The Broken Limb Experience

Warning: There is a bit of gore in this post. If you don’t want to see staples being removed from human flesh, consider turning back.

I always knew that it would happen eventually. You don’t go through BMX, Downhill Mountain Biking, Surfing, Bodyboarding, and then eight active years of skateboarding without at least running the scenario of a broken limb through your mind. It seemed like a crazy thought, the concept of actually “breaking” a bone. I can tell you this much, there is nothing in this world or the next that can prepare you for the sheer amount of shock and awe that comes along with breaking one. The sight of your own body out of line, jagged, bent, misshapen, hurtles your psyche into a nauseating state of distress. However, as I’m learning, there is a sense of zen to this whole experience. There is an aspect of patience and learning that I’m slowly beginning to recognize. There is no doubt that getting broke off for any reason ultimately sucks, yet there is also no denying the fact that we all must learn from our faults.

Two weeks after the accident, I was called back into the hospital to get my staples taken out. Fun.

Two weeks after the accident/surgery, back at the hospital to get staples taken out – Fun.

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We had a small tail wind that day. The speeds were a little faster through the bends then normal. Tracing the various lefts and rights of mighty Malibu under a sun soaked late afternoon sky. The hard truth though is that you’re never truly ready for when things go wrong. It was a perfect day, until gravel and sand strewn across the inside of a blind corner caused a loss of traction and, with the increased speeds of the day, caused me to slide into the blocky wooden teeth of a hungry guardrail.

The nurse removes the wrapping to survey the healing.

The nurse removes the wrapping to survey the healing for the first time.

The wrapping is removed and the good doctors work is revealed.

The wrapping is removed. That hole in the center is where my bone came out…

"Staples, that was easy..." Not.

“Staples: that was easy…” Not.

There was a pulsing warm feeling ebbing from my left shin. The dust had begun to clear as I angrily pulled off my full face helmet and stood up. I got about half way to my feet when I stumbled, falling over slightly to see my leg folded over loosely beneath me. The raised portion of my pant leg just below the knee alluded to the gruesome fact that the bone had exited the skin and was now exposed. I sat back in momentary disbelief: “I broke my leg…”, the sickening severity of the accident enveloping me like a cold wind. I sat up and grabbed the ankle, and with a animalistic like reaction, I straightened out the fractured limb. The bone slid back into the leg and somewhat back into its original place. It was a frantic decision, necessary, despite all of the thoughts running through my head telling me not to move it. I realigned the leg, then laid back onto the road, people beginning to gather, the paramedics en-route.


Staple removal.


Finally... all twenty six staples removed. My limb momentary rejoices.

Finally… all twenty six staples removed. My limb momentary rejoices.

So now, just over three week since the incident occurred, I’ve been coming to terms with my recovery process. My burning desire to heal is overshadowed only by my insatiable need to return to the board. The process of recovery has been slow and difficult. The surgery that followed the evening after the crash saw the addition of a titanium post and four screws installed within my leg. While I may still be hobbling around on crutches, walking on my own again is not such a far off concept anymore. The goal for me at this point is to remain positive and focus on everything else, except skateboarding… A difficult feat I assure you, but while I wait I reflect on the hope that I’ll be shredding hills soon. Breaking bones sucks, but bad stuff happens, and how we deal with the bad stuff determines how greatly we allow it to effect our lives.

The magic man, Docta. Epstein,  who restored my once tattered limb.

The magic man, Docta. Epstein, who restored my once tattered limb.

An enormous thank you to all the health care staff of Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills for all your time and energy spent putting my leg back together.   

Thank you for reading, now stay healthy, skate hard, and don’t break.

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There are 13 comments

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  1. Randy Sandoval

    I had 80+ staples from my pubic bone to the middle of my sternum, an external fixator on my wrist, 5 plates in my wrist, rod in my right leg, 2 collapsed lungs , ruptured liver, spleen, kidney,broken sternum, and razor like slashes across the back of my legs from a single encounter with a boulder. Luge is stupid. Or at least, far less safe them people would like to delude themselves.

  2. Alec Whitman

    I recently recovered fully from a gravity attack that exploded my collarbone, the realization that your body is permanently changed on some random happening is a crazy thing to think about. Stay safe

  3. Devon Johnson

    A lot of things are seriously hard on your body, it don't help when there was already something wrong too. Tell me Alec, did it hurt more the first or second time?

  4. Dan Pape

    I've broken bones too but nothing this bad. Although Ari's story is hard to read, i did appreciate it. Get well soon guy! Shoot Reimer an email, he came up leaps and bounds after the doctors said it would year before he could skate again.

  5. Jukka Valkonen

    He's young so the drama is understandable. He's lucky to have had this as his only injury. Many are not so lucky. Take the experience and become an even better rider not through skill and guts but rather by safety and planning. I've been skating for 43 years and really appreciate the streets are not closed race courses. When shit happens it happens fast and you really want to have your Guardian Angel at your side.

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