I was lying there and offered up some Advil to deal with any pain.
Once I calmed down, Greg asked for the plan, because it was probably 6.5 miles down a technical trail back to the car, OR 3.5 miles up a meandering trail to the top and then 4 miles down a paved road to the car. (Being stupid), I suggested we go to the top, because they might have first aid, plus it would be a smoother ride heading down on the road and better opportunities to sit down if I had issues (or to get a rescue).
At the top, they had a first aid kit, but no one who could administer anything in particular, so we headed down the road. My arm hurt a little bit, but I generally felt fine.
When we got back to the car, Greg offered to drive. This was probably for the best, because my arm was still bleeding and the roads were winding quite a bit. While I can steer with one hand, it was probably for the best.
We wrapped my arm in the toilet paper we brought in case we had a bowel emergency and I also cupped my arm in a manila envelope, to keep the blood off of the upholstery. We also had a couple of beach towels on each seat to keep them relatively dry.
Greg drove me the 90 minutes back to his house in Long Beach, and suggested that I might go to the hospital to see what the situation was. I was reminded about my issue with my ankle in August last year where they told me to go to Urgent Care, but that it might be hours before I was seen. It was a shade quicker in Harbor City, but I felt like I should go to the closest facility ASAP, which was in Downey, about 10 miles straight up Bellflower Blvd.
I got there and parked without too much difficulty and then went to go check in. While waiting in line, one of the receptionists said I needed to see the nurse immediately because I “was dripping blood on the floor.” She removed the envelope and TP and iced down my arm as best she could.
About 10 minutes later, I got in to see a doctor, priority one because my arm was still bleeding. My pain level was not high but I did get a little woozy (probably out of concern, because I have little issue with blood or needles), so they put me in a wheelchair.
Then I was wheeled over to Radiology to be x-rayed. It hurt a bit but I was not too concerned. If it was broken, the pain should be so much more, right?
While I was waiting for my ride back to the Urgent Care waiting room, I sang Disney songs to the receptionist (Frozen was playing on the TV.). One guy waiting with his girlfriend recognized me as volunteering at the Harding Hustle aid station on Santiago Peak. Small world, and weird that he recognized me sitting down.
When the physician got back with me, he had a look of alarm on his face. He showed me the x-ray, which showed negative space at the end of my left elbow – two flakes of bone had chipped off the end, were floating around in my arm, and were not letting my blood clot. I needed to be admitted for emergency surgery. Bleh.
I wanted to get my arm wrapped up and go home and finish a project I had been working on for 6-8 hours on Friday. I had captioned the whole thing, but just needed to sync the last bit by 10am Sunday morning. The chance was that I wouldn’t be able to do it, nor contact the company that I couldn’t get back to my computer (and all the work I put into it, well, I wouldn’t get paid for a partial project).
First, I was wheeled over to the E.R., which was super cold, and that was multiplied by the fact that I still had on a wet shirt, wet socks, wet shorts, and wet shoes. Eventually, they got me some dry socks to put on.
I tried to call Greg or my parents or Laura, to let someone know I was OK. Cell coverage non-existent. Someone offered up a cell phone with a bar or two, and I left a message for my folks (but of course, they didn’t check the voicemail as it was some random SoCal number).
There was a possibility that they could do the surgery today, as I had not eaten or drank anything all day, even before midnight the day before, but when it got pushed forward to Sunday, they made me up a TV dinner (as the cafeteria was already closed) and finally got me admitted by around 9pm.
By then, I couldn’t dial out any calls on the room phone, but I was able to call Greg, my folks, and Laura on my rapidly dying phone, and let them all know I was OK, but having surgery tomorrow.
The bed was on the small side and to make matters worse, they had to put these leg “exercisers” on to keep my blood flowing. They were hot and super noisy. My feet weren’t comfortable and were on the bed control panel (which the night nurse did not like). I had to keep my right arm at a certain angle, also, because that’s where the IVs were set. They offered me some morphine, but the pain wasn’t that much and I would prefer not to take it as it will wreck some havoc with my GI system.
Didn’t really sleep all night. Kept the TV on, and bugged the nurse a couple of times to go the bathroom and to reset the alarm when I moved my right arm too much.
Around 10am on Sunday morning, they finally came and told me to get ready for surgery. This involved finally taking off my running shorts and just having the hospital gown on. I don’t really understand this, because you are not going anywhere near that area. Can’t I just leave them on?
They let me keep my glasses on, because I said that I would be nauseous with them off and it would make me feel better if I could pop them on when I came out of the anesthesia.
Besides, there was a bit of a wait (about an hour) between when I got to the O.R., and when the surgery took place.
I had a nice talk with both surgeons. One is Dr. Maylene Glidewell, the Orthopaedic Surgeon, and she was bringing on the Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Huy “Wesley” Tran. Dr. Glidewell is “old school” and had a way that she would do the surgery, and Dr. Tran is “new school” and has a braiding technique to bind the bone fragments in and have it look good. I’m to have about 10 permanent pins in because the bones will not just grow back together where the fragments chipped out.
Dr. Tran and I talked a bit about running, as he recently completed his first Ironman triathlon. He asked me what my next race was going to be. I had hoped to do the Wild Wild West 50M, but that is only one month off, so I said I would like to run the Shadow of the Giants 50K in two months time. He said that I would probably be recovered by then.
I watched the Masters Golf tournament on a monitor until they were ready to do the surgery. I didn’t fit really great on the operating table (no surprise), but much like my colonoscopy last year, all I remember is counting down and then waking up a few “minutes” later.
When I did come to, my arm was really sore, so they did give me a blocker to numb my entire arm. Laura and Chuck came for an evening visit and said that they would get me home tomorrow as it is now too late to release me. The hospital won’t let me drive myself home, someone has to come pick me up and take me, so because my car is here, two people have to drive me back.
I do get some dinner from the cafeteria and “sleep” as well as I did last night, with the leg exercisers and nurse helping me unplug so I can go the bathroom.
In the morning, after I get some breakfast, they say I can be released. I call Chuck and of course, Laura has forgotten she is going to pick me up and gone off running or spinning or something. Chuck doesn’t know where she went. Oh, gosh, I want to go!
I call a few other people who might be home on a Monday morning who could connect with Chuck, and no one is really available (though Angela says she could come around noon, three hours from now).
Finally, I call Chuck and suggest that he make a big “show” of picking me up in front of the hospital, and drive me around to my car. Since I have Bluetooth in the car, we will stay in contact the entire way back to my place, and we will totally stop if I am having any issues. It’s literally 10 miles all on one street, so I am not really worried.
So, Chuck comes and picks me up… “I’ll drive the big man home.” And then we drive over to my car, I put my stuff in the trunk and drive back to Long Beach without any problems.
When we get near the University, Chuck asks, “What do you want to do?” See, it’s about 11:20 now. I have two options: 1. Go home and sit down for the rest of the day, or 2. Keep driving down PCH and do the Boeing 5K and continue my streak.
Since I am going to be doing pretty much nothing for the next two weeks, I take the Boeing option. Why end the streak when my feet are still working?
Nelson says I am probably the first person to come straight to the run from surgery. Even though my legs and feet work just fine, it is still slow going, because I need to support my arm (also in a sling) because it hurts a bit.
On a couple of occasions, I worry that I will be able to finish, and finally, I decide to turn around… OK, it was at the 5K turnaround.
My time is 55 minutes, which is a tie for my personal worst 5K, set when I “ran” the 5K two days after running a 100-mile race.
I may yet reach 100 consecutive Boeing 5Ks!