Resiliency & Rebound

Coaches Corner
Resiliency and Rebound!

The Shelagh Coutts story

Dr. Shelagh Coutts is the quiet and determined type.  In 2012, she was a “top 40 under 40” nominee as she became one of Canada’s top researchers on triage and treatment with stroke patients.  On her downtime, she is an avid cyclist with a love of mountain biking.  Her name is always near the top of the leaderboard at local races.  A hard-working physician and researcher who also loves to play in the mountains!  The story below is one of my favourites as it motivates me daily to appreciate our bodies and not whine too much when we feel a little sore!

Back in June 2020, Shelagh was out in Squamish, BC visiting friends and riding in one of her favourite areas.  She went to pick up a friend and parked her car out front on a hill.  Not long after, Shelagh was air-lifted to Vancouver for emergency thoracic surgery as 4 of her ribs were completely broken plus other traumatic damages.

“I was heading to Pemberton from Squamish to ride for the day as it was wet.I drove to pick up a friend who lives up a steep driveway. At the top of the hill when I got out my car rolled in park. I was half in and out of the car and the door dragged me as I was caught under the car and it dragged to the street. I was helicoptered to Vancouver. Had a top to tail CT scan.  I found out that I had broken all the ribs on the left and many on the right. I had a hemopneumothorax, lung contusions, a broken arm, orbital burst fracture, fracture T6, and fibula. Around 22 broken bones. I spent a night in ICU ( where they got really annoyed at me as I was doing really well and kept asking for food!) and 2 weeks in the hospital. 
They plated 4 ribs with titanium and put a plastic patch under my eye. When I got out I started walking and then got an ebike then realized that my biggest issue was my shoulder so just moved to a regular bike. I found that I had lost a lot of my lung function last winter and struggled in the cold as I felt I couldn’t breath. But I kept riding everything I was before and kept building.By this summer I was back riding Squamish Double blacks stronger than ever before. Still haven’t got my top end back – but its coming.

What most of us would do is take it easy and recover!  Thoughts of mountain biking again would be put on the back-burner for at least a few years.  Seven months later, Shelagh came in for a VO2 assessment in Feb 2021 to check her numbers!  She wanted to know why her FTP was off compared to her previous data.  We did the assessment and re-set her zones for training.  She understood the decrease in power and lung function but was not happy.  She wanted to get back to her former self.  Resiliency.

November 2021, VO2 re-check #2.  Shelagh is back to within 4% of her peak form, titanium ribs and all!  Her top end is a little off, but that is what is supposed to naturally happen as the fall is the time to rebuild.  I think she is on track for an outstanding 2022 season.

We are so proud of her come back and thank-you for inspiring us with your Resiliency!

by Cory Fagan

Back at it, one year later!
X-Ray post surgery