What started as a challenge from friends to participate in the 2002 BP MS150 would turn into a passion for cycling sustained for more than 15 years, covering 100,000 miles, and raising money for charity along the way. But Carl Old’s passion for cycling came to a crashing halt in July 2017.
“It happened so suddenly that it remains baffling to me. I can’t say for certain how I lost control, but what I remember is seeing a grayed out image of a person floundering around in midair and a voice calling out, ‘Speed bump!’” recalls Old.
Even in the moments following the crash, Old would maintain the positive outlook that those who know him say makes him an inspiration.
“When I regained consciousness, someone was holding my head, my helmet still strapped on. I actually reached for my smartphone to snap a selfie while I was lying on the ground!” says Old, with amusement in his voice.
Advanced Trauma Care for a Complex Hip Injury
“Carl had a terrible acetabular fracture which consists of numerous displaced fractures or breaks in the hip socket portion of his pelvic bone. It’s the type of injury we usually see in young adults after violent accidents such as high-speed car or motorcycle crashes,” says Milton Routt, Jr., M.D., an orthopedic trauma specialist affiliated with the Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and a professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
“Acetabular fractures, especially ones as severe as his, are treated with operative repairs. We piece all of the numerous bone fragments right back to where they were just before the fracture, and then hold them in place with plates and screws to allow normal healing. We don’t replace the hip; we fix the fracture,” adds Dr. Routt. “While it can be a lengthy surgery, his was fast and a very good repair that allowed him to heal uneventfully and to return to an active lifestyle.”
“I can’t praise Dr. Routt enough. I believe God intervened to make sure the right person was there to put me back together again,” says Old.
On the Road to Recovery
But his journey to full recovery didn’t end with surgery. Carl would spend several months at an inpatient rehabilitation facility, before being discharged to receive outpatient physical therapy at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation at Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center in Greater Heights.
“While Carl’s original injury was severe, he had a lot of positive factors that played into his physical therapy. Not only was he an athlete and in good health other than the hip injury, but he had a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude can make a huge difference in the recovery process,” says Jason Bartlett, Physical Therapist.
“My physical therapist, Jason, was meticulous with my exercises, and I don’t believe I would have achieved such a comeback if it hadn’t been for his guidance,” says Old. “He has had such an upbeat attitude at all our sessions. He’s not just a physical therapist, he’s my friend.”
Not Letting Life Pass Him By
In October of 2017, Dr. Routt cleared Old from any further follow-up care, and he finished his physical therapy in December.
“Positive people like Carl, who have a glass half-full approach to life, always recover better from terrible injuries like he had,” says Dr. Routt.
“I’ve told Carl that I want to be like him when I grow up,” laughs Bartlett. “He’s 79 years old, soon to turn 80, and he’s not letting life pass him by. He’s definitely an inspiration.”
While not returning to a road bike, Old says it’s not because he’s scared.
“My primary goal has been to outlive my wife so that I can be assured she is properly cared for into our 80s and possibly 90s. I wanted to cycle 100 miles in 2018 to celebrate my 80th birthday in January, but perhaps now I will do it on a spin bike,” says Old. “Every ending has within it a new beginning. God has a plan, and is always in the details.”
The Red Duke Trauma Institute is one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation, and the only verified burn center in Houston, treating more than 14,000 adult and pediatric patients every year. Learn more about the Red Duke Trauma Institute and the Memorial Hermann trauma network.
Memorial Hermann also offers convenient, specialized care in orthopedics and sports medicine, including post-injury rehabilitation, at facilities located throughout the Greater Houston area. Learn more about Memorial Hermann orthopedic services, or find a rehabilitation facility near you.