Monday, August 10, 2009

One year tomorrow....

Tomorrow marks a year elapsed since my crash and broken femur. I'm walking well now, thank you, and riding my bike as well as ever, meaning well enough but not super well. Everyone passes me these days, even when passing seems reckless or suicidal - approaching blind corners on busy bike paths, say.

My left middle and ring fingers have never shrunk back to pre-crash slimness. Tamar and I exchanged comittment rings; I wear mine on my right hand. Won't slide over my knuckle on the left.

I have good mobility in those fingers but not nearly what I had before. When I curl my fingers back into my palms, my middle finger cracks audibly, reminding me more than my leg does of that day.

My left leg, the one that was broken, looks like the right one now. I can't see the scars from the surgery and I never sense the presence of the titanium rod or screws in my femur. Weather changes do not announce themselves in my leg. Good as new, I'd say, or good as old-but-sound.

I'm spooked now by sand on the bike path, even sand of insufficient depth to cause a bike going straight to crash. Our paths here in Denver run alongside the South Platte River and along several creeks, so after a rain the water covers low-lying sections of the paths. When the water recedes it leaves gravel or sand or silt, making passage difficult for the fearful - like me.

We've had an extraordinarily rainy summer. It rains in the evenings typically, and the paths are dry by morning. But the sand remains. Most riders intrepidly blast through it. I can't do that yet.

I still owe a few hundred dollars on my medical bill - for the ambulance ride. I got help from the government and from the hospital with almost all of it, I'm delighted to say. Ruinous otherwise.

I'm enjoying my motorcycling despite a love/hate relationship with my Kawasaki, in many ways the worst executed bike I've ever owned. I enjoy my bicycling but I don't enjoy every ride. I feel sure I'll have to stop using bike paths on weekends until the weather turns cold, when many fair weather path-users return to their caskets in the darkened cellars of boarded-up Victorians.

What do I remember about my crash and the months of recovery? I remember an orderly, a black guy, offering to clean me up after one of my first forays out of bed and onto a toilet, an offer I hope never to have to accept. I remember my first shower on my own - able to climb into and back out of the tub.

I remember Tamar's visits and the good coffee she'd bring with her. I remember when she pushed me in my wheelchair to DazBog for coffee - how scared I was at the speed, how rough the ride up and down the access ramps and over the sidewalk joints. I remember how every person with a crutch or wheelchair or cane would say, hi, howya doin'?

I remember learning how to get around on crutches - first two, then one, and how mobile I was on them - eventually. I remember lying on my back and trying to lift my leg off my bed (even an inch) for my wonderful physical therapist.

I remember favors from friends, lifts here and there, taking me to coffee or picking up my bike at the firehouse where the EMTs took it after the crash. I remember the humankindness and efficiency of the Veteran's Administration Hospital here in Denver and at Denver Health Hospital where I spent eight unreal days beginning a year ago tomorrow.

Maybe I will, as Peace Nique suggests in his/her comment, ride out there to where I crashed and look the devil right in the goddamned eye - see if that sumbitch blinks....


Peace Nique said...

Just a thought, why not laugh at the devil and take a ride along that path tomorrow...

philcycles said...

Its funny that what we take away from these calamities isn't the pain and agony but the kindness of people along the way. It's remarkable that the professionals who deal with this stuff all the time can maintain the positive attitude that's so important to one's recovery.
I was smashed up quite badly in a car/motorcycle crash-I was on the motor-and what I remember isn't the pain but the cool and measured attitude of my orthopod, the physical therapist who wouldn't let me quit, and my wife who helped me through the long recovery. The pain is long gone and I got right back on the horse but I still remember the people who helped me.
Phil Brown