Friday, 25 November 2016

One step closer

With it being a year on January 9th that I crashed, I am hoping to have an early Christmas present in the next few days and finally get the good news that I'm desperate for.

Home rehab sessions - kit courtesy of Sweaty Betty 
As always the support off everyone has been great, and people always want to know how I'm getting on. My bone graft is yet to fully heal in my pelvis, so I can't fully stress the joint as the right side of my pelvis is only held together by a screw! I did have a CT scan in August to determine if the bone graft had healed, and unfortunately it wasn't good news. Mentally I took a large blow as I was convinced that I would be able to return to training. When I look back now, I was irrational and didn't take into account the fact that bone graft can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a year to heal.

This shows the importance of wearing a helmet - they are life savers!
Despite the bone not actually being healed, the past few months have seen my body go from strength to strength. I can still only do a limited period on the Wattbike, but my glute power is improving daily. I have actually managed to gain some muscle size too which is also another bonus! My core is slowly getting there, however my body needs to find a way to compensate for the fact that I no longer have a large section of oblique muscle. My L5-S1 nerve route got crushed during the crash, which caused me to loose nerve sensation down my left leg ( from knee down to my foot). This has definitely showed signs of vast improvement as I now have control over my foot flexion, and can walk on my heels.

October saw me go back down to Norfolk for a while, during which Radio Norfolk and ITV were keen to get an update on my recovery. ITV's report is HERE. My large scar is also not only looking very good, but also feeling great too, as the sensation in the scar tissue is coming back. I owe this progress to the team at Derma Lux® for their LED Phototherapy machine, which is working wonders, so thank you again!
The healing process of my flank wound - Derma Lux®
During the last few months my time has come to an end with Paul Hadfield, from Marple Bridge Physiotherapy, who worked closely with me during the early stages. So another big thank you to him for putting in the very important initial movement patterns. Johanna Wilkinson, my advanced nurse practitioner at Stepping Hill, has also been invaluable with getting me in for regular scans and check ups. Furthermore, giving credit where credit is due, I can't thank Rob Sheridan enough for all his time and effort. He has gone above and beyond to help me out, doing my weekly massage at Didsbury Village Physio and hydrotherapy sessions at Stepping Hill hospital. He has kept me motivated and determined for the last 11 months, as well as making sure my body is in a great place!

Now onto the very exciting news.. the repeat CT scan is taking place on Monday 28th November! Although the scan is coming on Monday, I will have to wait a week or so until I get the results, as they need to thoroughly be analysed by the radiographer. So until then I have everything crossed and I'm hoping for the best!

V x

Friday, 22 July 2016

Rehab Update

2 weeks ago it was exactly 6 months since I crashed. I would say I am definitely back to being a 'normal' human again, and now have very limited spells of pain. Its such a relief to know that I will not have to endure a lifetime of chronic back, neck or pelvis pain.

The last month or so has been slightly more difficult than the previous ones, as the hype of the Olympics is starting to build. Naturally, I'm devastated that 4 years of hard work came to an abrupt end and ruined my chances of making my first Olympic team. Rio 2016 will be an amazing Games and I will be cheering on all of Team GB, especially the cyclists, and of course my team mates.
I can confidently say I gave 110% in every training session, so can only hold my head high as I continue my recovery. Don't get me wrong I have cried my fair share of tears from pain, disappointment, and frustration, however I know I have become stronger as a person, which I can only be thankful for. There are hundreds of athletes across all sports that are in the exact same circumstance, and we can now just keep our heads down and come back stronger for Tokyo 2020!

Getting great ROM in the hydro pool
My rehab over the last 2 weeks has dramatically gone up a gear, and finally I think my glutes are doing something! Rob, my Physio at Stepping Hill, can now only just withstand the power I push through his chest when doing my floating single leg leg press. With regular massage my scar tissue and muscles have also relaxed significantly, giving me a much wider range of movement. Mr Sian is astounded by my ROM for someone who has had not only had pelvis surgery but back surgery too. I can also walk now for over 2 hours which I do for general fitness. I really couldn't ask for any more at this stage.

I am currently awaiting a CT scan of my pelvis before my rehab can progress any further. We are hoping the scan will show that the bone graft has bridged the gap in my pelvis and therefore it will be completely stable. This will allow me to begin to train again! If the bone graft has fully healed I will have an operation in ASAP to remove my pelvis pin, which will slow things down slightly, but also means 1 less operation next year. My scan is due to be around the beginning of August - so fingers crossed!

The fracture/dislocation in my pelvis where the pin was later inserted 

Again a massive thanks to all of the support around me, I couldn't of done it without you all. Also a special mention to ASM (Agile Sports Management) with whom I've just started a new partnership!

I am determined to get back competing and can't wait to start my official rehab back on to the bike, which will hopefully very soon!

V x

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Weeks 12-16 - Back in the Saddle!

Things have gone unbelievably quick over the past 4 weeks. Suddenly everything started to fall into place and my strength was significantly improving as I pushed through my daily rehab and weekly hydrotherapy sessions. My scars are also now fully healed and looking much better.

The scars left from my degloving injury (right) and my final back operation (middle)

I've completed 5 hydrotherapy sessions now, and definitely seeing the benefits. I have such a wider range of movement and my pelvis control has gone from virtually nothing to almost normal, with only occasionally pain. I am also looking pretty much straight when I walk now too which is great.

The major target of my physiotherapy was beginning to fire my glutes to help prompt the repair of my nerve route down the left side. This strength in particular has dramatically improved, and I'm definitely seeing some muscle growth again.. no more pancake bum! Paul has given me a wide range of general movement exercises as well as some great specific ones.

Some of my progressed hydrotherapy. The closest I can get to a leg press!

Tuesday 12th April saw me back at my second home Stepping Hill Hospital, for some more scans and results from yesterdays MRI. More positive news! Back position looked great, and there was no further opening of my SIJ joint. On the left side there was still mild weakness at EHL muscle in my shin but my ankle dorsi flexion was almost normal with regards to power. We marked the area which was still numb on my EHL, allowing us to track the area overtime and see the nerve regeneration (see pic below). Then came the answer that I was hoping for...Mr Sian gave me the all clear to get on a watt bike!!

Marking up the area which is still numb
The following Friday my watt bike arrived. I was nervous at first as I was scared that I would get pain or something just wouldn't feel right. However I was very wrong! It felt completely normal other than the scar tissue on my back being slightly tight. I owe a massive thanks to Wattbike UK for supplying me with a great low resistance bike perfect for my 15 min easy daily spin.

Back in the saddle!

I also met up with Anthony Barnes, a family PT in Cambridge, who gave me some more exercises to further aid my rehab without stressing my back and pelvis. This was my first time in a gym since before the accident.. I was absolutely buzzing! The glute and core workout was great. I also had a great upper body circuit which included exercises such as lat pull downs and inclined DB press. It is important that I still don't go into the gym all guns blazing as I am by no means 100% healed until my bone graft has fused, so all weights are sub maximal and controlled.

I do still still get occasional pain in my pelvis when I do too much, particularly being on my feet for too long, but this just serves as a little reminder that I need to take it easy. Things are looking good and I'm definitely the happiest I've been for a long time!

V x