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Bill’s New Hip Adventure


When a doctor and crew can open me up and replace a complete joint, yet in the hospital scene I can’t even control my urine when that responsibility is handed to me, that is humbling.

Within ten minutes of checking in on Tuesday, March 16, 2004 I was in a small room with all but my socks removed and one of those darling hospital gowns installed. One hour and twenty minutes later I was wheeled into the pre-op room where more paperwork was completed by a grandmotherly lady. The anesthesiologist presented three small bottles with an explanation of what was going to happen to me when the contents attacked my senses. Then the doc came in and handed me a marks-a-lot and told me to write my initials on the hip that we would be working on. I was not sure if I should feel good about their caution or worry about their learning things the hard way. Quite quickly I was in never-never land.

Two and a half hours later I was waking up and they were dumping on the warm blankets. An hour of repeated checking went by and they determined that I was not going to wig out some way. Then off to my room on the seventh floor feeling no pain but a bit like I had a saddle bag attached.

I had a roomy over by the window. The first night he would prove to be my greater problem. This guy was about a three hundred pounder that was 63 years old going on 93. He crashed in his bathroom and crawled to a door where he got a neighbor’s attention somehow. A call to 911 got him to the hospital. He was an old rodeo rider that I think had too many falls. He was not going to sit still more than a minute at a time and that continued throughout the night. Fortunately my smeller is not first rate as Annie said his odor was quite ripe. He would struggle into the bathroom and what went on there was not too pretty as they had to give it repeated douches. The red button that was provided for summoning the nurses was too much for him to find. When the warning buzzers persisted after he repeatedly unplugged his oxygen, I had to get the nurses. One little gal came in to draw his blood and he refused to give her his last name. Whenever he dozed off he talked in his sleep. Otherwise he spent a great deal of time hacking and coughing. There was no sleep for me on that night.

The next day they tried to get me up and I went into a bit of a spin. My blood pressure dropped to 75 over something, so they decided to pump back into me the two units they had drained out of me previously. The next day was a whole different story and I got to cruise the halls and show them I could handle stairs OK. By that time they had pulled my catheter out and disconnected my feeding tube.

That was my first experience with a catheter and I learned that they are a choice when faced with two questionable options. With the tube running over my leg it required a siphon or a level of vacuum to get the job done. Neither principle was in action. The nurse had to come in during the night and, as she explained, milk the hose. Later when I was near the panic level I tried massaging my abdomen and it seemed got a siphon action going. That was good.

Preparing for my second night, two young nurses aids came in to give me a wet cloth wipe down. Bath, I think they called it. One of the young ladies had no wedding ring on and it takes some adjusting to finally give up what little modesty one might think could be salvaged under these conditions. There was my shrunken and pathetic plumbing with this humiliating plastic pipe sticking out of it staring up at this young lady. She was obviously not impressed and seemed too busy to pay any attention. That was good.

When they pulled out that catheter there was no information forthcoming as to what had just happened to my ability to control my petcock. This I had to learn on my own. So free of my hoses, and a good urge coming on, I made the dumb choice to crutch myself to the bathroom. By then I had these elastic waisted pants on, a robe, and the dumb intent to sit on the pot. Before that was accomplished the shocking truth that I was peeing all over myself was the center of my attention. I cleaned that up without summoning help and vowed to use the bottle from there on out.

During the second day a musical chairs thing happened whereby the rodeo rider was extracted from my room, which required a major cleaning job. A lean and clean-cut senior citizen, not far off my age, was cleared out of his private room to make way for someone with an infection. He was dropped in my room. I quickly learned that he was an ex fighter pilot who had somehow never be sent to battle. He has been teaching at the Junior College in town. We struck it off right away and had great conversations. He had a rod down his femur to solve a breaking bone. He was sent home the next day after a two day stay. I had a great night of sleep.

My third and last roomy was hauled in off the ski slopes of Crested Butte. A 42 year old Dallas banker, he was up there on a family ski trip. He had decided to take on a double black slope which is nearly to a cliff. Had he been on the slope alone he would have been OK, but while he was picking himself up from a low side, down came another skier without the control to avoid taking him out. He said he fell forever and with a snapping noise he saw his ski coming around at an impossible angle. Compound fracture of both L.H. lower leg bones. A lady surgeon put his leg back together about 2 AM. As he was being wheeled in there was some talk about a previous motorcycle spill that he was not fully healed from. Come morning I learned that he had several motorcycles plus small dirt bikes for his two boys. About Christmas he had tried his hand at riding a wheely on his son’s 100cc bike. This would be like trying to balance a foot long ruler on your chin. The resulting crash put a handlebar into his chest breaking a rib and puncturing a lung. On questioning about insurance he suggested calling his bank to get the particulars. He quickly thought the better of that idea. He is probably facing a half year of healing and likely a future bone graft. We had a good time talking bikes and I sure felt for the guy. I left him my card and asked if he would email how things finally healed. It would be good to hear from him.

After three very different nights in there they sent me home pronouncing me healthy enough. Ten days of injecting myself in the gut with a blood thinner and several weeks of therapy laid ahead. Coping with sleeping on my back at home without that hospital bed was the first challenge that was nowhere near conquered the first night. Annie got little sleep. She was my urinal emptier. I will not get into the details of my slopping it over. Tonight is my fourth night and all is much smoother.

This report is far more than you would want I am sure. How to report at all without just telling how it went is too hard. So what the heck.

Bill B