I’ve been dreading these 10 days for a year. I’ve been planning lots of distractions, lots of good things to keep my mind off of all that went on this time last August. I did what I’ve done all year when things were hard – I tried to make good healthy choices designed to generate feelings that would be the opposite of what I expected to feel. If I thought I would be especially lonely, I made plans to have company. If I expected to be sad, I deliberately set about doing things that make me happy. It was a real “fake it until you make it” approach to getting around the things I thought might swamp me with sadness. Distract, divert – deflect.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the day that I took my Mum to the hospital and she never came home again. I got up that morning and feeling upset and out of sorts, I decided to go for a long bike ride to clear my mind. It turns out that I like riding my bike. I don’t just do it for the Rally, I do it to be fit, to feel strong, to feel fast. I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but it’s hard to be sad on a bike, so I left the house and set a route that I really love – one that ends with a gorgeous stretch along a trail by a river. I was 25km in, it was a beautiful day, and I was heading for home and cruising along the bike path – not going too fast because it was downhill, and I’m still kind of cautious cyclist. (That’s a lie. I’m a really cautious cyclist.)
That’s when it happened. After 660 km on the Raleigh without so much as a glitch, I was heading downhill and starting a little turn when I hit a small patch of sand. (I even slowed down for it, which in retrospect probably kept things from being much worse.) Suddenly, my bike wouldn’t went sideways under me, and unable to unclip my left foot in time (I did unclip the right, for what seems now to have been no other reason than reflex.) I let go of my bike (big mistake) and stretched my hands out to break my fall. (Second mistake.) My hands hit the ground hard, absorbed most of the force, and then my chin came down and smacked off the asphalt. My phone skittered out of my bra (yes, I keep it there sometimes) and into the bushes, and I lay there for a second, absolutely stunned. There hadn’t even been time to swear – which trust me, I don’t need a lot of time to pull off.
It’s clear to me now that I watched way too much of the Tour de France, because my first thought was getting my bike off the path before someone else came along and ran me or the bike over, and I scrambled up, hauling the bike off me, retrieving my phone (phone’s don’t heal, so I was worried about that before myself) and then I started to take stock. My hand was really banged up and it hurt, but it wasn’t bleeding too badly, so I got out my water bottle and started washing it off – I had time to curse now – and did. In that moment, I thought I was okay. It didn’t last. A lady who’d just come around the corner came rushing up to me, asking if I was okay and rubbing me on the back. I said I thought I was, and then she said “oh my God your face.” I noticed then that some of the blood I was trying to wash off my hand and arm wasn’t coming from the bad scrape on my hand – I’d cut my chin when it banged off the pavement, and it was bleeding badly. “Do you have ice?” she asked me, and I remember thinking “Geez Lady, where would I be keeping that?”
I got my cycling gloves out of my jersey pocket (hadn’t been wearing them, mistake number 3) and used that to put pressure on my chin. It didn’t really stop bleeding, and the lady was making me feel embarrassed and self-conscious, so I sent her away with assurances that I was just fine. Long story short, I tried to ride my bike home, and with every minute that passed I realized that I needed help. Even if i could make it back to the road, I wasn’t going to feel much like cycling back up the hill to my house. (This, by the way was the first sign that I wasn’t okay, that I thought I could get home by way of bike.) I texted Joe, no answer, then another person or two – also no answer, and then managed to walk my bike back to the road (about 30 minutes) bleeding and feeling more upset and hurt by the moment.
By the time I got to the road, I’d managed to reach Joe and he understood that he had to come get me – by the time he had, I’d realized that I needed the hospital. Joe dropped me off, I went inside and presented myself, still wearing cycling gear (“Cycling accident?” the nurse queried, receiving the stupid question of the day award.) I staggered away from the desk to sit down and wait my turn, and realized a second later, clutching gauze to my chin, with my non-smashed hand, that I was sitting in the exact same seat I had exactly a year before, at just about the same time of day. The only difference was that my mother wasn’t with me. Distraught, divert, deflect …indeed.
Even longer story short – they glued my chin (it’s a tiny cut, it turns out, just bleeding for the drama of it) and x-rayed my hand, and it looks like a possible scaphoid fracture. Totally common for what they called a FOOSH. (Fall On Out Stretched Hand.) I’ll be wearing it for at least a week, until a bone scan can reveal if there’s a fracture or not. (Oddly, they have to wait – they’re looking for signs of healing to see if the break is there.) In the meantime, I’m navigating one handed – knitting, but very slowly and awkwardly, with little satisfaction, and typing this pathetically slowly. (I tried dictation, but it’s like my laptop doesn’t think I speak English.)
I’m okay, but can’t help but wonder what the lesson I’m supposed to be getting is. Is this the universe’s way of saying you can’t run from your feelings? Am I supposed to be learning to deal with things, rather than trying to distract myself from them? Am I being told to settle down, to let the grief wash over me, to acknowledge that I’m supposed to feel bad, and just … live it? Is this just another phase of the year in which I’m doing a wicked imitation of being a cat toy for some divine joker?
Or maybe, maybe I simply fell off my bike, and I should have been wearing my gloves.
Peace out. I’ll try and type more tomorrow.
PS. No pictures today. I’ve hit my limit for the number of things I can do with one *&^%$ing hand.
PPS: I forgot to mention that I’ll be at The Stitchery in Rhode Island on the 14th and 15th of September. With two functioning hands. I’m sure of it.