One year ago today I suffered a life altering injury. Okay, I am being a bit dramatic but I did get into a pretty nasty accident. I was out for a solo ride that I had gone on a 100 times before. I just turned off my street and hit the 4 way stop before I was to cruise along the coast for a gorgeous 32 mile maintenance ride. I had just received my racing license and I was motivated to hit the 2010 So Cal cycling race circuit. So I rolled up to the stop sign in a huge gear, paused and the lady in the mini van across from me waves me through. It is amazing how quick something happens and how much can go through your head at that moment. I get out of the saddle (standing to use my weight to turn the cranks), lean over my handle bars (because I am a stud racer now) and give the nice mini van lady a thank you wave. The moment my arm raises from my handle bar I can feel Pinky (my bike) twist below me. My right arm goes up and my front wheel sharply swings left. I try to regain control, but before I know it, my face slams into the concrete.
My first thoughts are of complete and udder embarrassment, now there are 4 cars each at a stop sign staring at me. My second thought is "I wonder if I can finish this ride, I JUST started". My third thought is "I hope Marc (my husband) doesn't find out I was listening to my iPod". A flurry of people rush to me asking me if I am okay. I am fine, just don't make a fuss. I will just hobble home and stick a band-aid on it, I say to myself. I go to lift my right arm and realize that it is not straight and hanging in an odd direction. Thank goodness is was chilly and I was wearing a long sleeve jersey, so I could not see my Ulna peeking out from my flesh. A nice man, tries to help me to my feet by lifting my right arm. A sharp, agonizing pain shots through my body and he says "It is broken". Huh? Broken? Oh, like when a little kid falls out of a tree, I can handle that. We move me out of the intersection and the shock is wearing off, pain is setting in. The Nice Man tells Mini Van Lady to call an ambulance. I am so confused, I don't need an ambulance. I just need a little cast, no ambulance. Nice Man asks me if he can call someone. Yes, thank goodness my husband is actually in town this week, you can call him. As my husband is walking into a meeting downtown, he receives a call from me. A strange man is on the other end stating that I have been in an accident. Now, I am not the most graceful cyclist and have had my fair share wrecks (I have walked away from all of them with a few scratches and/or bruises) so my husband was not too alarmed. Then he hears the sirens in the background and Nice Man tells him which hospital they are taking me to.
A firetruck and 2 ambulances arrive at the "scene". In typical woman fashion I am perfusly apologizing for the inconvenience and telling poor Mini Van Lady that I am so sorry, she was mortified. The EMTs are looking at my face, this too is confusing to me. MY ARM. PAIN IN ARM, NOT FACE. Blood is dripping out of my gloves and from my finger tips, tears are streaming down my face. The tears are masking the feeling of the blood dripping from my cheek. Come to find out, my face plant resulted in a gash under my right eye. I mentally allow myself to be taken care of and just go with it. Physically I was not resistant, but in my head I kept thinking that everyone was overreacting. I am placed on a gurney and head off to the ER. The 3 point turn the ambulance had to make in order to change directions was the most painful experience in my life.
Once I get to the ER, I am finally administered some pain medication which does nothing. I ask for more, relief for about 3 minutes and then pain again. What is this children's Tylenol? My husband arrives, he is so handsome. I am so happy to see him, don't let him find the iPod! I tell him what happens and no one can believe that such a simple act as waving "Thank You" can end up like this. My body is uncontrollably shaking in pain and I need more pain meds. I feel like an addict asking for more and more. I need drugs, PLEASE give me more drugs. The man next to me is suffering from a heart attack, another heart attack enters the small ER. I feel shame for taking the nurse's attention away from these patients but the pain is so bad. I am such a wuss. I am finally told what has happened and that I need surgery immediately. I almost feel like I have been given permission to be in this much pain. As soon as the Orthopedic Surgeon can get to the hospital and an operating room is available, I am going under the knife for the first time in my life. I have never been in the ER and haven't been admitted to a hospital since birth. I would be scared if I wasn't so drugged and in so much pain. I jumped on the bike at 10am, by 4pm I was in the operating room.
Marc goes home to gather some clean clothes and promises to be back after surgery. I am moved into a new room with a new set of nurses. They are asking me the same damn questions the EMTs, 4 ER nurses and the ER doctor asked. They have my freaking chart, can't anyone read! I become very annoyed and agitated. Just then the anestesologist arrives and knocks me out, that was probably for the best for everyone involved.
I awake in a dark room with a strange young man looking at me and my husband is sitting next to him. The doctor tells me what he just did and I have no idea what he is saying. I understand some of the words, but nothing makes sense. I am comforted to know that Marc is there and he can explain/interpret this to me later. The doctor asks me if I have any questions, "When can I get back on the bike?" He responds, "at least 4 months..." I start balling. Four months seems like eternity, plus I am very emotional because of the pain meds. Everyone assures me that four months will fly by. Yeah, yeah right, I get it.
I wake up in the middle of the night and need to go to the bathroom. My arm is bandaged from finger tips to arm pit, I am hooked up to machines, I hit the nurse button. A large women comes in an assists me to the bathroom, escorts me in and leaves me. Ummm, how am I going to do this. I figure it out and shuffle to the sink to wash my available hand. I look up into the mirror and horror. I had been so focused on my arm, that I had forgotten about my face. Road rash and scabs cover my chin and lips, a huge set of black stitchs across my cheek. I burst into tears.
The next 2 days in the hospital are a blur. I slept most of the time, ate crappy food and itched from the morphine. Once we got the pain meds under control, I was discharged. I arrived home at 6pm on Sunday and went straight to bed, not even noticing that the house was so clean, you could eat off the floor! I was so nauseous from the new oral pain meds that I couldn't eat and just slept for the rest of the day and most of the next. On Monday night, I had my first bite of food at home.
|Ummm, peanut butter toast, I could only wear Marc's button down shirts and that cast was so heavy!|
|At this point the swelling was way down and a lot of the scabs on my chin had fallen off.|
I spent 6 weeks in a cast and then 4 months in therapy. My wrist will never be the same and there are 2 scars on my arm. A year later I struggle with the strength in my grasp. I can't pump gas with my right arm and pulling weeds are out of the question. I wear a brace when doing push ups or any strength training. My doctor was amazed that I had such a bad break from a bike crash, mainly you see these type of breaks in car accidents. I am lucky, it could have been so much worse. I have met women who run marathons with double hip replacements, 3 time breast cancer survivor who competes in triathlons, so my broken arm is NOTHING. But it is mine.
|My first ride after the accident|
I was back on my bike in exactly 4 months and haven't looked back. I have never wanted to ride my bike more than those 4 months. I am sure you are wondering about Pinky, she was fine. A new set of grip tape and some scars on the right hood, but that was it. We are still together, Pink and I, and we share a lot of good times. A lot of people asked if I was scared to get back on the bike. And the answer is, No really. At first I stayed in the saddle, mainly because I could put that much pressure on my wrist and grabbing for water bottle was a little sketchy. Beside that, it was actually very easy to get back on the bike. I think it the accident would have been caused by something out of my control, like a vehicle or something in the road. But I just don't wave to drivers when I am out of the saddle. I do wave "Thank You" though, I am a good Texas girl and that would just be rude!
GROSS PHOTOS BELOW...
|This is after they removed the big monster cast and put me in a normal cast. One week after the accident. This is the underside of my arm.|
|This is the outside of my arm and the gross red scar above it is where the bone exited.|
|A few weeks later...|
|A few week later, in between casts. Yes, I am wearing a shirt that reads "I Ride" :)|
|The inside of my arm a year later.|
|And here is my face today (with my mutt Cosmo) You can barely tell that I had 12 stiches under my right eye.|