By: Justin Felisko
June 13, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – For three months of the Built Ford Tough Series first half, Dickies Bullfighter Frank Newsom continued to lunge in front of 2,000-pound bucking bovine missiles and stealthily twisted and navigated his way around the arena.
Newsom has always had a grizzled, gnarly facial expression week-to-week on the BFTS, so it was almost hard to notice at times the 41-year-old favoring his left arm as he continued to protect the Top 35 bull riders in world this year.
He never once complained publicly or openly about his arm, but ever since a wicked wreck in Oklahoma City when Newsom took a massive shot to the neck from JW Hughes Excavation, Newsom’s left arm has never been the same.
Newsom began to lose feeling in his arms, especially the left one, over time despite a series of unsuccessful temporary remedies.
He understood a good old fashioned medicine bottle filled with dirt wasn’t going to bring his strength back. Therefore, Newsom had Dr. Andrew Dossett fuse together his C6 and C7 vertebrae at the recommendation of Dr. Tandy Freeman on April 27.
“Mainly it happened in Oklahoma City when that bull kicked me in my face,” Newsom said at the J.W. Hart PBR BlueDEF Tour Challenge in Decatur, Texas. “That is when I really started noticing (that I was) losing the strength in my arms. Tandy tried a couple of things and that didn’t work so I went to Dossett. I told him I wanted to finish that month of April and then we did the surgery the 27th right after Des Moines.
“They fused my C6 and C7. I had a nerve being pinched off. I was losing all my strength in my arms, mainly my left arm.”
Less than two months later, and Newsom has been cleared by Dossett to remove his neck brace and begin physical activity.
“Recovery is going good,” Newsom said. “I haven’t done anything to hurt nothing. I went back for my two-week checkup and everything looked good. He let me start going to the gym and riding the bike and doing a lot of band work and core work.”
Newsom hopes to be cleared to return to the arena in time for the BFTS second-half opener, the Music City Knockout, on Aug. 19-20 in Nashville.
“If everything goes right, we ought to be back for Nashville and finish the year off good,” he added.
Coincidentally, Kaique Pacheco, the rider Newsom took the vicious hit in Oklahoma City for, is the defending event champion in Nashville. Pacheco has been forever grateful for Newsom’s heroics, and likely may not be the No. 1 rider in the world right now if not for Newsom.
This year is the first time Newsom ever had to undergo surgery on his neck, and it sure was an eye opener compared to minor surgeries he has had in the past on his knees and arms.
“Definitely when it is on your neck you want to behave a little more,” Newsom said. “I have been trying to behave. I don’t think I have done anything to hurt it.”
Outside of one instance when Newsom took off his neck brace to hold his friends’ Reese Mitchell and Michaela Goertzen newborn child, he remained committed to keeping his brace.
“She was so little that I had to take the brace off,” Newsom said with a chuckle. “She kept bumping her head on it and I was like this ain’t going to work. I am taking it off.”
The neck brace wasn’t fun by any means, especially for one of the toughest men in the business.
“You get sick of it being around your neck,” Newsom added. “You feel like you are being choked or something. It was good to have it because it reminds me not to twist my head. You are used to going (to events) so you have to kind of getting used to staying. We have worked through it and my family has been good. They are right there supporting me every day and putting up with me when I am grouchy and all of that stuff. It has been good.”
Newsom has been able to spend more time with his family and was in Decatur to watch his son, Hunter, rope bulls.
“It’s been good,” Frank said. “I have been getting to spend a lot of time with my kids at home and it kind of freed my wife up to do some stuff she has been wanting to do. It’s been good.”
Don’t get him wrong though. Newsom is itching to return to the arena as well.
“I am not really in that much pain,” he said. “The arm is getting better already. I’ll be ready.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.