Nick Geddes’ Long Road to Recovery
In April of 2011 while racing the Sea Otter Classic in California, I had an unexpected crash during the Dual Slalom finals that ended up changing my life.
Following a minor concussion I was taken to the hospital for further evaluation. A routine blood test revealed that I had leukemia.
I was immediately transferred to Stanford Children’s Hospital and after three days of further evaluation, I was transferred and admitted to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Following a bone marrow biopsy and more testing, I was officially diagnosed having T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
I began chemotherapy, the first stage of my treatment. On August 9th, 2011, after months of chemotherapy and six sessions of total body irradiation, I was ready for a bone marrow transplant.
The marrow came from an anonymous 24-year-old male donor because no one in my family could be a tissue match. A small bag containing the bone marrow was transfused though a catheter implanted in my chest.
It was going to take a long time for my body to accept the donor’s bone marrow. In the meantime I would need hemoglobin and platelet transfusions plus numerous drugs and painkillers keeping my body alive and vital signs stable.
One of the side-effects of the transplant were large sores that developed throughout my mouth and throat making it feel like I had been chewing on glass for hours. This, in conjunction with nausea, weakness and other flu-like symptoms, took a toll mentally and physically.
I was put on an IV for all of my nutritional needs because eating was impossible. On top of the two IV lines for nutrition, there were anti-nausea, pain meds, antifungal and antibacterial drugs all running in my catheter.
For the first couple weeks I was so drugged up that I don’t really remember what went on.
Slowly, I started to become more lucid and aware as the days dragged on. I was gradually weaned from some of the meds.
The hardest part was going into isolation. It was such a long time and almost unbearable for someone like me who’s used to being outdoors all day long. There wasn’t much I could do in my room– other than watch television, use the Internet, and sleep.
By Day 20 of isolation I was gaining a little bit of energy and started to use the spin bike I had in my room. After 26 days, I was finally able to leave my specially ventilated and pressurized 8’x10’ room.
The next 5 days were the worst because I was starting feeling a bit better and the doctors were talking about when I would get out. But they were never able to give an exact date; only a vague guess.
Finally, that day came. After much anticipation, I was sent home. It was Day 31.
When I got home nothing felt more better than being able to get a full night sleep without being poked and prodded. I felt revived and refreshed. I was eating more and more, and improving little by little.
Although I wasn’t strong enough yet to get out and ride my bike or exercise much, it was enough to be at home resting, trying to eat normally, having an occasional visitor, and surfing the net until more normal activities were happening. In the following months I got back to the gym to rebuild what I had lost over treatment.
The most important thing in my recovery was simply looking forward to riding my bike the next winter and spring.
The latest episode in that recovery path was two months later after my release from the hospital. Feeling more energetic and healthy and slowly gaining back my strength I made a trip out to Norco Headquarters. It was wonderful.
While I knew I’d have a long way to go, the first step was getting back on a bike. While the snows were starting to fall in my hometown of Whistler, I was soon riding as much as I could in the Squamish trails that winter. Now my dream is to race again.
I want to thank the guys at Norco, friends, family, my parents, the doctors and my bone marrow donor for all their support throughout my treatment period.
It’s good to be alive.