Thankful for Family and Friends

Thankful for Family and Friends

On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my family and friends who have helped me so much over the past two weeks, since my accident in Taiwan. I am spending the holidays with my parents, who came to Seattle from Germany to take care of me. (The photo shows me with my mother during our Thanksgiving Day walk.)
I have much to be grateful for. I suffered only relatively minor injuries, considering that I flew head-first at 30 km/h (18 mph) into the side of a car that turned suddenly in front of me. Just as importantly, the healing process has been going well. I no longer need to wear my neck brace, since my broken vertebra will heal on its own. 28 stitches were removed from my ear – the Taiwanese doctors (plastic surgeons?) did an awesome job stitching my ear back together. My hearing is not affected, and scarring should be minimal. My concussion is clearing up nicely, without memory loss or other issues associated with head trauma, but I will still need to be very careful in coming months to not have a second impact while this one is still healing.
The bandages on the incision where my clavicle was bolted together came off the day before Thanksgiving. It’s healing well. I have to keep my left arm in a sling (broken scapula), and limit the movement of my right arm (also broken), but otherwise, I am fine. My broken ribs are healing well. Soon, I’ll be able to cough without much pain. (Fortunately, a relapse of a cold I had before the accident was narrowly averted.) I even can type with 10 fingers…
I am thankful that the road to recovery has been smooth so far. Through all this, I was supported by wonderful family and friends: Stefan who accompanied me through various hospitals in Taiwan; Natsuko who came from Tokyo to take me back to Seattle and support me through my hospital stay; Hahn who organized my surgery here in Seattle and helped in many ways; my parents who came from Germany to take over my care.
Seeing their concerns and smiles kept my morale up even when things were difficult. I owe them much, and I am grateful for everything they did and do for me. Thank you!
Photo credit: Klaus Heine

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Comments (37)

  • George Griffin

    Yea Jan. Wishes for a continued fast recovery, and plenty of time with your family.

    November 27, 2015 at 9:15 am
  • Greg

    Glad to hear that you are on the mend.
    Take your time and don’t rush anything! 😉

    November 27, 2015 at 9:36 am
  • Harold Bielstein

    Glad to see you are healing quickly. Bleib gesund.

    November 27, 2015 at 9:39 am
  • TerryA

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery. One benefit of regular exercise is that it speeds the recovery process. When I broke my pelvis in a cycling accident a few years ago, it was my underlying fitness that enabled me to shower on one leg or get up from the toilet on one leg. Otherwise, my care would have required round the clock nursing. I’m glad that you, too, are recovering quickly. And, a shout out to your parents for travelling to Seattle to help you recover.

    November 27, 2015 at 9:56 am
  • Mitch

    Much to be thankful for. Thanks for the update.  

    November 27, 2015 at 10:14 am
  • Luis Bernhardt

    Yes, only a real cyclist would call broken vertebrae, 28 stitches at the ear, concussion, broken scapula, pin in clavicle, and broken arm “only relatively minor injuries.” Keep up the great attitude. We all have one thing in common with Tom Simpson, that even when the situation couldn’t get any worse, he still says, “put me back on the bike.”

    November 27, 2015 at 10:24 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I think Jan means that when the hospital staff let on about how close you were to paralysis and/or brain damage, or death, then even all those broken bones are a relatively small consequence. I don’t think readers should take the intent to be stoic or heroic.
      Compass staff

      November 27, 2015 at 10:46 am
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        Indeed – things could have been so much worse. The fact that I am bound to recover without lasting damage is so fortunate. And to be supported by such wonderful people – my parents, Natsuko, Hahn and others – has really helped.

        November 27, 2015 at 11:10 am
  • Prickly

    Heavens! I realized in reading this that you ameliorated the severity of your injuries when you initially posted on Facebook. I shudder when thinking about those two broken vertebrae; it could have been much worse. I’m grateful that you are on the mend, and will soon be back to riding and writing.

    November 27, 2015 at 10:24 am
  • Charles Shand

    Hi Jan ….. glad to hear you’re making good progress. although you’re looking quite serious in the pic above. By way of encouragement, a friend of mine rode in the Hawaii Ironman last year with a plate and six screws in her scapula – came fourth overall and did the fastest cycling split – I say go for it – with the permission of your Doctor, of course …. !!!

    November 27, 2015 at 10:38 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      you’re looking quite serious in the pic above.

      Maybe I need to get some training in Hollywood to make my smile more apparent! 😉

      November 27, 2015 at 11:13 am
    • Scott Goldsmith

      Charles, when you have broken ribs, laughter is NOT the best medicine.
      Jan, a nice big recliner is good for sleeping with a broken collar bone.
      While you’re a recovering, how about translating some more Velocio into English?

      November 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm
      • marmotte27

        I second the recliner! My neighbour lent me one when I had a broken colllarbone and ribs. I slept in it for about 4 weeks (The first night in my bed was just too horrible.) and used it extensively during the day for reading (BQ of course) , watching videos and suchlike to fend off the boredom during those months off the bike. It was great for getting up, too, as it could lift you onto your feet. Only (small) downside was being completely stiff when waking up in the morning.

        November 28, 2015 at 9:09 am
  • Bill Gobie

    Thanks for the update. Good news is always welcome!

    November 27, 2015 at 10:52 am
  • Geoff Hazel

    Bruised/broken ribs are so painful! Coughing, sneezing – all hurt. Best wishes and fast healing to you.

    November 27, 2015 at 12:33 pm
  • nickskaggs

    May your healing process be speedy and uncomplicated!
    Head trauma can be really nasty and have really major long-term effects- it’s great to hear that your brain fared pretty well considering the circumstances. Hopefully winter will provide a good period of rest for you.

    November 27, 2015 at 1:28 pm
  • Michael Cependa

    Hope you’re doing well.
    I had similar injuries in a cycling accident a few years ago. I broke four ribs, my left clavicle and scapula, and a number of spinous processes (I think that’s the right word) in my neck. I had to wear a rigid brace on my neck to immobilize my head for I think six weeks. I had my arm in a sling, but the collarbone never did unite. I was told that unless it bothered me, there was no need to surgically repair it.
    I had no hesitation getting back on a bike and I did a short ride to work a day or so after the neck brace came off. I think if I had hit a car I would have been more reluctant, but my accident was a fairly bizzare one involving a log across a bike path while cycling during an unusually dark night. Not something likely to happen again and I have a much better lighting system now.
    I didn’t suffer any significant lasting effects. On what for me are very long rides (more than four hours) I get some aching in the fracture sites, but I think this is largely due to not doing enough endurance training — my whole body starts to get sore, not only the fracture sites.
    Like you, I consider myself lucky not to have had a spinal cord injury. Sadly the bike was totally destroyed — almost every tube was bent — but bikes are relatively easy to replace.
    The day the neck brace came off, I was very, very happy.

    November 27, 2015 at 2:16 pm
  • Tim Evans

    You are so fortunate to still have a mother and father to help you.

    November 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm
  • Holger

    Hello Jan,
    I am very happy to read that you are getting better so fast.
    I was very shocked when I read about your accident. Hope your healing process will continue as it started. Wish you all the best, including many more rides once you recover from your injuries.
    Best regards

    November 27, 2015 at 3:40 pm
  • Patrick Moore

    Glad to hear that the recovery is proceeding well. May it be complete and quick.

    November 27, 2015 at 4:29 pm
  • riggs

    Jan, my spouse hit the tarmac at about 30mph on Bainbridge Island. I had to watch this and watch the consequences. Airlift to Harborview. 80k later…..
    Be glad you have your wits. Bones mend, brains less so. You will be fine…

    November 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm
  • David Pearce

    Dear Jan,
    I’m so grateful to you, always!
    So sorry for your mishap. Feel better real soon, please!

    November 27, 2015 at 6:21 pm
  • Mike Hassur

    Best wishes, and heal quickly.
    Mike Hassur (rode with you briefly by Carbonado/Wilkeson on your way back from Ipsut Creek Campground)

    November 27, 2015 at 10:31 pm
  • Don Genovese

    Just rest my good man.

    November 28, 2015 at 8:32 am
  • Timothy Gormley

    I am sorry that you went through this. It sounds like you’re healing remarkably well – but man you took a bad hit.
    One thing to consider is that you’ll heal well in part because you’re so fit. Cardiovascular fitness plays a big role in wound healing. The circulatory power that will take you up a mountain will also help you heal – faster and better than most.
    You will get some of the dividends from the bike whilst off the bike. In the meanwhile, I hope you find things that bring you joy.

    November 28, 2015 at 8:39 am
  • marmotte27

    Glad to hear you’re healing well!
    The most horrible thing about broken ribs for me was sneezing! That is PAIN. My body even managed to stop the urge to sneeze sometimes,, soo much was I afraid of the pain. All the best!

    November 28, 2015 at 9:00 am
  • Joe Ramey

    Sending you continued powerful healing thoughts and energy Jan. I am thankful for the significant impact you and BQ have had on my cycling life. Thank You.

    November 28, 2015 at 10:21 am
  • Cynthia

    Jan, I am so sorry to hear of your riding crash and the severity of your injuries. Considering the type of crash it was, we can all be thankful your injuries weren’t even worse. That you were in very good health and fitness before the crash will help you recover faster than someone who was not as fit as you.
    It’s great to hear that you’re recovery is going as well as it is. It’s good that you know your body as well as you do. But please do not rush the process, and make sure you are fully recovered before you get back to your “normal” level of riding and working. It’s very easy to overdo it too soon for a high achiever like yourself.
    I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching to you but I, and I’m sure all of your family, friends, fans, and readers would rather wait a little longer for you to be back to tip-top health, than for you to have chronic problems from your crash. “Planing” and Tailwinds will again be yours when the time is right.
    Best Regards,

    November 28, 2015 at 2:08 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Thank you for the good advice. As an athlete, I know about the importance of rest. And yes, I have been resting tons. It’s amazing how much energy it takes to heal bones!

      November 28, 2015 at 2:46 pm
  • Paulo

    Hope for a speedy recovery and all the best for you and family.

    November 28, 2015 at 4:47 pm
  • Michael Arciero

    Very nice picture. Glad your recovery is going well.

    November 29, 2015 at 5:22 am
  • Ed Pavelka

    Keep that chiseled chin up, Jan. The lore of the sport is rife with tales (true ones) of riders who came back better than ever after serious injury and downtime. We’ll see you on that list.

    November 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm
  • Steve

    I’m really pleased to hear you are recovering well and hope it continues. Your inspirational articles give strength to others, and I hope you take strength from the support of many BQ readers.

    December 1, 2015 at 1:05 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The support of friends and acquaintances is greatly appreciated. I am amazed at the support that has been pouring in from all over the world. Thank yoU!

      December 1, 2015 at 3:08 pm
  • David Nagle

    Good to hear that your recovery is going so well, so soon. Nice to have all the support (from the crash onwards, even your ex-wife!). It was a good call to return to Seattle for your medical care -they have fine medical care in Taiwan and Japan, but their approach is different and the language barrier may have caused some discomfort and anxiety that you certainly didn’t need. I know you’ll be back on the horse soon -just not too soon. Best wishes for a relaxing -and therapeutic- holiday season.

    December 1, 2015 at 1:46 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Thank you for the good wishes. In retrospect, it was the right move to come here. At the time, it was hard to see that the multiple surgeries the Taiwanese doctors wanted to do were not just unnecessary, but counterproductive. When I realized that the procedures were not just simple, minor incisions, I called my friend Hahn in Seattle, and he found the right doctor, who recommended that I come back. My friend Natsuko was amazing, getting me to the airport and on the commercial flight that was pretty much our only hope to get to Seattle without complications. I am glad it all turned out OK, but I’d rather not repeat it.

      December 1, 2015 at 3:12 pm
      • David Pearce

        I’ll bet! What an ordeal!
        Again I say, I’m so sorry you had to go through it. I mean, it wasn’t fated to happen, but once it happened, you had to go through the recovery process.

        December 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm

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