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Putting Kittiminx Together — DAY 2

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by blackmarton, May 6, 2007.

  1. Putting Kittiminx together

    This thread is about Kittiminx’s recovery from a parent’s perspective. I don’t ride. I lost a nephew when a car driver took a dislike to his motorcycle. I have witnessed numerous traumatic and fatal interactions between cars and motorcycles at close quarters. For this reason I have never encouraged my three children to ride. But I have also learned to respect another adult’s freedom of choice. When Sophie got her CBR250, I kept my personal fears to myself and gave her every support to follow her dreams. I have no regrets.

    I will attempt to relate Sophie’s daily progress in a manner that hopefully will help other parents striving to support their “precious†after an “offâ€; and inspire riders who have checked into rehab for repairs, maximise their healing potential.

    It is also my way of letting the Netrider community know how much you have helped with the task of putting Kittiminx back together.

    Having an “off’ is like dropping a pebble into a pond. The ripples spread and touch many points, creating disturbances and eddies. Everyone touched is affected, our personal volition determines the outcome, for better or worse.

    The Day 0 account is the worst, I promise you it will get lighter.

    Day 0

    At around 2 o’clock, on a sunny Good Friday afternoon, April 6, 2007, a broken Kittiminx lay in a bush on the Black Spur.

    Two days earlier, we were having lunch together at a South Melbourne café. We had just come from the jeweller, Sophie was looking at designs for her wedding ring, the registry office had been booked for 7/7/07.

    Over lunch, Sophie told me she was excited about her upcoming Mentor ride on Friday. She was two weeks over her learners. Sophie loved the feeling of freedom when she was riding. A couple of weeks earlier she was proudly showing off her new leather jacket, gloves and boots.


    We previously had conversations about the problems she was having with braking and cornering. Sophie is an avid internet user, and soon found the Netrider forums. She felt at home and amongst friends.

    After a few posts, she joined Netrider and organised a day on the Spur to improve her turning skills, something she hadn’t mastered at the rider training course she attended, by low speed weaving around witches hats in a parking lot.

    Friday morning, Kittiminx met up with Raven and Pinkxie at the arranged meeting place at Box Hill and rode to Healsville, where they stopped for an hour to discuss her riding abilities over coffee. Raven had observed Kittiminx’s riding style, and was confident that she had a careful attitude towards riding and a good level head on her shoulders. He wasn’t going to take her on if she showed any signs of being a “bloke’ young hoon.

    With Pinkxie in lead and Raven trailing, they completed five laps of the lower section of the spur, negotiating the corners at 60 to 70 kph, well within Kittiminx’s comfort zone. She was working on looking through the corners, body position, holding good lines.

    They had stopped for a rest, at the half way car park. According to Raven, she hadn’t put a foot wrong all day. In between each lap, they had stopped and analysed the lessons being learnt. Another Netrider, Chef, had spotted them and stopped for a chat. Altogether, it was a 40-minute break. Chef decided to head home. Pinkxie was having trouble with sore eyes and needed more time for the drops to work, Kittiminx however was rested, and eager to practice the techniques she had learnt, on her own. Chef told her he would wait for her at the bottom of the Spur, to let her know she was being looked out for. Sophie was going to ride her own ride at her own pace.

    Kittiminx never made it past Ambulance Corner.


    Recker saw Sophie go down, he turned around to make sure she was ok. As soon as the ambulance was called, he went looking for Chef who was waiting at the bottom of the Spur. Chef, after making sure Sophie was being taken care of, returned to find Raven and Pinkxie who were anxiously getting ready to go looking for Sophie.

    It was around 4 o’clock when Kittiminx’s partner rang me with the news that Sophie was being airlifted to The Alfred. The police had found Sophie’s mobile, which somehow survived the crash. Pinkxie remembered Sophie mentioning her partner, Dave, Raven found his name in her phone. He then raced in to Healesville, where he could get reception and called David. Without Raven's clear presence of mind, we would not have been able to be in position to provide Sophie support in those early critical hours.

    Lesson #1, carry a card with names and numbers of people who should be contacted, in case you have an off and are in no state to deal with it yourself.

    By the time Karolyn and myself arrived at The Alfred, Sophie was already being treated in the emergency department. Four hours is a long time to be sitting in the waiting room, not knowing the extent of her injuries, surrounded by distraught strangers, each with their own personal anxieties.

    Our own party had grown, Karolyn and myself, Dave and his parents, his close friend and his wife.

    It was a long wait. Her partner, Dave was in a mixed emotional state, of anxiety and anger. Raven wanted to deliver Sophie’s personal belongings from the accident scene. Dave’s friend told him he could drop the stuff at his place, since it would be better if Dave didn’t meet with any Netriders.

    A triage nurse invited us to wait in a private lounge, adjacent to the public area while we waited for news. Finally, around 8 o’clock, her partner and I were allowed to see Kittiminx. The attending trauma doctor first told me that although Sophie was conscious, she wouldn’t be able to remember anything of the accident as she had been put in an induced coma while they assessed her injuries. It was a tremendous relief to find Sophie with her eyes open and able to speak. I was very relieved to see my fragile and pale daughter, lying under a blood soaked sheet, swathed in dressings, but determined to live.

    Her first words to me were “sorry dadâ€

    I was able to see the extent of her horrific injuries from the initial x-rays on the monitor. Kittiminx was connected to a mess of tubes and wires, broken, battered and bruised, but alive. The emergency team were reassuring as they calmly attended to their patient. They gave me a detailed description of Sophie’s injuries. It may sound strange, but it was a huge comfort knowing the extent of the damage, I could deal with that. It is the fear of the unknown that is the worst.


    More than 2 anxious visitors in the emergency bay is about the limit, so I collected the black plastic bag containing her boot, helmet and sliced jacket and fetched Karolyn, and Dave’s mum, dad and pointed them in the direction of Kittiminx’s cubicle.

    It was to be a long night in theatre, lasting from 10:00 pm till 6:15 the following morning.
  2. Intensive Care Unit

    Day 1

    The ICU is another world inside the hospital. Entry is usually restricted to immediate family. No flowers (they are a hazard and there is no room).

    A sign outside the door to the unit tells you to squirt germicidal soap onto your hands before the receptionist presses the unlock button.

    I never quite mastered the dispenser, somehow managing to squirt the soap over my pants instead of my hands.

    Walking past cubicles of patients swathed in dressings, connected to all manner of monitors, pumps, air lines and drips, I felt I was on a Star Wars set after a battle.

    We were waiting in the ICU when Sophie woke up.

    Kittiminx wasn’t up to conversation. Her throat was still raw and sore from the breathing tube that had been inserted during the operation.

    Instead she flashed a wicked Sophie wink and a beaming smile !!!!!!!!

    We met Professor Thomas Kossman, the surgeon in charge of Sophie.

    His first words were:

    “Sophie will walk againâ€

    He looked and sounded like a younger version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.


    Ten out of ten for his bedside manner. He was born to be a surgeon.

    He gave me his card:

    Professor Thomas Kossmann MD, FRACS, FAOrthA
    Director, Department Trauma Surgery
    Director National Trauma Research Institute (Alfred Campus)

    These words were printed along the bottom:


    He certainly validated the motto.

    If you have lived to my age and survived three children, chances are you would have had some exposure to hospitals. I certainly have, and in more than one country.

    If you must have an “offâ€, do it in Victoria and make sure they don’t take you anywhere other than The Alfred. Also make sure you do a thorough job, (nice challenging injuries)

    This way, you will probably get to be treated by Professor Kossmann; he likes to take on the interesting cases. He is the foremost trauma surgeon in the country. The Alfred is recognised as being amongst the top trauma centres globally. That puts Professor Kossmann into to the ranks of the surgical elite.

    Oh, one more thing, time your “off†before the “cage victim†rush hour. There is a limit to the number of cases he can handle at the same time.

    None of the above is meant to suggest the other surgeons aren’t competent. Professor Kossmann is simply the best.

    If you are family, you can visit the ICU 7/24. This is highly civilised. It means you can provide comfort, just by simply being there.

    Sophie was connected to all manner of plumbing, including vacuum dressings to drain wounds, cables connected to monitors and machines that go “pingâ€.

    Her leg was stabilised with external fixators. This is a special jig that enables the surgeon to align fractured bones. Two holes at each end are drilled into the uninjured areas of the bones around the fracture. Rods are screwed into the holes. An external rod is used to join the four bolts to make a rigid support.



    The butterfly fracture on her left humerus was also partially stabilised.


    Sophie degloved her knee, chipped the patella and detached the anterior cruciate ligament. The scan shows the staples after the knee was debrided and the skin folded back to its proper place, also the vacuum bandage draining excess fluid.


    It was another long day, but we knew Sophie was going to be OK.
  3. Folks, DO NOT post in this thread, it will be too hard to follow the entire story.
    Blackmarton, the thread is yours.

    Folks for all comments relating to this thread can be posted HERE

    Any subsequent posts in this thread will not be moved, they will simply be deleted.

  4. “Sophie can’t feel her fingers and toesâ€

    Day 2

    I still carry the image in my head, Sophie lying on the gurney in the emergency ward, all colour drained from her usually olive complexion, her head supported by a neck brace. One of my first questions was “can you wiggle your fingers and toes?â€

    The scans had picked up a small fracture on a facet on the seventh cervical vertebra . The doctor reassured us, this wasn’t an issue with regard to damage to the spinal cord.

    I was woken up by the telephone beside my bed, ringing at a quarter past six in the morning. I don’t usually get calls this early, especially on a Sunday morning. The bad feeling I was having didn’t get better when I heard the clinical sounding voice of a lady from The Alfred asking if we could come in straight away, there was a change in Sophie's condition, she had lost all feeling in her arms and legs.


    I remember waking up Karolyn and telling her Sophie had a bad night. It wasn’t until we were walking through the park opposite The Alfred, that I mentioned the word “quadriplegicâ€.

    I told her as best I could, whatever the outcome, we would deal with it.

    We were still waiting to be admitted to the ICU when Professor Kossmann arrived. He had also been summoned from his sleep by an early wake up call. Kossmann was puzzled; he couldn’t understand why Sophie had lost feeling. He said he knew the insides of our daughter better than we did, and was sure there was nothing wrong.

    For some reason, it occurred to us to mention that Sophie had previously been treated for a bi-polar disorder.

    The penny dropped.

    It was sometime later when we learned the background to this story.

    Sophie had been heavily sedated with an intravenous cocktail of morphine and ketamine. Ketamine induces a state referred to as “dissociative anaesthesiaâ€, Ketamine’s psychedelic side effects has made it a popular illicit party drug. Numbness in the extremities is also a common effect.

    In between “trips†Sophie was conscious of the nurse pinching her fingernails and toes every hour through the night and asking whether she could feel anything. This made Sophie cross, so she decided to tell them that she couldn’t feel anything.

    After that it was all hands on deck!