Clark surprises doctors

Australian bull rider Brendon Clark was taken immediately by ambulance to a hospital in Omaha following his injury. Andy Watson, courtesy PBR

PUEBLO, Colo. (April 28, 2009) — If all goes as planned, Brendon Clark will be released from the Creighton University Hospital as soon as Wednesday afternoon, which means he could be on a flight back to his home in Northern California first thing Thursday morning.

Clark's condition is progressing at a rate that continues to amaze the medical staff, which has been looking after the 28-year-old Australian since he was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit on Saturday night.

Speaking briefly with PBR staff, Clark said he was told that based on a series of tests and the injuries he sustained, "you're lucky to be alive."

Clark was hurt in Round Two of the Bass Pro Shops Shootout when his re-ride bull, Black Smoke, slammed him to the ground. Both hind legs came down square on Clark's midsection — one landing above the sternum area and the other in the middle of his abdomen.

He was transported to the hospital, where he underwent tests for internal injuries. He suffered a lacerated liver, contusions and bleeding in both lungs, and rib fractures.

According to Clark, doctors have been concerned with all the bruising his chest and lungs have endured, but now that his breathing continues to become stronger, they have turned their attention toward his liver.

Clark, who still struggles with speaking for any length of time, has relied on his friend Allison Renz, who immediately made the trip to Nebraska after receiving word from Ross Coleman regarding Clark's wreck. Until today, Renz has been returning calls for Clark and updating everyone as to his condition.

"I'm really lucky to have her here with me," said Clark, who expressed his gratitude for the numerous calls and messages he continues to receive from fellow riders, PBR executives and staff members, and fans.

Clark was moved from the ICU to a regular room about 5:30 p.m. on Monday evening, which was a big step toward his eventual discharge.

Initially the thought was he would remain in the ICU until Saturday. Doctors then said they thought perhaps Thursday, but eventually allowed for the move after his vital signs remained stable.

To this point, Clark has not been able to freely get up and walk, so the true test as to when exactly he'll be released will come Wednesday morning, when doctors determine how well he can get around.

"Basically, I'm not rushing it," he said, "as much as I'd like to get out of the hospital. They're going to take precautions and don't want to let me out too early."

Clark discussed the past 72 hours with a PBR representative, saying that said that more than one physician has said his is a "remarkable" story.

Question: Do you think a lot of your progress has been because you're a professional athlete and in peak physical condition?

Answer: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that thanks to me putting the effort out with a personal trainer, and the vest that Cody Lambert designed, I think between the two they saved my life the other day. I'm pretty lucky. I'm not saying that if I wasn't in as good a shape something worse would have happened, but it probably helped that I was strong in the core (muscles). I imagine it would have been worse if I wasn't in shape. But my lung capacity has come back up and I've been working on taking my breaths and stuff.

Question: When it first happened and you got up and staggered toward the chutes, at that point, did you know what was going on, or was that pure adrenaline?

Answer: No, I guess that was just adrenaline making me do that. The first I really remember knowing about what happened, or that anything was happening was — ah, I couldn't breathe. I couldn't take a breath, and when I did finally take a breath just a bunch of blood came out my mouth. It was just like I spat out a bunch of blood. I was conscious during the whole thing, but when I saw that, I knew that it was bad. I couldn't breathe and I knew I was in bad shape. The sports medicine guys — the group being there — and Tandy (Freeman)…when Tandy's there and you hear his voice it settles you down some.

I can't really remember much, and it happened so quick it seemed like from there until I was in the ambulance, but I do recall Tandy getting pretty irate and trying to get stuff done pretty quickly, so I knew it must have been bad. With him, he kept his composure and told me everything was going to be all right, so again, I trusted him and he was right, so it was all good.

Question: With the progress you've made from then to now, have they told you that you're expected to have a full recovery from all your injuries?

Answer: There hasn't been anything said that maybe I wouldn't come back from anything 100 percent, so that's a really good thing. They were worried about all the bruising in my lungs, and then the doctor came back in this morning and said the lungs seemed fine, and they've gone back to the most important thing they're watching…my liver. They've never really mentioned it, so I've never really worried whether I was going to come back to 100 percent. I was more worried about staying alive than whether I was going to be better.

Question: When you put it like that, I'm sorry, that was a dumb question on my part.

Answer: You really find out who your best friends are, and the people who really care about you want to make sure you're OK when something like this happens, and it just goes to show how much of a close-knit community and a family we all really are. … Ross pretty much (hit) the nail on the head this morning when he said, "We're brothers. That's what we do for each other." It's pretty nice to know that everyone's got your back when you really need it, considering I don't really have any other family over here other than my cousin, and he lives in Arizona.

Question: We're all just glad to know that you're on the mend.

Answer: Everything's good and we'll keep you updated, but as of right now, they're talking about maybe letting me out tomorrow afternoon. …Another thing is, I think, I was lucky for it to happen at the place it did, because I'm in the best trauma center in the entire Midwest. They've been amazing. The doctors and the nurses here have really looked after me. It turns out that two of the nurses that I had were at the event, watching when it happened, and one of them is a huge PBR fan, so I guess I made their day by being in here.

Question: Talk about a dark comedy.

Answer: Yeah, but it's been a great hospital. It's one of the best, and I've found that out in the last couple of days, so I've been really lucky. After going through this, it's the only time in my life that I've been scared of dying. I thought I was dying the other night, and it was horrible. I couldn't breathe, and now I know what all my buddies who have had this happen to them have gone through. It's not a good feeling.

Question: Well, I don't want keep you any longer and I know you need as much rest as you can get so…

Answer: The fans have been really good and I can't thank them enough for keeping my spirits up.