If Only Buddy Had Existed...
You know it’s bad when the doctor winces.
It was 10 PM in the receiving area of a New York City emergency room and a tired doctor asked me, with skepticism in her voice, if I was actually injured and needed care. I mumbled, “I think so,” as I turned to show her the back of my lower leg. That’s when she winced. No more than two minutes later I was sitting in a proper examination room fielding a battery of questions from both doctors and nurses.
The story of how I tore the skin off of the back of my leg was pretty epic. At the time, I led marketing for natural foods brand Health Warrior, maker of the popular Chia Bars. Despite the grind of long hours building a company, we lived our brand. All of us embraced nutrition and fitness, especially endurance sports. So, naturally, when the Spartan brand of obstacle course races came to town, we all signed up.
Spartan races come in three flavors: sprint, super, and beast. Sprint is the shortest distance, usually around 3 miles, and generally the easiest (not easy, just easiest, mind you). Beasts, on the other end, can top off at distances above 13 miles, usually over rugged terrain, and are packed with serious obstacles.
We took on a super. In the middle. This particular super Spartan was held at Wintergreen resort in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. I talked with a Spartan employee a year or so after. His response when I told him I had raced Wintergreen? “Wintergreen!? That was one of the hardest races we ever organized. Harder than most Beasts. We don’t even hold that race there anymore. Damn, that’s impressive, man.”
But at the time, I didn’t know that. I was just ready to race. Up and down steep ski slopes (in the summer, pushing through tall grass) we went. We swung, climbed, and pushed our way through obstacles clinging to the mountainside. One obstacle consisted of a long rope strung about eight feet in the air lengthwise for about 30 horizontal feet. You had to get onto the rope and shimmy yourself across without touching the ground. I actually thought this was one of the more manageable obstacles.
What I didn’t realize was that in shimmying across said rope I had sacrificed the skin on my left calf. Didn’t hurt much at the time, oddly. But, yea, rope burn is real. And dragging your leg slowly along 30 feet of rope will do damage.
Through much of the rest of the course I jumped in and out of mud pits and muddy pools. This helped set me up for the hospital visit later. During the 2+ hour race, I guess adrenaline kept me from noticing my leg much. Afterwards, I got a good look and determined I should probably get a bandage or something.
Despite a few days of over the counter ointments and bandages, my leg seemed to be getting worse. Maybe it’s just cleaning itself out I thought (gross). Anyway, no time to worry about it, I was off to NYC for a business trip. After the first day of meetings though, my ankle was the size of a grapefruit. Amazingly, I still wasn’t convinced of the seriousness. I went into a pharmacy and bought a fresh bandage. On the back of the package there was a link to download a Johnson & Johnson wound care app. Normally, I probably wouldn’t. This time, I’m glad I did. After answering some prompts about my leg in the app, it told me to go to the hospital. Right away.
The doctor told me that I had cellulitis. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin, usually caused by a wound. If left unchecked the infection can get into your blood and then, as the doctor put it, “that’s the on-ramp that takes you from bad to worse.” In short, I had a Civil War-style wound. To my relief, a night in the hospital hooked up to intravenous antibiotics cleared it up quick. Within a few months I didn’t even have a scar.
What I did have was a deductible, copayments, and miscellaneous expenses related to bandages and some follow-up ointments. I tell the Buddy team now, I wish Buddy existed back then. Fortunately, I had an HSA that covered my expenses. But, I did have a brief scare later when I received letters kicked off by a fight between my insurance company and the hospital. The insurance company didn’t want to pay (shocking, I know). They did in the end, but for a moment there, I thought my HSA was going to be drained and beyond. If I had accident insurance as a financial “first response,” I would have breathed easier.
The good news is that today, Buddy on-demand accident insurance is a thing. And before you take on that Spartan of a lifetime (or whatever outdoor adventure you choose), you can get covered for a day, a week, a year, whatever...just in case.
But wait, Hunter, bet you’ve never done a Spartan since, right? Wrong! Two more under my belt since then, my friend. Fortunately, wound free. Highly recommend. Just sign up for Buddy before crossing that start line. Aroo!
Hunter Pechin originally wrote this post for Buddy's blog. Hunter is a Fractional Marketer and Strategist based in Richmond, VA.