My Riding Accident

Since I hadn’t biked at the Columbus half, I had a recovery ride the next day. Carlos and I were meeting Kathleen and Andy at the Tony Serrano route and doing the 62 mile loop. I was looking forward to this.

I saw this as Kathleen’s ride, and my recovery ride, so I hung on back for most of the ride, and let her pace. I was behind Andy who stayed on Kathleen’s wheel. I kept about ½ -1 bike length behind – so drafting, but with caution.

Uusally before a ride I get anxious – nervous that everyone ride safely. This day I didn’t. I guess that should be a bad sign, huh?

We were having fun – we stopped to see if there was still a water towere covered in wisteria (it had all died from the previous week), and stopped in a field for a picture. I was feeling good, but had told Kathleen and Andy that if they want to go faster not to worry about me. I was taking it easy.

All went well until about mile 40. A dog wandered on to the road. Kathleen and Andy managed to stop. I am not sure what I was thinking – maybe going around the dog as he wasn’t charging. Ummm…didn’t happen. I hit the dog and flew. I woke up and asked what happened. A woman, Mitzi, who is also a retiured nurse, was leaving her home and was right there. She held my head and wouldn’t let me move. I wanted to get up and she said “No.” Considering she had my head…I did as I was told. Kathleen called 911 and an ambulance was on the way. The two EMT’s were great. Once they got the neck brace on me, I was so insistent that they let me stand up.

Umm…yeah. I looked at one of the EMT’s and said I was passing out. Next thing I know is I feel like I am waking up out of a dream, but I wanted to keep sleeping. But I couldn’t. I really didn’t want to wake up. It took me a second and then I realized where I was. Crap.

Kathleen called Carlos from my phone – amazingly he had decided to cut his ride short and had just arrived back at the car. He headed to the hospital.

Soon I was being loaded in to the Ambulance. They looked at my helmet and decided, based on the damage, they were taking me to Athens Regional in case an MRI was necessary.

Cracks and dents in my helmet
Cracks and dents inside my helmet – and there were more all the way to the front!

Kathleen and Andy left my bike with Mitzi, and pedaled back to their car.  Andy said Kathleen was in unicorn mode – just focused on getting back.

I was cognitive and remember everything but the impact: conversations, what people were doing, cars stopping to see if I was ok….everything. In fact, at the hospital, as the EMT’s were leaving someone asked the date. One of the EMT’s said he had asked me and I said – you asked me the day, not the date and the second EMT laughed and said “She has you there!”

The rest I am telling not as a brag that I am that tough, but to let people know how hurt I was. And hoping they can take a lesson and if they are hurt, know better than I did. i am also writing it here so I don’t forget my lesson! I am more embarrassed about my ignorance and mistakes. Seriously. It wasn’t “tough” it was dumb.

I kept saying it wasn’t that bad…it could have been worse . I was alive, no broken bones, and no head injury. But, and this is a BIG but, I was in pain. And just because a bone iosn’t broken doesn’t mean you are all “OK.” A lot of people I know are tough and push through a lot. However, as I am coming out of this I am realizing how hurt I was and I start to cry. Why? Because I didn’t have to do all that I did. And I failed at taking as good of care of myself as I could have because in my mind “it isn’t that bad.” Well…it can be. And so I am telling this in hopes that someone reads it and, if they get hurt, they will know that they can take it easy and let their body heal, and treat it better than I treated mine right after.

They had me roll over to look at my back and it hurt so bad that I said that I was going to stay on my side for a bit. That should have been a good indication. They decided no MRI or X-rays.

Carlos helped me get dressed as I could barely get my sweatshirt (the ever-present Michigan sweatshirt) on. It hurt.

When the discharged me I tried to get out of the bed to walk…no dice…I started to pass out from the pain. They got a wheelchair to help me out. Andy and Carlos helped me in to the car as I couldn’t stand.

We stopped at CVS to get the prescriptions filled. I called my mom and we agreed – no percocet – just the muscle relaxant. I do not like to take drugs, and wasn’t going to start now.

The biggest question Carlos and I faced was how to get me in to the house if I couldn’t walk. We have about 5 stairs down to our condo floor. I ended up deciding to try and crawl and…it worked. I walked on my hands and feet and then went slowly, in the same fashion, down the stairs and to the door where Carlos was waiting with a rolling office chair. I sat in it and he rolled me to the coffee table. Carlos then proceeded to bring everything in.

Carlos had to run to CVS again, and I decided to see if I could stand using the office chair. I could! I leaned heavily on it and pushed it around. I decided to take a shower. Carlos came home and it was good as I couldn’t grab the wash cloth. He passed it to me. It was also good as I could not bend over to get dressed. Yes, my husband had to dress me. Moving just hurt too much.

I took Monday off from work (and….of course…training). I could walk, but sitting and getting up hurt. I would have to put my right leg behind me and raise myself up slowly. And these jolts of electricity would course through my right lower back. I decided to try and find an orthopedic to see. I have been to and trust Dr. John Alsobrook in Buford…but he had recently gone to Children’s hospital of Atlanta and so….he wasn’t an option. Eek! I was excited for him in his change, but….I trust him! What about me? Went through my brain!

I found Dr. Bailey of Atlanta Sports Medicine….willing and able to take me on short notice (the next day – Tuesday) as…I was flying to Prague Tuesday evening. I saw Dr. Bailey. The x-rays showed nothing was broken. Hooray! When it came to talking about meds, we bargained as I didn’t want anything that would make me loopy. He talked to me about what he was giving me, and I still checked with Mary Doyle before filling the prescription. Seriously – I am a person that can’t take Benadryl without extreme side effects (basically I am knocked out and when I wake up – groggy for the next few hours).

When I got to the airport, Carlos carried my bags to the outside check in, but I had to go inside. They asked if I wanted a wheel chair and called one. I decided not to take it. I figured if I was OK enough to travel (which I wasn’t) I would walk. I actually felt OK walking. It was lifting and putting my back pack down that caused pain. There were a few times that people offered to help me – at least lift it on to my back.

Four days post accident. The wet hair adds to my drowned rat appearance! But – black eye, cut lip and cut chin.

Once I was there I knew I shouldn’t be traveling, and I didn’t want to travel. I needed to be home taking care of me. I do not have delusions that my work is so important that I have to be there, or that things will not function if I am gone. I do my job well. I help my colleagues and will never leave them in a bad spot. But, I believe that it is very rare that, for anyone, people can’t get by when you are not at work. My colleagues are smart and resourceful. And if I am the only one with an answer, most people understand that life happens and sometimes you have to wait for a reply. Most people believe that taking care of family or personal emergencies is OK. And the same is true at my job.

But I wasn’t thinking that way. I was thinking that since this happened during my “fun” off work, and my colleagues are very supportive of what I get to do, and that I had no right to let it interfere with work. Well, in speaking with my manager after I returned….I was 100% wrong. It was an accident and  I am the only one who can take care of me. I work remotely. No one, besides Carlos, Andy, Kathleen and the doctor, ever saw me.

As I was waiting to leave I knew I shouldn’t be there.

When I returned from my trip I spoke with Mary and my manager, and both said I underplayed my injuries (in my mind I wasn’t – again – nothing was broken or sticking out in angles it shouldn’t be and I was alive). It wasn’t until this past Wednesday after swim that I started to realize how much I had hurt, and how much better I was feeling. And it all hit me….and I started to cry at the reality of what I did for no reason. Zero. Zip. Nada. And I hit my emotional low.

I honored these feelings and let them roll. And after a couple of hours I started to realize what I needed to do to take care of me….and took the initiative. And started feeling better. However, I would still randomly break in to tears at the thought of how poorly I treated my body by flying the previous week. I have worked very hard to treat my body well – to honor it and appreciate all it does, and to allow it time to recover so it can perform again. It has risen to the occasion so many times that I hate not treating it well. And this time wasn’t deliberate, just out of ignorance. That really bothered me. But…I can take the lesson and apply it now and take care of myself now and in the future. And I can hope that someone else may learn from my mistakes!

I am not doing Mountain Madness tomorrow. I would love to, especially as so many Team Podium teammates are racing, but know that to race would set me back, and that the race would not reflect how strong I am. And so I look forward to racing with my teammates in the next race.

The decision to let it pass, outside of missing my teammates, was simple. With a long-term goal my season is not based on a single race. If I am not healthy, I am OK with letting it go. I have a long-term focus. I know what I need to do to get where I want to be. And racing like this will not get me there at all.

Every day I see improvement . Last Monday I could touch my toes! This past Friday I could do the touch the ground with my left hand while standing on my left leg. Last week I couldn’t go 3 inches past vertical! I am still a little stiff, but improving daily. And I am focusing on what I can do – not what I can’t. I can ride my trainer. I can run. I can do strength training. And I can do the exercises that Mary has given me to work on the muscles in my right rib that are not firing well right now.

And I look forward to my next race! May I avoid more moving objects in the road. This was the second time in less than 6 months I have hit moving objects in the road. And I have decided  before I ride – I can’t just go ride – I need to think and get my “riding head” on. May this help prevent future accidents. I am not sure how many more times I can push my luck. And really…I don’t want to test it!

And I look forward to riding with Kathleen and Andy…and anyone else willing to ride with me…again 🙂 As a warning…I will be on the look out for objects entering the road 🙂

And this is another event (or series of events) in life where I get by with the help from my friends….as well as the generosity of strangers. Kathleen and Andy; Carlos (he has been amazing), Mitzi the woman there on the scene, the EMT’s, the flight attendants on my flights, the nice guy at the first aid center in the Amsterdam Airport who let me lie down and put a huge ice pack on my back (and gave me a positive outlook for the rest of the trip), Andy, Matt and Gregg at Podium checking over my bike, the Ironteam, Team Podium, Mary…it would sound like an Oscar thank you. And yet again I am grateful for how fortunate I am, even if a little unlucky with moving objects right now.


One thought on “My Riding Accident

  1. I’m glad you’re ok and that it was nothing serious.

    All I can say from the other end of the country is take it easy and give yourself time to heal and process.

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