Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hildreth Brothers Update

It was an ugly summer for Sam and Joe Hildreth.  First, Sam nearly gets killed when a Ragbrai rider collided with his bike and pushed Sam down into a steep ditch resulting in a broken and discombobulated foot and broken fibula.  A couple weeks later his brother Joe was blinded by oncoming bike lights on the Great Western Trail and then suffered a head on collision by a bike without lights passing the lit bikes.  A broken neck was the result.

Sam's Crash

Sam's recovery has been slow since his injuries are on a major body support unit.  I have visited him about 3 or 4 times since that horrid incident.  Surgery and immobilization.  Keep weight off of the foot for a long time and painkillers.  Fortunately, Sam had the foresight to leave his job just before Ragbrai and was not planning to hunt for employment until October.  Little did he know!

On my first visit he was on crutches but stayed seated with the foot elevated.  Yes, there was a cast.  He was unable to descend the stairs to his computer and beer room, his man-cave.  I did this for him.  His first beer since the Tuesday before 'Brai.  Just 2 glasses.  It had been weeks.

Since that time he has made remarkable progress.  Last month he had a small party.  He did not want to handle the stairs and a few of us gathered on his front porch and made runs to the basement for that wonderful beer he brews, 3 pop kegs at a time.  No alcohol in it!  Sam stayed topside as a precaution.  No unnecessary risks.

Two Friday's ago Sam had another impromptu gathering.  This time he had shoes on both feet!  Shoes that matched!  The party was in the basement and then at his neighbors house where about 15 or so ING workers were milling about outside by a fire pit drinking cans of domestic lagers.  I carried the keg of Sam's Munich wheat over and then we lit cigars and shared.

Sam handled the stairs slowly but he is not quite ready for a job hunt.  His foot and lower leg are still swollen and the location of his ankle is not visible.  The incision scar from surgery is quite long.

Joe's Crash

Joe's injury, albeit not as bad, was more life threatening.  He fractured his C-4 vertebrae.  Joe took quite a chunk of time off from work, possibly a month.  His doctor said that the fracture would heal on its own but a full recovery would take a year.

Bicycling is out of the question.  He has a Trek road bike and a hybrid.  Last week he added a recumbent to the fleet.  A 'bent is much better on his neck than his racing bike.  "Just a temporary fix," he said "until I am 100%."  He thinks it may be too late to get any riding in this year as he wants to heal a bit more before taking the 'bent out.  "Unstable at slow speed but I'll get used to it.  Don't need to fall over."

I am relieved to hear this good news.  The end of July and the beginning of August was rough on them and rough for their family and friends.  Both are discussing next year.  A return to Tour de Kota and possibly a Wisconsin ride.  They are taking my advise about skipping Ragbrai in favor of a week of roads less infested.  Ragbrai is out, too many people, too many amatures, too dangerous.  Brai is in--Bastards Riding Around Iowa.

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