21 September 2014

Ten weeks out from the crash, time for a progress update:

A few weeks ago I was having some pretty bad side effects from all the drugs, culminating in some psychotic episodes. This combined with the realization that my arm is going to take a lot longer to heal than I might have hoped, made me decide it was time to do what I could to reclaim my life – I felt that I couldn’t just stay in limbo indefinitely. First up was tapering off the drugs over a week to get off them completely. It was time to see if I could handle the pain without them. I was referred to a rehab clinic where I was prescribed a TENS machine – this uses electrical stimulation to help confuse the pain signal in the nerve. I’ve found it to be somewhat helpful.

Whilst the drugs were necessary to get me through the major trauma, man does that stuff mess you up – getting off them has given me more clarity, more energy, my appetite has returned, and my skin is clearing up.

I had a few a days where the pain was pretty bad, but then it fortunately eased off. I would now describe my hand as having a high level of discomfort, which is best dealt with by keeping busy with distractions.

I have regained a level of function in my arm: I can grip a little – this is currently limited less by strength than by a strange combination of numbness and super-sensitivity – meaning that the feedback from gripping something is so intense as to be painful. My wrist is working okay and gradually gaining strength. My tricep kicked in three weeks ago and is getting stronger. There is the first glimmer of life from the deltoid. But nothing from the bicep yet, which I really need to get some arm control back – and to be able to get out of the sling.

Once off the drugs, the next step in reclaiming my life was getting back to work. It has been slow going – short bursts as I can only be active in the sling for so long before I have to lie down to rest my back. And figuring out how to build frames with one hand. Creative use of inner tubes, bungees and magnets has allowed me to perform most operations. I have been using an inner tube as a sling – my tricep is able to stretch it, with the elastic bringing the arm back instead of the bicep, which gives me a small amount of useable movement, enough to use my left hand to feed the rod when it comes to brazing. I’ve mostly managed not to get frustrated – I am happy just to be doing something after two months of sitting around…. Today I actually finished brazing up the frame I have been working on, so hopefully I’ll have it all done and ready for paint soon.

Many thanks to everyone for all the messages, the support is much appreciated. Very much hoping for more improvement and to get back on the bike soon.


  1. Rob; I just read through your recount of the actual crash and the above. I was just in PDX for three days and was tempted to give you a call and check in on you. Since we are not acquaintances, I was afraid I would be catching you at a bad time and that things would be awkward. So glad to hear that you are on your way back. Unlike me, you are still young. Please my friend, try to be easy on yourself and be patient.

  2. I’m inspired by your ability to acknowledge the small steps in recovery and celebrate them. It was a long journey navigating narcotics for myself after my injuries and unfortunately it seems there’s a fairly unhelpful stigma that can affect us if we’re not aware of it. I appreciate your transparency and the narratives of resiliency as you and your family are undoubtedly balancing victories and set-backs.

    Brandon M

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