Why I will bike no more


Bike Helmet

I used to bike a lot. Not professional cyclist or racer, just recreational cyclist. Best Husband and I, once freed of the penury of child rearing, developed our own hobbies and interests and eventually invested in good road bikes. We’d spend hours out of every summer biking together, enjoying the scenery and companionship. I will miss biking, but I will bike no more. And here is why.

Flash backwards about four weeks ago. I’m sitting on the side of the road, a good vacation gone bad, with blood pouring out of my nose. One friend is holding my head steady while another is staunching the blood with tissues. Meanwhile horrified onlookers stand by while I’m sobbing and trying not to sob at the same time, shaking hot and cold and wishing I had never ridden my bike that day.

A fun bike ride with friends had turned into every cyclist’s nightmare:  a face first over handlebars freak accident. Soon  the ambulance arrives, and my husband and I ride to the barely adequate  urgent care clinic. Once there, a third-year resident who acts more like a third-year med student takes over my care. Everyone asks me the same questions incessantly, writes them down, but no one looks at the answers. My jaws are sloshing painfully back and forth and I finally motion for a clipboard. Then, holding my swollen eye open so I can see, I write a pretty coherent med list, allergies, and answers to all their questions, while the medical indifference swells around me. As I sit in the clinic bay, no blanket offered, I realize I’m getting woozy and faint, chilled and hot at the same time, and suggest they might want to think about getting me a blanket and starting an IV.

Later, I endure an ambulance ride across the Mackinac Bridge and farther south to get to the closest real hospital, about 45 minutes away. With my face and body throbbing, I convince myself that moaning softly and keeping my eyes closed will relieve the pain, since no one has offered to give me anything to soothe the awful  throbbing during what is normally a very pleasant drive.

After x-rays and CTs, it is confirmed. My face is broken. All of it. The orbits, the delicate maxillae, and my already somewhat crooked nose – smashed into shards of bone. A week or so later I have grueling surgery to put it all back together. The plastic surgeon using screws and plates, delicately reassembles the puzzle that had become my face. The shards of bone, now held in place with metal, have put my face somewhat back together, though it no longer feels like my face. Places that once were soft are now hard, metallic, crooked, numb. It is not a perfect face, though,it was a pretty ordinary face before. Time will tell if it becomes the face that I had before, or something close enough to it, or if it will remain a hideously skewed semblance of a face that makes polite people look away and rude people stare.

No one told me that I must give up biking. I had biked nearly 5,000 miles, with no hint of a serious accident, and chances are, could bike another 5,000 in my lifetime without incident. But, it somehow feels wrong, to take my patchwork of bones back out onto the road, where anything might happen in the blink of an eye. It seems like an insult to my surgeon, and to myself and my family for all we’ve gone through, to tempt that fate again. I feel grateful to have a face, to still have life, and to not have suffered more serious injury than what I already had. And so, I will bike no more.

© Huffygirl 2013

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51 thoughts on “Why I will bike no more

  1. Oh, Huffygirl. I’m so sad for you, though I’m glad you’re healing. I hope you get your own face back, both in looks and feeling. God bless your surgeon, and your husband and friends, and most of all you.

  2. Under the circumstances I think it is the right decision to give up biking. Very sorry for all the pain you’ve been going through. Hope the healing of your face is going to make good progress.

    • It is. I debated awhile about how to write this – usually I put a satirical twist on things, and try to make them funny, but this time I just wrote from my heart.

  3. OMG, Donna! I am so glad you are alive to write this post. I have tears in my eyes reading about this ordeal and think you’ve made the right decision. Please read (when you have a moment that is not painful!) this post of mine from 2010–a similar story and I think the woman I saw crash on her bike did not have a good outcome. It is SO scary and yes, it can happen at any time. That being said, we have to live our lives, so I hope you go out there and greet the world when you are well again with the same gusto you have in the past. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you heal. xoxo
    http://walkingpapers.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/fate-faith-and-democracy-bites/

  4. What an awful ordeal, from start to finish. With all the pain you’ve been through, I’m guessing that coming to this decision and writing this post are almost as painful? 😦

  5. Oh, I am so, so sorry. Sorry for the accident, sorry for the crappy care, sorry for the ongoing pain of rehab, sorry for the change of face and pace of your life.
    Many blessings as you recover physically and emotionally from the accident and its aftermath.

  6. When God closes one door, he opens another. I know that your future will be full of hope. You and Dave are creative and resourceful and will find just the perfect way to spend time together. Might actually be more fun! We are so proud of you as a survivor. Don’t know that I could have been so strong. Love ya!

  7. Oh, Donna. So sorry to hear this and yes we’re all always a moment’s away from such an accident. Every time I bike I worry about potholes and freak turns, and all that. Yet… still quite addicted to it. I hope your healing goes well and I know you’ll have a beautiful face.

  8. I too worry about “what we’ll do” when we’re off the bike— hiking?
    Art museums? Dance classes? I’m sure you’ll find many avenues — and maybe in a few years time… back on the bike.

    • I don’t know about getting back on the bike – would you do it again? I do know I never want to go through anything like this ever again. It has been very difficult, and I’m only four weeks into it.

      • You need lots of time. When I had my accident– fractured bone in my hand- nothing like what you’ve gone through– I was very wary about it and take extra care near guardrails (went over one and nearly landed in the Delaware River). I was very lucky. There’s other kinds of biking– hybrid, etc. that’s less demanding than road. For now, be patient and heal. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  9. Oh, HG, what a terrible thing to have happen!! I can’t believe how suddenly it happened and how profoundly this accident has affected everything in your life. You must feel like the bottom has dropped out of your life plan. Do you have any idea of what you are going to do now? I mean, in what area will you focus your energies and all your substantial and wonderful talents?

    I just finished reading an article by a blogging friend of mine, Angela Artemis, who has a long history of successful working with the soul side of people and sharing her experiences. Not everything in this article will apply, I’m sure, but some of it could be quite helpful. Click on link to access The Spiritual Message behind Stress, Obstacles & Upheaval (and what to do about it).

    Finally, I wonder if there was some kind of weird energy invading planet Earth about a month ago. The reason I make this comment is because my adult son Tom also had a bad accident on HIS bike. He doesn’t remember what happened but, from his description of the radical injuries to his face that he suffered, Hubby and I figure that he was hit by a hit-and-run car driver. He too had extensive damage to his face, nose, eyes and teeth. He is much better now and did not have to have the large amount of surgery that you did…he now has 70% of his eyesight back, etc. But it seems a strange coincidence.

    All my warmest wishes for a speedy recovery physically and, more important, spiritually. There just may be a wonderful door opening for you somewhere as this door (riding bicycle) is closing.

    *huge but gentle hug*

    • Thanks for that hug Sandra. Interesting that your son had a similar experience, and I hope not anywhere near as bad as mine. I would not wish this on anyone.

      I will check out your link later when I’m more in the right mindset for it. As to where I’ll focus my energies – not sure for now. My husband and I had been thinking about getting a kayak, but I don’t know if anyone as accident-prone as I should be doing anything in the water. Right now I have a hard time believing I’ll ever be normal and resume my normal life again, so I’m just putting my energy into recovery for now.

      • No, Tom’s accident wasn’t as bad as yours, although the pics of him made me cry.

        I do understand the doubts you might be having about your life. I fell down the stairs about a month ago, and hurt my butt so badly that even the doc was amazed at the colors it was turning. I am now afraid to go downstairs. However, I know that I will get over the fear in time, although I don’t know if I’ll want to go downstairs anytime soon. And it was very hard to refocus after the accident, although it was nowhere near as bad as yours.

        Putting your energy into recovery sounds like a good idea. You will resume your life again, and whatever you decide to do in time will seem normal. And you will be happy. It’s just too raw right now to touch. Like poking at a sore tooth with your tongue.

        Anyone with as much love and joy as you have has to have some left over for themselves.

        **** double hug and triple gentleness ****

  10. I am so sorry this happened to you. I kept reading and was getting more horrified as I went along. I just started riding again after the knee replacement and wonder if I am doing the right thing now. I hope that you continue to improve and thank God you have your man to go through this with you. I hope you find comfort in something and know you are in my thoughts.

    • I don’t think you should stop riding just because of my story, LN. Prior to this I’d also heard accident stories from other riders, which gave me pause, but yet I kept riding. I could have had the same kind of injury from a car accident, but I doubt that I would stop riding in a car had that happened. My accident was a freak – the bike just locked up after I went over a pot hole. I still don’t know if something was wrong with the bike or if something got caught in the wheel, but it just locked long enough to launch me over the handlebars. As I mentioned, I’ve biked nearly 5,000 miles without incident. Just be careful and wear your helmet – that is what saved me, as my head is the only part of me not injured.

  11. Your account of what happened was tough to read–I can’t imagine what you have been going through. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and when you feel like coming out to the lake-give us a call.

  12. I’m still shaking my head after reading what happened to you, Donna. How quickly our lives can change. I pray for your emotional healing as well as your physical one. Hugs.

  13. Pingback: Hideous Girl | Huffygirl's Blog

  14. So sorry to read about your accident. I wish you a recovery that heals not just your body, but your psyche as well. It’s hard to imagine that you’d want to get back on a bike, but if it’s something you love to do, that love may overcome the fear in time. Right now, it sounds like healing requires all your energy.

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