Thursday, November 22, 2012

Road to Recovery

Josh read my previous post and got so excited he wanted to write his own.  Ok, not really, BUT he is going to share his recovery process with you.  

So here it goes...

The first thing I will admit to you is that the hospital wasn't as bad as it seemed.  I was greatly blessed with great friends and family and of course ample food.  It felt like a good time to connect to people and a nice break, from the rush of life.  

That all ended once I was discharged from the hospital.  I found myself with plenty of homework to do.  On the Sunday after I was discharged from the hospital, my dad drove me to college for two days before Thanksgiving.  I enjoyed having my dad at college.  He got to see my classes, professors and friends.  

Over Thanksgiving break, I spent almost all of my time studying and writing papers in our reclining chair.  After Thanksgiving break, I drove our family car back to college.   I finished the semester working on school work for almost 12 hours a day.  I remember the feeling of not knowing if I was going to get everything done, and wishing there was more time in the day, but somehow diligence and hard work pays off, when you have faith in God. That semester, I not only learned about myself, I did exceedingly well in school. 

Over Christmas break, I started rehab.  In the first week I went to a check-up in Asheville. The doctor recommended that I try a low impact cardio exercise, such as stationary biking.  It was funny to me because that was my favorite thing to do and he had no idea.  After the appointment I went straight to my house and got on the stationary bike downstairs.  I thought to myself, I will spend a nice casual hour on the bike and will feel great about my recovery process.  After 30 minutes, I was in deep pain.  My lungs hurt, my legs felt like jello and my side felt like a knife had stabbed me.  I took a shower and changed my bandage.  After looking at all the blood, I thought to myself, this isn't going to be as easy as imagined.  

I spent the rest of that week, twice a day on my bike, trying to build up to an hour of easy spinning.  The following week, my father and I would go to the race track and I would sit in his draft as he pulled me in circles around the same small circumference.  On Christmas Eve, my father took my to the race track and we rode thirty miles for the first time in about two months.  I was able to do some pulling and he reassured me this would be the turning point in my recovery.  If I hadn't of collapsed my lung, by this point in the year, I would hope to be building a strong endurance base, which consisted of 100 miles without stopping. 

On Christmas day, we usually drive to Virginia to visit my family.  Unfortunately we had a flat tire and my father hurt his back changing it.  We stayed home and it was the first Christmas day I got to spend with Christin.  I missed my family, but I greatly enjoyed seeing Christin on Christmas day.  I continued riding the trainer, putting a few intervals into the one hour ride, that were short and unimpressive. 

 The last week of my Christmas break, my father and I rode from Hendersonville to Spartanburg and up Caesar's Head.  I was worried about the ride, because I had not done a ride that long and my father did most of the work on the way out.  On the way back towards Asheville, we caught a group of strong riders and my father said to try to keep up with them on the climb.  I not only kept up with them, but out climbed most the riders in the group.  I thought to myself, where did this come from.  Two days ago I could barely stay in the draft of my father and today I was climbing like I had never been injured.  The next day, I have a check up with my doctor.  He could not believe the improvement I had made.  He said I was months ahead of schedule and asked if I have been riding a bike like he had suggested.  I told him the day before I did sixty miles and felt better than I did in months. 

I returned to Catawba College to finish out my senior year.  I continued to ride long miles on the road, and then one weekend Ryan Jenkins asked me to do an organized ride with him.  I did the ride and felt extremely horrible throughout the first 20 miles.  I got dropped from the lead group and then from the second group and the third.  It gets worst.  As the fourth group past me, I thought to myself 'this not only hurts, it is embarrassing'.  I was stuck in what is called, no man's land for the rest of the ride.  This is the position where you are in between groups and you ride by yourself for a very long time.  I finished the 65 mile ride, making Ryan wait about 45 minutes for me.  I was discouraged, but I kept up my training and continued to see improvements.

The next weekend, Christin came to visit me and Ryan asked me to go on another ride with him.  I felt bad for leaving Christin alone, but she encouraged me to continue training.  I accepted Ryan's invitation on one condition:  that it would not be a 100 mile ride as he had planned, and I could turn back with a group of riders at mile marker 60.  Of course this did not happen and I ended up riding 103 miles.  To my extreme delight, I was vastly improved from the previous week.  Although it was difficult, I stayed with the group and I was able to ride competitively.  

I went home for my final check-up and the doctor told me that I was completely healed.  The only restrictions remaining were not to attempt weight training for another couple months.  That weekend, was the start of the spring classics in Greenville, SC.  The series was a shocking reminder that I was injured earlier in the season.  Throughout the rest of the spring, I continued to struggle in races.  I continually placed lower than expected and at some points, I thought about transitioning into triathlons.  My expectations were high and maybe a bit unreasonable.  I had never been the type of person that wanted the easy thing.  

In May, I graduated from Catawba College.  My parents, brother, Christin, Nanny, Aunt Rae, and cousin attended my graduation.  We had a cookout afterwards, where Ryan and Charlie attended.  As I drove back to Asheville,  I was greatly saddened to be leaving a place that I called home for four years.  

The summer is where my real training started.  I concentrated on biking speed, already missing out on most of my endurance.  I still was questioning, whether I had what it takes to be a good cyclist, or if I should use my athletic strengths in another way.  My father and I started participating in a Wednesday night race called "The Ring of Fire."  The race was on the track in Asheville and I would do the 4/5 and 3/4 race every Wednesday.  Initially, my father would lead me out for sprints and I was competitive in the 4/5 placing in most races.  One week,  I had felt sick for most of the day, but my training had been good and I did not want to miss out on an opportunity to race with my dad.  Christin was able to attend the race as she does most of the time.  Overall, I felt bad, I raced average and without my father's help, it would have been a disaster.  He lead me out and because of his hard work, I won my first bike race ever.  I had no more questions about cycling to anything else.  It was extra special having Christin there and being able to dedicate my recovery to family and friends.  

I put in the work to recover. I was competitive in races again and even won a few. It would be easy and boastful to say that I did this and now look at me. I am a great cyclist and I can do great thing, but without the support from family and friends this process would have been much different. At points I questioned myself, I was not strong enough to stand up, and I could not even ride a bike for thirty minutes. All the credit should not be acclaimed to my greatness, but to the greatness of God and how he heals those in need. I have special people in my life that lifted my up and helped my off a bike when I was hurting, and God placed those people in my life for a certain reason. 

I want to thank all those who believed in me, worried about me, and prayed for me. God works in ways that man cannot understand, and I know now that I am better for going through this road to recovery than I was before.


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