When 67-year-old David McNeely was struck by a car and sustained a fractured hip while cycling in Fenwick Island on July 4th weekend in 2009, his first reaction was to get up and attempt to walk his mangled bike the six blocks home. Although he eventually conceded to the paramedics’ wishes and took a trip to Atlantic General’s emergency room, his tenacity and unwillingness to give in to human frailty have continued.
He had to miss the International Triathlon Union’s 2009 World Championship he was training for when he had the accident, but McNeely was determined to get back in the saddle – of his bike, that is – and train again. That’s just what he did, garnering a very close third place finish for his age group in the 2010 World Championship in Budapest, Hungary, after being granted an exception for not being able to compete in the national qualifier. Two weeks later he placed first in the 2010 USA National Age Group Championship in Tuscaloosa.
When he arrived at Atlantic General that July in 2009, McNeely, a radiologist from Glen Arm, Md., wanted to see the x-rays to determine the extent of the damage himself. “Everything is electronic these days and I couldn’t get close enough to the screen to see anything. So, I decided to lay back and be a patient, which was probably the best thing anyway,” he said.
McNeely briefly considered returning to the Baltimore area to have his hip repaired at the hospital with which he is affiliated, but decided to stay at AGH after meeting Dr. Eric Bontempo, one of the orthopedic surgeons in Atlantic General’s Center for Joint Surgery.
“I could tell he was an energetic guy, and I was impressed,” McNeely said. “So, I decided to stay down at AGH.
I thank Eric [Bontempo] for doing the repair, and Bill in physical therapy. The nursing staff was very supportive and caring, and everything went great.”
He was already plotting his return to a competitive triathlete’s training regimen of running, swimming and cycling during his week-long stay at the hospital.
“I thought I was in pretty good shape for an old geezer,” McNeely said, “so I took it on as a science project [to see if I could compete again]. Dr. Bontempo probably thought it was idle chatter.”
A week and a half after surgery McNeely began swimming three or four times a week and progressed to exercising on an elliptical machine and taking spin classes at his local gym at night. Running came later upon approval from a local orthopedist. He has been going strong ever since, sending his impressive race results to Dr. Bontempo along with a note of thanks.
McNeely had been competing on the U.S. national team in the age-group category for 12 years prior to his accident. He is already planning his trip to Beijing for the 2011 World Championship. Best of luck, Dr. McNeely.
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