FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (May 7, 2022) -- 1st Lt. Ryan Arthur traveled many roads as an avid cyclist. His love for endurance competition hit the brakes on August 7, 2021, while on Copper Mountain in Colorado, competing in a 78-mile road race.
” Around mile 40 I was on the down-hill slope on Battle Mountain heading towards Vail and on that north side there are a few hair-point turns and on the last turn I went to avoid an obstacle on the road and instead of going on the inside like I should, I went on the outside of that obstacle,” explained Arthur. He ran off the road hitting the gravel and slammed into the guard rail at about forty miles per hour.
“When I was in the hospital, I already made the decision that I was going to get back on the bike. My entire life has been endurance races. Competing here at Army Trials is helping me continue to recover,” says Arthur, who wants to do his best and show he is still capable.
[The accident] “It broke my right femur in two, perforated my small intestines in two places and I had a closed de-gloving of my abdomen. That’s when your skin separates from the fascia underneath and the skin is hanging loose essentially.”
He was taken to Vail Health hospital where they are experts in fixing broken legs being in a ski community.
They didn’t catch the perforations in the initial CT scans until 48 hours later and Arthur went in for emergency surgery to fix those. That surgery would prove to have issues as within 24 hours he said he opened up again and everything in his intestines spilled out into his abdominal cavity. “I ended up getting a care flight to UC Health Memorial in Colorado Springs where I had another emergency surgery and I had 1/3 of my colon removed.” The 31-year-old has had twenty surgeries in less than a year. One on his leg, the rest on his abdomen.
“Now I’m back together and can finally start eating all the things I love. My wife describes me as a trash compactor, but I was happy to be eating normally after seven months,” said Arthur.
His wife Lindsay went through feelings of dread and worry over his accident, recovery, and the way forward. It’s been a long nine months and she is still his biggest supporter.
“His healing is going well, and he has made so much progress,” said Mrs. Arthur. “I still worry all the time, but I support Ryan getting back on the bicycle and riding in races again.”
Never in a million years did Arthur think he would be in a Soldier Recovery Unit. He admits he never knew what that was.
“I had no idea the SRU even existed. My XO (executive officer) came to see me in the hospital, and he came and told me I was going to the Soldier Recovery Unit at Fort Carson. I didn’t know what my future was going to be. I was scared, I mean the big worries were, do I get to keep working? Do I get to keep getting paid because I still have to cover the mortgage, and I have other bills and debts to pay.” These were the thoughts in Arthur’s head. He started researching the Army Recovery Care Program and had an ‘aha’ moment. “I found out my only job is to get better. My only job is to recover; that was fantastic. It immediately wiped away the worries that I had about my future,” he stated.
Lindsay Arthur couldn’t agree more.
“I feel that the SRU has been amazing. I can’t imagine how much slower his healing would be if he had to return to his regular job. To have the people from the SRU around him supporting him and making sure he is getting what he needs, I am 100% grateful. His nurse case manager specifically has been amazing and has moved mountains to make sure Ryan gets the appointments he needs. From my point of view, the SRU has been understanding of Ryan’s limitations and more than willing to accommodate where they can.”
It’s still undetermined if the financial management officer will be able to return to duty or be medically retired, but the SRU makes this point in his life easier. “At least I’ve been given some space to think about what those two roads may lead down as opposed to - I'm out of the hospital and now I can't work,” Arthur added.
While he is seeking redemption in the sports arena competing to be on Team Army, he feels comfortable knowing the Fort Carson SRU has his back when it comes to his future.
“What’s been cool at the SRU is they’ve had career fairs, and my squad leader will send me emails on a weekly basis on jobs available,” said Arthur. “Those career fairs definitely help because as a finance officer I got to bring my resume with me. I got to shake hands, get a business card, put my name out there and since then I’ve been able to get in touch with them about future job prospects or future internships. So, if I do turn to medical retirement, I have a few avenues to go down.”
Pedal on Lieutenant! Victory is ahead.