Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bike accident: the importance of helmets and checking your bike

"Until you have your first accident, you aren't a true cyclist."

I can't remember who told me this, but I guess I can now say I am a true cyclist (well, triathlete).

Tuesday night, I drove Alex and Justin to their triathlon practice as per summer routine.  Even though I had just completed my run workout (with my sweet fuel belt, see pic), I knew the team had an easier ride today with a big race coming up this weekend, so figured I could ride with them to loosen up my legs a bit (and get some extra outdoor riding experience in as well).

Let's just say I'm lucky I didn't damage my legs.

How my workout on Tuesday began: starting to run with my fuel belt to prep for Kona.  Never would have predicted my day would end in the hospital.

We rode in Fermilab for anyone familiar with biking in the area.  We made a quick bathroom stop, in which I first started to notice the ride-ending problem.  My right brake (the one that you would normally hit to slow yourself down while biking) wasn't working very well.  By the time I thought about options (turning around and not riding, or fixing it), the group was back and starting to roll out.

The next stop sign we approached, we rolled slowly through, so I figured my brakes were fine and it was just a fluke.  The next stop sign would be my last.

I always ride in the back of the group when I ride with the team as to not disrupt their workout and to be the sag "vehicle" in case anyone falls off.  From what I remember, we approached the stop sign and I must have realized my right hand brake wasn't working so hit my left one.  The left one slams on the brakes a lot harder and I am guessing I just wasn't ready.

The only reason I know that I for sure flipped over my handlebars was because of how sore my shoulders are today.  Because I was bringing up the rear, no one actually saw me flip.  I don't remember a lot of the night.

-I know I was taken by Kerri Izzo to the hospital (can't thank you enough) and taken care of by her and John until my mom and sister-in-law arrived.
-I remember being upset that my Garmin wristwatch (wedding gift from Ryan) was scratched
-I remember being asked how long into the ride this happened and repeatedly telling people, "11minutes in, look at my Garmin!"
-I remember pulling part of my tooth out of my lip in her car...don't know where it is.
-I remember looking at myself in the mirror of her car and crying, "Oh my gosh, my tooth is chipped, my parents spent thousands of dollars on dental work, they're gonna kill me.  And my cheek? Oh my gosh, they spent hundreds on dermatology, they're gonna be so upset." (side note: they weren't at all)
-I remember getting mad at the receptionist for not listening to me when I told her my Driver's License last name wasn't the same as my Insurance Card last name (I had to tell her like five times)
-I remember not being able to get a hold of my parents as they were at their Tuesday night Main Beach runs.  I called anyone who might be there with them to no avail.
-I remember not knowing where exactly Ryan was, but remembering he was out of town somewhere.

I am sure time went by SUPER slowly for everyone around me, but I felt time was going by SO quickly. Once my mom arrived, I burst into tears again and just kept apologizing.

I was taken in for a CT scan and was very concerned about getting my earrings (from Ryan) back. It's funny what you value when you aren't fully "there." I got an X-ray of my shoulder to rule out any breaks.

Injuries:
-concussion
-left cheek cut, eye swelling
-5 or 8 sutures in left side of chin
-chipped teeth (2) on left side
-puffy lip
-cut up left shoulder
-cut up left elbow
-road rash surrounding left elbow and left shoulder
-sore shoulders from flipping

I probably sound crazy saying this, but I went to school (summer school) to teach on Wednesday.  My mom was so incredible and drove me to and from work.  All of the staff (my co-teacher, the summer school administrators and school nurse) were wonderful and told me to call them for anything--it truly reminds me how blessed I am to be teaching where I am.

One of my students rides his bike to school, without a helmet.  I spoke to all of the students (someone had to address the "elephant in the room") about the importance of wearing a helmet.  I pointed to my face and told them, "This happened while I was wearing a helmet. Notice where my helmet goes...do you see any scratches?  No.  Do you see why you should wear a helmet, no matter how dorky it seems?"  My specific student just looked down, ashamed of himself.  I talked to him and he feels bad for me and "gets" why he should wear a helmet.


Overall, I definitely have to say I was BLESSED.  No, no one ever wants to crash and no one would wish that upon anyone.  BUT, if I had to experience a crash, I was lucky to experience it in this way. I had wonderful, caring people around me to help me out.  I did not get a single scratch on my bike.  I only slightly scratched my Garmin and helmet.  And the best part?  I can use this as a lesson for my fellow triathletes (even my students!) and NOTHING on/in my legs got hurt:)

I decided to blog about this to for a few reasons.  First, I have a family wedding on Saturday and want to forewarn my family of how lovely I look.  Second, and most important, I feel like my crash can remind everyone of the importance of a few things.

1. Obviously, wear a freaking helmet.  I don't care how "uncool" it is: if you are alive after an unpredicted bike accident, that's pretty cool, right?

2. Don't overdo things. I didn't have a scheduled ride on Tuesday, but wanted to ride with the team to "get the junk out of my legs" after my run workout.  I figured extra practice couldn't hurt.  If I wasn't such an overachiever, I wouldn't be nursing my face right now.

3. ALWAYS check EVERYTHING on your bike before riding it.  I'm not sure if my bike was damaged via traveling (most likely the case) or because of a manufacturer defect (also a try possibility). My dad looked at my bike the day after and tried spinning it and noticed right away that my right brake does not engage at all.  Had I done that before riding, this all would have been avoided.  Lesson learned.

4. Focus on the positive.  Yes, I look like a monster right now.  Yes, I chipped a tooth after my parents shelled out thousands of $$ for braces.  BUT my legs, which have given me incredible things this year, are completely scratch free.  I have a few scrapes that will heal.  I only had a concussion and NO brain damage.  Things could have been SO much worse.

5.  Use bad experiences as life lessons.  If this can teach my students that wearing a helmet isn't "lame" and can really prevent injury, I will be a happy girl.  If this can remind my fellow triathletes to always check their bikes before riding, I will be a happy girl.  

This was a horrible experience that I would never wish upon my worst enemy, but I have to stay positive.  As much as I want to cry, I need to be brave and focus on the positives.  I won't lie, I feel like I've wanted to cry a million times since this happened.  It's hard not to feel sorry for yourself when something bad happens to you.  But if you can focus on the GOOD things you have going on (and there is ALWAYS something good going on in your life--you're alive!!!!), the healing process will come along much faster and smoother.  I get my sutures out on Monday and am ready to make the most of my training as I truly believe in utilizing the talents God gave you to the best of your ability.

Thank you for all of the well wishes.  And don't worry... I'll be back soon:)

***Pictures to come are a little graphic.  I put them here at the end for those who dislike blood/pain.

 The aftermath.
 Check out that lovely chipped tooth.
 Ouch.
 My incredible husband drove home from Indy to see me at the hospital and drove back less than 12 hours later.  Somehow he managed to write me the most incredible note ever and get me food I could eat (not pictured: ice cream in freezer) since my lips were poofy and jaw hard to move.
 Day 2. Slight improvement.
Fixed tooth!!!! Thanks to the best in the biz!

5 comments:

Mark Trinidad said...

ouch... well thank god that you have no broken bones and bicycle accident is not that severe.. I'm into biking too but in a different terrain I prefer downhill hehe.. and I'm riding at my own pace.

Robert Smith said...
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Robert Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard Kurtz said...

You'll recover, I'm sure. Wounds will heal, muscles will mend. That is quite an episode you got caught up in. Don't carry all the burden, though. People shouldn't have to be wary of their pursuits of happiness.

Howard Kurtz @ Kurtz And Blum

Cheryl Bush said...

Congratulations for being a certified cyclist, Jacqui. Having an active lifestyle includes getting hurt and wounded. What’s important is that you’ve learned something out of the accident. It’s been a while now and I hope you’ve fully recovered. Should you face another accident in the future, I hope you have legal backings, if deemed necessary. :)

Cheryl Bush