Bilateral Quadriceps Tendon Ruptures

The Story

I find it very ironic that my ‘Recovery’ statement on my 2007 Injury blog page about going skiing after I was somewhat fully healed is sort of a segue to my latest injury. It just seems a bit weird looking at it from my perspective now. Anyway here is the story… The date was January 6th 2013, a date I will always remember as having suffered the worst possible injury ever. I was skiing with my friend Jill at Stevens Pass which is a very popular ski destination in Washington State. It was a Sunday morning and conditions were just about perfect for carving some turns. I had been waiting for a few weeks to ski my first day of the season due to crappy conditions the past month.

Cowboy Ridge at Stevens Pass washington state
Stevens Pass - Skykomish, WA

I had brought my GoPro that day to get some footage of us skiing, but decided to leave it in the car when we arrived. My plan however, was to get it later in the day to get some footage. I wanted to get some good runs in before hand before I would get my GoPro. Looking back now, although it would have been tough to watch in one respect, I could have had actual footage of my accident and what had happened before and after the fact. Useful stuff in my opinion, but oh well.

Me and Jill were only on the mountain for a mere 2 runs before I suffered my accident. We decided to do a warm up run on Skyline which is a good intermediate to advanced run that covers a good area of the mountain. After that we figured why not take it up a notch and take skyline up again and shoot over to 7th Heaven to take advantage of the new fresh deep powder. So we did and the run was amazing.

So just to back track a bit, I have been skiing since I was 4. So I consider myself a pretty good skier. Stevens Pass’ 7th Heaven is considered a very advanced route or a double diamond. We both navigated this route with out problems and it wasn’t until I decided to take my old ‘high school’ route of skiing under the old blue jay chair and then go ski near daisy and back to skyline to do it all over again.

The Accident

It was incredible skiing up to that point coming down the mountain. Skiing under where the old blue jay chair used to be, I decided to ski over to the Daisy lift (a bunny run) and decided to get a bit of air time from the jumps that are to the right of the chairlift. I decided to avoid the first jump since it can really launch a person and if you didn’t know what the landing was like before hand, it could be a terrible end result. So I skipped that jump and skied down a few moguls and took the next jump.

The jump I took wasn’t really that big looking as I was skiing towards it. It probably got me off the ground 6 or 7 feet, but it was the landing that sealed my fate. What looked soft and full of fresh powder from the distance was a landing that was completely flat and hard. Having less than optimum ski goggles and skiing in the bright daylight also gave me a false sense of perspective. Add to that, my ski bindings were set to the highest setting preventing you to easily pop out of them which can be very helpful if you ski a lot of deep powder. Of course the flip side is that since you don’t pop out of your bindings easy, you risk a higher chance of injuries to the legs. Which was the result with my incident.

Skiing Accident Quad Tendon Ruptures Stevens Pass Ski Patrol
Stevens Pass Ski Patrol at the scene.

What I remember was that I went off the jump and as soon as I landed I felt and heard a loud thud. I face planted hard and my left ski came off. Everything from that point seemed to move in slow motion. I felt dizzy and I knew something was wrong. I still had my right ski on and felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I turned around and noticed I was sitting somewhat on my right ski. I tried to straighten out my leg but couldn’t so I used my hands to release the ski from my binding. I soon gained some clarity for a bit and knew I was badly hurt but I couldn’t tell right away on what was injured. I tried to stand up but realized I couldn’t and that’s when I started freaking out.

Being right under the Daisy chairlift people above me would call out and ask me if I was alright. Jill shouted back that I wasn’t and if they could notify the ski patrol for help. I was just sitting there confused with what felt like shock setting in.

It took 3 Ski Patrol personnel to stabilize me and get me secured in the toboggan. Interestingly enough that it also took 3 paramedics to help me out in my 2007 injury.

It wasn’t long at all until the first ski patroller came to the scene. He had walked towards us and said that he saw me ‘bite it’. As he came closer to me he asked where I was hurt. I started feeling dizzy again and my body started shaking, telling me and the ski patroller that I was slowly going into shock. Trying to keep my composure and some sense of humor I told him in detail on what had just happened to me. He asked me where I was hurting and what my pain level was. At that point I didn’t really feel much pain at all probably due to the shock setting in. I advised him that I couldn’t stand up or lift my legs.

Nothing beats getting injured? Oh wait… getting injured under the bunny run!

The ski patroller radioed for backup and soon after another ski patroller was on the scene. They had me lay down straight and relax as they secured me in the red blanket you see in the pics and a few minutes after that the third ski patroller showed up with the infamous toboggan. Now just like my accident in 2007, I find it ironic that yet again I had three rescue personnel assist in securing me and placing me in the stretcher/toboggan. Apparently my big ass is heavier than normal and needs three adult males to lift and move it LOL.

Skiing Accident Quad Tendon Ruptures Stevens Pass Ski Patrol 4
They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. Actually only 3 words came to my mind as I was laying helplessly here – FML!

As I was getting tobogganed down the mountain thoughts of anger, frustration, and regret filled my mind. “How can I have been so stupid,” I kept thinking and “why do I get injured so often.” Looking back now I realize though the situation could have been much worse. I could have broken my neck or injured my spine and have been paralyzed. The site of the accident could have also been worse. I could have injured myself at the top of 7th Heaven which would have made it very hard for the ski patrollers to secure and get me into the toboggan and down the double diamond run. I quickly realized self pity, anger, resentment and such all though have their normal place in a situation such as this, but it just doesn’t make it any better.

Skiing Accident Quad Tendon Ruptures Stevens Pass Ski Patrol 5
Stevens Pass Ski Patrol utilize a toboggan to transport me to the Ski Patrol Hut. Ski Patrol photo credits go to Jill.

The Assessment

When I reached the ski patrol hut there were already quite a few people in there with injuries. Two ladies had twisted their knees and another one was just a little banged up. To my surprise there were two doctors there who volunteered their time and expertise. One was an orthopedic surgeon who, after I was done talking with the head ski patrol, assessed my injuries and immediately could tell what I had done to my left leg. He placed his finger just above my left knee cap and could feel the gap. “Yes just as I suspected. You have a full quad tendon rupture” he said. When I heard those words I just froze and my mouth dropped. All I could think about at that moment was what I endured 6 years before and how long it took to heal my previous quad rupture.

I looked at Jill and I just shook my head and said “oh god no, not again!” I was so angry at myself of how I could have possibly incurred this injury again, and possibly to both legs. The OS however, wasn’t able to asses my right leg. I was able to lift my right leg when fully straightened out and there wasn’t such a noticeable gap above my right knee cap. So he thought it was possibly a partial tear, but I would need to get an MRI done to get specifics of the injury. I was given pain medication and both of my legs where put in temporary braces.

I had to call my parents but I didn’t want them to know right away on what had happened. I wanted to just speak to my brother and have him meet me at my house. I didn’t want my parents to worry especially since they were part of my first ordeal in 2007. I spoke with my bro and told him what had happened and to meet at my house. Little did I know that my mom was listening on the other line. She called me back and told me she was listening in and asked me what had happened. I just broke down at that point and felt so angry at myself since I knew my parents would be involved yet again.

After I signed all the paperwork and was given the OK to leave the ski patrol hut, the once again difficult part of transporting me and lifting me took place. Jill was going to drive my SUV while I had to lay in the back seat. As I remembered from my prior quad tear, I had to lay down with my legs completely straight otherwise severe pain would be felt. It was quite the process to get me out of the wheelchair and into the back of my Xterra. Once resting somewhat comfortably in the back Jill started driving us back to my place.

On the way home I remembered that I had kept my original Breg Knee Brace with adjustable R.O.M. that had cost me $150, but I had donated the other temporary one that was given to me at the ER at Overlake Hospital. Goodwill was the place I donated it to and I said to Jill that it just might still be there. So I had her stop at the Goodwill store on the way home and run in to see if it was still there. She texted me a pic of a brace (see image below) and I texted frantically and joyfully “YES” back. I was so happy cause I knew how much these braces helped, and being that it was a Sunday my options for finding a brace like this where slim to none.

Leg Brace Quad Leg Injury
The leg brace I had donated to Goodwill several months prior to my skiing accident turned out to be used once more by… ME!

Once we got to my house my brother was already waiting outside to assist me and assess the damage I had done. He really didn’t know what specifically I did to my legs only that I hurt both really bad. Having had one leg in the brace I just bought, I instructed my brother to get my other brace I had in the garage. Once both of my legs were secured in the braces it was much easier to move. I also had crutches on hand from an old ankle injury I had the previous year (yup I know – injury prone). I hobbled my way into the house and got horizontal on the couch while waiting for my parents to arrive. Jill has stayed behind until my parents showed up and I thanked her so much for all of her help.

The Surgery

Unlike my first quad tendon surgery 5 years ago where I had to wait almost a full week, this time around I received an appointment the day after my MRI. I was so relieved because I wanted to get the surgery over and done with. “The sooner I get patched up the sooner I can start on the road to recovery” I said to myself. And what a long road it is. I also read numerous times that the longer you wait to have your surgery the more difficult it can be and the more complicated rehabilitation can be in the long run.

I had my doctors visit on the morning of January 8th and had my MRI done at four o’clock that evening. Surgery was scheduled for the very next day at 7:30 am with a check in one hour prior. I remember with my first surgery of being on the hospital stretcher and getting wheeled into the operating room. It felt so very cold and sterile in there. My surgeon soon came in and advised me on what was about to take place via the quad tendon surgery. Then I remember being told to count down from 100 while the anesthesia kicks in. I believe I made it to about 95 and I was out. This time around everything seemed similar except for the counting down part. I was out soon after my surgeon spoke with me.

Hospital Medical Hydraulic Stretcher

Waking up from surgery was no real issue this time. The nerve block did its thing for I felt no pain even remotely close to what I felt 5 years ago. It took a few hours before I was given the OK to be discharged and let my brother drive me home. I was surprised however that I didn’t stay overnight or like some “quadders” who have had a bilateral surgery done, who stay in the hospital for a few days to a week or more post-op for recovery. I assume every hospital has different rules and procedures. Now that I had the surgery done, the real fun was about to begin and by that I mean the rehab and recovery phase.

The Recovery

Recovery for a bilateral quad rupture is a whole nother ball of wax than a single tear. My 2007 injury sucked, but at least I had a strong fully functioning left leg at that time to aid and assist me with weight bearing. Now that I had my good leg fully ruptured and my previously ruptured leg partially torn, yea you could say that I was hurtin for certain. The biggest challenge I faced again was walking down my stairs. It didn’t matter what type of stairs they were, just coming down any stairs sucked when your a fellow quadder. Again when I had a good leg, stairs weren’t difficult cause I could rely on my good leg, now how am I going to navigate them with two busted up legs? It took sometime to figure this out…

My brother who was visiting for the holidays was due to fly out the day after I was injured. I was uber elated when he advised me that he would be extending his stay and change his flight so that he can look after me. This was a huge help to me especially since I knew how difficult it would be to get around the house and do normal everyday tasks by yourself.