Crash Recovery a.k.a. Change Management 101

by Liz Jansen

Recently I was interviewed by Adventure Rider Radio about Crash Recovery. It’s not something I’d expected to be known for. We were talking motorcycles but what impressed me yet again as I listened to my conversation with Jim Martin, is that crash recovery is really about change management. Have a listen. My segment begins around 1:24 minutes.

crash recoveryWhether we’ve had a tip over or a get-off, losing control of our motorcycle and greeting the road are not activities any rider aspires to. Both can rattle our confidence and make us question ourselves. No one expects either one to happen to them.

When we can prepare for change, it’s easier to manage than when we don’t see it coming. But once the event happens, it’s done. You can’t change it.

What we can control, however, is how we move forward. Depending on the severity, our plans can change dramatically in seconds, and they change the lives of those around us as well.

The process by which we respond is no different to other life crashes—serious illness, illness of a friend or family member, job loss, divorce, family conflict, financial changes, or death of a loved one.

Whatever the crash, we’re now at a new baseline. We can choose to stay there and wallow in self-pity, or we can decide how we’re going to rebuild our life.

It may take time, it can be arduous, and we may need help to get back on our feet, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But no one else can do it for us.

We can’t control many events that affect us and initiate change in our lives. What we can do is choose how we respond. All it takes to get going is that first wobbly step. And then the next. And the next.

Although there may be setbacks in our crash recovery, each step makes us stronger, in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

photo credit: Theo Crazzolara Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area via photopin (license)


Healer, author, and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.

10 Comments on “Crash Recovery a.k.a. Change Management 101

  1. There is very little to manage when your side is shattered and the newest challenge in life is to self inflate your punctured lung while bleeding out inside on the pavement waiting for a passerby to call for help. The world becomes remarkably focused and oddly serene (endorphines). The trick is to manage the next breath.

    This is exactly and precisely the real take away learning lesson from meeting the beautiful winding stretch of river road pavement at night at 50 mph off of a Harley Softtail Deluxe. Change management is a lifetime event and never really stops. Crash management takes place by the people who scrape you up. The REAL lesson at night on the pavement alone is this; whether you are laying on the pavement bleeding to death or sipping tea with The Queen of England at the Palace, there is really only one thing alone that is truly important; the choice to take the next breath or not.

    Death does not frighten me. I have faced it again and again yet I still breath. I have found my death scream, or rather it found me, but the scream comes from the body not the mind. There is no managing the blue whie light that fills the soul at a time like that and the word “pain” seems pretty lame as a description but it is the only word that fits. In that precious moment when God himself is yanking that scream out from your spine it becomes clear beyond any doubt that life is only about repitition and really only about one thing – breath in. breath out. choose life. repeat.

    After a direct intervention into your life by God of this nature, it all just boils down to this one thing. Everything else is a cakewalk after that.

      • Let me pass along a failing of mine in hopes to illustrate why safety labels are a GREAT idea…

        My beautiful black and white silver black phantom Harley is equipped with a (now slihtly bent) engine guard bar that protects the engine in a tip over/crash. The bar is i the perfect spot to reat your feet up on when a long ride requires some strectched out legs. There is a sticker on them though suggesting it is a bad idea to reat your legs up on it.

        Who needs a warning label when you are a legitimately made of steel Harley driver? Hehe…..welllllllllllll.

        The night of my crash I had just eaten a GREAT steak and eggs breakfast and was feeling pretty damn casual about things. My right ankle was already hurt pretty bad and tends to ache when riding so I often rested my heel in that side up on the engine crash bar.

        When I saw the deer in front of me but down the road a bit there was no sense of urgency because the deer was already off the road but I decided to ease over anyway to give her room. The moment my front tire hit the wet paint stripe the front wheel slid out in the blink of an eyeand immediately produced a profoundly concerning shower of sparks like a firework display as it ground on the pavement.

        It fell on he right sidee which is the side my leg was resting up on that bar that was now making all the sparks. With my heel now facing forward but the bike tipped over at 50 mph, the instant the bottom of my slip on rubber boot (it was raining) contacted the pavement at that speed the boot planted itself firmly on the pacement. In a fraction of a second my leg went from pointing forward locked at the knee to pointing backward.

        The ends of our bones are soft and spongy for shock absorbing. It was the end of my tibia caled the tibia plateau that failed from excessive compression. With the leg pointing forward when the bike goes down it feels like a demon from hell reaches up and tries to tear it off. The bone split lengthwise, shattering the tibia plateau into,multiple segments. Lots of broken ribs and stuff but it was the leg that thretened life. Once shattered so completely the leg bled inside. The call it compartment syndrome. Once the pressure of the internal bleeding in the leg equalled my blood pressure the blood stopped flowing through the limb. About ten minutes. GIANT water blisters begin to form. In the old days they called his gangrene setting in. At the moment those water blisters appear there isabout ten minutes of useful life left in the limb.

        I was lucky that a school teacher had decided to go to work extra early that day and found me with about five minutes to spare. I have been a part of competitive motorsports from motorcycles to sprint cars to aerobatic aircraft and unfortunately know how to leave a motorcycle in case of a crash – you, generrally have a very good shot at life if you let your legs drag youself off the bike and use the handlebars to hold youself off the ground as long as possible during the crash. However because I had ignored the warning about using the engine bar as a footrest, this strategy was only partly successful.

        So the two biggest errors I,made that night I will pass along. Error one was ignoring the warning about reating my foot pointing forward, and error number two was wearig slip on thick waterproof rubber boots. The boots under normal circumstances required a lot of effort to pull off after the ride. Lolz the made a sucking sound as the bott was yanked off….

        Now fast forward to the emergency room… The boot, without laces, had clamped onto my ow grotesquely swolen leg. There was simoly zero time left if the leg was to be saved to wait for anesthesia before removing the boot. Four large men held me down while one soul began the process of yanking the boot off. Very thick rubber is TOUGH and likely saved my foot, but of all the moments in life this was the one moment etched like a permanent scream into my memory. The four men holding me down lost their grip in an instant the first try the tech made at removing the boot. In those moments while they got that boot off the sound that comes out of a man like me does not sound human.

        Two lessons to pass along. First, do not rest your foot in front of you even on the kost casual and peaceful drive hou take, and two, NEVER wear boots that are slip on. Laced boots can be cut at the laces easily and peeled off. i was fully geared and so survived the incident but the lesson is very real – make sure you wear protective clothing that can easily be cut away.

        Rubber boots belong in a farm field changing pipes – they do not belong on a Harley rider EVER. At least I gained wisdom if nothing else, right?

        Rock on brothers and sisters and keep setting off car alarms with your awesome thunder and face the day without fear. Oddly after those moments with those men holding me down and not even a bullet or a piece of wood to bite on did for me something profound. It proved to me that my body is just the vehicle God granted me to get around but the illusion that I am in complete control was put to rest when I noticed my own body nearly tossing four grown men aside to make them stop tugging at one little boot.

        There is no control. However in that moment there was one point of morbid humor. Upon the first tub I sat bolt upright and the only word that could slip out between the screams was “DON’T!!!” The man stopped briefly while the others rescured their grip. My body was desperate for them just to leave it alone! Then he gave it another mighty tug and I heard my body scream, “STOP!!!”

        Heheeeeee, the next thing I heard was the paramedic behind me who must surely have seen every episode of Rambo they made and who believed my Marine Corps frame was made of the same stuff, because he shouted out to his colleagues, “He said DON’T STOP! Pull harder!”

        Wow….I depserately wanted just to be left for dead but they only heard one sentence and not two. Afterward two paramedics comented that they wished a vid camera was present to show other patients how to face things bravely. I just did not have the heart to tell them that Rambo was a fictional character!

  2. Liz you are a hero to many for you positive outlook on your total recovery, no it did not go fast but you were steadfast in keeping your recovery goals in the top of your daily thoughts.

    • Thanks Mary. I did not regain full physical function either, and the emotional/spiritual is still happening. But it’s truly made me way stronger with who I am.

  3. Hi Liz,
    I enjoyed your comments re changes. I had the Triumph Sprint ST 955 you may remember. and as my neck is giving me trouble I traded for a 2014 Tiger 800 in order to sit upright. Nice bike, similar to your’s. Had a minor crash in 2015,rode less in 2016 and now have traded it for an ATV. Some changes we don’t like but we move on thankful for the memories. All the best to you.

    • Hi Dave – fantastic to hear from you! Yes – wonderful memories. #gratitude. Have fun on that ATV!


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