Forty eight days have passed since my automobile accident. In forty eight days, I suffered through a procedure called a reduction – an attempt to straighten my broken bone enough for it to heal. When that didn’t work, I was taken to surgery and now I have plates and pins that will be with me for the rest of my life. I recovered from the nerve block in my arm and used pain meds to make it through the first two days without the block. I showered using a dairy farmer’s glove (don’t ask, if you don’t want to know) to cover my cast. I nearly passed out when the cast was removed and I saw the incision for the first time. I watched the muscles in my arm shrink away. I ran through the pain because it was the only outlet for physical activity. I embraced occupational therapy with both arms and a heart that needed to heal. I rode my super-heavy Globe to the top of mountains just to be riding again. I returned to yoga despite the required modifications. I leaned on my partner, David, for so many little and big things…sometimes I leaned too hard, testing the strength of his love and patience. I leaned on friends and they really came through for me in ways I never expected…writing thank you notes, taking dictation so that I could keep up with email responses, drying my hair, tying my shoes, inviting me out for a beer when it felt like there was no hope.
You see, cycling is my job, my outlet for stress management and my connection for social interaction. It represents so much more than two wheels and a frame for me. And, in the blink of an eye, it was taken away. There was no question, no doubt…the arm was so badly broken that the diagnosis was instant and yet it felt like an eternity. From the moment of impact until the full weight of the situation was accepted by my brain seemed like hours when, in reality, it was just moments.
Just moments…that’s what this entire experience will feel like when I have traveled a few years down the road. I will recover and regain (hopefully) all of my mobility. I will be a strong cyclist again…soon. And yes, as much as I disliked hearing that this would be the outcome; maybe even the reason for the experience; I learned some lessons. Here are a few:
- Peel bananas from the bottom of the fruit.
- The non-dominate hand is a very quick study.
- True friends really will do just about anything for you.
- Treasure the moments when you get the chance to help true friends by doing whatever needs to be done.
- Sonicare toothbrush is even more valuable when you lose the use of your dominate hand.
- I don’t really need my car.
- I really do need my bicycle.
- Do not take your bicycle for granted…ever.
- Beer only helps the pain for a little while…the effects of massage lasts much longer.
- Cycling buddies will go through Misery with you again in 2015, if necessary.
- Find a strong and loving partner who wants to share life and living with you…even when it’s messy.
- You really can ride a heavy, towny bike to the summit if you train properly…don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
- Old women drive slow because they have seen some shit and they want to be able to STOP!
And now I have entered a new phase of my recovery. Today I took Worthy, my road bike, out for a short spin for the first time since before the accident. It is tough to shift with my right hand. I rode slowly. I stopped often, because lefty has not learned how to take the water bottle out of the cage well enough to avoid a potential crash. Better safe than sorry. I took photos, because I want to remember this day forever.
It hurts, but only in my wrist and hand. It feels amazing for my heart to be so completely filled with joy again.