Last weekend I was back in Davos, training and working. On Saturday I had an awesome mountain run and was just happy and peaceful. On Sunday we went fatbiking for a video shoot, but I already felt a bit off. Honestly, it wasn’t my week. Lots of stuff at work, things just didn’t go smoothly, I was still recovering from my jetlag and many unexpected changes and projects were bothering me. Nevertheless, I was so looking forward to go fatbiking again, wanted to have some fun.
Sometimes plans don’t work out
Well, I admit, it was a bit intimidating when I met the other guys. Me, still being a beginner, biking with pros who have lots of experience and excellent MTB skills. I just don’t have that much of experience, yet. I feel pretty comfortable on familiar trails. Then I go faster and are up for more risks. I just know my way around and know where to be careful.
Biking has become my passion, but I don’t wanna feel pressured. I love challenging myself, take risks every now and then, but most importantly, I wanna have fun. When I came home from Canada, I couldn’t wait to hop on my bike and hit the Isar trails. LOVED it. But when it comes to unknown terrain with tricky parts, I don’t feel that comfortable, yet. I know that I need to take some skill training sessions to get better, which I will.
Also, I would have felt more comfortable when I had a beer or two the evening before with the other guys, just getting to know each other. I just feel better, when I know the people around me, know that I can trust them and everyone has the same expectations. This time I was just thrown in at the deep end.
Thus, sometimes I was a bit more careful than I would have been with close friends for example and did not feel that great in the beginning. You could tell that we weren’t a team, yet. But this got better after the first shots and I was very happy that my counterpart made me feel safe, also giving me some helpful tips. But still, you could tell the difference. When editing the footage they would probably need to increase my speed so that I don’t look like a turtle on snow.
My first bike crash
Somehow I couldn’t feel it this day. I noticed that everyone had different expectations. They would have loved to film drift scenes, awesome jumps, speed rides through deep powder. Well, and I just couldn’t deliver. The snow conditions sucked, to be honest. Either there was lots of ice, frozen snow or slush. No deep champagne powder. So, there I was, felt really pressured to deliver and totally failed.
So many things came together. I did not know the “trail”, not the people, the snow conditions sucked and it was so freaking hot. I could have worn my bikini. And the guys had different expectations as well. The videographer said that he just cannot film all these different scenes with me, since I don’t have the skills, which made me feel worse. He did not mean it in a bad way, on the contrary. The guys felt bad and were looking out for me. All kind & helpful – a cool crowd. I told them, I would try everything, but who am I kidding. I cannot become an awesome, skilled mountain biker over night.
The further down we got, the more I got stuck in this ugly slush. Nope, it wasn’t fun anymore, I admit. And I didn’t have the right technique to push through. More & more I started to feel like a loser.
I could not ride the whole “trail” back down, had many problems with the icy, slippery parts through the woods. I cannot remember how often I fell or needed to walk a bit. Well, it was more sliding than walking. I knew this was too difficult for me. During fall or summer, I am pretty sure, I could have managed it – even during winter, with more snow & grip. Not extremely fast on the tight, steeper turns, but I would have managed it. With the frozen snow conditions, no way. On this day, it was too difficult for me. Especially since I didn’t know it. I remember saying: “WHAT?! It keeps going like this?! – Oh man, this sucks!”
And then it happened
When I finally found my self-confidence again and got up back on my bike, I lost control on a very simple section of the trail. I still don’t know what or how it happened. I had in mind to just go down, hop over the two little bumps, change the gear and then use the full power to ride up through the slush.
Yay me!! I managed to slip on one of the easiest sections and fell big time. I only remember that my head was hitting the handlebars so hard that it bounced back and I immediately started to feel dizzy. Damn, this hurt so bad. The right half of my face was pounding. For a second I lost orientation and just sat there, drank something. And then, what did I do?! Instead of resting, taking it easy I wanted to shoot this section again. I said:”When I hit my head so hard, it should be at least worth it. So let’s do it again.” So, I got up on my bike and did it. No crash. But I could have puked right on their feet. Sorry, but that’s how I felt.
Well, so I walked down the rest of the trail – it was only like 500 m or so. Not much. At that time I did not think I had any severe injuries. In fact, I didn’t even wanna go to the hospital. But the guys insisted.
Head Trauma, Concussion, Eye Socket Hair Fracture…
They took me to the hospital and I still didn’t feel that much pain. Only a bad headache and nausea. I started to get a black eye, though. Then there I was, in the emergency room in Switzerland. You have no idea how much I hate hospitals. I just wanted to go home. So, I played down the symptoms and just wanted to get out of there.
During the night, it got worse, my head and my whole body started to hurt. I just wanted to go home. I felt like being in a trance, just packed my stuff and wanted to be back in my own bed. Alone, no light, no noise, just away. I even did some work stuff, held a phone conference in the evening….. But I still didn’t feel like it was a big deal, even wanted to go back to work on Tuesday.
Well, one hour after the phone conference, when I was resting on my bed, it hit me: damn, it hurt. SO BAD! I started to feel sick to my stomach and threw up, had a nose bleed, could not see well… I spare you the details. Then I knew it was more than just some bruises and a little head bump.
Back in the hospital
My family doctor is basically next door and she immediately had me admitted to the hospital. Again in the emergency room. I felt so bad. The bright light was killing me, I still felt like I’m gonna throw up, everything started to really hurt.
At the hospital they did a whole body workup and found injuries I didn’t know I had. Basically the whole right side of my body took a large hit. They did a CT scan, blood work, everything you can imagine. And as it turned out, I did take a huge hit. Head trauma & concussion, head & face contusion, bruised leg, knee and hip, eye socket hair fracture…. Yep, it became pretty clear that I wouldn’t leave the hospital.
I gotta admit I underestimated the symptoms of a head trauma & concussion. Now, that a few days have passed, I can say: I was literally out of my mind, completely insane. I could not think straight, was irrational, emotional and have some memory loss. Even had the worst fight in my whole life with someone I thought I knew…. I cannot recall everything from the past few days. And today was actually the first day I started to realize everything and cried. I am a girl. I am allowed to cry. And it still is an emotional roller coaster.
See this giphy? Well, this pretty much sums it up.
After this crash I will never again take it lightly when I hit my head. On Singletracks I found a great podcast and article that explains it. You should read it.
Man, this really knocked me out. I still feel groggy, but all in all, I was lucky. Now I just need to rest, let everything heal and then get slowly back to work, also starting with some light exercises before going back to my full training schedule. Everything under supervision. And, instead of just staying on pain killers, I am also taking L-Lysine, Wobenzym and a high dosage of Vitamine C for a faster recovery. The combination of amino acids, vitamines & enzymes works best for me.
I learned a lot. When I feel uncomfortable, I should immediately speak up and when I have this weird feeling in my gut that things don’t feel right, I should listen to it. And when you feel a little off, only do what you can manage. No unnecessary risks. When collaborating with someone, set clear boundaries, make sure everything is fixed and signed in a contract, check the insurance policy, get every participating parties together at the table for a detailed briefing and trust your instincts.
Also, I so wanna practise more jumps. Cannot wait for spring, taking my first skills training session. And yes, I cannot wait to get back on my bike. It was just a bad day with some bad luck. That happens.
Update from March 7: Since I was diagnosed with a grade 3 TBI, I strictly needed to rest for 10 days and now had a follow-up including neurocognitive testing. The eye socket hairline fracture is healing well. Also, my right eye sight is almost fully back and my knee & hip look pretty awesome. The bruises? I don’t care. I still feel a bit mushy and have problems concentrating, cannot remember everything, but that’s normal, according to my doc. I was ordered no screen time for two more days and will then SLOWLY start with physical therapy. But I am honest: the emotional pain hurts most right now.
update from March 15: I am still on medication, still have some symptoms from the TBI, my motor skills on the left side still suck and am not cleared by the doctor, yet. Will slowly get back to work next week taking many breaks and just need to be patient, giving my brain & body the time they need.
photo credits: V’s World