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TitaniumJohnny: The Crash and Journey Back to Running – PT 2
July 1, 2024
Twin lakes lap
Twin Lakes RV Resort: Know before you go for Open Water Swimming
June 11, 2024
spiritual encounter
TitaniumJohnny: The Crash and Journey Back to Running – PT 2
July 1, 2024
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TitaniumJohnny: The Crash and Journey Back to Running – PT1

titaniumjohnny

I enjoy Titanium bikes, but I never imagined having it in my leg, arm, and face. One of my Orthopedic Specialists suggested I share my story to help others who might feel trapped in a dark place realize they can reclaim their lives. I’ll share my journey in parts, detailing how I got back to running. Running is my passion, don’t stop me. The challenges and triumphs of trail runner #TitaniumJohnny.

Today, June 18th, 2024, marks one year since the terrible car crash that nearly took my life. How severe was the accident? The officer on the scene told my sister he only responds to the worst cases. Thankfully, I was cut out of my car and intubated by the Cypress Community Volunteer Fire Department, then airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital. The care I received there was exceptional. In the first week alone, I underwent over 20 surgeries while in intensive care. I broke both eye sockets, the bridge of my nose, both sides of my jaw, fractured my skull, broke my neck and back, fractured my sternum, bruised my heart and liver, lacerated my carotid artery, broke my right arm in two places, broke my right hand and left foot, and suffered a compound fracture of my left leg. Now, I have a fusion in my neck, a titanium rod in my left leg and right arm, and pins and plates in my face.

So, how did it happen? The crash was due to overloading my schedule with too many activities in one day, causing me to fall asleep while driving home. Please learn from my mistake: never drive when you’re sleepy or tired. A concrete pillar on the Beltway brought my car to a halt.

People often ask if I remember the accident. I don’t, and I don’t recall the eight hours leading up to it either. I do remember waking up in the emergency room. I didn’t feel any pain, but I felt restricted in my movements and couldn’t see anything because my face was swollen. My brain processed the stimuli around me and created a visual of a futuristic operating room. What did I see? Bright lights and everything was bleach white. I heard a male voice say, “We’ll be doing an experimental surgery, and he’ll be recovering on the beach in the Bahamas and back at it in no time.” I thought that sounded amazing, but I’d never heard of such a recovery process. Shortly after hearing about this recovery, I felt water around my face. Then, I felt my entire body submerged in water, with only my mouth above the surface. Breathing was challenging, and I didn’t like the sensation of being submerged, which caused me anxiety. My thoughts raced: what if the water covered my mouth? I couldn’t move, and I didn’t hear anyone around me for a while.

Then, in the distance, I heard a voice I recognized. It was a voice I knew well. I felt her presence as she moved past me. In that moment, my anxiety vanished, and I knew exactly where I was. I was in good hands. I realized I was in a Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the voice belonged to Barbara Lamb, an ER nurse, military veteran, and Ironman competitor. I wanted to let her know I recognized her. The only thing I could move was my left arm. When I felt her shadow pass by, I reached out and gently grabbed her forearm to get her attention. She stopped and asked, “Wait, you know me?” I couldn’t speak, so I gave a thumbs up with my hand. She then asked, “Do I know you?” I responded with another thumbs up. She inquired, “How do I know you?” I quickly thought of a Triathlon hand signal but couldn’t recall one. Instead, I used my hand to mimic running with two fingers. Puzzled, she placed my hand on a board and asked, “What’s my name?” I spelled out Barb. She replied, “That is my name, and I know you?” My mother and sister were in the shock trauma intensive care unit  and witnessed the exchange. They told Barbara that I was Johnny Shelby, a coach and owner of Third Coast Training. Barbara was shocked; she didn’t recognize me due to the severe injuries to my head. Barbara has been a client of mine for over 10 years. She is an incredible person and athlete and I was at peace knowing I was under her care.

But Wait There’s More In The Next Installment:

A Very Religious Experience and Waking up in the Intensive Care Unit...