This latest blog is to commemorate one year since I broke my femur in a skate boarding incident. March 27th is the anniversary date of breaking my femur while visiting a friend in Hawaii. The official description would be a comminuted right intertrochanteric femur fracture. That means I broke my femur in two places clean through near the hip. March 28, 2016 was the surgery date where two titanium rods were used to fuse the femur together so it could heal properly. A day I was sure would change my life, and looking back I can see it has but not in the many ways that I feared. Many blessings and growth have come to pass, and one year feels like 3.
Last year I was still skateboarding the pool here at Tinnell Memorial Skate park a couple evenings a week and I was feeling good. However it had been maybe 4 or 5 years since I had been surfing.Surfing has been a part of my life since I was maybe 15 - 16. Since leaving California, that part of my life was as empty as Kellyanne Conwaye's eyes and I decided taking some surf trips a couple times a year would be a good way to fill that void. I have a friend living on the North Shore of Hawaii had previously connected with me about making a visit for a week in March. I had opened the yoga studio in September 2015, my friend wanted me to come to her wedding in October and surf, but because of timing with being busy here, we opted to schedule my visit for March when stresses and the waves settled down. 2015 was a big year for waves in Hawaii.
The trip date was set, my yoga classes were covered, and I was taking my first surf trip in over 5 years. I got to Hawaii with no problems, I normally travel light with a carry on backpack, not meaning to throw my mom under the bus but she insisted I take a suit case and bring my skateboard since there is a park right down the street from my friend's house. In addition to seeing if I could still surf a sideline for the Hawaii trip was just to decompress. After getting picked up from the airport my friend took me to get food, and we checked out the beaches behind her house. Freddy's and several other spots with surf about 3 - 5 foot by California standards. The next day we surfed a couple times and the first wave I caught I got up and bailed. It felt strange to get up on a wave after so long. Next wave my friend commented that I looked like I never stopped, and it felt so good to be in warm water with great waves.
So the week went on, I was surfing and eating great. without trying I think I lost 5 pounds from swimming everyday and hiking up and down the North Shore everyday, about 12 miles. We practiced some yoga and took a co-op class that was pretty good. By the end of my visit I was going to go to Kauai and visit another friend but I backed out because I had to fly and it was Easter weekend so my friends were busy with family. I thought oh well I'll just chill, get through the week and head back to Arizona.
My return flight was Monday at 9 am, and on Saturday I went surfing by myself for 2 hours and then with my friend for another couple hours. I was going on my walkabout and my friend suggested I go skateboard the park. So I ventured to the North Shore skate park across from Sunset Beach. I tooled around a bit and decided to skate the pool. Small, compact little pool I should have left alone. Net being familiar with the area in surfing, hiking, or skateboarding is a hazard. I was lucky to have my friend showing me the reef when surfing, but I was on my own in this pool. I dropped in a couple times and was trying to find a clean line or run. I walked around the pool's shallow end looking down the transition and decided on the hip. I did not realize there was a death box right below where I was dropping in and before I knew it I hung up my rear wheels in the box and landed on the bottom of the pool square on my hip. People on the deck came over and asked if I was okay, but I couldn't get up.
This was the beginning of an unplanned minor setback. It was 12 noon and sunny. I couldn't move to get up so a couple guys came down into the pool and dragged me into the shade at the bottom of the deep end. I regrouped, got my yoga on and went from child pose to a down dog, then a forward fold. I was able to stand, and as soon as I could say "I feel light headed" I passed out and landed on my back. My Good Samaritans dragged me back out into the flat bottom of the pool and proceeded to pour water on me. When another observer who later served as a guardian angel asked if he could call an ambulance, I promptly woke and said "no I'm fine, just a bruise". I had no idea I was in shock and irrational, it was in this state of mind I was shaking this injury off and getting on a plane in less than 2 days. So my new friends offered to take me home to rest on their couch and I gladly excepted. The friend I was visiting was gone for the day so my rational was to rest and get back later.
Two of service military personel that were at the park carried me out of the pool(except the stairs), put me in a car and then carried to a couch. I couldn't put any weight on the leg at that point so we iced and used heat. I called my friend and I noticed I was incoherent and couldn't put together directions or names. Not sure if my friend realized what was going on but she said I was too far away for her to pick me up and I was on my own. After about an hour or so the group that rescued me started getting impatient and were talking about going surfing. All I could think of t that moment was this may be the end of the road for me, stranded in a surf shack in Haleiwa. I tried to get up before I was abandoned but I just couldn't put weight on the leg/hip. A unanimous decision was made to get an x-ray just to be sure so they picked me up, put me in a pickup and I was taken to the ER.
By the time we got to the ER it was 9:45 pm. I was carrying my right leg by the shorts with my right hand like a detached sandbag. I got pain meds and still couldn't walk, so then I got an x-ray and when the tech said "I can't tell you what it is, but your not going anywhere", the denial of how severe my injury was and thoughts of making my Monday flight evaporated. Feeling sunk, I had to get transported to the South side of the island to Castle Medical for emergency surgery. It was 12 midnight when I got picked up from the ER, the guardian angel that drove me to the ER had stayed there giving me droplets of positive thoughts the entire time, and I have to say it softened the impact my new reality. Very grateful for those moments of aloha spirit though.
At Castle medical I got to see the x-ray of my hip and it looked like a jigsaw puzzle. It was no comfort when the young surgeon said "this is really bad" and "I don't know what I'm going to do here". I knew I was getting pins or most likely a total hip replacement. That early Easter morning was spent in preparation for a 9 am surgery. Moments I remember is the pre-op nurses playing yoga music for me before I went under and coming out of the surgery, asking one of the nurses if she was one of my yoga students? the nurse replied "no, but you have been doing yoga for the past hour."
So after the surgery I got the new x-ray and my femur is basically all titanium, no marrow. Two locking titanium rods one pinned above the right knee and one screwed into the ball joint. The good news was that I was in one piece anatomically, the not so bad news was I had some recovery work ahead and the outcome was uncertain. My relaxing vacation turned into an eco-challenge to see how fast I could get off the island. I had to get a new flight, and arrange coverage back at the new yoga studio. I think I spent the whole day after the surgery on the phone. I turned that hospital room into my office. I got up on crutches Sunday afternoon and was cleared to leave by the nurses. I didn't realize till it was too late that the doctor wanted me to be in the hospital for one week.
My friend picked me up from the hospital on Tuesday morning, took me shopping for food, crutches, Arnica gel and new mala beads. I scheduled my return flight home for Thursday at 9 am and was back home teaching yoga from a chair with wheels on Saturday. I took herbs for bruising, cell proliferation, and as soon as I stopped the blood thinners(12 days) I stopped taking pain medication. I tried to get in the pool and exercise almost everyday. At five weeks I had an x-ray and the Orthopedic Surgeon here at home said the break was essentially healed. I went to physical therapy and they asked if I wanted to be cleared that day so I did the hour therapy session with no crutches and was done. I stopped using the crutches and began practicing and teaching the yoga without the chair.
I know the rod is there and I do have pain in the mornings still but as soon as I start practicing yoga the pain fades and I almost have complete range of motion in my right hip. Very thankful for the fiends that helped me out that weekend in Hawaii, to the benefits of yoga and state of mindfulness it has brought me.