With a Little Help From My Friends
Back in 2007, James was stoked when I decided to purchase my own motorcycle and ride. He actually rode the bike home from the dealership and proudly taught me the basics. Soon, I was brave enough to take off on my own, heading down the street, making a loop around the neighborhood, and returning to James, who was not looking so happy any longer. I asked what was wrong. He replied, “there are two kinds of riders – those who have crashed and those who will. I’m not looking forward to the day you crash.”
This past Monday morning, about 4:30, I finally joined the latter of the kinds of riders. I was heading for my morning workout, and turned down the dark road leading to the parking area. I remember seeing headlights turning on the road behind me – a fellow Crossfitter, for sure. Who else would be out at the airport at such an obnoxiously early time? Looking up, I was approaching the stop sign. I let off the throttle, and prepared for a rolling stop and turn.
I’ve heard, when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. So I knew I wasn’t dying, because it wasn’t my life I saw, but a deer. Not just any deer, but the perfect specimen of deer. There were no horns, so I presume it was a doe. She stood at least 10 feet tall at the shoulder and consumed all the light from my headlamp. She was the perfect shade of deer brown, and her tail was lifted high and proud, as she ran across the road. I grabbed a handful of brakes, heard the squeal, and the bike and I fell to the left. I watched her do a cute little hop as she bounded off into the woods.
My first thought was along the lines of “oh crap, I’m falling off my bike” which was followed quickly by thoughts of my brand new ink. I’d just gotten a thigh piece started only four days earlier, and both legs are already covered knee down. I knew I was dressed for my workout, spandex shorts and a tank top, meaning lots of exposed skin (I know, I know – quiet!). But as soon as I hit the ground, all thoughts of ink faded, and screaming pain shot through my left knee. Well, I thought it was the pain screaming – it was actually me. I knew for sure my left leg was shattered. I saw the tailpipes of my bike sputtering in front of me, and I could feel the heat from the exhaust. It only lasted a few seconds, then the bike died and headlights covered me. Whoever was heading to Crossfit was now parked behind me. At least they stopped. I’ve heard of bikers crashing and surviving, only to be killed when run over by other motorists.
I sat up and yanked off my helmet. I know, another no no, but I had to see my leg. As soon as I saw it was in one piece, I calmed down a bit. No bones sticking out, just a little blood. See, that wasn’t so bad! One of my new Crossfit friends was calling 911 and attempting to calm me down. She helped me get my backpack off, so I could retrieve my phone. At that moment, all I wanted was James. Except, when I dialed his number, I remembered he slept with the ringer off, and his phone in another room. So, I started the game of “phone a friend” to find someone who was willing to drive to our house and wake him up. And that’s when you learn who your real friends are – lying in the road at 4:30 in the morning waiting to see who answers.
I secured someone, and knowing James was on the way, I felt relief. This was replaced pretty quickly by surprise, when I realized I was surrounded by men. Ha – Men in uniform! Damn – they were quick! Of course, they forced me to lay back down, immobilized me, and got me onto a stretcher for a fun-filled ride to the emergency room. Looking aside before they ran off with me, the last sight I saw was another Crossfitter holding my helmet, a very dark expression on his face. That actually concerned me, and I realized not only was I going through my own trauma, I’d probably just scarred a few other folks with me. So I thought quickly and threw a thumbs up in their direction, assuring them I’d be back soon. It was probably a pathetic gesture, but I meant well.
The ER visit was short (I’ll leave out the gory details), but filled with good news. I had no broken bones. My wounds were cleaned and covered and I was released to James. The instructions were simple – immobilize my knee (I was sported with a brace), walk with crutches, and no weight bearing. Oh, and you might want to follow up with a real doctor to make sure nothing else is wrong. By 9:00 am, I was back home. I didn’t realize it, but the real fun was about to begin. Since being home (and upon writing this, it’s only been four days), I’ve learned quite a few things I’d like to share.
- Road rash smells bad. Maybe it’s the goop or maybe it’s just the open wound, but the stench was pretty nasty. And if I could smell myself, well, I felt for James.
- When injured, you are allowed (and encouraged) to take pride in the small steps. Sometimes, those small steps are literal. My first trip to fetch water from the kitchen was huge! It took 10 minutes, but I was so proud of myself.
- For every proud moment of accomplishment, there will be at least two demoralizing ones. I’d rather not share those. Just saying.
- In addition to small steps, you must accept the fact that everything will take longer. Heating leftovers for lunch, grabbing a bottle of water, walking to the bathroom… Just allow plenty of time and don’t rush!
- It’s okay to ask for help. I learned quickly what I could and could not do, and James did have to bail me out of a predicament or two. Maybe three. Kinda goes hand in hand with the demoralizing episodes.
- Apparently bladders shrink when you’re on crutches. I mean, I’ve heard that as we age, holding it through the night is more difficult, but I’ve found myself rushing for a bathroom around 2 in the morning since the accident. Every morning. This wasn’t an issue before life on crutches. Which leads to the next point…
- Clutter is not your friend. A 2 am trip to the bathroom becomes life threatening when you’re hobbling along in the dark, trying not to wet your pants before you get to the bathroom. Remember, everything takes longer on crutches!
All in all, I’m quite blessed and lucky my first (and hopefully last) motorcycle accident was so minor. There will be MRI’s next week on the knee and shoulder, but an initial examination by an orthopedic surgeon indicates nothing obvious or significant. I can’t wait to get back to a normal lifestyle, but I’m well on my way. And for now, I’m learning all about my new normal and taking it in stride. And I’m getting by with a little help from my friends, who are much appreciated.