No Cast, No Problem.

Thursday, March 9th 

Two days after breaking femur. Surgery went great. No cast needed. The first real day of recovery and physical therapy. A few of my friends came by to visit in the afternoon, lifting spirits and setting my focus for the following days. Amazing to stand up after a couple days of just laying. Here is a little Thank you to the one’s who visited and reached out these days. You’ll never know how much it really meant. 

Plan A was a success! Going into the surgery, my family and me thought I was going to have to be in some sort of cast or external support. However when Dr. Merrill came out after the surgery to discuss how it went, the question of a cast came up and I believe his response was a chuckle and then something along the lines, “It’s 2017, what cast?”. So from what it looks like in the x-ray: The rod that goes the length of my femur, is now my femur…until the bones grow back fully.

It was such a HUGE relief to wake up and not have a cast. All the support coming from the inside. Essentially my leg muscles being the cast by keep bones aligned and like I mentioned early the rod is now supporting the weight of my body until and giving bones something to grow back around? Wowzah..definitely a win for modern medicine. I can’t wait to discuss the way they got it in there at the follow up next week. So instead of 6-8 weeks in a cast on bed rest, I get to bend, engage, and rehabilitate that leg AS the bone heals. As that saying goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” well here is the list of issues that the no-cast clears up:

  • Able to sit and ride in vehicles, not laid out in the back.
  • Able to sit in general
  • Up and down stairs w/crutches (which my home has bedroom upstairs, Meghan my sister which you’ll hear about a lot later, was already about to move my entire bedroom downstairs 😂)
  • Bathing, able to shower!
  • Going to the Bathroom…unassisted. (Probably biggest win for Mallory, my family and my pride. 😜)
  • Physical Therapy started day after surgery…

Initially we thought all these issues were going to be day-to-day things we were going to have to face. Of course my family showed no hesitation on helping me face those challenges. There  was the eagerness and willingness from everyone to take on these challenges that I believe was cultivated in those first several hours. From our collective experiences as a family to the outpour of love and support from the community, there was an attitude from the get-go that still remains;
“Do what is necessary, one day at a time.”

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My first few steps! My two PT’s were great! Sock game still relentless. Those are hospital edition dualside-grippers. Won’t catch me slippin in those. (Check out the video on my Instagram.)

 

The night after surgery I slept until about 6am. Best night of sleep yet! Woke up and spoke to Dr. Merrill and he gave me the rundown of what he told my family the night post-surgery. He said unless I do amazing at physical therapy today that I probably would remain at the hospital another night. The news that I was going to be able to start PT right away was real nice. Finally, I can move. So around 9:30 my hospital physical therapists came in to give my new crutches a test run and test out my new hardware.

It went great! I took a lap around the 3rd hospital floor, which all the nurses were awesome! Really nice throughout the entire experience. Our little group of the two PT’s, Mallory documenting, and myself arrived at the stairwell to go through that learning progression, up with the good, down with the bad?! Went up and down a flight of stairs and then headed back to the room. Did some leg extensions on edge of bed. Could only get the right leg up about 45% all the way locked out still felt amazing to move it! Back to rest.

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On one of Sandy’s jobs…horrible work environment. 😜

My awesome surveying boss, Sandy Peabody and his son came in during the middle of the day to say hello and give their support. The entire Peabody and Associate family has always been great and supportive of me. Always so understanding of my college education pursuit they have always been willing to adjust his time and schedule to help me maintain income while going after a degree. Sandy reached out the first day to make sure I was ok and then offer ways to work with me being physically out for so long. Blessed to work for a man like Sandy. Thank you for understanding and teaching me along the way.

 

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One of the highest caliber men I know. Full of love and genuine compassion. Can still whip my pre-injured butt in a WOD! (Looking forward to getting back on the Spikeball court with you!!) Again, Thank you and we love you Mantie’s so much.

Throughout the day was just a lot of rest. No appetite yet, so haven’t eaten since early Tuesday afternoon. Then around 5:00pm one of my Crossfit Charleston’s brothers and mentors, Steve Mantie came by to give me a visit. From the first time that his wife Jody and Steve came to visit the box, the Mantie’s have been a driving force not only to the family of Crossfit Charleston while inside the doors but more importantly, outside those doors  for the family of Crossfit Charleston. To the Mantie’s: Y’all as a family have done so much for Mallory and myself.  You are incredible people. I look forward to seeing what the years have in store for all of us as one big family. From the bottom of my heart, we love y’all and thank y’all so much. The amount of energy and focus I get from hearing and reading the words of my friends and family is incredible. Especially for my Crossfit Charleston family, when I initially got injured, all I wanted to do was apologize for letting everyone down…physically not being able to be the person to help anyone had me down for a while. However the more people I spoke to and messages I read, the more I realized how much I really have…

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A shot of a lot of the Crossfit Charleston family! (Steve and Jody are in the front throwing up a triple flex 😜) Miss y’all! Can’t wait to be back.
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The Banana Cabana!!! Almost 10 years ago!? 😲 Two elite servers.

After Steve’s visit, one of my oldest friends, and captain of our kickball squad, Wendy Enis came by with a HUGE Spiderman bag full of Rice Crispy Treats, Oreos, Reese’s Eggs, Starburst, and several books for me to read. One of which had been signed by the entire kickball team with some real powerful and encouraging words of support. My kickball family, those words mean so much to me and you as people mean even more. I love y’all. Thank you. I will be seeing y’all soon. Wendy, you got the ball rolling on all the support that I received from the community…You were the first to text me after the news had been found out.  One of the most intelligent and sweetest people I am fortunate enough to call my friend. That friendship means more and more each year. Thank you for all that you have done and you continue to do for me and everyone that surrounds you.

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Not all of the squad but definitely a little taste of how much fun we have! Keep the train going, love you all, can’t wait to be back out there!
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I wasn’t joking. It’s lit.

And finally to cap off a fantastic evening of visits; Julia and Mike Meseck! Also going to be my Physical Therapist, Mike, came to check out his newest patient/bionic-crossfit coach. Little backstory, they came in to tryout crossfit when I was just beginning my career as a coach a couple years ago. My first classes I coached were the 6:30pm. Him and Julia, along with a few others (Chip, Jessica H to name a couple 😜) attended at that time and were in my initial classes I coached for the first 4 months. Him being a physical therapists, could have easily schooled me multiple times during the hour-long classes, whenever I would have a coaching hiccup or slip, on anatomy and physiology but instead, him and Julia along with those others in the 6:30pm classes, let me grow as a coach – taking my advice and coaching cues (no matter how oddly I conveyed them) and applying them. I never really was able to thank them for that until now. It was huge to my development in coaching. When they found out about my injury there was no hesitation from their side on helping me.  So fortunate and blessed to have them apart of my family and him as my PT. Honestly, having that level of trust and comfort with a therapist I believe is probably one the most important things about a recovery plan. Looking forward to working through the physical therapy with Mike. Again, thank you so much for the help and thank you Julia for being a rock and roll superstar dropping jokes and whipping up your Chicken Chili that I hear is making it’s way over soon!

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I had to sling this one of Mike and Julia up here. Are you kidding me? Like a scene from a movie. Guitar slaying & playing, Julia not even having to do anything just looking beautiful, and the pup laid out…Perfection. 👌🏼
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Fortunate enough to attend their beautiful wedding, not even a damn hurricane could stop it. There’s Chip and Jessica H, more of the 6:30pm crew! Truly blessed to have y’all in my life.

 

Went to bed with even more confidence and looking forward to the next day: Friday the 10th the first day home!

“Always, that which you most need is already at hand. It’s just your present belief in its absence that keeps it from view.”

 

 

 

 

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Explosion of a Femur and a Year of Plans.

Just the beginning of March 2017, my year was real busy but going really smooth. Joined a kickball league about a year ago, on a team full of old and new friends that eventually grew into a little kickball team family. It was another beautiful night of Lowcountry weather, the game was real competitive and  fun, nothing unusual for a kickball night. It came down to the last play which ended up being my last play for a while. In a freak accident of sorts… I managed to break my femur, crack a rib, and partially collapse my lung.  Simultaneously making my year broken, my hope cracked and life  partially collapsed. However, all things heal, especially with help. This is the beginning of that story, the part that set the tone for the rest of this journey…

 

A normal start to a great week, headed out to the Elk’s lodge to have a fun and competitive night of kickball with some of my best friends. The game was a great one, close score all the way. Now it’s kickball but don’t let that diminish the fact that people are going all out while playing. I have had my fair share of diving, jumping, sprinting, throwing and cutting in the ground but that’s the thing about playing a sport or activity outside the normal positions that your body is used to getting into. This is why athletes train their bodies to the extreme but still injuries occur…So the last play of game came down to an out at home that involved me and a baserunner. The play was an all out sprint to home..the baserunner saw I was going to beat him to the plate and made a smart move to stop running and dodge my throw so going from full on sprint and tag, it was an extremely quick stop I had to make with my body in order to make a chest pass type throw at him from about 10 feet away, unfortunately I planted/SLAMMED my foot down, unknowingly, into an uneven spot on the ground, making my upper body rotate awkwardly  and causing my right leg to torque violently …the momentum from the sprint/force of my body all came stopping onto that one point on my femur. I felt something inside of my right leg explode,  paired with the momentum of the sprint still carrying me and my leg locked up immediately, my body launched into the air and onto my shoulders, ribcage and face where I came to a sliding halt. I rolled a few times in pain but once I stopped. The pain kind of vanished and the realization gathered, like fog over water, that something horrible happened to my body. I had to remain in the prone position, laying on my belly because I couldn’t move my right leg. The kickball teams nearby slowly gathered around me, my team first. Chris was the first one to me and he knew something right away. I couldn’t really feel any pain but knew something was really wrong…

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This is where and how I landed. Obviously right leg is cranked oddly and aggressively to the right side. I forget her name but she was really kind! Sock game was on point.

Laying still face down in the hospital bed after a relatively smooth ride with a cool first responder I was transferred to a hospital bed and setup in one of the front ER rooms….the Xray machine was setup with the screen at the doorway where Mallory, the nurse aid and technician were standing. I was expecting to hear news along the lines that I dislocated my hip…the technician takes the first picture and a moment later as it pops up on the screen that I hear, “Oh no honey, what did you do?” from the Tech and a gasp from Mallory. My femur was broken. Bad.

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Pre-Surgery X-ray…Those two parts should be aligned..Definitely not a dislocated hip.

I felt the explosion of my year of plans happen immediately; certain goals I wanted to achieve with my body physically, plans to go on my first airplane flight to one of my brother’s, Michael Mitchell’s bachelor party in Houston in 2 weeks that no longer was an option, financial goals that I wanted to achieve, coaching and training with my Crossfit Charleston family ..the list went on. So just like when I hit the ground and rolled a few times after the femur breaking, the news and negative thinking only lasted for a time.  From a previous experience in my life, I learned many things. One of them being that, once you receive bad news in your life, you immediately have to change your thinking from, “Man, what the f**k did I do?” to “Alright, what can I do?” So I just asked God to help get my thinking focused on that. Not the financial issues. Not the amount of work I wasn’t going to be able to do. None of the negative. Only the positive. It wasn’t and still isn’t easy but that’s why you ask God for help. Suddenly and subtly I started thinking of the opportunities this created for me; Mainly, the climb back to full health with God’s love being the driving force behind it all. Another example, I have so many books that I have wanted to read, so boom, huge opportunity to expand my mind and rest my body. Learn things that I otherwise wouldn’t take the time for because I would either be working, training, coaching, etc…

Still in first ER room, these thoughts got me through the rolling over onto my back screaming at the top of my lungs in the most pain that I have ever felt in my life, WHOOOOOOAAA WOWZAH STOP. Then the first good news arrived, my kickball team captain and one of my oldest friends Wendy, had already asked me if she could create a GoFundMe campaign to help me face the financial burdens to come. This was within hours of the injury happening. Blessed. People started donating money immediately, strangers first. Blessed. Meanwhile, my head Crossfit Charleston coach brother, Josh was already texting with Mallory telling her that the Crossfit Charleston family had my back and was here to support me. Blessed. Then my parents arrived and the third good news arrived, my part-time land-surveying boss and my Dad had already spoken and worked out a situation where I will be learning how to use computer software to draw the field work my Dad would be doing. Blessed. Still in the ER bed downstairs ..Surrounded by family. My mind surrounded with the great news and my heart full of love..I was fully ready for the challenges ahead. Again I must thank every single one of you that reached out that first night within those first hours, you will never know how much of an impact you had on the way I was able to mentally approach the coming challenges. Day Zero was over and I was ready for Day One: surgery to fix the femur to come.

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Oxygen to help my lung after the fractured rib partially collapsed it. So happy to be done with the roll-over-to- back part. WOW OUCH.

The following day was some what of a short one for me cause I slept the majority of the day off and on, however around 10:30am Josh comes rocking and rolling in with chick fila for milady Mallory who was and has been amazing this entire time.  He and I had a conversation, the dude had already planned a fundraiser workout for me at the box, he had emailed the Crossfit Charleston family and linked my Venmo and GoFundMe campaign to it, and mainly he had ideas about how to get me back in the box , how to keep me moving forward, again using computer software to help the box on social media, opportunities. “No man left behind”is something he really meant. And it was one of the things that helped me start feeling like a human again. Instead of directing thoughts on the negative I was able to focus on these positive projects. One thing that had been universally suggested was a recovery-blog…document everything, tell the story as it happens, be honest, demonstrate discipline and stay focused. Not just to tell a story but also keep people that I don’t talk to everyday that have helped me so much informed on how I am doing. At first I was hesitant because I didn’t know where to begin when creating a website nor how the hell to even type one up. Again, an opportunity to learn. So I just told Mallory to start taking pictures and videos of everything from there on out.

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Josh Hartzell…truly one of the greatest people I know. Mentor. Coach. Brother. Friend. Thank You.

After Josh’s very uplifting visit it was back to sleep. Dr. Merrill was great through the whole day before surgery. He visited me and said he had a plan A and a plan B for when he got into my leg and that surgery was going to be later that night. It was my first major surgery, first time under anesthesia, but honestly I was just ready to get to the next step in the healing process. They rolled me out of the waiting room of surgery, high-fiving my family was the last thing I remembered until I woke up after the surgery. Plan A worked. Rod from top of femur all the way to right above to about 3 inches from end of femur. Blessed. Again without the fuel and fire of the words and prayers of the community and God’s love…I would not have been as mentally prepared or hungry for the next day…

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Post-Surgery X-rays Top 😳
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Post Surgery X-Rays Bottom 😶

To be continued, up next Day 3 through Day 5…

“After all, few could climb Mt. Everest tomorrow, though virtually all could begin preparing.”