When he wasn't locked in the offices of Hearsay Social, the Palo Alto, California-based social media marketing management company he helped co-found, Steve Garrity was living the life of a fitness rock star. He'd jet around the world to compete in whatever there was to compete in. Cycling events, triathlons, even ultra-marathons. And up until the summer of 2010, Garrity's work-life balance was just that — balanced. Then, things came crashing down on him. Literally.
Garrity was enjoying what was supposed to be a peaceful motorcycle ride with friends in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains when a eucalyptus tree fell at the very moment he rode underneath it. He was knocked unconscious by the impact and woke to find himself being airlifted to a local hospital.
It would take several months of recovery before doctors could fully assess the extent of his injuries. In time, they learned Garrity had almost no use of his left arm from the shoulder down. That, doctors told him, meant he might not ever be able to compete again. After his body had healed enough for him to leave his local hospital, Garrity came to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where a CT myelogram revealed the cause. He'd sustained serious damage to his brachial plexus, a network of nerves that control almost all arm movement from the shoulder to the fingertips.
So, six months after Garrity's accident, a team of Mayo Clinic surgeons — Alexander Shin, M.D., Allen Bishop, M.D., and Robert Spinner, M.D., — performed a procedure aimed at repairing, splitting and then fusing the damaged nerves. The healing, however, wasn't immediate. Garrity completed a carefully designed rehab program under the guidance of a team of Mayo Clinic therapists. That slowly allowed him to regain better use of his hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.
Fast forward two years, to the spring of 2013, and he'd finally recovered enough to compete in a half-marathon. A few months later, he took on a triathlon. That gave him confidence to complete in a half-Ironman competition off the coast of Spain a year later. This past May, Garrity achieved what he called his "ultimate recovery goal" when he crossed the finish line of the Ironman Australia competition, his first major triathlon since his accident.
Writing about that experience on the blog, Garrity was quick to mention the "people that deserve serious thanks for helping me out along the way," including "Drs. Shin, Bishop and Spinner at the Mayo Clinic Brachial Plexus Clinic, who put me back together like Humpty Dumpty so my left arm worked again."
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