You may have seen his glory, cheered for his triumph, and astonished at his mastery. The competent mountain bike coach, Fadzlee was at the summit of his riding skills when the crash happened. It was hard to imagine anything more horrific, besides getting back on the bike again.
When Fadzlee severely broke his left femur, his mountain biking career came to a sudden halt. From the moment of being pushed to the operation room in agony, being able to stand up with a walking stick, to hitting the trails on his mountain bike, this is the road to recovery from his career-threatening injury.
How did it happen?
It all happened sometime at the end of March during a session in Bukit Dinding which was pretty normal, except the fact that I was having a slight fever. It was nothing aggressive, I was just cruising down. Everyone else had already done with their ride and was ready for lunch.
At the end of the trail, I was acknowledged that there were some new features. In preparation for an upcoming race, I was also informed that the new features and obstacles might not be safe for foreign visitors. So, I decided to demonstrate and show that the trail was all safe.
Even though the trail was rocky and pretty risky for the other riders, I had confidence in riding the trail. After riding down the hill, I suffered a concussion for 20 minutes. I could not remember the run at all. The moment I opened my eyes, I tried to take off my full face helmet.
The next thing that made me shocked and confused was seeing my leg upside-down. It was like a dream. I had broken collar bones before, but there was nothing major like this accident. I failed to move my leg, but fortunately, I could move my toes.
When the adrenaline rush stopped, the real pain started to kick in, and I had to wait for 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. I could not recall the moment of being carried down the hill. All I was trying to do was coping with the pain that no one would have imagined.
Who would’ve imagined his agony?
With so much negative thoughts floating in my head, I was trying hard to keep myself calm. At that point of time, I just wanted my surgery to be done as soon as possible. Upon my arrival at the general hospital, I underwent an x-ray while waiting for a private hospital transfer.
The wait had already left me in torment, and taking off the leg brace was the absolute torture. I was sweating and shaking after being injected with morphine, but the pain did not subside.
Having struggled with anxiety and perturbation at the night before surgery, my blood pressure and heart rate had gone haywire. Complications could possibly arise with a broken femur. If the femur is not set properly, there’s a chance my leg will become shorter than the other one. Some complications also include infection and blood clots.
Luckily, it’s all good after undergoing computed tomography and being monitored by a heart-brain specialist. The operation procedure took almost 5 hours. The next day after the operation, I was dealing with pain management.
The fear of being unable to move led me feeling depressed and down. On the third day, the physiotherapy visited and taught me how to walk with a walker. I learned to walk with the walker from my bed to the toilet and to manage myself in the toilet. Every single step was painful.
A long road to recovery
Being a downhill coach and having participated in many international races, I had to be physically and mentally strong. Going home after hospitalization was crazy. The journey from the hospital to me had caused me agonizing pain.
In spite of the misery, I was eager to get back on the bike again. Before my first post-surgery appointment, I had been consuming a lot of calcium-rich food like fish oil and goat milk.
My first appointment did not see any progress. The doctor told me that I would take 6 to 8 months to start walking again. However, I strongly believed that my body could take more than that. Within a month, I decided to start walking with crutches, hoping that the broken bone started to heal.
My second appointment still did not see any major progress. But that did not stop me from fighting. I tried to eat more nutrient-dense food, hoping to speed up my recovery. The second month after the surgery, my bone alignment was improved. I was advised to ride a stationary bicycle and add more stretching to my daily routine.
Getting back on track
My leg was throbbed with twinges while hopping on the stationary bike, but the only way that holds you back is your mind. Having ridden every alternative day, I could see improvements.
To be honest, I had my tough moments when I felt like giving up. I am very thankful for receiving encouraging messages from so many people. The life-changing power of encouragement was genuinely indescribable.
After a few days, I tried to stand out of the saddle and managed to do that. Although I was not supposed to do it, I wanted to push myself and I knew I could go beyond. Eventually, I decided to add more speed and resistance to my cadence.
Having gained confidence in riding, I decided to get back on my mountain bike. With the throbs, I took the risk to ride out of the saddle.
Riding down the staircases, I could feel the impact but the pain was bearable. The next day, I took the bike out, trying slowly and progressively to ride.
Thankfully, I could cope with the vibration. After that, I managed to find a small trail and attempted a short drift. Knowing that I was able to ride, I decided to participate in a mountain bike jamboree.
It was a moment for double joy when I was also making good progress in my recovery. Several days later, I decided to return to the trail after taking a long break.
3 months after injury, I hit my stumbling blocks during the downhill ride but it was manageable. I had the best 3-hour downhill session in my life.
The one thing I’ve really learned is that getting injured and fighting through pain is easy. Taking a step back and allowing yourself to fully recover is the hard part. You need to embrace your recovery and think of it as your ultimate training goal. Also, you need to be dedicated to your recovery as you are to your training and you will eventually find yourself back to your pre-injury form before you know it.