My Muscles Saved My Life

Paul Harter Paul Harter
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Bucket List Moment.

For years, I wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle. It was one of those things on my bucket list that I never seemed to have time to get around to doing.  All mature men and women need a bucket list to stay young and vital. They ought to give theirs a bit more critical assessment than I gave mine.

I knew motorcycles are serious business. Proper instruction is vitally important, particularly for a 61 year old with below average coordination. Then, while on holiday in Nicaragua in January, I had a lapse of sanity. I persuaded a young, local friend to teach me to ride his. On our second day out, I managed to persuade him to let me ride off road, in the hills. I’m an ex-lawyer with above average persuasive skills. And yet, the stupidity of man knows no bounds.

I don’t remember the accident itself – one or two minutes of time erased permanently from my memory by a concussion. But I do remember coming to, heaving, struggling for each breath. I remember the pain. And I remember thinking to myself, “Oh man, I hope I don’t die right now”. 

Luckily, I managed to get to the local clinic, less than one kilometer from the accident scene. I remember the injection in my bum that gave me a bit of relief from the pain.

The nearest radiologist and orthopedic surgeon were in Rivas, a town about an hour’s drive from the clinic. The x-rays confirmed six broken bones:  four ribs, a clavicle and a scapula. I managed to pummel the entire right side of my body. The orthopedic surgeon, a septuagenarian who has seen it all before over decades of practice, took a look at the x-rays.  He then turned to me, took a deep breath and pronounced his diagnosis: “Your muscles saved your life”. 

That’s when it hit me. Were it not for my fitness and years of strength training, I might have died in the accident. I swallowed hard and began to reflect.

Medical science long ago confirmed the life-saving attributes of adequate strength training combined with on point nutrition. They prevent or reduce the risk of all sorts of life threatening conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia, to name a few. Though no amount of scientific research will ever be able to prove the thesis, the doctor’s clinical assessment was clear. We can add near-fatal accidents to the list. Muscles and fitness minimise the displacement of bones broken in an accident and can prevent the puncture of vital organs.

My story continues with an x-ray 10 days later showing a rather large hemothorax (accumulation of blood in the chest cavity). The local doctors sent me to the Military Hospital in Managua for scans and treatment (incidentally, one of the best hospitals and team of doctors I have ever had occasion to experience). After three days with a tube in my chest, the blood was drained and I was sent back to the beach for an additional week of rest before a final x-ray confirmed that it was safe for me to fly home to the UK.

Once in the hands of one of the best orthopedic surgeons in London, I was sentenced for my crime: No strength training for three months!  

As I write this blog, I have ten days to go before the end of my three-months in the virtual slammer. I am an impatient man. I hate being grounded. But I’m happy to be alive and am looking forward to my return to training with immense anticipation and excitement.

Will I ever ride a motorcycle again?  Time will tell.

Will I stay committed to strength training and good nutrition? Absolutely.
And, I will continue preaching the benefits to anyone who will listen.

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