Friday, September 28, 2012

Face First

Hey there neighbors, it's been a while. The past month or so has proven to be rather craptastic here at The HaciendaNextDoor. You know how DadNextDoor & I like to ride bicycles? Well we loaded everything up & headed out to the Hotter'N Hell Hundred again the last weekend in August. That's where it all went wrong.

Somewhere around mile 25 we were both cruising along at a nice 18 mph pace & feeling good to go the whole 100 mile route. Suddenly, just in front of us, some reflector-wheeled noob was overlapping wheels with the guy in front of him and ended up laying out all across the road. Dad's bicycle ninja skills came in handy & he dodged the wreck. I am generally a hot mess to begin with but this time I didn't have as much response time since the dude wiped out right in front of me so it was even messier.

In my mind I did some kind of bad-ass Charlie's Angels trick riding flip. That delusional image I keep in my mind is comforting since I didn't have to look at the ugly disaster. In reality, my front tire rode right over the guy but I couldn't keep my big ass down. When I felt my back end start to flip, I rolled it to the left. Unfortunately I was just going too fast & couldn't roll fast enough.

Face first friends, into the road at 18 mph. Actually most of my face was okay, thanks to my helmet & sunglasses. I ended up with somewhere around 40 stitches inside & outside the left side of my mouth. One bottom tooth came completely out, one top tooth was broken badly enough it will be replaced with a snazzy new implant and two were crunched enough to earn root canals & crowns. These are all my front teeth by the way. Even better - the alveolar bone holding those top teeth in my head was busted. I know everyone is jealous of the metal bling I get to wear in there holding my teeth in for 6 weeks, crossing my fingers it heals enough I won't need a bone graft when they take the metal bar off.

I did also smash my left hand into the road as I pushed my handlebars down on that side. Miraculously, no other bones are broken though. Aside from my face, I had a minor abrasion to my shoulder & knee. Not too bad considering the other guys in the ER were heading home for orthopedic surgery.

What's been really super awesome is trying to eat mushy vomit-textured food so the bone can heal. It takes me like a hundred years to eat anything significant. Basically, if a toothless toddler can eat it so can I. Oh, and I pretty much drink like a stroke victim. I know, pretty sexy.

One super cool thing that happened though was this group of like four guys riding behind me stopped to help. One of them was either an ER or ICU nurse that was a total rockstar who took care of me right up until I was loaded into the ambulance (thank god it was an ambulance & not a helicopter - I hate flying almost more than smashing my face). I think he told me his name was Brad. I was looking at his bib numbers upside down & I had just plowed my head into the pavement so I'm not clear but I think it was either 2141 or 4121. The group was wearing some sort of United Methodist kits that I think were mostly burgundy. If you're out there somewhere Brad, you made an amazing difference - thank you. My recovery will be a months-long journey & I still wear your bracelet on hard days.

It turned out I bent my frame so it's garbage. I actually cried more about that than I did my busted teeth. My bike's name was Sugar. She was a pink & white Dolce Elite with pink bling. I think she got broken so I didn't break any other bones. She hangs in the garage wearing my hospital bracelet.

The cool thing is that it's all fixable - a few more dental appointments & I'll be set. And now I know that I'm stronger than I ever thought I could be. I only took a week off of work & went right back to doing my thing. Dad bought me a new frame (it was a Dolce Sport that was only ridden like 10 times) & put all my components on it. It's a berry & white frame instead of pink & white so it's not just perfect but it looks nice. Sort of like me I think.

The very first rally I ever rode was the Cotton Patch Challenge in 2011 - I couldn't do the whole thing & Dad had to actually push me at the end. I had intended to ride again in 2012 as a personal milestone to see how far I'd come in a year & it was personally important to me. So 3 weeks after the wreck, 2 days after the root canals, I saddled up and rode the whole route ... without any pushing.

Life's short neighbors. Live like you mean it.


Why did I get back on a bike again after such an injury? Why did I do it so soon? Well ... I guess it's something you really have to live to understand. It's about learning to be a resilient person. It's about empowering yourself to be unbroken. I certainly won't participate in all the same events I might have before & I will do some things differently (better) than I did before, but I will still ride. I suppose I don't exactly have the words to tell you why. But I can tell you I am not the broken girl crying under the covers at the end of the day anymore.