by Sheila Julson
The morning of September 6, 2017 started out no different than most other days for ultra marathon runner Jacob Fetterolf. He and his new bride, Jodileigh, had been married for four days, and Jacob resumed his marathon training schedule on his usual route through the streets of Pflugerville and Austin. Along the run, he waited for a walk signal at an intersection. When he received the right of way, he started to jog across the street.
Jacob says that was the last thing he remembered before being struck by a pickup truck. He sustained a fractured right knee, a partial tear in his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a stretched ACL in his left knee, a stretched medial collateral ligament (MCL), two badly sprained ankles and severe road rash. Jacob was in the hospital for nine days, and while there, he contracted pneumonia.
Despite severe injuries and a grueling hospital stay, Jacob recovered and was able to complete the Habanero Hundred marathon, held in August in Cat Spring. His first race since the accident, Jacob finished 10th out of 60 runners. He cites a healthy lifestyle, questioning pharmaceutical-reliant medical practices, and a determination to stay mobile as key to his recovery.
Jacob began running in middle school. After college, he and his twin brother, Jared, tried ultra marathons—long distance runs of 50 miles or more—and they’ve been racing for 10 years. Since his early 20s, Jacob has consumed a diet primarily of organic foods and eats very little sugar.
“While in the hospital, the doctors frequently came into my room to ask me if I needed pain medication. I said no,” Jacob says firmly. “I was in a lot of pain and not sleeping well, but I just didn’t want to take any pain meds because of negative side effects.”
Instead, with the help of Jodileigh, Jacob continued his healthy regimen of nature’s medicine: vitamins, spirulina, wheatgrass and turmeric. Those holistic healing tools weren’t offered to Jacob in the hospital; Jodileigh had to bring them from home.
“The nurses asked Jacob, ‘Why do you look so yellow? This isn’t right,’ but I was putting turmeric in this tea,” Jodileigh recalls. “I researched what would fight off pneumonia and ease pain, and I added those herbs to his tea.”
Despite being dazed and in pain, Jacob still had the ability to listen to his body and trust his instincts. When he was encouraged by hospital staff to get out of bed, he felt dizzy and had blackouts. He insisted on waiting until he felt strong enough to get up. He questioned the medications offered to him. “I asked ‘What is this drug, and why do I need it?’,” he says.
After being released from the hospital, Jacob knew that he could race again. “I think the best recovery method I had was to be mobile. I’m not the type of person who likes to sit in bed all day, making excuses and complaining,” he says. Little by little, after two months at home, he felt ready to jog.
“The jogging was very ugly; it was barely a walk. But I went out there and thought ‘Whatever my body can do that I know won’t hurt me, I’m going to do.’ I think that’s how I fully recovered,” he suggests.
Jacob, a massage therapist, instructed Jodileigh on techniques she could perform on him to help reduce pain. She used some traditional Native American essential oil blends, along with frankincense and other oils with soothing properties.
Now that he’s back in the game, Jacob recommends to others recovering from an injury that it’s crucial to listen to the body. “Be as mobile as possible without hurting yourself,” he advises.