The Accident

My life changed dramatically in March 2014 with the accident, here’s what happened

My life was full of adventure; I literally lived for the sport, for activities, the great outdoors. There was this constant underlying thirst for adrenaline. With a full-time job, I found my ways to shape life around these needs. Weekdays entailed a 16-mile daily cycling commute, lunchtime gym sessions and summer evening wakeboard sessions, you’ve got to love long summer nights. Once 5 o’clock hit on a Friday work was out of my mind and weekends were filled with road trips kite surfing, mountain biking and climbing.

But things took a life-changing turn on the 25th of March 2014. It was a pretty normal Tuesday, work had been as busy as always, but that was over for the day. I jumped on my bicycle with the fresh feeling of spring in my stride and hit the road pedalling hard. I was on route to the wake-boarding lake, a short 8-mile ride from work. It was going to be a great evening, a couple of sets behind the RAF Nautique wake boat, followed by some steak and veg on the BBQ by the lake watching the sun go down. Little did I know that my world was about to turn upside down. I had barely left work, maybe a mile of tarmac had passed, and I was cruising along with the flow of traffic. I was delighted to see the traffic signal switch to green on approach, and I was able to keep the rhythm going, I pedalled hard to keep momentum. That was when it happened.

Out of nowhere an oncoming car pulled across in front of me. I had a microsecond. Time seemed to go into slow motion. But there was nothing I could do. There was no route for avoidance. No hope to avoid impact. I felt my body crumple as I shattered into the rear passenger panel. My right shoulder took the full impact, soaking up the 15 mph to standstill impact. My body screamed internally before collapsing to the ground on my right side. Time was different. I could feel my heartbeat; my pulse thumped through my veins, my surroundings were almost a blur. Time was still.

Then, with a bang, full speed realities of life kicked back in. I could hear traffic, car doors, and people crowding around me, voices, and people asking if I was ok. Was I ok? I didn’t even know at this point. All I really knew is that I was on the ground in the middle of a rush hour junction with a bike stuck between my feet. My feet were stuck. Argh, my cycling cleats, they were stuck on my pedals. I felt trapped and tried to move but quickly found my right shoulder was not going to be any use helping me up. I remember shouting, shouting in pain, in rage, in anger, ‘why’ ‘what the hell’ ‘it was a green light’ ‘why did the car cut across’.

I was really fortunate in the care and compassion of the passers-by. They helped me up and out of the road, collected my sprawled belongings of bike lights and removed shoe [to get me off my bike] and aided me to the safety of the curb where I awaited the ambulance. So much for an evening at the lake.

At the time, I had no idea of the full extent of the injuries; I was sent home from A&E with strict instructions to rest and let all the inflammation die down. The focus was my double size shoulder, which took the head on impact, my dislocated finger that was already swollen like a deformed balloon, and my right knee and hip following their hard encounter with the tarmac. I quite literally looked like I had been in a car crash. Ironic, really!

I was feeling incredibly shaken up, as one would expect following a head-on collision with a red light jumping car, my body was hurting beyond belief, but my get-up-and-go attitude had me staying positive about the short-term implications.

Little did I know that the world as I knew it was going to disappear for years. While the initial injuries were not life-threatening, they were definitely life-changing, and it was going to be a long road to full fitness.

That day changed my life.

Today, years since the accident in early 2014; my body has been through so much, over 13 months off work, 6 operations, full shoulder reconstruction [yes I am now partly bionic], 4 hip surgeries and years of rest, countless steroid injections [12], hydrotherapy, osteopath, shock wave treatment, acupuncture,  red light therapy, CBD oil, spiritual healing, ice treatment, months and months of physiotherapy, and I’m still having treatment with my troubled hip persisting.

Shoulder reconstruction

In brief, the most impacting injuries included my shoulder and hip. My right shoulder has now been fully reconstructed with my ligaments being removed and replaced by an artificial surgili fiber, the bone cut short to allow it to reset, before being bolted back together. My shoulder surgeon, the third consulted who finally knew what and how to fix me, Carlos Cobiella, has been incredible. Despite being aware of my shoulder in everyday life on a multiple times a day basis, my shoulder has recovered to a level that will enable me to participate in my sports again, full functionality, full range, just a little grumpy and I will certainly pay for the fun with soreness afterwards – one of the hardest parts was actually learning to trust it again. The scar is beautiful too, a really clean 4-inch line across the top of my shoulder and three key hole marks. Incredible, given the mess it was in.

Thegirlonabike Accident Collage shoulder reconstruction hospital

Hip complications

On the hip side, the repairs included bone removal and refinement, cartilage re-graft, ligament repair and stem cell treatment for soft tissue repair, followed by a series of steroid injections totalling 7, rest, two bouts of shock wave treatment, osteopathy, hydrotherapy and physio. This then continued with more surgery, hip fluid replacement, manipulation under anesthesia, labrum removal with donor graft replacement and further bone refinement. I also had to see multiple specialists until I found one able to fix me, Ali Bajwa and then Tony Andrade who have been incredible. In late 2017 I underwent my third hip surgery, with a full reconstruction of the cartilage, fully removing the labrum again and replacing it with donor cells.

Sadly though, this reconstruction failed, which can happen with absolutely no explanation. Simply it just didn’t take. I thus had to undertake the same full reconstruction for the second time in late 2018, my fourth hip surgery.

I was religious in my physio, o, including the use of a Compex machine, PhysioLab and Red Light Therapy with my complete commitment, and I’m feeling confident that 2019 will finally be the year I get back to sports.

  • Compex is an electric muscle stimulation machine designed to help reawaken the connection between the muscles and the brain. For the first 3 months this was used for 20 minutes 7 times a day on a range of muscle areas and really helped to get the dormant muscles back firing.
  • PhysioLab is machine that enables the application of cooling and compression and is used for the treatment of pain, swelling and inflammation [prof sportsmen use them lots]. I use it for 30 minutes every 2 hours for two weeks… It’s blinking freezing strapping around my waist / hip and pumping 6 degree ice water the body. Normal ice packs for cooling will only penetrate the first layer of the body but the combination of the compression and pumped ice water enables the cooling to penetrate 2-3 inches. The idea is that this helps smash away inflammation, freeing the pain and joint to allow you to push forwards again. With so many years of trauma and injury the joint’s become use to just being angry.
  • Red Light Therapy is a specific wavelengths of red light create a biochemical affect in our cells that serves to increase mitochondrial function. ATP is the source of energy for every cell in the body. So without it, we don’t function at all. Without enough of it, we don’t function well. It’s well known for it;s support in healing, energy, scaring, inflammation, tissue repair and a huge long list of other things.

The reality is I’ll highly likely, 95% according to the medical teams, need a new hip within the next decade. But that’s not going to stop me from pushing on and having the most fun I can with my body. So that’s where I’m at in late 2019. I’m back pushing on but with a hip that is very much not ideal but thankfully it loves biking. I can’t walk far but who needs to walk when you can bike!?

How the bikes fit in

Some may wonder how I’ve been able to ride motorcycles during my recovery, given the injuries. But most of the people who ask are those who don’t ride, as those that do realise that you don’t need to be strong to ride. If you have balance and coordination you’re be fine. But it’s important to realise that I’ve not been riding the whole time. It was a long time before I got my first motorcycle to avoid traffic on my commute. I was then unable to ride again for months post each of the 6 surgeries. But I’ve always pushed hard to get back on the bikes. Without my sports, the bikes, especially the Harley, have become my way of coping, my escapism, my bit of adventure and adrenaline. My life would have been a much darker place without them. Even just being able to go out to the garage on my crutches and look at them, polish them. It’s all helped my morale. The I started a new hobby with the dirt bikes as things started to improve physically. I’ve had periods across the years where I was able to get on the KTM, however further hip complications has repeatedly pulled me off it again, forcing more medical rest and surgery.

With time and patience, I knew I would get back to riding – only I had the power to make it happen and hard work always pays off.

Psychological impact of the accident

Beyond the physical implications, which have been life-changing, I have also been on a roller coaster of emotions; my body has changed, my daily activities, my ability to do sports, my views on the world, views on life, recovery and even pain have changed. My view on ‘who I am’ has changed, who I was has gone. And it is this, these discoveries that have led me here, to where I am today. I am now a stronger and more determined person than ever before, and through this life experience has grown ‘The Girl On A Bike.’ I’m more grateful than ever for what I do have, more thankful for the wonderful things around me.

My recovery from the accident is not yet over. However, the end of the tunnel is in sight and getting brighter with every month that goes by; which means exciting things.

My world of adventure and the former athletic me is coming back, and I will make sure it comes back. But either way, I want to help encourage others to join in too, to make the most of every day. I would love to help boost others to have a little more confidence in themselves, to maybe living the precious moments in a life a little harder, to help people join in with the sports I love, to get out on two wheels, share the addiction. The world is full of so many people, passionate about an aspect in their life, for me, it’s definitely ‘The Girl On A Bike,’ I am passionate about so many things as well; I enjoy a long list of sports, but motorbikes are so central to everything. And with two-wheel, you can travel to some unique destinations, escape a long day at work with a blast of wind in the hair, explore the countryside and even combine two wheels with holiday travel adventures.

Fancy joining for the ride? Tag #TheGirlOnABike and let’s get the adventures started.

What can you expect to hear from me?

It’s all about making the most of life on two wheels. You will learn more about who I am and my adventures making the most of each day. I plan to get stuck in with motorbike DIY following the moto that if “I can do it. You can do it!” (for the bike and inspired by the bike). Plus some bike essentials and product reviews, and as I get out and about I’ll share with you some of my adventures.

Finally, as my body allows I will add sports, from kite surfing and wakeboarding, to muddy mountain biking, spider inspired climbing and snowy snowboarding and snow-kiting.

Ultimately it’s all about tips for enjoying life, being more positive, exploring the great outdoors, making the most of our lives, my personal experience on health and nutrition [disclaimer, I am not an expert, but I know what works for me], and all wrapped up in some life learning’s in coping with difficult life issues, such as my accident or living with Vitiligo. I will be sure to review places I go to help others navigate the best spots and will most likely put in a few words about the kit I use.

Finally, I feel I should add that; all opinions will be my own.

If you’ve had any similar life challenges, then I would love to hear from you. I’d also love to know if there are any topics you’d love to see me cover! Get in touch with me via email or Instagram!