HOSPITAL TO EPIC
IN SIX MONTHS!
WORDS & IMAGES: ANN HARRISON
Mountain biking is my passion and will always be. Whether I am riding on the road, bombing down single track, cruising the jeep tracks or covering distance on a bike packing tour, no matter the terrain, riding a bike is a gift, a privilege and the best passion I have discovered.
Until you hit the ground. Ouch! Sometimes you jump up and say “Wow, that was lucky” but in my case on 27th September 2022, I wasn’t the case. Just a pedal strike on the flattest piece of single track on The Missing Link above The Twelve Apostle Hotel after most of the technical stuff!!!! I did nothing wrong, nothing stupid or irresponsible except maybe going faster than I normally do and BAM! – my pedal struck on an innocuous rock, stopped my bike in its tracks and I hit the dirt in an almighty thud shaking Table Mountain to its core.
This was followed by a very dramatic rescue operation organised by Andrew (who I was riding with – note: I wasn’t cycling alone….) and some very good friends in the area and between them all, got the medics and the rescue party out to me. I couldn’t move and there was no place for a helicopter to land, so it was the good old metal stretcher and 8 rescuers who got me off the mountain. I am eternally grateful to them.
My son and his Matric Dance date - needless to say, I sadly missed it
I did a proper job on myself. Pelvis broken in 4 places, 2-3 ribs as usual and my clavicle in 2 places. Shoulder operation was done, 6 days in hospital and 10 days in a Step-Down facility. I couldn’t go home as walking was a problem but the physios at the Step-Down facility were angels and got me walking with one crutch and soon, I was home recuperating. It was a long slow recovery with 6 weeks completely off but by early November my recovery was speeded along by my daily walks with my dog. What a life saver that was. Just to get out in the fresh air was rejuvenating.
The wheel under my stretcher was the first time this team had used this system. Mtb disk brake wheel fixed mid-centre under me with a brake lever attached near my head. Richard, who was in charge, was at my head directing 6 other rescuers. They literally “rolled” me straight down the mountain through the fynbos over rocks in the most direct route to 12 Apostles where the ambulance was waiting. 7 people maneuvered me down. By using this wheel is halved the rescue time. It is much more comfortable for the patient (I would hate to know what it would have been like without it). If someone slips accidentally then the whole stretcher doesn’t tilt and they are able to keep it level until they can continue. Quite amazing actually.