Falling Action

26 Jun

Today is Tuesday June 26th, 2012. I composed the following post nearly a month ago and meant to publish it soon after the writing. Then time starting moving in a way that made it impossible for me to keep up. Between visits with family and friends, hours on the road heading west, and just general laziness, I let the blog go for a bit. Sorry! I’m going to try to be good for the rest of the summer. But no promises. For now, the month-old post.

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I’m going to write this now and post it at another time.

It’s 7:44AM on Sunday June 3rd. The Ludlow Boys and Girls Club Triathlon at Chicopee State Park is starting in exactly 16 minutes. I am registered for this race and yet I am not standing on the shoreline wearing a swim cap waiting to start. I am sitting at my BFF’s kitchen table in Easthampton, Massachusetts drinking a cup of tea. It is 7:50AM.  I have only been up for about 45 minutes, no two hours and 45 minutes.

My right knee is bruised with a nice gash running across it. I can put enough pressure on it to walk and stand but running, not so much. My left hand is still swollen and puffy and my knuckles (or what you can see of them) are a greenish blue. There is a massive round bruise on my palm as well. I can’t quite make a fist yet and every time I roll my wrist, it sounds a little crunchy.

By this point, you might have guessed that I took a digger off my bike this week. I took a hard, stupid digger off my bike in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. It was the worst fall I’ve suffered but not as bad as it could have been (God bless helmets and empty country roads) but it has me sidelined. And I am miffed.

Before I go any further though, I want to make it clear that this fall was entirely MY FAULT. Complete user error. Total brain fart. I was over-tired and not thinking straight and on challenging, alien terrain, which didn’t help but was not the culprit. The culprit was me and my belief that I can just go go go without resting. And ya know, when I woke up that morning, my gut, the one I really enjoy ignoring despite the fact that history has proven it is right 10 times out of 10, started talking. It said the following:

Edith, let’s think about this. It’s 5:30 in the morning. You’ve been up at 5:30 in the morning every day for the last two weeks (and then some). The only break you’ve taken since the race ten days ago was two days of driving. Your body is wiped out, your brain is exhausted, the weather sucks and you don’t ride hills like these. EVER. Why don’t you take the morning off?

OK, so maybe my gut wasn’t quite so eloquent. Maybe what my gut actually said was, “Ugh. I have a bad feeling about this ride, you should skip it.” Whatever. Bottom line: it was a bad ride. It was short and painful and ended with an asphalt breakfast.

This is what I remember. I remember heading out. I remember not great roads. I remember climbing a hill that had me winded almost immediately. And I remember crossing Westhampton Rd towards Outlook Farms. Then I remember doing something I will never do again. A bit of advice: if you suspect your quick release might be loose, don’t try to check it while the bike is moving! Break, pull off to the side of road and check from a stationary position. If you attempt to check it while in motion, your hand might get caught in between the spokes of your front wheel, which might stop the bike short and send you flying over the handle bars.

So I flew off my bike and hit my head (if you ride without a helmet, you’re an ass). I think I must have hit my left side first (hand, then head) and then skidded a bit on my right side because this is what I looked like after the fall:

The best thing about this shot (other than the fact that I look like an old hobo) is that I’m wearing my RoadID! Here’s a better one that shows the facial abrasions as well as the road rash on forearm:

And here’s a nice close up of the shoulder rash:

But these are, by far, my favorite pictures. My hand right after the fall:

My hand, a few hours later:

Side by side comparison shot:

There were two really scary moments during this whole ordeal. The first one happened after I hung up with the BFF, took a look around and suddenly thought, “I don’t know where the f*ck I am. WHERE THE F*CK AM I?!?” Now, I knew exactly where I was, we’d driven the course the day before and I’d been to this farmer’s market a number of times. But in that moment I had no freakin’ clue where I was and I started to panic. And then I started to cry because I was scared shitless.

And this is how I know that you want me with you when the shit hits the fan: I didn’t let the panic last longer than ten seconds. A really nice man who worked at the market had come over to help me right after the fall–he’d given me a dirty towel and a first aid kid from the 1950s (it’s the thought that counts)–and he was still hanging around and for some reason I didn’t want him to see me freak out. So I felt the freak out come, I let it happen and then I said, “You know where you are. You’re standing upright. You had a fall. You’re OK. They’re coming to get you. Just breath.”

According to the BFF, I called her two more times after the first call. The second time, I told her I was freaking out and she should send her hubby (an ER nurse) instead because I thought I might be injured. The hubby picked up the 3rd call–I told him he had to hurry. I had no memory of either call. Hearing about them after the fact = scary moment number two.

I really wanted to race and right after the fall I thought I’d might be able to. But that’s because I’m insane. By Friday, the knee was still bad enough so that I definitely couldn’t run on it and the hand was so puffy there was no way I’d be able to use it to break during a ride. This is the first time I’ve had to bail on a race and it’s making me very sad but I know it was the right decision. And honestly, I am glad that it all happened exactly as it all happened. Granted, I walked away from this one so it’s easy to say that the whole ordeal was a learning experience.

Here’s what I learned: 1) I am still a newbie and need to be more careful sometimes; 2) if I think something is wrong with my bike, it’s best to come to a full stop before checking it out; 3) just because I am comfortable riding clipped in now doesn’t mean I’m never going to fall again; 4) if my body tells me to stay home and rest, I should stay home and rest.

The last point is a tricky one though because it means learning to recognize the difference between my body talking and my mind talking. My mind will often tell me that my body is tired and my mind is a notorious liar. My body tends to be pretty honest. Sometimes I confuse my mind with my body. I’m getting better at understanding the distinction. Thanks, in part, to Wednesday’s bonehead incident. So for now, rest, ice, compression, elevation because these hills ain’t got nothing on the mountains to come.

———————————————————————————–

Almost a full month out, I’m happy to report that things are pretty much back to normal. I had a slight setback with my knee right when I got to camp–again, because I am an idiot. I’d been very good about hitting the knee with ice (and ibuprofen) after any exercise post-fall. Here at camp, we have a camp nurse and he’s got the medical grade ice packs. And he wasn’t in the infirmary the day I needed one so I just grabbed one with the intent of letting him know I’d taken it as soon as we crossed paths. He probably would have instructed me to read the fine print on the pack but I didn’t and then this happened:

That’s FREAKIN’ FROST BITE YA’LL! Apparently, you’re not supposed to put these packs directly onto your skin. Whoops. And you’re also not supposed to leave them there for 45 minutes. Double whoops. Oh well. The weird brownish, swollen, skin pattern didn’t pop up until a few hours later and then the peeling part happened the next day. Twas gross. Still is.

My hand is pretty much back to normal and I’ve been able to ride without any issues. Other than the big issue of just, ya know, riding in the high Rockies. But it’s a good thing. Between the fall and the change of terrain, I’ve had to take it easy. I promise more posts specifically dedicated to cycling these hills. It’s pretty amazing. Just miles and miles of rolling, well-maintained, traffic free roads. I may never leave. But I’ve been saying that for the last five summers. Interesting to note, however, that my journey this summer had me going from Western Mass to Steamboat, just like The Ladies. And they stayed. And stayed and stayed.

More soon. Promise.

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8 Responses to “Falling Action”

  1. Mark June 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    Good to hear that you’re okay. Don’t worry: part of being an athlete is ignoring the voice that tells you to stop. Part of being a GOOD athlete is knowing if that voice is coming from (as you say) your mind, or from your body. I’m not sure I’ve worked out the difference yet myself.

  2. bgddyjim June 27, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Glad you’re ok

    • mymultipersonality June 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      thanks. me too!

      • bgddyjim June 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

        Hey, I remembered a neat little tip that I’ve been using when I remove and reinstall my wheel prior to riding… After you’ve got the wheel back on, assuming it’s the front, pick up the front end of the bike and give the wheel a sharp karate chop… If it’s loose, you’ll know

      • mymultipersonality June 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

        good idea. that sorta thing requires being in your right mind though! Luckily, I don’t need to transport my bike anywhere the next couple of months.

  3. willtriforbeer June 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    Oh my! sorry to hear about your crash. that’s just gotta hurt. glad to hear that you’re getting all better though…now time to hit the roads again (but not litterally 😉

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. All Taped Up and Nowhere to Go « mymultipersonality - July 18, 2012

    […] sessions are quick (only ten minutes) but so helpful. Last week, we dealt exclusively with my post-bonehead incident knee. I got a professional taping and a diagnosis: bone bruise and fat pad impingement, neither of […]

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