On October 19th, I was hit by a car while riding my bike.
5 months later, I did my first ever triathlon with my sister. Below is my story of how and why.
First – a little bit about my injury.
When I was hit by the car, I was launched off my bike and did about 2 ½ turns in mid-air. I track some of my bike rides through Runkeeper, an iPhone app, and was able to see my speed at the point of impact: http://runkeeper.com/user/jakilevy/activity/56798303.
When I was hit, I was going approximately 2 miles per hour. I landed right on my hip. Ouch.
The driver was nice enough to stop and call an ambulance. I was immediately taken to the hospital. They had to leave my bike behind at the scene of the incident. The cops on the scene locked up my bike. They were nice enough to secure the front wheel to the body of the bike so nobody would steal it while I made way to the ER.
At the hospital, I had X-Rays taken of both my hip and back. They didn’t find any fractures or broken bones. So they let me “walk” out of the hospital. Unfortunately, I was in a sh#t ton of pain, and couldn’t put any weight on my right leg or hip. I hopped out of the hospital and was on my way.
Fortunately, I already had a scheduled acupuncture session with Garden Acupuncture, my regular acupuncture folks in Brooklyn for the very next day. I had been going there before my accident to treat my stress and general health, but never thought I would be going to them to treat trauma. When I arrived at the office on October 20th, I was soon introduced to the crazy world of New York State’s No-Fault insurance laws. To put it simply, New York State No Fault law states the driver’s insurance must pay for any legitimate injuries sustained in accident, regardless of whose fault the accident was. You can read a bit more about No Fault here.
After filling out a sh#t ton of paperwork, I started receiving treatment within 24 hours of my accident, and it helped ease some of the pain. But because of those crazy no fault insurance laws, I wasn’t able to get an MRI scheduled until 7 days after the accident. 7 days. That’s 7 days of now knowing what happened to my body. And even longer to get my MRI results back. I didn’t actually find out that I fractured my hip, herniated the lower disc on my lower back, and tore my meniscus until 2 weeks into my treatment. Nevertheless, I was receiving treatment the entire time.
The Healing Process
About 4 times / week, I would go in for acupuncture with the folks at Garden Acupuncture, and an adjustment with my chiropractor. Rehab was (and continues to be) like another part-time job. But I knew how necessary it was to give my body the time it needed to heal and to go through the treatment. And it took time for me to start seeing any results. Well into my treatment, I was still worried I would need surgery, or that I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike again.
The acupuncture, though, helped tremendously. In addition to the physical pain I was experiencing, I was beginning to get very anxious and worried about missing so much time from work, dealing with the physical adjustments, while also absorbing the shock of trauma. I was also due to move out of my apartment on November 1st (12 days after my accident), and was going through a break up with my live-in girlfriend at the same time. The timing of this accident couldn’t have been any better.
This also happened to be the first time I had dealt with a major injury – I didn’t realize how the pain would morph and develop over time. For example, it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I started feeling a coldness across my right thigh and knee. I had never experienced that before, so I knew it was a result of some nerve damage that didn’t manifest itself until now.
I also had lots of trouble getting around. I like to think that I lived an active life in New York, but now I couldn’t even do regular day-to-day things like cooking for myself, doing my laundry, folding my clothes, or shower standing up. I spent ALOT of time lying in bed, icing my hip, and eating greens, and drinking tea.
The good news finally came in 7 weeks later – I didn’t need a hip replacement, but I did require knee surgery. And I also learned what a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine was.
So how did I go from almost needing a hip replacement to becoming a triathlete?
#1 : Support
I had tremendous support from all of my friends – particularly, my best friend Sam. He helped me move out of my place, was there to help me cook meals, provided me a kick in the pants when I needed it, and kept the business running while I was spending time in treatment.
The team I have here at Arrow Root Media is incredibly talented. Though there were definitely real impacts on our project timelines, it was because of them that things were still getting done, albeit late.
I also had incredible support from my family, my life coach, and of course, my medical team.
#2 : Inspiration and Vision
2 weeks after my accident, my mom and sister came up to visit me and help me out. It turns out that they arrived the day of the NYC Marathon – my sister had never seen it before and we watched the whole thing go down from the window of my temporary apartment.
I was truly inspired and impressed. But inspiration only gets you so far in life.
#3 : Commitment
During the procession of marathon runners, my sister and I noticed a blind man running the marathon. He was holding a stick, and was guided by someone running in front of him, holding that same stick.
We also saw this guy run by the apartment window.
We were both inspired. She decided to do something about it and committed to signing up to run her first ever half marathon (13.1 miles). She had about 12 weeks to train for the Miami Marathon. Given that she had never run a race before in her life, she had a challenge ahead of her. I knew I couldn’t be there to run with her, but I could be there to support her at the finish line.
On January 27th, we attended the marathon expo together to pick up her marathon gear and registration materials. At the expo, we saw an ad for an upcoming triathlon in South Beach.
While I was still injured and had not been active for months, I had made significant progress and wanted to get active again. I knew doing this triathlon would be a good goal for me, but I needed a partner in the race. If my sister could train for a half marathon in 3 months, I had confidence I could get in good enough shape to swim and bike. Knowing my sister would be there to finish the run gave me the support I needed to sign on. So we registered as a relay team. Our first ever triathlon. Neither one of us could have done it alone, but we could definitely do the tri together.
For training and exercise, I focused on swimming. I started slow with 30 minute workouts, and worked my way up over time. It was critical for me to keep going to acupuncture on a regular basis. When I started excercising again, I had already been to over 60 prickly sessions. I was seeing incredible results and didn’t want to take any steps back. Given my leg was still getting that weird cold feeling, and I was still having pain, I didn’t want to spend another Winter in New York City. I was lucky enough to have family in Florida, so I spent part of the Winter down south – training, working, and healing.
Race day was soon approaching. In addition to all the physical therapy, there was a whole host of other things to prep for the triathlon. I joined a swim team in Florida and practiced in the open ocean water. The race organizers also held a few clinics the day before the race to help with things like transitioning from a swim to cycling. One of the best tips I received was to simply have fun.
Another really good tip I heard was to do some visualizations. I visualized the start of the race. I visualized getting out the water. I visualized taking off my goggles and hopping on my bike. And I visualized taking the relay bracelet off and giving it to my sister to do the run. This kind of vision really helped me prepare mentally and keep me relaxed for the race.
When race day finally came, I made sure to just enjoy the experience. I focused on the task ahead, kept an easy yet challenging pace in the water, and worked through the race to simply keep going.
We received the complete race results the next day. My sister and I swam a 1/2 mile, biked 19 miles, and ran 4 miles in 2 hours 17 minutes and 33 seconds.
Our results in terms of placement?
It turns out this was good enough to come in 75th place. Out of 1401 participants.
I was amazed. And I know I couldn’t have achieved these amazing results without the incredible support network I had around me. My sister kept me going and kept me inspired. And the swim teams and coaches I’ve been working with have been simply awesome. It’s just so nice to exercise with a group of people.
1. You can’t achieve great things alone. It takes team effort.
2. Inspiration can only get you so far. Vision can get you further. But Commitment is the lynchpin.
3. Acupuncture heals all
I still experience a sharp pain in my hip and lower back, and there is still coldness in my right leg. I feel these sensations after I exercise, and when I wake up, probably because I’m most in tune with my body at these times. But I’m still regularly going to acupuncture. And I am definitely still feeling all kinds of new sensations of tightness and pain.
Nonetheless, I’m so grateful for the support I received during my recovery. I am much better than I was in October, and know I would not have had such amazing and inspiring results without the care and support I received from Lisa and Alex at Garden Acupuncture.
It feels great to have a vision and reach a goal. It feels even better when you know you did it with an amazing team of people. To all who have been with me during this time – thank you. We’re just getting started…