High-5, Happy to Be Alive

May 16th shall forever be celebrated as The Day I Didn’t Quite Kill Myself in a Bicycle Accident. It’s been a long year since (what started as the Best Day Ever, until the moment that I STILL don’t remember). I can retrace every step… every turn of the wheel… Until?

I was riding home from kickball juuuust after dark. Next I’m sitting in the street, trying to push my smashed teeth out of the roof of my mouth with my tongue. Bleeding, couldn’t speak clearly, would’ve called 911. Instead, sent a few desperate texts and waited. Didn’t take long for two people to approach.

They asked (as if it wasn’t obvious), “Do you need help?”

“Yes,” I said (however bloody garbled it was), “My teeth are out.”

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The first responders were firefighters. One was named Audrey. When the paramedics arrived, left my bike with Audrey and calmly climbed into the ambulance, then became immediately terrified; they were going to poke me with a needle. Remembered my friend Tony’s recent nightmare/experience, when he got hit by a truck, biking home from work. He described them painfully inserting a needle while making their way up the winding, bumpy OHSU hill.

“At least do it while the ambulance is parked.”

They heeded my request, then brought me to Emmanuel, where there was an oral surgeon on call. The man behind the mask, plucking out tooth fragments, was gentle and kind. He told me to relax and be extremely still if he was going to stitch my bottom lip, just right. He promised, they can fix this. All of this. It’s going to be fine.

What he didn’t say (and no one knew at the time): It would take over fifteen months. Because the damage was much more severe than realized. Five months after the initial wreck, there was bone graft surgery. Several days of extreme swelling followed. On the liquid diet, lost quite a bit of weight. Retreating for months into my cave, inevitably gained it back, plus a chunk. Thanks in a big way to Miss Triche at PSU (where I assist, leading a handful of PE classes) and a supportive fitness challenge group (Way to go 503FC!), I’ve re-established my grove on a healthy track.

So here we are, one year and several surgeries later. I’m not finished with procedures, but through the thick of it. Things are improving… Better in so many ways, it’s hard to count. I’m not going to break it down here – those details are for my book. What I can say is, it’s been tremendously beneficial to write about. Cocoon Mode has gone on long enough, I’m through hiding out.

I know now more than ever, “Time is a valuable thing, once you learn how to spend it.” No doubt!

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