Posted by: Miriam | 03/11/2010

Baby Steps

Literally. Last week I got clearance to put 50% of my weight on the ankle. If that went well (and I’ll be damned if I was going to admit if it didn’t unless I was in severe pain) then this week I’m cleared to put 100% on my ankle. I still have the super sexy Das Boot accessory (and will until December 2nd).

BUT I CAN WALK! Slowly with a very zombie-esque shuffle, BUT I CAN WALK! Hell YES!

I can’t go far without my crutches yet, so the grocery store shuffle is still a crutch, but with weight-bearing. I can easily hobble around the house, which means not only I can make dinner or breakfast or coffee but I can carry it around the house too. Walking and carrying things is a luxury that most people don’t ever think about. This also means I have full clearance to swim and PT starts soon too. This will help me start to build muscle mass which means I’ll be able to get back on the bike faster. I’m glad I’m a cyclist and not a runner, due to the low impact activity of the riding vs the pounding my ankles take when I run.

So small steps, hobbling around the house and eventually to the store and the gym and then to infinity and beyond. I am stoked.

Posted by: Miriam | 26/10/2010

Post e^3.141 About My Ankle

So tomorrow is a big day. One for the history books. I get to put weight on my ankle for the first time since September 14th. Today is the 6 week anniversary of me breaking myself. Last week I finally got my cast off and stitches out. First thing I did was shower and scrub the hell out of my leg. Five weeks of non-washing and non-shaving surprisingly (or maybe not really) left my leg hairy and scaly. As well as scrawny and weak.

I don’t know how many of you have been casted before, but it is surprising how sensitive skin becomes when it has not been washed or used or even touched in weeks. Normally I’m very ticklish on the soles of my feet. My right foot is so sensitive that I can barely wash the bottom of my foot it is so overly sensitive. I had to shave with the hair (hey at least I could shave). My skin is getting less sensitive as time goes on, but it is still much more hyper sensitive than the rest of my skin.

Ok so I cheated. I put weight on my ankle like 12 hours early. Dont tell Dr. Lawton. I’m bored. I’m fidgety. And I am tired of sitting around waiting to heal. I want to do things, like walk and run and hop and ride. So yea I think I’ll push it just a little. A few hours. I start PT in a few weeks, but I need to work on my range of motion first off, so I flex and move and twist. I am drawing the alphabet with my toes. And working on gaining any sort of muscle mass I can before PT.

Oh and because pictures are worth a thousand words (or so they say) here you go:

And I give you my newest accessory.


Tibia side w/ 5 week old bruising.

Fibula side: Plate and 8 screws!

Maybe the best "signature" on my cast...

Posted by: Miriam | 25/10/2010

Accessibility, Schmessability

Yea yea yea, we have all heard about the ADA. Thats why we have handicapped stalls in bathrooms, automatic doors, curbs that wheelchairs can get up, beeping cross walk signals, TTY numbers, and the plethora of other adaptations in the public realm for the alternately abled. You would think 20 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed there would be hardly any issues left to kvetch about, right? No. Wrong. Try again.

So, as all the good readers of this blog know, I’ve been on crutches for 5 weeks  now. I’ll be on them for 2 more weeks, for a sum total of almost 2 months worth of crutching about town. I have noticed it is DAMN difficult to get around some times (aside from my inability to drive/ride/or even walk anywhere). So around my house is ok, I’m used to it, and I know private homes are not required to be ADA compliant. That being said, many businesses and public spaces are so not compliant.

I really started to notice when I went to Denver and Estes Park last week to visit friends and go to a conference, respectively. On the way we stopped at several gas stations for potty breaks (hey, it’s a 7 hour drive!). Not one of them was easily accessible to me on crutches. One bathroom, had a nice wide door and even the metal bars to help on the up and down part, but the door lock was just about eye level on me. I’m not-quite 5’5″, I’m pretty sure a wheelchair bound person would be hosed, or at least probably walked in on. The same gas station had a narrow sidewalk, and double doors. No biggie, right? You step up side-walk, open door one, and then open door two. Now try that when you can’t use your hands. Step up side-walk to first double door, push open, prop open with crutch (this requires swiftness in the crutching movement and some balance so when the door hits the crutch it doesn’t push you over), hobble through, repeat. Although this works, I am not a huge fan of having to use my crutch to prop open doors, its awkward and if the doors are heavy it is potentially ass over tea kettle dangerous.

Fast forward to Sunday, and sweet (yea, 13th row end zone tickets will make you jealous – THANKS MIKE!) seats at a Broncos game. Ok so the stadium is going to be ADA, it’s a new building. However the bus from Longmont to Denver, not so much. No ramp, no kneeling. Big 18″ stairs that are narrow and metal. I made Alicia carry my crutches up the stairs and Andrew stand behind me and I hopped up and down the stairs. I guess it’s a good thing that I am pretty athletic or I might not have been able to get up them (down is easy – hello gravity). Next up, the 1/4 mile circumnavigation around Invesco Field. So we get dropped off near the south end zone and our seats are the north end. There are stairs, and ramps. I choose ramps. It may be a little longer but it’s significantly easier and I don’t feel like I might topple backwards at any given moment. Luckily its pretty early and 8 gazillion people who normally fill the stadium are not quite there yet. The game was fun. Football takes forever, but I had fun. Getting back to the bus was another challenge though. So when a game ends, EVERYBODY leaves. Those previously mentioned 8 gazillion people are now all trying to get to the parking lot too. Crutches take up much more than the normal bubble. I dislike people kicking my crutches as I am trying to move through the crowd. Which happened quite frequently. Funny, it is hard to remain stable when 1/2 half of the weight-bearing gets moved out from under you.

So my conference was in Estes Park at the YMCA of the Rockies. Some of the buildings are older so ok, they may not be ADA accessible. But seriously, 3 flights of stairs is too damn much. There has been a decent amount of  renovation in the last few years there, but a lot of the new stuff is not up to code. The new sidewalks are so not wheelchair compliant. The automatic door openers do not open the doors (though they make a nice whirring sound). So in the main building we were in, they put in an elevator (sweet,  you would think). But they put in a door between the building  and the addition with the elevator, which does not have an auto door opener, and they kept the doors locked at all times. Of course I had to discover this the hard way. I had to walk around the building in the snow on a slippery wood deck.

This weekend really opened my eyes to how much I take for granted with my mobility. I’ve noticed on crutches for sure, but mostly its been doors and side walks and not almost insurmountable issues like 2 flights of stairs to get into a hotel room (because there were no handicapped accessible rooms in the entire building). So next time you take locking doors or washing your hands or hearing on the phone, think about the millions that cannot.

Posted by: Miriam | 14/10/2010

Go Fast, Turn Left

Well its been exactly one month since I had to go and break myself. One long, emotional, at times turbulent, bored month. What have I been doing with my time you may ask (which is quite a legitimate question, really). Sometimes I wonder myself. Aside from applying to every job that seems reasonable and a decent match, I am working on a local project to bring a velodrome to Durango. Bring might be the wrong choice of words, create is probably better (full-sized velodromes are less than portable).

The Dryside Velodrome is located out near Hesperus in one of our local cycling movers-and-shakers front yard. Right now we are in the construction phase and are planning a work party on October 23rd (next Saturday, kids). We are also working on fundraising to purchase surfacing materials. A dirt velodrome would be cool, but we want to turn left on track bikes, not just cyclocross or mountain bikes. Take a look at the sweet video that Missy Erickson put together:

Many of you probably don’t know but my very first racing experiences were on the Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland, Oregon. I was sick with a bronchial infection my first race, and I sucked it up big time. But you know what, I had a damn blast. For those of you who do ride track, its easy to remember the first time you rode up the wall. Everybody has a story of being scared but loving it at the same time. For me, it was a chilly August morning at around 6am. The Portland State Cycling team was borrowing track bikes and we didn’t have enough, so I had to wait to ride. I saw people go up and I looked at the wall, and looked at the near vertical surface and thought “Oh hell no!” But I was already there, I had made a crap load of coffee and I was out of bed; I might as well try it.

We played follow the leader for a while around the apron (the flat part that abuts the wall). As we got more speed, we started to go up on to the straight aways but popping back down before we hit the corners. Small aside: Alpenrose is one of the steeper and more compact velodromes in the country so riding it can be daunting. Finally when we had enough speed we followed our leader up and into the Sprinters Lane and around the track a few times. Aside from having a death grip on the bars, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on a bike. The centripetal force pulling me down in the corners and flinging me out on to the straights felt like a rollercoaster. A roller coaster I was powering. I didn’t race much on the track until the following summer when I bought a track bike (which is still hands down my favorite bike to ride). I started going to races and getting faster. I even won a silver medal at the Women’s Category 4 State Championships Points Race in 2006. In 2007 I moved from Portland, and the 30 minutes w/ traffic commute to Alpenrose now took 2+ hours, thus effectively ending my track career. But I’ve missed it. And I want to do it again. So I’m working on it from the ground (literally) up with a few other ridiculously committed (some might say insane or crazy) Durangoans.

Posted by: Miriam | 14/10/2010

Everybody Crutch Now

So I needed a few groceries (of course I didn’t write it down, so I promptly got distracted and forgot a few things). I live four blocks from the grocery store. 4. Seriously. Normally I usually walk there, its nice to use my legs for something other than turning pedals over, and I can carry a bit more on foot than via my über hipster-mobile (Sekai NJS track frame with Chris King components and no brakes). However, said walking activities have been severely curtailed since I broke my ankle 4 weeks ago.

Feeling on beyond bored and lazy I decided to make a grocery run. Well, a grocery crutch, to be exact. So instead of doing the 8 blocks round trip, I figured I’d hop a ride and give the shorter 4 blocks the ol college try. How do you grocery shop? You carry a basket or push a cart – using your hands. Well mine are occupied with crutches at the moment, so I had to rely on picking out my items, and then shoving them in my backpack – hoping that the staff didn’t think I was stealing. I get my groceries, I and I go to the self checkout. I unload the backpack and then set the empty bag in the bagging area. Apparently the weight of a small pack is too heavy, the machine flips out and I can’t even tell it that “I’m using my own bag”. So I have to scan everything and then rebag it into my pack.

I point the crutches to the second star to the right (no, that’s Peter Pan) I decide to go home instead. I’ve got a good stride going. However my pack and slight hunched posture leads to my skirt and fleece riding up. Now my back is cold and I could join the sorority Sho Abita Thigh. Aside for the occasional readjustment so I don’t have a wardrobe malfunction I keep a brisk pace. My elbows are tucked in a nice aero position, head up, and a good firm grip so I can have a long swinging stride.

So there is a block long hill between my house. The hill isn’t too bad, but I was able to sled down it last winter and got some good speed. It’s not bad on a bike, but it is definitely a hill. So up I go, I’d like to get home. I keep my elbows tucked in, my head down to look for pine cones and other objects that may throw me off-balance. I get up to a good zone 2 heart rate, and keep it there at a nice steady clip and stayed as aero as much as possible. Crutchervals done.

This little gimp went crutch crutch crutch all the way home.

Tomorrow: Round trip crutchervals to pick up the couple of things I forgot/couldnt get in my bag.

Posted by: Miriam | 12/10/2010

An Addendum to My Boredom

So the count down is on. Eight days. Eight freaking days. And this bloody (not literally) cast comes off. After the cast is removed, I get some more pretty pictures of the insides of me, and if all of that is going well, then I get a walking boot, something akin to this sexy beast. I will probably be on crutches for a little bit after that so I don’t have to put my full weight on it just yet. Once I can get das boot, I can start swimming and physical therapy. I am really looking forward to this next step (pun intended). I need to be able to do something besides hobble around my house and make myself tea in the afternoons. My foot still turns purple when I am upright for too long. But it doesn’t throb these days. And is only really swollen when it is below my heart for hours on end. All these are good things, but there are still days I’ve been frustrated and as such I am attempting to perfect my crutch-turned-javelin throwing skills. Lately I’ve been lamenting the diminishing tan lines, a skinny leg, and the black hair (I’m Scottish – we’re a hairy people) I’m going to have to take a mower to when the cast comes off.

Remember when you were a kid and had braces? Remember you wanted nothing besides a nice crisp apple (no, not this Apple) and a caramel? And maybe your friends would stop teasing you about being a TV antenna and you wouldn’t worry about making out with the hot boy who also had braces (or maybe that was just me…). Well having a broken ankle is similar, there is a whole long list of things I want to do but cannot, and my friends tease me about being a gimp and such. So I’ve been creating a mental list of  things that I am excited to do when the bionicness of the Bionic Ankle 3000 comes to a realization. Walking on my own is probably #1 on the list. A close 2nd is taking a shower, a real live standing up shower, and scrubbing the hell out of my leg. It’s the simple shit, like carrying my food to the table, getting a glass of water, or really anything that involves standing up and holding something other than crutches.

This has been a long few too many weeks of forced rest. I could do maybe a week off of any physical activity, but it’s almost 4 weeks now and I am just about mentally done – one more little push and I’ll be over the dull part and on to the fun (er difficult and probably painful type of fun) parts. Some basics stats that I’ve compiled over the last few days:

Trips to the hospital: 5

Hours in the hospital: 7.5-8

Number of splints: 3

Number of casts: 2

Posted by: Miriam | 06/10/2010

Gold and Glimmer

Fall has always been a hard season for me. It always seems sad. The verdant voluptuous summer coming to a close as Persephone heads back to her winter home. Summer always holds a promise of growth and excitement. Summer is sparkley and free and full of great hopes. Maybe all of this is a hold over from the 19 years I spent in school (yes, I took my time in college) – where summer held endless opportunities dripping from the vine like ripe berries for the picking. Maybe it is the crisp breeze floating through my still open windows reminding me it is definitely fall in Southwest Colorado.

On the other hand, I tend to take stock and really reevaluate where I am at in the autumn. The who what where when and why of my life. This year especially since it is 1) transitional and 2) Im on the job hunt.

Who: I am happy with who I am. I don’t know if the confidence and happiness with who I am comes from being in my 30s now and being over the crazy-girl-in-her-20s bit (thank the gods) like I’ve just settled into who I am – maybe it was like playing dress up and the heels finally fit now. Maybe it has to do with the realization that I get to write the Miriam’s Choose Your Own Adventure book. Whatever combination it is, this solid confidence in myself (not the bravado of false confidence) is pretty damned awesome. I’m digging it.

Earlier this year I finally figured out what I want to do with my life. At 30 it finally came to me. I’ve always been interested in science, I love love love looking at the world through scientist eyes. I see the world in physics equations, and chemical formulas. Asking why is my nature (sorry Mom & Dad that must have sucked when I was a kid). But I also like people – I find humans to be legitimately interesting. It has always been a challenge to figure out to merge those 2 seemingly conflicting sides of my interests. I think I figured out, it may change. But I want to be where science and people meet. I revel in explaining the heavy science language to the average person, the Joe Plumbers if you will. So I think that checks off the What.

Where is always the biggest of the W questions for me. Right now the world is wide open. I literally could move anywhere – Laos, Nepal, Madagascar, Biloxi Mississippi, (all of those would suck for the cats – but they don’t predetermine where I can or cannot live). Do you know how daunting it is to think like that? The world  is huge compared to fly-weight me. Really, Id love to stay in Durango for a little while longer. Durango has been a great home for me from day one. I love the desert, I love the mountains. But who knows, Belarus may be calling.

Right now, is the answer. When being the question. Right. Goddamned. Now. It is my time and I am going to take it.

Why? I’m not on narcotics anymore, so I cannot explain away this post that easily. The extra blanket at night, the changing leaves I see through my windows, the cats being extra snuggly (they don’t actually like me, they just want me for my body heat), and too much time to think on my hands since breaking my ankle 3 weeks ago. All adds up to being a little introspective once and awhile. Plus I really do have too much time on my hands. And its my blog, so I get to espouse whatever bubbles to the surface.

Realistically though, goodbye summer and the marvelous potential you bring. At least if its cold and windy I wont lament my inability to be outside doing fun outdoorsy activities.

Posted by: Miriam | 03/10/2010

Part 3: Pulling Myself Together

I. Am. Fucking. Over. This.

I understand that I severely injured my ankle. I broke both my tib and fib. I had  pretty invasive surgery where metal parts connect my bones to one another. All of this will cause pain, suffering, and discomfort. I want nothing more than be healed and whole again. This is going to take time.

Fuck time. I want my life back. I want to walk. I want to carry things. I want to ride bikes. I want my sleep to be normal. I want to be me again.

I know I will get through this, the only other “option” is to not – which really isn’t much of an option. But for the next 5 weeks I am stuck in a cast, on crutches, and pretty much unable to do 90% of the activities I am accustomed to doing. Just going to the Farmers Market yesterday kicked my ass. No sleep, shooting pain in my bones every time I think about moving my foot.

The problem (well, one of many) with not sleeping is the feeling of everything spiraling out of control. Everything is amplified. Everything bad is really really bad. Go ahead and chuck any coping mechanism out the window when its dark and lonely. When the pain creeps in, when the Insomnia is rearing its ugly malformed head all I can do is stare back into its inky beady eyes. Some days I can tell it to go back to the deepest darkest depths of the hell which it grew from. Some nights it sneaks in, sulks in a corner and causes little hissy fits all through the night. But the absolute worst is when Insomnia brings Loneliness and Fear to party. These 3 are the most deadly of combinations. Insomnia likes to screw with your mind. Loneliness and Fear are the evil step sisters who taunt and tease and sing back up for Insomnia.

Last night the damned trio was present in full force. All the darkness and the childish fears and emotions I have bottled up over the last 3 weeks lubed by the oxycodone came out last night. After staring at the ceiling, and playing video games by 3 am I couldn’t handle it anymore – crazy was starting in.  I havent been taking any narcotics for a while, so the oxycodone took a while to kick in. Pain shooting up ones leg does not help when fighting Insomnia. After a few middle of the night messages to the people who have grated me those special privileges and the narcotics sinking in I told Insomnia to kiss my rapidly-shrinking-hairy leg. And I slept. I slept that heavy drugged sleep. It is not good sleep, nor was it long, but I refuse to dance this dance of sorrow and pity and helplessness for myself again. Though Fear and Loneliness still linger this afternoon, they will get bounced soon. I realize that the triumvirate may return, but fuck me if  it wont be without a battle.

Be forewarned, when you come back, I’ll be pulling  out the big guns of Friendship, Compassion, and Love (and maybe some narcotics if Pain decides to crash this party).

Posted by: Miriam | 01/10/2010

Part 2: Raise Your Hand if You are Bored!

Ohh here here! Me! Me! I’ll take an extra helping, please.

So 2.5 weeks post breaking my tibia and fibula, I’m casted, done with narcotics, and pretty much over the whole shebang. I had surgery last Thursday, everything went as expected. Bionic Ankle 3000 upgrade is now implemented. Its time for phase 2: Recovery and Mental Fortitude. If this part of  ankle breaking process doesn’t kill me, nothing will.

Pre Op: The Stoke is high or I'm already heavily drugged. Your guess is as good as mine.

A little recap: I had the ankle upgrade last Thursday. Surgery was fine, I don’t remember it, granted. I had a nerve block at the knee so I had no feeling from my knee down. It was supposed to last 8-10 hours. Twenty four hours later is when I started to feel it. And oh holy Moses did I feel it. If  you’ve never had a nerve block, then this will be hard to imagine. So take the worst dead leg you have ever had, and multiply it by like 1,000,000. And not be able to stomp your foot to help the nerves wake up. And make it last roughly 15 hours. Yea, so that obviously sucked. I had to call in the big gun pain meds: Hydromorphone aka Dilaudid. Which took the edge off enough for me not to cut my leg off with a rusty butter knife. I’m pretty sure Dr. Lawton would have been annoyed to see his handy work destroyed like that.

Its loud and matches nothing.

I got casted on Wednesday. Which has helped a lot. The cast is much smaller than the splint and I can move my foot a lot less. It’s also obnoxious-as-hell coloring. The circulation is getting better. I can be vertical for about 10 minutes now without my blood pounding in my ankle. Which means I can make myself coffee (goddamn this is wonderful!), or scramble an egg. In the splint my toes  were pointed towards the ground, not quite like a ballerina, but definitely not at a rightish angle to the rest of my leg. So before it could be casted I had to bring it to a right angle. Not the most pleasant way to start the day. I wouldn’t say it was specifically painful, but more difficult than anything else. But I don’t have a splint hitting me in the back of the knee, if I bump it accidentally my eyes don’t cross quite as far.

So now I’m slightly (emphasis here) more mobile and narcotic free. And bored. Time has little meaning. Though I do try to get up, make coffee/tea, and to at least have dinner at a normalish hour. Insomnia hasn’t exactly helped with the trying to keep a normal schedule. I want to sleep. I want to sleep more than 2 hours at a time. And if it’s not too much to ask, I want to do it at night, not at 11am.

I while away the hours on the internets, searching for jobs, obsessively checking FaceBook and Twitter (hey you never know when something interesting will come across the tubes). I’ve started my job search again (writing cover letters on narcotics just didn’t seem like a good idea). Also I’ve been able to start reading books (not just Cosmo type crap) again since I have some cognitive ability again. But this rediscovered cognitive streak is a double-edged sword. I am alert and with it, but its much easier to be on rest when you are stoned and don’t care that you are bored.

Things I have discovered this week:

  • My mail carrier is highly erratic.
  • The cats sleep close to 22 hours a day
  • Friends and family tend to send junk food or sugary treats for injuries. This is the last thing I need – I AM SITTING ON MY ASS ALL DAY. But thanks for them, they are tasty.
  • I used to like baths, now I detest the ordeal and the length of time they take
  • Eyebrows are hard to pluck on while on crutches
  • My toes are REALLY long
  • I know the drs and nurses and people don’t if I shave. I still care.
  • It’s a good thing I live in Durango because using a backpack as a purse is more acceptable than maybe anywhere else.
  • It better not get cold soon, or I’ll resort to having to wear leggings and a skirt since I have no pants that will fit over my cast. This idea terrifies me.

So I’m here, I’ll be here for a while. 3 weeks to be exact, until I can walk again. But for now, I have to go take a bath, and get ready for dinner. So at least I have 2 hours of something to do that isnt sitting on my bed using electronics.

Posted by: Miriam | 28/09/2010

Trials of the Tibia and Fibula, part 1

So 2 weeks ago, I was teaching little kids how to mountain bike. I loved this job, 8 year olds on bikes are fearless and hilarious. They bounce off of things (like trees and curbs and each other) with nary a scrape or a complaint. It is the 3rd week of bike camp and we finally get to hit up some trails. This is exciting. My co-coaches Bean, Ivan, Rob and I split up again and Rob and I get the same kids as we had last week. The Pterodactyls. We rock. The slightly more ‘mature’ kids think that I’m a goober when I ask them to make pterodactyl noises and then I proceed to make some resounding caw-caw noises as we head up the trail. At least they think I’m funny (I like to think I am, so its good to have that confirmation from children).

I’m the back, where I usually am. Rob takes the ballsy kids up front and I get to work on the mental fortitude, self-esteem, and self-confidence of the slower kids. These are the kids I like to hang out with. I like to see them grow and blossom. I like high fives and fist bumps and I love it when they accomplish something they didn’t think they could. It’s this look of surprise, and then a smile, and then a bit of pride, and sometimes they want to do it again (and I get to tell them, yes, you can do that 10 more times if you want!). They get affirmation from an adult who isn’t a parent or a teacher, someone who is more of a mentor, a grown up with whom they get to hang out and do fun stuff. These are my kids. Why? because I was them once upon a time.

God, I love my job.

A few things to remember, when you are three and a half feet tall: little obstacles look big, your legs are short, and bikes have 24″ wheels. So we go slow. I have never considered myself particularity fast when I ride. But, oh wow, its slow going sometimes especially uphill (which is the only part of mountain biking I occasionally consider myself skilled at – granted I’m a  Cat 2 who would have been forced upgraded to a Cat 1 status if I had raced anymore in 2009, state champion, and I ride with my pro friends – I just don’t think of myself as fast, in reality I’m not slow either).

So here we are. Going slow around a couple of innocuous corners. Like walking speed – walking speed when you’re 8. I remember thinking as I fell, I should have walked. But by mid fall, it’s a little too late for those realizations. I tried to unclip my left foot, my upslope foot. Nada. I started leaning into the corner, down slope. I unclip with my right foot to catch myself. That is about where I stop really remembering – it all happened so damn fast. I must have taken a big step, landed off kilter on a rock and folded my ankle under me. I have a tire bruise on the back of my left calf and a major top tube or saddle bruise on the inside of my right thigh. The bike ended up drive train side down, but I was standing on my left foot facing the bike, slightly dangly right foot in the air, all Kung Fu crane pose like. Then I sat down.

I cussed a blue streak. A drunken sailor would have blushed. Luckily the kids had kept going and either didn’t hear or care. Sorry Moms and Dads if your son/daughter came home with an expanded vocabulary. I moved my toes, wiggled my foot, and the extra ankle lump on the inside of my ankle went away. But it kind of crunched a wee bit. If I could have seen myself, I’m sure my eyes went wide and I probably lost a little color too. Now comes the sitting down part. I can’t put my foot a certain angles, it feels loose. I sit with the outside of my foot flush against the ground, slightly up slope from me. Let me step back a bit, I do not like my joints feeling loose. This is an unnatural feeling and should be avoided. When it does feel loose this seems to be a bad sign.

I try to collect myself. I’m alone in the woods (the kids and other coach were ahead of me remember) – and have seen 219 too many bad horror movies that start off this way. I pull out the first aid kit I have. Great, camo or Dora band-aids, antiseptic, and horse wrap. Ok, I tell myself. I could be here for a little bit, someone will notice that I am missing and back track for me. I just need to wait. I eat a bar and drink a bunch of water, I’ve had trauma and want to try to avoid shock. Also I am annoyed/pissed/kicking myself for having to leave my phone at home due to the lack of juice. Le sigh.

As I’m sitting there wiggling my foot and toes (to make sure they still work) I hear someone coming up the trail! Yippee, a person! Major let down, some dude who I’ve never seen before (he’s not even from here!). He asks me if I am ok, I reply yes but I can’t put any weight on my ankle. Mr OutdoorsyPants asserts that we need to make a splint, and starts pawing through his bag for supplies. He also has no telecommunication device, not that it would matter, he doesn’t know anybody here or know where he’s at. So from his bag of wonders, he pulls out 2 tubes, still in boxes (now those of you who ride a lot will instantly wonder why the hell the tubes are still in boxes, I too had the same thought). He proclaims we could make a splint with those and the horse wrap. Seriously. My first thought is ‘get the hell away from me, you are going to make things worse’. I don’t say this, but pretty much flat-out tell him that this idea will not work. Just then my good friend Bean rolls up with the other kids and other co-coach Ivan. Then Coach Rob flies down the hill. Bean gives me her cell, Rob and Bean take the rest of the kids up the hill, Ivan stays with me and Tube-Box-Dude takes off shortly.

By now my toes are getting tingly. I gingerly loosen my Sidi cycling shoes. Ah, sweet sweet relief. Ivan and I assess the situation, and there is nothing we can really do, besides call 911. Oh schisse. I. Am. Screwed. For the cost of this, these better be the hottest EMTs ever. With the help of a parent (the mother of my favorite girl too :/ ) the EMTs make their way to me. All 8 of them. Yes, 8. Apparently it was a slow day, and the call of a young female mountain biker in distress must have been more interesting than Parcheesi.

These guys are hilarious. Goofy, cracking jokes, teasing me, and generally having fun. Dont get me wrong, they were professional, but I was amused (of course you should know by now I’m 1) easily amused and 2)have some adrenaline pumping through my veins). They took my vitals, my medical history, grandmothers’ middle names, favorite 80s hair band, allergies, favorite color, and any other piece of info that could be useful. During this, one EMT is putting in an IV and port (all the better to dose me up with drugs). They give me a small amount of some amazing barbiturate, I am instantly drunk. They then proceed to try to take my shoe off. But my Sidis have a tri function buckle. For the unschooled, it is confusing; not a one of these 8 guys knows how to work them. So they say something  to the effect of ‘we might have to cut your shoe off’. My pseudo drunk self instantly snaps to. NOOOO (think slow motion movie scene yelling). Unless someone is going to buy me $180 pair of shoes, step off. I get the buckle undone for them, and the shoe comes off. Now its starting to throb and swell. We cannot save the sock, well that much suffering just isn’t worth $6.50. Now I’m splinted and drugged but still on the trail. They could have carried me on a back board (come one now, I don’t weight THAT much, quit rolling your eyes). But we have better technology than that – a mono wheeled gurney, with disc brakes and knobby tire to boot. So they strap me to this pad that stabilizes you when the air is removed (much like a camping pad). Then they strap me to the mountain gurney. Right now, there are like 8 straps holding me down. I’m really hoping  they don’t drop me, I am entirely incapable of catching myself. Of course I tell them this. I get some sort of snarky smart ass response that they already did that this week, so I should be good. (Please note, my memory is a bit fuzzy from about here on out as I’ve got a decent amount of drugs pumping through me, and it only goes up from here).

Ok down to the trail head, where Ivan takes glamor shots with his phone. I have Bean’s phone and am trying to get someone to meet me at the hospital with my phone (Bean said shed meet me there post-bike camp), but I want my phone and a friend there before that if possible. I get transferred into a normal ambulance style gurney put into one of the 2 (mind you there was a fire truck too!) ambulances on scene. We shove off to the hospital. One of the lights in town was out so it took maybe 2x as long as it should have to get there. I lay in the back shooting the shit with paramedic Justin. He’s funny, we’re making jokes. I’m still high so I don’t remember too much and my sense of time is destroyed. There was a severe lack of sirens and or lights when we arrived, so I said they weren’t getting a tip. That got a good belly laugh from the driver and Justin.

So now I’m in the ER, they do all the vitals, I get a remote to run the TV, some stronger drugs which make me all emotional. Now we wait. It doesn’t take long for the x-ray tech to show up, we take some pretty pretty pics  of my ankle. He shows me the fractures. Not one, but 2. That is right, dear readers, when I do something, there is no halfassing it. Go big or go home. I went big. I have a bimalleolar fracture. In normal people terms: I broke the tibia and the fibula. So I’m not allowed to eat or drink, they don’t think I’ll need surgery right away, but you never know. By the time Bean rolls in, I’m bonking. Low blood sugar, trauma, and a nice cocktail of drugs have me a little whacked out. I get a script for Percocet, a few pills to get me through the night, a shiny set of crutches, and an appointment with Dr. Lawton the next morning and I finally get to go home, almost 3 hours after getting to the ER. I am in bad shape, I’m hot (though still in spandex), I’m clammy. I’m pretty sure my speech is slurred. I just want to pass out – but I havent really eaten in close to 9 hours now (except for the bar on the trail – but I think I burned those 190 calories already). Bean has to help me in the house, flailing crutches and all. She waits until the next shift arrives to make me dinner. Cody comes over, makes me food (and makes me eat 2nds). Shortly my brain starts to work again. It’s finally sinking in, I really broke my ankle, this hurt, sucks and I’m not sure what to do, since teaching mtn bike camp was my source of income. And now I have to call my parents.

So when shit happens, I call Dad. He usually is better at breaking the news to Mom. But no, Mom over hears the conversation shes asking concerned-mother type questions in the background, Dad is firing off questions; this is not how it is supposed to work. Eventually it is communicated that I am ok, I am broken, I am home, and I am going the hell to bed.

First I have to break down in tears, you know because I am a girl, and I have yet to cry. Queue waterworks. Cody hugs me, lets me cry it out. I don’t have to tell him why, its pretty obvious. Finally with a hearty dose of Percocet I fall into the first of many nights of drugged slumber.

I want to publicly thank everyone for their help and generosity that day and the ensuing weeks. Without my friends here in Durango, my life would have been a trillion times harder.

Ivan – Thanks for staying with me and keeping me talking at the trail. I’ll only drink Steaming Bean coffee from now on.

Justin the Paramedic – you are hilarious, kind, and exceptional at what you do.  Thanks for hanging out in the back of the ambulance with me.

All the other paramedics – I hope you are that silly and fun with other patients, humor is disarming and helps take the mind off the pain.

Sarah Tescher of DEVO – Thank you for calling to make sure I was ok, and thank you SO much for not contesting any of the workers comp claims. Any volunteer work you need, put me at the top of your list.

Bean – You rock. You brought me clean underwear, shoes, and even jammies to the hospital because I might have needed to spend the night. You kept me from eating shit getting home, you gave me coco crispies to get my blood sugar back to normal. And you took pictures of me pre-op, didnt puke when they shoved an 8″ needle in me. Plus you brought Agnes back home. You are awesome.

Cody – You have made me so many meals. You check on me constantly. You hold my hand when I need it and you let me cry. Thank you.

Slim Shady – You picked me up post surgery, got me food, drugs, ginger ale, and basically were the best replacement mom I could ask for that day. Plus you brought me chocolate and wine while I was on pain killers – party at my house.

Paul – for letting me call you and bother you at work when I was having a bad moment (or 15) and for sending me a lifetime supply of arnica.

Chris – Thanks for the many days of Tom Yum soup and amusing stories over a picnic lunch on my bed. And thanks for the quick action in getting me stronger drugs when the pain was intolerable.

All my other friends who called, brought me food, picked me up, shuttled me around, and just made sure I was hanging in there. Thank you.

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