Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Things Break

(Note: this post was typed over several days at Balboa Naval Hospital. With one hand.)

Well, I suppose it had to happen eventually - at least according to the safety statistics my father used to throw at me in my younger days: I had an accident, Not just any accident, mind you - but the dreaded motorcycle accident. No falling down the stairs/slipping on ice/tripping over the curb mundane wonks for yours truly - no sir!

It began as a very normal - maybe even unusually good Friday morning. I had pried myself out of bed to meet some buddies for our weekly 0600 coffee & muffins Bible study at Pannikin's in Encinitas. There I splurged and got one of their excellent cinnamon rolls, with no idea that this tasty pastry would be my "last meal" until Sunday evening. After sharing some prayer and camaraderie with my buddies, I headed to Vista for some personal training with another buddy of mine, Van. You see, Van and I have known each other for almost 15 years. We were roommates at artillery school back in 1995, then were assigned to the same Marine unit here at Camp Pendleton, where we did a "WestPac" deployment together, then ended up as roommates again up until we both left the Corps in 1999 - me temporarily; him permanently. Though we'd stayed somewhat in contact over the years, it had only been in the past year or so that we'd begun renewing our friendship. So when he told me that he was opening up a small gym in Vista to do personal training, I thought it would be a perfect chance to kill two birds with one stone. I would be able to see my friend on a regular basis, AND I would have someone who knows me to encourage me in my efforts to get back in better shape. Oh, and since he's a self-described agnostic, I get a lot of time to talk to him about God. (Van, if you're reading this, yes, I am trying to convert you...)

So I showed up at 0800 and went through an hour of cardio/core training, then headed home to get cleaned up. I didn't have much on the schedule, but had been invited to attend a luncheon at Bethel Seminary with our guest speaker at noon, so I decided to get down there with plenty of time to spare. Being a "typical" day here in sunny SoCal, I decided that a ride on my "Trusty Triumph" would be just the thing. Despite the warmth, I still put on my heavy-duty Vanson leather jacket, little realizing that this garment would live up to its well-deserved reputation for durability less than an hour later. I headed down the I-15 for the 30-mile run to school, a trip I'd made countless times since purchasing my bike last May. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, traffic was relatively light, and I even got to zip along in the HOV lane for part of my journey - what could possibly ruin such a perfect day?

Plenty, as it turned out.

I was only a few miles from the seminary, heading east on I-8 as I entered the off-ramp for College Ave. I could see that the far end of the ramp was blocked with traffic, so I eased off the throttle in order to increase the gap between me and the guy in font of me for the inevitable slowdown. That's about when it happened. Some guy in the next lane to my left decided that gap was meant for HIM, so he darted into the space, unaware of the traffic piling up only a few hundred yards further down. I imagine that a few seconds later he had an "Oh crap!" moment as he realized that the equation [Mass • Velocity = Momentum] was about to interject itself in a very hard and fast way. So he did what any other knucklehead would've done - he slammed on his brakes. Since I had insufficient time to re-establish a safe gap between us since his abrupt lane change, I was forced to do the same thing.

Funny thing about motorcycles - you can hit the brakes pretty darn hard when you're straight & level, and she'll respond fine; just hunker down a tad as the front forks absorb the weight shifting and deceleration. In an uphill curve? Not so much.

So, I ended up laying her down on the right side going maybe 30mph, which wouldn't have been nearly so bad had not my right foot gotten caught underneath (causing multiple spiral fractures in my tibia) or had I not been thrown forward onto my left hand (shattering the wrist to such a degree that it took 3 plates, 4 wires and 18 screws to put the pieces back together).

X-rays of both my left wrist and right ankle (pre-surgery)

You can see how the bones on the wrist are all pushed over to the side - what you can't see is all the little bone fragments from my radius that were sheared off by the impact. It would take the doctor 6 1/2 hours of surgery to put it all back together.

On the right is my right ankle, with a couple of pretty nasty spiral fractures at the bottom of my tibia. I would also need a 5" long steel plate screwed into the bone to hold everything together.

And no, I have no idea what that thing on my hand is.


Now, after 10 days at Balboa Naval Hospital and two (successful) surgeries, I'm here at home recovering nicely. All the CT scans came back negative for any other damage - no head trauma, spinal injuries, or internal bleeding - just the two aforementioned fractures. Amazingly, there was hardly even any "road rash," which I must attribute to wearing the proper safety gear, esp. a good quality leather jacket! God truly was with me through all of this, as I am well aware that it could've turned out much worse. As it is, I'll be off my feet for a few months, and will have to endure lots of physical/occupational therapy, but the prognosis is good, and I anticipate regaining full movement and use of both wrist and ankle.

Thanks so much for the many prayers and offers of help and support that have been sent our way - we are very grateful and thankful!


Wilko said...

Man-that's bad news. Took a spill on a bike when I was a younger lad and I rememeber why a car can be a good thing.

Hope you are recovering and prayers for you / family. Didn't see the rest of the story.

Homefront Six said...

That'll leave a mark. Ouch. Over here via Lex. Many prayers that your injuries heal quickly. Many praises that you're ok.

bc said...

It's an amazing thing, the mind and body instinctively and reflexively reaching out against all odds to help protect self.

Sorry to hear about the wreck, sounds like some pain and recovery ahead, but it sure beats the alternative!

God surely has more for you ahead; prayers for you and yours while and as you get there. Kind regards, Brian.

Anonymous said...

Maj Harvey

Prayers for a quick recovery.

I hope you get through this quickly.



Anonymous said...

Crashing sucks. Done a few myself.
Just had lunch with a coworker recovering from a spiral fracture on his tib/fib. It was more like a broken bone from motorcycling support group meeting. Get well soon and remember every day in physical therapy is another day closer to getting back on your bike (which I hope is ok?).

Anonymous said...

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio.
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude.


MissBirdlegs in AL said...

So sorry to hear of your accident, Maj. Harvey. Will add you to my prayer list and keep you there a while! Hang in there.

Btw, I admire your persistence in getting this post up. All the best, Katy

AW1 Tim said...

Hey Major,

I don't quite know what to say. At least you'll have fun at airports with the metal detectors.

I'll ask Apollon to speed your healing, and set you back to your tasks at hand. I suspect you won't mind a Pagan praying for a Christian for a change, eh? :)

Lex has my email. Anything you think I can help with, you just ask. If I can, consider it's done. Sky Pilots are right up there in my book, even if they used to be artillerymen..... heh

ASM826 said...

I spiral fractured my tib/fib about 7 years ago. It took a year to walk without a limp. 18 months before I had a day that I could call pain free. Add in the wrist, which sounds like it took a worse hit, and it is going to take some time. Rehab is slow and painful. Physical therapy is a nice name for torture by smiling, helpful, well meaning imps.
All the best. I'll be checking back, so please update your progress.

Semper Fidelis,

AFSister said...

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.


and OUCH.

Anonymous said...

I had a shattered elbow from a trip and fall on a concrete floor--threw hand out etc. You do ultimately get over these things, although you'll spend more time with physical therapists than you want to.

But the accident is only a stone in the road on what appears to be a very interesting career path. Marine artillery officer to Army Chaplain--not many have taken that road. My best wishes for a complete (although it probably won't be speedy) recovery--and for success on your spiritual voyage. Service to others is the highest calling.

Wilko said...

Dave,More best wishes over at Lex place today since not all post on the google site.

dwas said...


Our prayers and thoughts are with you..

Had a few close calls in my day..

God Bless..

Robert said...

Maj: Sorry about the accident and hope you heal up quickly. My prayers are with you.

I have a question though. Why not become a Navy Chaplain and serve the Marine Corps? That's what I do every day and it is the most rewarding ministry I've ever done!

In any case, you have a great career and awesome ministry opportunities ahead of you.


be603 said...

Ouch. Know the seminary and the off ramp well.

They took you straight to Alvarado for ER?

Mend up and keep the uplook. Sounds like you've got a bit of a long pull ahead.

God bless, encourage and give you hope.
II Cor 1.


Anonymous said...

You are just the typical Marine over-achiever, aren't you? Not just a fracture of the tibia - a spiral fracture. Can't just fracture the wrist - must shatter the wrist. But I bet that Marine attitude will stand you in good stead through your recovery.

Healing thoughts and prayers coming from another of Lex's Ladies.


G-man said...

Here's a prayer for your speedy recovery. Quit working those overseeing protective angels so hard - drive a car!!

Brian said...

Sorry to hear of the accident, Major. Best wishes for a speedy return to the bike.


(met you in SD w/Lex back last Oct.).

Jeopardy said...


Tough break (get it? he he he). Glad it wasn't more serious. Hope you're back up and around soon.


Kris, in New England said...

Wow - ouch is right, times about a million I suspect.

Keeping you in my thoughts, sending lots of positive healing energy your way.

Olga said...

Prayers for your speedy and full recovery.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, with treatable pain.

Godspeed and God bless. You'll be able to overcome this and, who knows, maybe do some good where you are now as God's servant. Sometimes, God puts us where He wants us, even if it's not where we wanted to go.

Take care and do what the docs and PT people tell you to do! No macho manliness to skip meds, okay? Pain sucks and slows healing -- as I speak from experience, though not from a motorcycle accident, just clumsiness in walking and meeting a curb.


Buck said...

Best Wishes for a speedy recovery, Maj. Harvey, and I'm glad you survived the encounter.