Living life again

Well it’s been a week or so since my last update but things have been busy as hell for me. As well as trying to get around and see and thank people, last weekend i went to an MRA race in Hastings Nebraska. The track there is one of my favorite not only because of the layout, but also the atmosphere when at the track thanks to the track owner George.

I was a little nervous about being there as i have had a couple of ‘flashbacks’ to the crash and they didn’t go down well, so i was kind of nervous i would freak out at the track. Thankfully everything went very well, only 5 people knew i was going so there were some very surprised people indeed, people would do the double take when the saw me as i lost a ton of weight and was upright and walking around. At the riders briefing on Saturday i got on the microphone and thanked everyone for everything they have done, i had a lot more to say planned but it just didn’t feel right and everyone was anxious to get racing as i always was.

I was mainly there to help out my good friends Shannon and Segren as Segren was about to give birth at any moment, i had to keep telling her to sit down and relax which was quite funny. It was really great to be back at the track, to be involved and feel useful, and i cant thank them enough for giving me the chance to try it. In the process of helping Shannon i had a steady stream of people asking me for setup and tactics advice which was cool. It also made me realize there was a huge hole waiting to be filled by someone to not only build decent motors but also give setup and race tactics advice.

I have always been very mentally strong, heck that is why i have recovered quite well when they gave me 0% chance of any type of survival at all from my injuries, let alone any type of recovery. At the track i have always been very mentally strong and ready to overcome things that may crop up, i also noticed a major lack of riders being mentally strong at the track, which is very different to being over confident. I made some great gains with Shannon during the weekend but to be honest while we worked on his bike setup most of the gains were mentally. I have already talked with a few people about starting a business to help fill the void, as with everything else in my life at the moment time will tell i guess.

I went down to see the guys and girls at Rocky Mountain Kawasaki where i used to work before the crash to say hi, it was really great to see everyone again. I was offered some part time work which is great, with the economy being slow it actually works out well as i can ease back into working without too much pressure, of course i will have lots of pressure on myself but that isn’t anything new.

So yeah, life is slowly getting back to normal, although i am not really sure what is normal for me anymore as so much has changed.

Like i said, with most things in our lives time will tell.

A moment to ponder

I have been back in Colorado for 5 days now trying to get used to our new house and new surroundings. I haven’t told a lot of people i am home up until now, as i don’t really want people just turning up to say hi, that will take some time.

I have been thinking a lot about what i went through and put people through, but also a lot about being back in New Zealand after nine years away. Sure it isn’t the way i wanted to be back home, but it really was great to be there. I really missed the water and didn’t realize how much until i spent some time around Auckland in the various bays. I know i always took it for granted, the water was always there, for years i had a ski boat, went sailing with friends and work mates from Air New Zealand, and generally just surfed and played in the ocean a lot.

Living in Colorado i guess i put it out of my mind about how great and relaxing the ocean can be. Staying with Mum and Ray at their house overlooking the harbor was amazing, i would wake up and see the water, really cool. I have reconnected with some amazing people while i was back in New Zealand, it was great to see Simon Hilton and Barry Jones who i did my apprenticeship and worked with at Air New Zealand. It was also very cool to see William Henderson again, and the help he gave me with my flights getting home was great. One of the highlights was getting to know my cousin Michele again after not really seeing her for 30 years, of course she went to visit the wrong Aaron when she first came to Rehab Plus which i will never let her live down but it was really cool just hanging out and talking with her. Wendy, i dont know where to start, but thank you.

Megan, all i can say is wow. My sister has been absolutely amazing and it has been great to get to know her as an adult, as we have been in different cities and countries since i was 16. I knew her partner Andrew when he was at university a little through friends, so it has been great to catch up with him as well. All in all the trip home and the care i received was well worth it, and without a doubt it was the right decision, i wouldn’t change it for anything. Next time it definitely wont be 9 years between visits and it was really great to catch up with various family and friends.

So being home is kind of strange, and it will take time for me really to feel at ease. I have been keeping busy round the house doing some weeding in the garden, yeah who would have thought!  It is really great to feel productive again and trying to do my bit to making the house even better than Tedi, Josh and Scott already have.

Being in the garage with bikes and tools and stuff hasn’t worried me at all, i even asked to see the helmet i was wearing and can’t thank Suomy enough for making such a great helmet. I was trying to figure out all my keys, what they went to and went around and unlocked my trailer to check out what was in there. At first it wasn’t a problem, looked through all my tools, all the still new tires in the rack, even looked at my leathers that had been cut off me and still no problem. Then it happened, i saw the rear wheel and swing arm i destroyed and kind of freaked out. I mean i didn’t go running down the street waving my arms above my head screaming or anything like that, it just freaked me out and brought a few things back to me. I knew it would happen at some stage and am actually glad it happened in my first week home and not in 6 months, right now i have no problem going back into the garage or trailer so i am not sure what really happened. Lots of new things happening and i just have to keep moving forward.

Thanks to everyone back in New Zealand for everything you have done, and i will eventually get in contact with everyone back here in the US. It may just take some time but i will definitely keep these updates going.

Aaron

Eye Opener

The past week has been kinda crazy for me, not a lot of ups and downs, more just a lot of things to do.

I have been busy planning and booking my flight back home and a huge thanks to my good friend William who is now a travel agent one of the Flight Centre stores in Whangarei. For years i have always booked flights and hotels online but i was actually very impressed at the help William gave us and all the questions he answered for us, and he does this for everyone, something you definitely don’t get just booking a trip online.

My speech therapy is going really well, and finally i have started to notice a difference which is great for my confidence. I go once a week and quite often we record my voice so i can hear it, it is nowhere near as bad as i think is it which is quite an eye opener for me. It’s like when you hear a recording of yourself and you are convinced you don’t sound anything like you hear on tape, so yeah, again i feel like i have got some progress going with my voice.

This past weekend was the first round of the Utah road racing series and a lot of my friends were racing their first race of the season. I don’t follow motorcycle racing now any where as close as some people might think, it’s not really because of my crash, but just because now there are much more important things in my life to deal with. It sounds like everyone i have talked to had a great time at the first round and as usual Brian Whipple got some great shots of all the action.

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about the past 6 months, how lucky i have been, how far i have come, and the effect this whole ordeal has had on both myself and other people. Thankfully it has not only opened my eyes a little more, but a lot of my good friends have said the same thing. I guess the saying that there is some good in everything that happens, is quite true in this case.

One of the things i have been pleasantly surprised with has been that a lot of people have made the effort to stay in touch. When the accident first happened there were a lot of concerned people and lots of well-wishers which has been great for myself and my family. I have formed a lot of very strong relationships over the past 6 months with the constant contact, but i have also been quite disappointed that people i thought would have stayed in contact haven’t. I know life goes on and i definitely don’t expect people to sit around thinking about me 24/7, it has just surprised me a little at who has and who hasn’t kept in contact.  A real eye opener.

Clarkie RIDES AGAIN!

Okay, not on a big bike, but you will LOVE this.  We laughed so much.

Huge, ginormous thanks to the gorgeous Kate Lindsay who edited the whole thing and added a bit of ACDC for flavour

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Love from Megan (chief helmet/coffee handler) and Clarkie (stunt man/star)

Destiny

I finally feel like i am back in control of my own destiny for the first time in 6 months, ok 5 months as i still cant remember the 1st month. Nothing has really happened to make me feel like this so it’s kind of strange it happened, i know the last few days i was pretty down just thinking about the past 6 months and about what had happened. For some reason i woke up this morning with a different attitude, i just had more confidence in myself.

I felt a lot of guilt for everything i had put everyone through, i mean i didn’t hit the wall on purpose even if it was looking at me kind of funny, but for so long i just felt absolutely terrible for what i had put all my friends and family through. In some ways i will always feel guilty about that part of it, but i finally feel like i have been able to take control back of my life and i can move forward. Don’t get me wrong no one else was controlling my life but i just had a very passive attitude for far too long which as you all know is very unlike me.

I know things will still be quite hard for me back in Colorado as currently i have no job and no money, but i know i have some great friends there and that gives me a lot more confidence. Just over 9 years ago i got off a plane in Los Angeles with USD$1000 dollars in my pocket and a dream to make a living racing bikes and while it was a struggle, i achieved most of my dream and 9 years later i was still there. Sure i ended up riding into a wall and messing everything up but hey, now i just have a new dream and i intend to achieve it, it all starts with controlling my own destiny.

Everything else is going well, i am right back into the gym and now i am lifting more weights with my right leg and going for a walk/run every day. I have regained a lot of my lost motivation now so it is like full steam ahead again, i am running further and harder than before and it feels really good to have a lot of progress again. The other day i bought a heart rate monitor, i am kind of a geek and i definitely like seeing how my body reacts to things be it a 100 meter run or just a flight of stairs. Now i have another thing to focus on when trying to get fit and it has definitely renewed my determination get as fit as i can, i will definitely be continuing this when i get back home to Colorado and hopefully will end up being able to run a decent distance so i can go running with some friends.

Today was also great as i saw some people i haven’t seen in, well lets just say a very long time. I saw Colin Wickman and met his lovely wife and daughter today, Colin was more one of my sisters good friends at school but i got to know him quite well so it was great to catch up again. I had a huge surprise also today as i got to see my god mother Jackie again before she headed off to the UK. She and her family were always a big part of our lives growing up and it was great to see her again and the really great thing was that she actually understood me ok.

A lot of people sort of expect the worst when they see me again, i have had friends tell me they would stand outside my room when i was in rehab and be nervous as hell of actually coming in the room. Once they did they were pleasantly surprised with how much better i was doing than they thought and that trend has thankfully continued ever since.  The same thing happens when i talk to people on the phone as my voice can be quite hard to understand even though physically and mentally there is nothing really wrong with me. I have heard some ‘gossip’ from back home in Colorado that at first there were a few people going around saying they heard i was going to be in a vegetative state for the rest of my life which really sucks, but i actually really feel sorry for them that they are so close minded. I will admit that there was a lot up in the air about my outcome when i was first in hospital but i have done nothing but fight to get back to as normal as i can and it is just disappointing that some people would come to such a conclusion without having anything to do with my rehab. If anything this has motivated me more to prove how wrong they were for saying it.

6 months

Hey team

Yesterday was a big day for us all.  It was 6 months since Aaron’s crash.  In that time our boy has gone from life support to walking a 5km fun walk, from a wheelchair to working out in the gym daily, from so much uncertainty to so much that is positive and great.

It is a great time to remember back to that dreadful time and to thank you all again.  From Aaron’s incredible group of friends in Colorado and Utah, many whom we met for the first time, the wonderfully supportive racing community and of course the team at Colorado Springs Memorial Hospital’s ICU.

Then there was the support from our family and friends in NZ – your daily messages gave us so much strength!  And also messages on this site, thanks to Alex, from all over the WORLD.

At the time Aaron had no idea any of this was going on but the true treasure of it is that, thanks to this wonderful site, he is now able to read about a huge chunk of time that is missing and see what an incredible group of people he has gathered around him over the years.

Eventually Clarkie will ride that plane back to the US and it will be so great for him to have you all there rooting for him.  He has come so far, further than any of us dreamed and I can’t wait for you all to see the results of his grit and determination.  He’s one super dude and my rock star.

So raise a glass for him and celebrate!!  It has been one hell of a ride – the ride of his life – and you can all be proud of him!

Love to you all

Megan

Harden up!

In New Zealand there is a saying that says simply “Harden Up!” It is more of a saying when someone is just being a bit of a whimp and needs to shake it off and get tough. So any time you are feeling down about something just say it to yourself, trust me it will change your attitude.

I have had this phrase stuck in my head ever since i got back here and i find myself saying it when i get down about life or i am simply at the gym and need to work harder. At the end of the day i am very lucky to be in as good shape as i am and i will try to never forget that. This past weekend at the second round of the Australian road racing champs a guy by the name of Judd Greedy was killed on the track when he crashed while leading. I knew Judd quite well over 10 years ago and he was always one of those happy guys that just cheered your day up when you saw him. My thoughts go out to his family at this sad time.

I went down to Auckland to the American Consulate to sort out my green card, it was lost with my wallet when i was in rehab and while most everything has been taken care of i was pretty stressed as i couldn’t get back in the country legally without it. The good news is that the American government doesn’t think i am a terrorist and seem pretty legit and they gave me the required papers to get back in, sweet!

I wont be jumping on a plane tomorrow or anything as i still have a few things to sort out and to be honest i will probably wait about a week after i am back to tell anyone as i will need to readjust to being home again. Since we just bought a new house right before my crash and i haven’t even spent a night there it will take me a while to find where my wife hides the coffee, i just hope she doesn’t keep moving it!

Apart from that not much else to report, just still trying to do my thing and recover the best i can.

Hopefully i will have a short movie to post up here of what sort of things i have been up, but you will just have to wait.

See ya!

Auckland Fun Run / walk / laugh our asses off

This past weekend i went down to see Megan and Ned for the Run Auckland event which is part of a fun run/walk series held in Auckland with the idea of getting people out doing exercise.

I wasn’t really nervous even though i am VERY competitive with things like this, and who would have thought, so is my sister!  We got there pretty early but still had about 1 km to walk to the start line, so that would make 7km’s, not that i was counting or anything.

We were waiting for the start of the race down near the back of the crowd and i couldn’t help but notice how many serious people there were there with all the gear and doing all their stretches and getting ready. I though about doing some stretches but decided not to as i didn’t want to wear myself out to quickly. At the start of the race i was waiting for the gun to go off but the guy on the microphone just said “ready, set, go!” and Megan and i turned to each other and just laughed our asses off. I know things are pretty relaxed in New Zealand but come on!

So we take off walking and i couldn’t help but notice that everyone in front of us was running, well they ran for about 100 meters and then started walking, again Megan and i started laughing and that basically set the tone for the entire race, err walk, err stroll on a Sunday for us. We got about 1km in and could hear some people behind us with those fancy running push chair things people put their kids in, our plan was just to stay in front of them but our plan didnt last long as they soon passed us, the bastards!

So we are walking along, cracking ourselves up and the 10km runners who were doing 2 laps started to come past us which was kind of cool. A really good friend of Megan’s Toni was doing the 10km run and as she came by us said yelled out hi, i mean she could have stopped and had a chat but no, obviously running was more important to her, gee thanks Toni!

I have to tell you, some people run very lightly and others are puffing and wheezing and generally making a hell of a racket, i would hate to hear how i run, especially at the moment. So there we are, cruising around and quite happy as we still had one lady behind us and she didn’t seem to be gaining on us at all. The with about 1/2 a kilometer to go down one of the last hills she run past us and then starts walking again, i couldn’t believe it. At first i was like “what a bitch” but then i just found that as funny as hell like everything else that day.

We finished in style by both running across the line and just laughed our asses off at ourselves that we sucked so badly, but then as Megan said, not bad for a guy that was on life support less than 6 months ago. After the run we hung out for a while and got a couple of photos that Megan has already posted up and overall it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning in Auckland. Right now where was my coffee!

Yep, that’s right, my caffeine addiction is back and kicking ass! It was strange being in hospital for so long and not having a coffee, probably being in a coma helped my withdrawl a bit i think, but being at Mum and Ray’s cafe every day has changed that for sure. In one way it is just another step back towards normality for me, and yeah coffee dependency is a big step in my book.

On Saturday i had the chance to have lunch with a really good old friend of mine from my days during my apprenticeship with Air New Zealand, Simon, it was really cool to catch up and meet his lovely wife and kids.

Back in the US as most of you have probably heard about how Fargo, ND is experiencing some terrible flooding which is really heartbreaking as Tedi’s family is there and her older brother has been battling the flood to try and save his house. Hopefully they will be ok and my thoughts go out to those people that have already lost their houses.

The Race!

A huge day for Clarkie – his first 5km walking race ever!

We were up before dawn and headed to the Waiatarua Reserve where we joined around 1000 other people out for the first of the Run Auckland series.  It was the most stunning blue sky day and so great to be out in the fresh air.

We had an absolute ball and an hour later Clarkie and I ran across the finish line in true style.  We were at the back of the pack but we gave ourselves a huge cheer anyway.  My friend Toni Ferrier had come in earlier after doing the 10km run version and saw us actually running so we have proof!

So all in all, a great achievement from the guy who only 3 months ago was still in a wheelchair and who has been working out so hard every day in the gym and training full time.  When I mentioned it to him a month or so ago I didn’t really think he’d want to and how wrong I was! 

 

Here are the pics from an outstanding day:

 

The Clarkie 100m sprint - in the What Can Brown Do For You t-shirt

The Clarkie 100m sprint - in the What Can Brown Do For You t-shirt


 

Run Auckland - the finish line!

Run Auckland - the finish line!

Proud Sis - Run Auckland

Proud Sis - Run Auckland

Pre-Race Training for the Walk Auckland 5km race

Here we are – limbering up for the big race.  Nothing like a nicely chilled Marlborough Pinot Gris to get us in the right frame of mind for a big walk :-)

 

Race report to come tomorrow

 

M & A

Cargo's, Viaduct Harbour Auckland

Cargo's, Viaduct Harbour Auckland