Fred Brooks Says “Yes” to Life at Full Throttle
It was a beautiful June day, and I was out on my motorcycle. I’d been riding for more than 10 years, I was an experienced rider, but there was nothing I could do when an SUV turned into my lane. I hit it broadside at 55 miles per hour, and I ended up with a broken pelvis.
I remember thinking, “This is not going to end well.” But I don’t remember too much after that.
Although this was extremely serious, I was lucky that my sister (who normally didn’t take that route) was driving nearby. She got a call from her husband who drove by the accident and told her to stop. Holly knew which hospital to send me to in the ambulance, and she knew the best orthopedic surgeon to call.
I don’t remember her talking to me or anything. I was there on the pavement, in shock. I don’t remember much beyond going to the hospital. It was at least six days until I woke up from the coma they’d put me in until they could get the bleeding stopped.
I was in bad shape with a broken pelvis, but prior to the accident, I’d been in good physical health. This turned out to be a real blessing. I believe my sister’s call to SMOC’s Dr. Anthony DiStasio, a certified orthopaedic trauma surgeon, made a huge difference.
My injuries were extensive, including multiple breaks in my pelvis, in addition to internal damage to several veins. The surgical repair included installing plates across the broken pelvis, anchored with links and secured with screws. If I hadn’t had Dr. DiStasio’s expertise, I might be dead now. Or, still in a wheelchair or walking with a limp. It had to be total precision to work.
It takes a lot of trauma and pressure for a pelvis to break like mine did. I’ve learned since then that many people die from internal damage to their organs. Dr. DiStasio’s experience includes training in shock trauma which includes motor vehicle accidents and injuries from them – and that helped me tremendously.
After recovering from surgery in late June, I went to Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital for months of rehabilitation. I’d been a Marine for 24 years, so I went into it with a different attitude than some people.
The Marines taught me “We don’t say can’t and we keep going.” So when my physical therapist told me do 20, I did 30. When she told me to do three sets, I did four. No broken pelvis was going to keep me from walking again. I wanted out of that wheelchair!
With this determination and persistence, I improved more quickly than my rehab team expected. They looked at my X-rays, and were amazed that I was moving as quickly as I was. I didn’t know it was good, I was just doing my best to get better. I wanted to walk again.
And today, I am walking again, less than six months after that life-changing accident. I still use a cane sometimes because I don’t want to fall. But I’m done with rehab – my team said there wasn’t anything else they could improve.
Honestly, I couldn’t have had any better care through this process, from the surgical team, to the rehab and nursing staff. Dr. DiStasio told me that if I were a typical patient, I should still be in rehab. I should be in a wheelchair. But I’m not.
He said I should expect to have excruciating pain. But I don’t. I have a bit of back pain, and I’m on very little medication for that. I’ve been able to strengthen my body, to stay busy and keep moving.
I walk every day and keep busy with my Faith Riders motorcycle group, who were there to support me daily during my recovery. I have, however, given up driving a motorcycle. I’ve got a pickup truck that helps challenge me climbing up into it and down out of it every day.
All I can say is, the Lord is not done with me yet. I had a good operation, the best doctor, and the best care. I should just be getting out of the wheelchair now. I think I could have had a harder recovery with a different doctor.
Because of the accident, I’ve lost 60 pounds, which is good because there’s less weight on my pelvis. That’s what I like to call a “crash diet!”
I stay fit. I don’t feel 70. You can’t beat that. I’m at full throttle again.