Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Big Break

The good thing about accidents: You don't plan on having them. When they happen, you either freak out and fight against the reality of the situation, or you look the sumbitch in the eye and say, "That sucked, but you are not going to stop me. Not now. Not ever."

While biking on the night of June 28th, 2017, my own accident unfolded suddenly and most unexpectedly. An unfamiliar course. A tight pack. Zipping hellafast down wet roads. Focusing on the tire in front of me and not the brightly labeled bump in the road. Traction disappeared. The bike is wobbling like an angry jackhammer. And there's a decision to make: bail, or slam into a railing. The idea of a "dead stop" with an unforgiving rail was the less appealing option.

So the plan was to go down on my right shoulder. Started to do that. Then hit another bump and my right hand shot out, reflexively. And things went the way things went from there.

Warning: If you are squeamish, please do not click through to the rest of the tale. There is no blood, but you might not like the x-rays of the result of the accident. Spoiler: It ends with plates and screws!

Surprisingly (and thankfully!) the break was painless and silent. Didn't feel it. Didn't hear it. When my brain down-regulated from crisis mode the only sign of any foul play was the vulgar angle of my right arm. "Well, that's broken." But it wasn't (contrary to rumors) sticking through the skin. Even slowly straightening the broken arm and sitting up didn't hurt. The sensation of bones grinding across one another was quite disturbing though. And extra caution was taken on my part to NOT move and NOT feel that particular horror again.

Time dilated. Everyone stopped to help. Jay scrambled behind me, helping cradle the arm. Brian later said my bike was still wrapped around my legs. He cleaned my face. My glasses to. Somebody called 911. Allen rescued wallet, phone, and keys (since it would be hours before this adventure ended.) And after some reasonably fast lapse of time, a lone fireman arrived to put on a field split, then the EMTs appeared to help me stand, give me my first gurney ride, and my first ambulance ride.

You can most assuredly imagine the rest but the short version is: Nurses cautiously cleaning off the debris. X-ray is not flattering. Dose of painkillers in the IV. Called Cindy once those iced my nerves. She & Liam come to comfort me. More meds while the ER doctor "stablilizes" my arm. Up to a private room to wait a near-sleepless night for surgery in the morning.

Surgery was oddly interesting. Ahead of time, at eight in the morning, the anesthesiologist prepped me for a nerve block and gave me another dose of propofol. THIS ONE knocked me for a loop. In the ER, their dose did not alter my cognition, we were carrying on a conversation and the pain was there, but numb, while the ER doctor was "stablizing" me. The anesthesiologist's dose effectively knocked me out and my wits only briefly resurfaced with him jamming a needle in my shoulder and asking me to try to wiggle my fingers. Went back under the cotton clouds of the meds and woke with the nurse wheeling me to the operating room.

Then the anesthesiologist angles his head into my field of vision.

"This is it," he says, putting a mask over my mouth.

"This is it?"

"Yes," he says, "this is it."

A brief sigh of surrender on my part. And then a crash of black waves that drag me under.

. . .

Reality returns, distorted and fuzzy without my glasses. Something is wrong with my lungs. Breathing is oddly difficult and NOBODY is in the room to help me.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Over and over and over.

. . .

In the middle of this odd, blind meditation, an unseen nurse shuffles behind the bed and starts wheeling me down slow gray hallways.

Breathe. Hallways. Breathe. Doors. Breathe. Elevators. Breathe. My lungs starting to work on their own.

"Here we are," she says. "Back in your room."

"My wife is here?"

"I'm here," says Cindy.

"I'm here, too" says My Mother.

"Mom! You're here? How'd you get here so soon?"

"It's three o'clock," she says, "We've been here for hours."

Seven hours since they took me to get prepped. Twenty two hours since the accident. Twenty seven hours since my last meal. After a quick bite to eat, an amazingly quick checkout, and a torrential rainstorm on the ride home, the deed is finally done.

The next day, the bruising and the recovery begins. (It's like a free purple tattoo from my elbow to my armpit!)

The bones never hurt. The incisions itch. The muscles and soft tissue in my arm and hand ache from the impact. But after two nights, there is no more need for painkillers. Just patience.

As far as planning goes, this is my plan: adapt, overcome, and continue to achieve my goals. There was an accident. It sucked. But it won't define me as a person. Just means there's more work needed, to rebuild IronNerd!

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