Another long tale of Ilizarov from the U.S.
Art Coury

Art Coury was a bike racer, his wife Barbara has sent me the ongoing story of Art's fight against the odds.

Dear Slim,
Thank you so much for creating this web site.
On Nov. 7, 1999 My husband was in the middle of a sportbike race and while passing another rider for 3rd place they came together. This resulted in him leaving the bike in excess of 120 mph.
He impacted with a drainage ditch feet first. His injuries were classified as bi-lateral complex compound pilon tib-fib fractures with the left ankle being totally pulverized.
The doctors at the first hospital he was taken to said that the only solution for the left leg was amputation above the knee due to the fact that it had been dislocated 360 degrees and mid-shine amputation of the right leg.
I felt that this was not acceptable due to the fact that we were at a very small hospital without trauma training.
After they operated for 7+ hours it was arranged for him to be airlifted to a trauma unit in Las Vegas, Nevada. We arrived at the trauma unit with his legs being held together with external T fixators.
The surgeon that was arranged for us had trained with Dr. Ilizarov. His Name is Dr. Vladimer Schwartsman [See links page ]and I thank God for him everyday.
He said that this was the worst injury he had ever seen but that he would do the best that God would allow him to do.
In addition to the rings and wires surrounding each leg he also has a 18 inch rod that was driven through his heel that know directly connects the talus to his tibia resulting in a total fusion of the left ankle. The right ankle is 50% fused. Three weeks ago we found out that bone was not growing in the right leg so back to the hospital for a bone graft.
He has spent a total of 16 days in the hospital and 50 days in a rehab unit. He has had 4 surgeries and we do not know how many more are to come. We know all about pinsite infections, bleeding from them, PAIN and unforeseen complications. The list just goes on and on.
Someday's it seems like we will never retrieve any form of our life before the accident, especially when one day just rolls into the next with you measuring improvements by the inch and celebrating the things we used to take for granted. ( like using the toilet instead of a urinal.
On your site I have found a sense of comfort and companionship that I thought I would never find.
We are waiting for your next update after your Dr.'s visit on the 9th. We would love to maintain contact with you either by e-mail, mail or telephone.
Thank You So Much !! Best Wishes !!
Arthur & Barbara Coury

21 feb 2000
Hi Slim,
It was good to hear from you and to read the updates on the website.Of course you can post our story on the site.
Artie is scheduled for surgery on the 24th to remove a 16" Stienman pin from his left leg. The Dr. tried to remove it in the office but it wouldn't budge.
The bike he was on was a 1997 Honda 600 F-3. He and his partner (who also crashed that day !) had a race team called SLOW POKE RACING. They had some sponsorship but were mostly self-funded. What an expensive hobby ! Right now the team is pretty much history as all we have left is a pile of wreckage and a trailer.
Do you get many letters from spouse's and what kind of stress it has brought into their lives? I would like to address the spouse's viewpoint on this issue on your website if that is alright with you.
So Many people do not understand that not only has the person who was injured life changed, but also that the life of the person who lives with them has been turned upside down. It is at this point when you need the support of those around you that you find out who your real friends are.
There are so many things that are taken for granted before you get into this situation that you can no longer do. Sometimes it makes your head spin and you want to scream at the whole world " WHY ME "
Than you realize that everything in life is a test and some are just harder than others.
I printed a copy of your diary for Artie to you read at his leisure and found him with tears in his eyes. The reason for this is that the two of you appear to have one common goal. We also have dogs and we used to take them to the park every other night. He has been unable to go to the park and play with them since the accident. He is determined to run in the park with them again.
To be quite honest with you there are times when I have to wonder if I made the right decision in not allowing them to amputate his legs ( I.e. pain,bone infection,muscle spasms, sleepless nights, on & on.)
And then the day I saw him take his first steps in the parallel bars I knew it was all going to be worth it.
Wow I really ran on this time. Sorry.

Take care and good luck !!!
Barbara Coury
P.S. Artie will be writing to you himself later.

1 March 2000
Dear Dale,
Artie is having a pretty rough time right now. He is going through drug withdrawals,(he was on morphine 30 mg 2 a day and 650 mg percocet 4 times a day for 4 months.)
On top of that he has become very depressed and does not want to take medication for it. He will be starting back into physical therapy as soon as the insurance o.k.'s it. (ha ha.) I never relized how difficult it was to get the people that you have been paying for years to cover the costs when someone has a catastrophic accident.
How are things going for you? Does your Dr. have you taking any vitamin supplements to aide in bone growth ? Dr. Schwartsman recommended several for him and after I did alot of research he is now taking calcium w/ boron, Vitamin E, antioxidants, garlic and selenium.
The Dr. said it has made a big improvement in the bone growth. He also has a METREX shake made with orange juice, bananas and apples every morning for breakfast.
A friend of ours is bringing over a scanner so that I can send you some photo's.
Take care and write soon.
Barbara Coury

Sadly life can be a real pain in the butt and add more sadness onto an already heaped plate of horrors.
As well as all that's happened to Art and Barbara, their oldest dog, Dana was taken ill in March, sadly then having to be helped across the veil into the next life.
Barbara has just sent me a lovely picture of Dana and Art which I've added below the message that Barbara sent me about Dana's passing.

Dear Slim,
Thank you for your letter.
I wish I could give you better news but we lost Dana on 3-20-00.
Our vet who has taken care of her since she was born, came to the house and while she laid in Artie's arms he helped her across the bridge.
She went very easily and with all the dignity she possessed in life.
We miss her greatly and our puppy is lost without her. It is so strange without her. I looked up your Woozy's web page it is quite beautiful. We will be creating one for Dana soon I will tell you where to find it when we are done.
Much Love,

Barbara A Coury

Dana and Art at hospital

Barbara has been keeping me supplied with photos of Art and his metal work. To have a look at these please click Art's pictures

Back to Other Peoples Tales index.

Back to the contents page