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Condition Updates - Part 2

Date: Tue, 14 Nov 1995

To those of you that have expressed sympathies and shared prayers for Karen, I thank you deeply.

Karen, whom I visited last night, is still not conscious, though she is not in a coma. She is sleeping from the medication that was used during her operations and is expected to regain consciousness today sometime.

The jury is still out as to whether her leg will be saved, but there is a better chance of it today than yesterday. There has been other very good news as well. The bruise to her brain is an OLD injury, not related to her motorcycle crash this weekend. Her helmet did save her life, without question. Despite riding face down along the highway until she came to a stop on the gravel shoulder, the cut over her left eye (from her broken dark glasses) was the only injury to her head! Her neck X-rays confirmed no damage to it.

Similarly, her spleen and liver seem to have responded very well to ice packing and cauterization. These, neither of them, appear life threatening any longer.

This morning we will find out about other possible spinal injury. However, the doctors acknowledged that her back does not look like it was involved in an accident at all (not even scratched) so they are highly optimistic.

Her color is nearly normal again, though she is puffed up like a balloon. I know it is hard for those of you that have not seen her to get a feel from just my words, but yesterday she was waxy of complexion, and pale gray. Today she is 'pinking up', as well as puffing up. It looks great!, by comparison.

Though still critical, meaning anything could go wrong still, it is beginning to look like Karen's general health and good physical condition before the accident are making significant contributions to her improving condition.

We should know either today or tomorrow if she will lose her leg. As an aside of note: Karen's boyfriend (Rob) was REQUIRED by Karen and the rest of us to take the MSF street rider course before he would be allowed to ride with us. It turns out that he was ATTENDING the MSF class when she had her accident!!! I met Rob at the hospital and have kept him fully informed (and he does the same for me) about Karen's condition. Rob advises that he is absolutely convinced that he will be riding with us, that Karen will also probably get back up on a bike, that her insistence that he buy a full-face helmet (which he did) was an omen and proof that she understands what safety is all about. He also said that 'target fixation' seemed to get unusual emphasis during his MSF class.

For those of you that may now be inclined to give up that bike of yours because of the risks, consider this: "Of course we know that riding a motorcycle involves risks, we are not naive! But being risky does not mean that we take risks. For those of us that want to survive this experience, we want to know all about those risks so that instead of taking them, we manage them and avoid those we can avoid." So says Rob to a member of the family that does not ride and who became aggressively behaved at the hospital.

I say Rob got it right.

Date: Wed, 15 Nov 1995

Many thanks to Guy Bogisich and all the others that have taken time to wish Karen a speedy recovery along with their prayers.

Today she was allowed to awaken, partially, and she was able to communicate. She does not remember the accident and was told only that she had been in a motorcycle accident and that she had broken her leg. That satisfied her and she went right back to sleep. They will awaken her again tomorrow and begin changing her pain killers.

They are done working on her insides! They stitched her liver back together today, but have no idea if it will mend or not at this time. Her back was fine (not even bruised). No spinal injuries! They now are talking about some 20 additional operations over the next three weeks to repair her leg. It is not at all certain that they will be able to save it, but this talk implies that there is certainly hope.

Date: Thu, 16 Nov 1995

Hi, everyone... *takes deep breath* I was at the hospital last night to see Karen and get the day's news.. and will be there again this evening.

Last night, the nurse advised that all surgery was complete for now on her abdomen for the internal injuries to her spleen, liver and diaphragm. Those organs now must be given time to heal, to see if the 'fix' will take.

Today she was to have her left leg cleaned out again in the OR, which will be done perhaps 8 to 10 more times before any plan for reconstructive surgery on the leg can be carried out. She still has circulation in her toes, but the possibility of grafting and rebuilding the muscles and nerves of the upper leg cannot yet be determined.

After this afternoon's surgery, she will be taken off sedatives and brought 'awake' for a while. A pain management team is due to make an assessment of how to best handle the long-term pain in her left leg, such as by giving her epidurals, etc. I expect she will start to be awake and mentally functional tomorrow or the day after...and next week, she'll start having to make decisions.......

Date: Fri, 17 Nov 1995

It is like a different reality today. The doctors advise us that Karen will be off the respirator today since she did well without it for a few hours yesterday. Tests of her liver function are positive. There are signs that some internal healing is underway in her left leg -- they intend to keep it open and allow that healing to progress from the inside out in order to watch out for any possible pockets of infection.

Then they told us that they intend to have her SITTING IN A CHAIR for visiting hours this evening! Finally, they told us that their original estimate of about four weeks in Intensive Care is no longer true - that, if she continues to improve as she has been lately, she will be out in less than two!

This is one tough lady. That she was physically fit and healthy at the time of the accident is obviously a major factor that accounts for this rapid turn of events.

Though the doctor was trying to be helpful, this turned out to be exaggeration in the extreme.

I have been asked via e-mail to explain why it is that there was so much damage to Karen in this accident given that it was 'only a sideswipe'.

Well, there is no such thing as a gentle hit at over 90 MPH, but that is only part of the answer.

Karen hit and was compressed into the left front quarter-panel of the truck. The truck, because it had turned away from her, was at an angle and her momentum forced her to travel the entire length of the truck from front to back with increased pressure along the way.

This compression pressure buckled the front quarter panel inwards several inches. The column where the door hinges are mounted did not compress and was over an inch farther out than that panel. Thus, Karen's leg was scraped by a one-inch wide piece of steel from top to bottom, at 90 MPH, and lost that depth of tissue as a result. It is believed that her left grip hit the truck first and snapped off at impact. This impact apparently caused the injuries to her left hand, abdominal area and left ribs.

That the pressure continued to increase all along the side of the truck is evident by the fact that her left peg sliced the truck's left rear tire like a knife (on both sides of the wheel rim). I mean it sliced all the way through that tire's rubber leaving it flat.

I am finished providing details of this accident here believing that all that can be gained by those of you reading them has been conveyed. I did not post these terrible details in an effort to cause discomfort, but to provide a sense of reality and awareness and respect for the awesome forces involved in an accident at highway speeds. If even one of you chooses to upgrade to a full-face helmet as a result, I am vindicated. If even one of you now knows how powerful 'target fixation' is and develops a mind set that insures your control of it, we might have a brother/sister rider on the road with us for years to come as a result.

Date: Sat, 18 Nov 1995

Bill Sander has asked for a description of how witnessing an accident affects other motorcyclists. I am happy to oblige him.

In 35 years of riding this was only the second serious accident I have witnessed. The first was almost one year ago when another of the Lone Star Ladies (Evelyn) did a highside on an interstate road because her rear brakes locked. The second was Karen's accident in which she sideswiped a pickup truck.

The first accident witnessed had the most significant immediate reactions on my part. I was two bikes behind her, Elaine was immediately behind her. When I saw Evelyn begin her skid a rush of adrenaline hit me instantly. A four-letter word left my lips (sh*t!) and then she did the highside. My thoughts raced from "Control stop this baby" to "Please don't let me hit Elaine" to "Evelyn's not going to survive this."

All of the bikes in our tour who were behind Evelyn stopped before even reaching the point where she dismounted her bike, all without skid marks of our own or other incident.

We managed to take care of her, get a 911 call placed, and to direct traffic around the accident as if we knew what we were doing. But, we were ALL confused! There was gasoline all over the road yet I, for example, lit a cigarette at the scene (quickly put it out, but that is an example of the personal confusion.)

Mounting the bikes after seeing this accident was difficult for all of us. We did what we had to do, of course, but speeds were reduced, and knees wobbled (literally!)

[Evelyn was not crushed in the accident. She suffered only a mild bruise to her head (helmet saved her life!), major rode rash, and a fractured bone in her left hand. Her bike was totaled. Three months later this gal had a new bike and did the same tour again (1,200 miles) in order to get over it.]

I had flashbacks for months - seeing how her bike disintegrated as it spun over and over and high into the air. On the other hand, there was very little blood and no gore associated with this accident.

Karen's accident was much the more difficult to see, but so far there has not been as much in the way of flashbacks in my mind.

I will tell you that as I saw her cross the center-line and realized that an accident was imminent, that same four-letter word left my lips. The adrenalin rush was profound, again. When she hit the truck I had thoughts that ranged from "Oh, no - not again" to "Control stop this baby" to "I hope Judy (my passenger) does not go over my handlebars."

I hit my brakes and my CB button at almost the same time and announced to Elaine that "Karen's down!", and weaved through the debris on the road to a stop just past where Karen landed on the right side of the road. I could have stopped even faster, but elected to park off the road so went past her. Again, no skid marks on my part and I stopped safely.

Now, I here confess that there is about a one-second gap in my memory. That is, I saw her hit the truck and bounce TOWARDS the right. I next remember her hitting the ground and stopping, but I do not remember the transition. I believe it is part of the adrenaline rush and being focused ABSOLUTELY on bringing my bike to a safe stop. [Similarly, though I remember seeing Evelyn's bike skid, flip and bounce high into the air, tumble over three times and skid to a stop next to her, I cannot remember stopping my bike that time at all.]

When I ordered my passenger to disembark, I said: "Get off the bike and see if you can help Karen!" It turns out that Judy had not witnessed the accident and did not even know that Karen was in trouble. She (Judy) thought Karen had a mechanical problem of some kind that forced her to have to pull off the road. When she saw Karen down with her leg pointed towards her head, Judy went instantly into shock.

As Judy was getting off my bike I once again hit my PTT and repeated my message to Elaine: "Karen's down!" Meanwhile, Elaine had already pulled off the road and had responded to my first message, but I cannot remember her doing so.

Upon getting to Karen's side I observed what I then assumed was her body partly under the bike, face down. Her left leg was pointed towards her head at an impossible angle. I went to her head and heard her groans. This was uplifting in the extreme! I now knew that she was alive and breathing.

I knelt down at her head and told her that she had been in an accident, help was on it's way, that she would be alright, and asked her not to move. Three other men arrived almost at once as did Elaine. I asked Elaine, who got there shortly after these other men, to call 911. All three men announced that they were CPR trained and said that they could help. Two of them took over a head watch as I first inspected Karen for signs of serious bleeding then ran back to my bike for first aid gear and to help Elaine connect her cell-phone. Adrenaline was really pumping by now and I was once again getting very confused. [Again, to observers it appeared that we knew what we were all doing - but I assure you it was adlib as we went along.]

Evidence of that confusion, as I said once before, was that in response to a decision to put latex gloves on I WATCHED MYSELF open the breathing mask package instead of the zip-lock bag containing the gloves. Remembering how confused I was a year earlier, I then knew I was confused again and decided to take the gear and deposit it all with the other three men for their use and go out and direct traffic. As it turns out, I only managed to retrieve my first aid kit after the accident - I forgot completely that the other equipment (breathing mask, triangle bandages, three sets of latex gloves) was still on the ground where I had left it.

When we had to roll Karen over onto her back onto the stretcher board, I am very aware of seeing, up close, the open leg, and a pool of blood and gore on the ground. Elaine was standing right next to me at the time and I remember saying something stupid like: 'Talk about road rash!" (Quietly, nobody else could hear me - certainly not Karen.)

I replayed the crash many times in my head while we waited for the ambulance, and then while we waited for the chopper. Since then, I have had to replay it to family members and other motorcyclists that have been more than a little curious. I have flashed on it a dozen times, but those images are fading fast now.

Wobbly knees did not occur this time, at least for me. Flashbacks of the sight of her leg and the blood and gore are also fading fast. Strangely, I made myself some dinner the other night using some ground round. I was immediately reminded of the sight of that leg. Still, this seemed of academic interest to me then, rather than being troubling.

At the hospital I was affected in a new way, totally unexpected. I became increasingly angry! I tried to find a person to put the blame of the accident on, other than Karen. I could not do so. It was entirely Karen's fault, but that, too, made me angry. "How could she do something so stupid?" "Look at how devastated her family and friends are! We will be affected for YEARS!" Things like that. This, of course, made me feel cheap and selfish and further drove me into a combined sense of anger and confusion.

The hospital Chaplin picked up on my distress and put his arm around me to try to talk me down. I was then embarrassed - but that did not stop the first tear from running down my cheek. I slept badly the first night, but have had no trouble since then.

Elaine has also reported being able to finally get over the incident in two ways: first, she reconstructed Karen in reverse. That is, in her mind she put Karen's leg back to the way it was before the accident. This made Karen a 'real person' again - meaning that with her leg exposed as it was, Elaine saw that Karen was very 'animal'. That humans tend to ignore the reality of their bodies normally is the point. So, she put Karen's body back the way it was, in her mind, and now deals with the fact that 'Karen' was hurt, rather than 'it' was hurt. Second, Elaine also got angry - about four days after the accident. It was cathartic. It purged her of what was built up within her. She readily admits, as I do, that it was not a fair thing to do, but had to get rid of the pent up emotions. This has served to do so.

Date: Tue, 21 Nov 1995

Karen has been taken off of the respirator, and the tubes in her mouth have also been removed. She still wears an oxygen mask (30% oxygen is being used partly because she is asthmatic), but she is now free for the first time to move her lips and jaw. It is a joy to see her smile from time to time!

Of major interest to me is that she has begun being weaned from her morphine and appears to be tolerating the pain better and better. Further, she is self-medicating! That is, they gave her a control that allows her to add morphine when she needs it. Unlike earlier fears that patients would abuse this capability, studies have shown that they do not - that they actually tend to diminish dosage to themselves faster than the doctors would have.

Karen cannot talk yet, her throat is still swollen from the tubes that were just removed. But she nods and shakes her head appropriately, the pupils are more dilated than they have been, she focuses on the speakers around her, she uses her right hand to squeeze any hand holding hers, and to point and control her medication, she moves her right leg restlessly, and she is now able to wiggle the toes of her left foot! These are all very positive improvements.

The doctors, when asked if our daily visits to her are too tiring, responded that the lady sleeps 18 hours a day and can and does easily tolerate our visits. More, she looks forward to them and they are improving her image of herself. Similarly, upon receipt of the first batch of get well cards from those of you that sent them (from all over the country as well as Canada!), she has done better still! We have read each one of them to her and she acknowledges each with a smile and a nod of her head.

Today she receives a present - a walkman radio/tape player. We are going to the library to get some books on tape for her. She emphatically nodded when we asked if she would like us to do that for her, so that is on the list of to-do's for the day.

Karen now knows that she is badly hurt. She has not been told, yet, the extent of her injuries, but she is one smart lady and has figured most of it out for herself. She was obviously a little sad last night but worked mightily to keep that under control. Today at noon her doctors will meet with the family to discuss her prognosis and to review her treatment. The family is anxious but have observed that over the past nine days there has only been one day in which there was not significant improvement in Karen's condition. Eight out of nine days of positive news may be lulling them into a false set of hopes, so the doctors want them to come back to reality today. In a few days the doctors will talk with Karen about her leg. It is still not clear that they can save the leg, though that certainly looks good at the moment. They have decided that they need Karen to be part of the decision process on what to do about it. In many ways it will be easier for Karen if the leg is removed, but that is going to be partly her decision.

She is definitely into humor at the moment. When I quipped that we seem to have run out of mountains for her to fall off (a reminder of the skiing accident that she had several years earlier), she smiles. When I told her that I needed her to get better real soon so that I could once again have to deal with having to fight off another redhead (Elaine is also a redhead), she smiles. When I told her that, 'by the way, you broke your bike', she nods and smirks. She is more alert than her appearance suggests and these are ample indications that it was wise not to talk about her when we were near her, even when it looked like she was not able to hear us.

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995

Last night I visited Karen and am pleased to report that she is now talking! The doctors had a lengthy discussion with her in the morning and they have concluded that the leg is to be saved!

Today, Karen will have a muscle removed from her back and placed into her left leg just above the knee. Skin grafts will also be started. Further, they are working on her left wrist at the same time.

Karen is pretty scared about all that she faces, but seems to understand that it is necessary. Little things, however, seem to bother her now - when the nurse pokes her with a needle to take a blood sample she reacts like it is a major invasion. No wonder - she has been finding positions and ways to deal with ongoing discomfort only to have to deal with a new 'problem'. She understands the needs, just wishes it were all over already.

Anyway, she got her walkman yesterday and it has been very well received by her. Time passes much more pleasantly with it.

She perked up in response to an observation I made yesterday. It seemed like such a little thing to me at the time. I merely said that she goes into and out of sleep easily, sometimes with 10 seconds between the time she closes her eyes and when she wakes up, sometimes with 10 hours between. In any event, one thing I'll bet she has already discovered: Every time she wakes up she is doing a little better.

This little observation was important to her for some reason. She seemed unusually satisfied to consider that thought.

Date: Fri, 24 Nov 1995

Last night found Karen a whole world better off than the night before. She is now conscious, taking only the pain killers that she needs, is TALKING, and EATING real food!

She has stayed away from talking about the accident, so far, but certainly seems to remember most of what happened.

The all day surgery she went through the day before was successful in every way. The muscle removed from her back was implanted into her left thigh, just above the knee, her left wrist was set. and skin grafts were begun.

Regular visitors make a big difference to her. She looks forward to those visitations and actively preens herself before we get there - insisting that the nurse wash her face, for example, and comb her hair. She is becoming 'Karen' again.

Because of the remarkable improvement in her condition over the past three days, Karen was moved from Shock Trauma ICU to what is called an intermediate care ICU located in another part of the hospital. In other words, her life is no longer in imminent danger. We are all very pleased for her.

To demonstrate how things have changed over the past few days, I began a bit of teasing last night. "You know I love my redheads, all of them, don't you? Even those that are not real redheads. Nobody, of course, especially me, has noticed that you are not a real redhead. Honest! Trust me! That's my story and I'm sticking with it!"

Her response: "I've heard that one before. Could you get me some ice chips to suck on, please?"

Yep, she's getting back to herself.

Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995

It is hard to realize that this gal was touch and go only a week ago. Last night the doctors announced that they think she is done with any more operations, at least for the duration of her stay at the hospital. (Later grafting operations are certain.)

It happens that about 25% of skin grafts die and must be redone. In Karen's case they have all seemed to take without rejection of any kind. (You will recall that I commented that she was healthy, active and strong before the accident. Clearly it made a difference!)

For those of you that have never experienced it, a phenomena that often happens to patients in an ICU is called 'ICU psychosis'. This is a drug induced mix-up of dream and reality that the patient is incapable of differentiating. That is, they believe that what they 'remember' actually happened, regardless of how bizarre or irrational it seems to be. [In my own case, I was convinced that the nurses in my hospital were actually vampires who took selected patients out into the trees at night and offed them!] Well, today it was manifest in Karen's case.

The person that was driving the truck that she hit was finally able to bring himself to call Karen on the phone to inquire how she was doing. It was not a satisfactory phone call in any way. When he told her who he was, she lit into him with vigor. She wanted to know why he thought she would care to hear or talk to the person that 'ran her off the freeway!' Rather than argue with her, the man graciously ended the conversation and hung up. Elaine was told about this and called him back to explain what had happened.

Anyway, she was NOT on a freeway at the time of the accident, he did not run her off the road or hit her bike - she hit him! We all know that and had thought that with her general reluctance to talk about the accident that she was beginning to remember most of what had happened. Instead, 'ICU psychosis' got hold of her and convinced her that she knew what had happened even though it could not have happened the way she 'remembers' it.

Her boyfriend discussed this with her last night and advised that in fact she does not remember what happened. That that was OK, for now, if she wanted to keep it that way, and that he would be willing to tell her everything he knew about the accident if she wanted to know now, but suggested that she should actually wait until I could be there to tell it to her since I was the only person that saw it happen. Karen readily agreed to wait until I could brief her fully.

Anyway, she is eating whatever they bring her now. She has seen the scar down her abdomen and accepted it as being 'tolerable'. She has seen the scarring on the right leg resulting from the removal of some skin for grafting onto her left leg and finds that 'tolerable'. Has closely inspected the fast healing scar over her left eyebrow and agrees that it is 'insignificant'. She has not seen the extent of damage that was done to her left leg yet, but has intellectualized it - knows it is profound.

Since the healing is progressing so swiftly now on her left leg the doctors are about to change how it is dressed. The result will be much smaller bulk. This, so they can easily change her dressing without having to take her out of her room (which they can now do because she no longer has to visit the operating room.)

Believe this or not, there is now ongoing discussions about whether to release her from the hospital before or after Christmas! There is no serious doubt any longer that she will be able to leave prior to Christmas, but the argument revolves around the expected desire on Karen's part to be TOO active during the holidays if she is at home.

Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995

I visited Karen in the hospital tonight. She looks and acts like an 'outpatient' now. One of the doctors had a long talk with her this morning and explained that she came VERY VERY close to losing her leg. She responded by telling him that she was well aware of that and since she still has it, she intends to get it back to useful status as soon as possible. (The doctor told her that it was only because she had a pulse in her toes that they decided to try to save the leg - that they had been prepared to and perfectly willing to take the leg based on the severity of damage to it, but that they deferred that decision for as long as possible in the slim hope that it would remain 'vital' and maintain blood flow.)

She also knows that she came just as close to losing her life. When I told her that I was convinced that keeping herself healthy, in condition, strong from jogging and workouts at the gym, she obviously had greatly increased the odds that her body would fight hard for itself, she smiled and told me that despite all the quips others had given her about her obsessive behavior (keeping physically fit), and the memory of the 'pain' she experienced on long runs or hard workouts, it was all worth it and deserves the last laugh because it 'worked'.

Great attitude also seems to have played a part it this virtually miraculous change of her condition over the past three weeks.

They are working on finding a resident 'Rehab' facility for her to move to within the next three weeks. She is expected to have to work at least three hours a day on getting her leg to function again and they still have no idea if they will be able to get any function out of her left knee when it is all done. She will have to be in that resident Rehab for about two months (unless she can work out having 24 hour a day 'care' at her apartment.)

The leg is healing very well and the second major round of skin grafts was done yesterday. There is still the problem of a two-inch piece of thigh bone that is missing just above her knee. They have not joined the ends of the bones that are in place (though they have pinned them in alignment.) It is possible that they will add a two-inch section of pig bone (honest) or, if it is found that she cannot tolerate such a procedure, they may simply join the ends of the bone that are there leaving the left leg two-inches shorter than it should be and having to go back in in a year or so to correct that problem. Karen, of course, would prefer that they add the bone and be done with it.

Karen had most all of the tubes removed from her body this morning. This, in preparation for getting her to be mobile. She is no longer on intravenous medication of any kind, and even after the skin graft operation that they did yesterday, she is now only taking pain medication orally, and damn little of it (her choice.)

We finally got to talk about what happened. She is beginning to remember bits and pieces of that day and after my review of the facts, she was amazed to learn that she had had a friend visiting her in Houston from Canada who was along as my passenger at the time of the accident. She simply had no recollection that that woman had been here at all until we discussed the day with her.

Five days ago she was demonstrating an 'attitude' - she didn't know what had happened to her, didn't know who was at fault, didn't 'care', didn't want to know. Now she knows basically what happened and accepted my assertion that the truck did not hit her but that she hit it. Now she is dealing with the realities of the experience basically from an academic point of view - she is not really very interested in 'reliving' the experience or learning from it - she just wants to fill in the holes in her memory and then get on with the healing process. I am impressed more and more as I witness this lady deal with her situation.

Date: Fri, 8 Dec 1995

A meeting was held with Karen yesterday to put together a rehab plan.

Rehab will begin as of the 13th and will last three weeks at the hospital. Then, instead of needing 24 hour resident support, Karen will be allowed to go home. She will not have to go to a resident rehab center for the three months that had been originally anticipated.

The rehab objectives for this coming three week effort consists of teaching her how to get out of bed and into a wheel chair, moving from a wheel chair to another chair, and from her wheel chair to and from bathroom facilities. None of that sounds awesome unless you are on Karen's end of the equation. These are the fundamental skills that allow Karen to leave 'bedridden' status and to obviate the need for 24 hour resident support.

Thus, it looks like Karen will not quite get home before Christmas, but it will be close and is still possible. She is ecstatic!

Why wait until the 13th to start? Because the ribs on her left side have not yet had opportunity to heal. They were virtually all fractured in the accident and because she had such other major trauma they did not bind her chest. Those ribs were manipulated into proper position, and then Karen, not her chest, was rendered immobile so that they could knit in place. The ribs are very close to being 'well' now, and are certain to be strong enough by the 13th.

Date: Mon, 25 Dec 1995

Karen and her boyfriend visited with Elaine last night (and stayed the night). Karen was walking with a walker and had her wheelchair for help. She did FINE! The only negative for the evening was that the hospital sent her out on her 24 hour pass without any pain medication. Karen managed with a few aspirin. She looked good, acted very pleased to be out, if only for a day, and didn't complain the whole night.

Merry Christmas to all!!!!

Date: Thu, 4 Jan 1996

Karen was to have her last surgery this afternoon, to graft bone taken from her pelvic bone into her left leg, to make up the nearly four inches of femur she lost in the wreck (two inches of bone were left at the scene and each of the remaining ends had to be 'trimmed' nearly another inch.) She was a little apprehensive and has been told to keep the pain killers close by for the next three days or so... but she did so well during her stint in rehab that she won't need to go back when this operation is done.

You will recall from an earlier 'Condition Update' that the doctor's had no idea if she would ever be able to make use of her left leg again or, if so, if she would ever be able to even bend her knee. During her many rehab sessions Karen absolutely astonished her doctors and nurses. She worked thru the pain and managed a 55 degree flex of her left knee!

The doctors are estimating another week in the hospital, and she's to be sent home for good. "Let's get it over with!" was her view.

Date: Wed, 5 Jan 1996

The bone graft went very well! Two bone 'plugs' were taken from her hip, then 'shaped' and pinned in place (after first cleaning and 'shaping' the ends of the femur that had been shattered in the accident.) A total of about three inches of bone were needed of which her pelvis supplied over two. Thus, Karen's left leg will be slightly shorter than it was prior to the accident - but it exists!

Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996

The day has finally arrived. Karen was released from the hospital today!

In order to get an idea as to her priorities at this moment, Karen did not go directly home. Instead, she was driven directly to a beauty parlor where she is having her hair and fingernails done.

Sounds fair to me.

There was more blood and gore and much more detail about a real life trauma than you probably wanted in this case study. On the other hand, you only saw 18 messages about it - Elaine and I visited with Karen virtually every day following the accident, and Karen has lived thru this nightmare, and will continue to do so for the rest of her life.


Because taking safety information casually can put you in Karen's place, or worse! The tips and techniques that I have posted here are meant to influence the way you think and act, not to be casually considered.

Karen had years of experience, had recently completed her MSF training, insisted that her boyfriend attend the MSF class before he could ride with us, thought about safety in a serious way, and surrounded herself with people who she knew to be safety conscious in the extreme. She had heard her MSF instructor talk about 'target fixation' and understood what it was all about - but apparently did not relate it to anything but pothole avoidance. Target Fixation is not so trivial as that, and now you know it without any doubt at all. Hopefully that means someday we will meet on the rode and stop for a chat over some coffee. We are, after all, family.

You cannot enjoy tomorrow's ride if you do not survive thru tonight.

Next part - the following years

A plea for your help