Off the unicycle, at least for a long while

For those who don’t know me, I guess my only claims to fame to the uni world are unicycling down mt fuji last year, and unicycling the Haul Road in Alaska this past May.

Well, some bad news…

In Matsumoto, Japan exactly two weeks ago I had a bike accident and Shattered my T5 and T6 vertebrae, leaving me at least temporarily paralyzed from the about the nipples down. The doctors are naturally pessimistic, but I of course don’t give a rats ass.

I’m about two months ahead of schedule in rehab despite beds and wheelchairs that are way too small for me here in Japan, and a daunting language barrier that constantly leaves me furious.

The good news is that my speedy recovery is allowing me to travel back to the states tomorrow morning where I can get serious about rehab, and actualy talk to some doctors in English who can help me out and start talking about further options in surgery and getting better.

So until I’m back on one wheel, I’ll faithfully remain on four (or three when I’m racing.)

love you guys,


p.s. I should have taken my unicycle…lol

I am so sorry to hear that. Hope you are doing well again soon. Don’t sell your unis. I keep my fingers crossed that you will need them again.

I’m sorry to hear about your injury. In this day and age, I do feel like there is no limit to what someone can do. Regardless what doctors tell you, you have to keep pushing forward down the road to recovery.

I hope you recover quickly and back on the unicycle in no time!!

Hawo Mike.
1) Sorry to hear about your incident/accident and hope you make a speedy recovery.
2) Well that’s a positive step i guess. At least, they will be speaking your language.
3) You should learn how to get the wheelchair up on 1 wheel. :smiley:
4) Right back at you buddy. :smiley:
5) Are you considering returning to Japan if you make a full recovery??? Also taking your unicycle would be the go. It’s much more fun then riding a 2-wheeler. :smiley:

Best of luck - if anyone can fight his way back to health, it’s you.

good luck with the rehab, hows wheel-chair racing?

+++++++++++++++Positive healing vibes!+++++++++++++

Sending him a protein drink would work faster :wink:

Here is an e-mail that I received from a friend of Michael. I was asked to pass this along.

A Break from the Wheel

I recently broke both my Tibia and Fibula in three places. The worst thing about broken bones is not being able to ride. Well I pushed myself and I am now riding the single tracks again! the harder you push yourself the faster the recovery will be. Stick with it. Also keep in mind that when you start riding again it will be as if you never stopped! Get well fast and push yourself!


Hopefully you get back on the uni, but if not there’s always Fourcross.

Whoa that is cool!

Sorry to hear about your accident. Hopefully coming back home will assist in solving most of your major problems. Heal fast, I am looking forward to reading about another one of your adventures.

Here is an update and some info on Mike from one of his friends…

A broken back doesn’t have to be the end of the world

Mike, sorry to hear about your accident.:o

As some people here know, I broke my back as well, 9 1/2 years ago, skiing. Mine was a compression fracture of L1, it seems as though yours was worse:(

I started to do the longish following write-up before I had to go, so I didn’t finish it. Go to the end for a quick sinopsis of my physical progress.

May 3, 1999 I was skiing at Alpine medows trying to improve my skills so I could get on the skii patrol the following season and I did something kind of stupid. I went off a jump w/ a flat landing @ 35 mph and got 15 feet high, got in the backseat and landed on my but.

At first I was confused. I knew I had a hard landing. It felt like I landed in deep snow and my legs were cemented in, which didn’t make sence since the snow wasn’t deep and I could see the toes of my boots. 30 sec later my back started to hurt like hell. Luckily I was only about 75 ft away from a chair lift and after 5 min of screeming I got someones attention.

Five minutes later that guy and his girlfriend showed up (really nice snowboarders). Fifteen minutes later the ski patrol showed up and about an hour later they had me bundled up on a backboard at the waiting ambulance for the one hour ride to Truckee Hospital.

While I was on the hill the ski patrolers had to check me for all injuries. They started to pull of my one piece ski suit and I told them to just cut it off of me but they said they could pull it off. I should have insisted they cut it. As the suit passed by where the spot on my back were it hurt the most it got EXTREMELY painful and there is a good chance they made my injury worse in the process. Earlier when they asked how painfull it was from 1-10, I said eight, which may have implied to them it wasn’t that serious of an injury (a few years before I had a bad marijuana trip and imagined a gold halo was crushing my nuts - it was five minutes before I could utter a sound, that was my 10).

Now in the ambulance I was really looking forward to some morphine, but the paramedics couldn’t get my vitals because I was practically hyperventilating (Im suspecting the siren, and driving w/ chains on the road contributed). They tryied to get me to calm down, which I couldn’t, so I did the hour ride w/o any painkillers.

I got to the Truckee hospital and was there for several hours (I don’t remember much) before they sent me to Barton Medical Center in South Lake Tahoe, where I was living at the time.

While doing my mandatory ER volunteering for my EMT class that quarter, I had become the nurses favorite of the students in my class. When I was wheeled in they were totally shocked. The next thing I remember is them telling me is they are going to fly me up to Washoe Medical Center in Reno, NV. After liftoff the next thing I remember is seeing the landing pad as we approached. I awoke again the next day.

Even though I didn’t have any health insurance the doctors gave me the option of surgery fusing T12 - L2 and 3 wks in a hospital bead, or 3 months in a hospital bead w/o surgery. After thinking about it overnight, even though I didn’t like the idea of surgery, I went for it. I couldn’t stand one day, there was no way I could have put up w/ 3 months.

While there I had a horrible time concentrating on anything A couple of friends from work came up and gave me a book. I had to keep on re-reading paragraphs and for every half hour I could only read a page and a half. That was too frustrating, so I watched TV, nearly 22 hours a day, since I could only sleep 2 hours a night (normally I watch kind of a lot, but after I got out didn’t want to look at one for over a month).

After a week I had my first rehab session. My flexibility had suffered severely. While laying on my back I could only raise a leg 15 degrees w/ the help of a large wedge. By the time I left, three weeks after I had arrived, w/ a walker I could walk the length of a 20 ft room and back. That took me nearly 15 minutes and it whiped me out.

My mom had taken time off from work several times to come up and see me. The first time I didn’t even know she knew of my accident. I just looked over and she was there. It was quite supprising.

The hospital had me on 6 meds and I felt like crap all the time. Now out I quite all of them except maximum dosage of over the counter Advil. W/o all the meds I could consentrate a bit, so I started reading 8+ hrs a day.

Because of difficulties in consentrating, for 1 1/2 yrs I couldn’t even consider taking an accademic class. For 3 years I had to completely rely on my mom, finantially.

-for the first 2 months I needed a wheelchair for getting around

-then a walker for 4 months

-I road my bike for the first time. I had clipless pedals, so if I wanted to stop I had to grab onto a light pole or something, reach down and twist/pull each foot out of the pedals w/ my hand.

-then I used two trecking poles for two years

-one trecking pole for two years

-a year and a half after my accident I went skiing again. It was no fun. I was stuck on the bunny slopes and nearly impossible to turn right.

-three years after my accident I got some AFO’s (Ankle Foot Orthodics-similar the one in my avatar) for each leg and now they are falling apart, andwent MTBing for the first time (before I had my AFO’s). I really liked MTBing but my feet hurt so bad after 30 min. I had to take pain killers, so I only went a couple of times a year.

The Discovery of one wheel
-6 1/2 years after my injury I saw a vid of KH on youtube and became a unicycle fan (I didn’t believe it was possible for me).

-After 6 mo of watching videos, resurching, and discovering this site I got a 24" Torker DX. Frustrated w/ my slow progress I got a 16" CX. After 40 hrs of practice, total, over 8 wks I could ride the 16".

-After 4 mo I had the courage/skill to ride a 20" w/ 127 cranks.

  • another 2 mo I could ride my 24 again.
  • one month later I could ride up driveway ramps.
  • one month later I successfully rode off my first curb.
  • 2 mo later I could ride off curbs consistently.
  • 1.5 yrs after getting my first Uni I went on my first MUni ride w/ the Berkley club.

Results from my injury

  • I have about 95% paralysis below the knee, 85% in the hips, 70% in the glutes, and 30% in the hamstrings. Also my lower abdominals, obliques, & lower back are moderately effected. My digestive system is screwed, I need to take laxatives daily to stay regular and only have ~ 5 minutes warning a lot of the time.

-largely because of this I can’t hop more than a couple of times or freemount.

-My feet hurt all of the time. Luckily it’s been a few years since it’s been bad enough that I had to take my shoes and braces off regularly (takes me 15 min to put them back on). On MUni rides though I have to take max dosage Ibuprofin:( , not on tech (for me) street rides though:o .

  • I can’t stand w/ my feet flat or on one foot, contributing to my freemounting difficulties

Recent progress

  • I can now ride SIF, SIB both w/ either hand on my 20 or 16, and occationally backwards on my 16 (PB = 100 ft)

  • I hate streching, but 8 months ago I started stretching my calves and achillies 30-60 min a day. My flexibility is improving but I’m still at least a month or two away from being able to stand w/ my feet flat.

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley: Two months ago I got a proffessional EMS unit (Electrical Muscle Stimulater) and have been using it for an hour nearly every day w/ as intense of a setting as I can stand - I need to hold onto grips and use a bite piece.
-I can feel the muscles flex on my week foot but could’t move it at all. Now I can move it about half my range of motion.
–I’m hoping w/ a lot of work I’ll be able to walk w/o my braces in a year from now.

Best of luck Mike, I know you’ll get back!

Skilewis, that is amazing! I take my hat off to you, and wish I had had a chance to ride with you in VT last year (I was busy editing video while y’all were riding ;)).

I read your haul road write up. At least i’m pretty sure it was that one. It sounded like a brilliant experience. I remember getting to the end, where someone had posted that you’d broken your back. It totally shocked me, but from what I’d read, i was pretty sure you wouldn’t let it bother you or slow you down. I’m glad to see that it hasn’t. I hope your situation improves as fast as possible.

Mike, sorry to hear this. But glad to hear your attitude man. Screw what the docs say. They’re used to treating sedentary folks who don’t have a fraction of your drive and passion. Enjoy proving 'em all wrong! You will be back soon. Take care dude.