Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Bump in the Road

I am going to climb 14ers again. I am going to run, swim, and yes, I am going to bike. But today, my endeavors look more like this:
1) Walk 1/2 hour (more of a shuffle)
2) Have doctor's appointment. He tells me I can get rid of both the knee brace and the back brace - as pain dictates.
3) Walk another 1/2 hour on the trail trying to retrain my left leg to bend.
4) Read or visit until it's time to nap again.

Sleep overtakes me these days. I understand that word really well since the accident. I don't have a naptime or a bedtime - they have me.

I am surprisingly OK with it. It feels right - it feels like my body is healing. Given the situation, I know that the more I rest, the quicker I'll heal. I have two fractures and one ligament tear, sundry bruises, and road rash. I know I can take the time I need. School has been awesome, family & friends supportive, and Sweet Sister, the only one out here in Colorado - has been a super-Sherpa. I can count on her.

From the moment I took her hand in the ER and continued to squeeze it, and she let me. I just couldn't breathe normally. I was too scared. The impact of the car and the coulda-beens until I dragged myself to the safety of the median played over in my mind. And wreaked havoc with my breathing.

I hated it. I hated the fact that I'd been hit. I hated the pain. I loathed having to miss school. I didn't want to worry Sweet Sister and everyone else. I instructed the man who called to "tell her I'm OK!" but I have never been as happy, relieved, safe, as when I saw her walk into that ER and let me clench her hand.

My bike. My beautiful, custom-built, fits-like-a-dream tri-bike. Is done. I can't have it at my house yet. The bike clothes - the ones they cut from my body - are stashed in a room. I'm not sure what to do with them. I can't get rid of them just yet, but neither do I seek their raggedy, streaked company.

I want to ride again.

That first night at the hospital, still in my bike shirt and sports bra with a hospital gown over it, Sweet Sister washed my face. She washed away the tears of the day, the grime from the accident - and the happy sweat that was underneath that.

It had been a happy ride. I left my house at 5:30 AM, lit up like a Christmas tree - I thought - and was out in the morning air. I never know whether I love the morning ride or the evening ride more. I could write soliloquies to both. This was my first ride to school from my new house, though I'd ridden the route home the three preceding afternoons. I wound my way through the state park, guided by my headlamp - and my ears.

Sometimes these dark rides are like playing hide-and-seek with an opponent who can't resist occasionally whistling out to you, whose playfulness eeks out in the gurgling sound of a stream that tells you definitively that you did just miss your turn from the park road back onto the trail because you know you never crossed a stream during the daylight rides. There were so few other people in the park that morning - and we would never know each other were we to meet again - because we were just blurs of reflective gear, headlamps, and "mornins" to each other. I always love these morning riders, runners, and walkers. We are kindred souls.

Never 100% sure that I'd made it onto the right path until I exited the park, I was happy that morning on Canine Road. When I came to its grooved, under-construction pavement, I knew I was a mile from my next bike path, the last quarter of this 20 mile bike commute.

I was sweating and I was thinking and I was anticipating. I was looking forward to school where I'd be team teaching an 8th grade math class first thing. I'd written story problems to review for their test and I couldn't wait to see the students' reactions when they heard their names in my goofy little stories. I'd also written one about my age in relation to that of my niece whose birthday was the next day. Then after school, I was to head to Sweet Sister's house - stopping en route only to purchase her a bike pump from the bike shop - for dinner and a visit with some fellow Midwesterners. I would walk the dogs on the open space, eat her cooking, and talk and laugh a blue streak as we watched the vice presidential debate. I love living this close to my sister.

So when I lay there screaming on the median, I was screaming for a lot of things - pain, fear and shock, yes - but disappointment and loss too.

I'm not screaming anymore. I've accepted. My body has set the terms of this recovery and I will oblige. I am told that I am healing quickly - that I am fortunate to be young, healthy, and strong. I believe that. I feel that. And I trust my body. It has led me to Ironman, helped me crest four of these Colorado 14ers (52 to go!), and taken me on countless other treks. It always delivers me from a frenzied or worried or careworn state to one of peace and inner calm. I will accommodate this body. I will let it recover and then I will let it carry me ... onward, upward, and inward.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ima Climba...

Enroute to Pike's Peak (elev. 14,110 feet) on Sunday, September 14, 2008 at approximately 8:00 AM.