My tricked-out beach ride....and yes,
you've seen it before. It is the crashee bike.
Most of you have heard the story told, many times. You've even read Cliff's version on this blog before. If not, you can read about it (here). He's funny and can tell a story better than me. You'll laugh 'til you snort. Go ahead, I don't mind. But, I've had a few requests to hear my version. And since tomorrow, July 3rd, is the 3-year anniversary of said accident, I thought it would be a good time to tell it.
Warning: It's long. I'm so sorry. But, a lot happened. And you can only condense things so much. Hope you have the stamina. Some caffeine might help.
~~~~~ The Bike Wreck ~~~~~
It was an early, hot July morning. Cliff and I had gone to Murrells Inlet to join a group bike ride that left from the local bike shop. He was a regular. I was a rookie. It was only my third time out.
I'm not sure how many were in the group....I would say easily 20 to 30. The group was divided by ability. A group = Super Fast, B group = Really Fast and C Group = Beginners and those who just didn't feel the need for speed. I was definitely in the C Group....for both reasons.
The ride began and all was well. It was somewhat difficult to keep up, but I pedaled like it was my job. The group was great at teaching me the things I needed to know, to do group rides. Things like....clip on shoes/pedals would help me ride faster. Bike shorts with a padded seat would make the ride a little more comfortable. Wearing tops that wicked sweat instead of cotton shirts that held on to every living drop worked wonders. Calling out commands or alerts to traffic coming up behind us and even hand gestures when starting to turn.
We had ridden maybe 12 to 14 miles and Mary, one of the bike shop's owners, needed to turn back so that she could open the shop. So, I turned back with her. I had no clue where we were. I didn't know the route or the neighborhoods we were riding through, so I was completely dependent on Mary. We were slowing down as we approached a stop sign. I was on the right hand side of the road and Mary was on my left. Not knowing the area, I thought we were going to turn left. But instead, we needed to turn right. Here is where things went wrong. My bike continued to turn left and Mary's continued to turn right. My front tire barely touched her back tire and we went down. Mary fell...fast...and, so did I. I fell so fast that I couldn't catch myself....that and being inexperienced in proper dismounting procedures. I fell with my left arm outstretched. Y'all, it was like a bomb had exploded. I could see stars and stripes. I went down on my left elbow first and then onto the inside of my upper arm. I slid on rocks and then rolled back onto my head. Thank heavens I had on a helmet. Mary had already jumped up and ran over to me. She asked if I was ok.....but, I was hurting bad. I grabbed my arm at the elbow and held it close to my body. That was the only way I could get relief. I'm so glad Mary had her cell phone. She called 911 to dispatch an ambulance and then tried to call Cliff. He didn't recognize her number, so he didn't answer his phone. She then called her husband, Tim, who was riding near Cliff, to tell him that I had fallen. They would meet us at the hospital. After all the calls were made, Mary tried as hard as she could to comfort me. I knew she had to be hurting, too. But, bless her heart, she never said a word. So, we just waited. We waited and we waited.
As I laid on the road, in the fetal position, coddling my hurting arm, a very nice neighborhood lady, who saw what happened, brought out a blanket for me to lay my head on. She also volunteered to take our bikes back to the shop. Wonderful lady!
Still waiting for the ambulance, Mary was doing everything she could to make me comfortable and to keep my mind off the pain. I told her, "Dang Mary, I was planning to lay out on the beach today." We laughed. Then I told her, "I sure am glad I shaved my legs this morning." We laughed some more. We could hear a siren in the distance. It came close and then it stopped. What? Are they lost? So, we waited some more. It must have been 15 minutes later and we finally heard the siren again. Only this time, it didn't sound like an ambulance.
"OMG, Mary! It's the fire truck!" There I was laying sprawled out in the fetal position on a back road somewhere in the middle of Murrells Inlet and firefighters and a fire truck showed up. Oh wait, this might be good. Two young firefighters hopped off the truck with a back board coming to save me. One of them asked my name and then told me his....I believe it was something like Jeremiah. It was unusual, but I liked it and I told him so. The other firefighter, who had a common name like Justin or something, spoke up and said, "Well, what about me? Don't you like my name?" Ok, that broke the ice. As it so happened, there had been a second bike accident. The first siren we heard was supposed to be my ambulance, but they stopped at the other bike accident, instead. So, 911 sent the fire truck to me until a second ambulance could be dispatched. Are you still with me?
Now, if you know anything about accidents of the "falling nature", then you know you must consider the possibility there could be a broken neck or back. So you protect those at all costs. Hence, the back board and harnesses. Oh yes, they were going to strap me to the back board. Once the board was placed behind me, they asked Mary if she would hold my legs steady while they rolled me over onto it. She gladly did. And right there in the middle of the road with the two young firefighters hovering mere inches above me, Mary says, "Oooh Laurie, you sure do have smooth legs!" Well, I nearly wet my pants. I'm pretty sure I heard a snort out of one of the firemen. Good thing I found that funny. Right about then is when the pain got really bad. The only comfortable position I could find was on my side holding my arm tightly to me. By this time the ambulance had arrived and the EMS guys insisted that I lie flat on my back. OMG, it hurt. I moaned and groaned all the way to the hospital. I felt every bump and rolled with every turn.
We arrived to the ER and Cliff was there waiting, as the ambulance pulled up. He was the first person I saw when they wheeled me out of the ambulance. That was a welcome sight! I felt some better just knowing he was there. Inside the ER, I was placed in an examining room and the fun began. Now, I don't remember the exact sequence of events that happened in the ER, but I'm just going to give you the important ones. The ones like seeing the drop dead gorgeous ER doctor walk in. For a split second, I thought, hmmmm, it might have been worth falling off the bike for this. I quickly dispelled that thought. The pain took over. The pain did not like the nurses and doctor and x-ray techs moving my arm in all sorts of positions. It screamed and cussed. The nurses gave me medicine. And when it didn't work, they gave me more. When it made me nauseated, they gave me meds for that. I broke out in all sorts of sweats. I made Cliff grab a laminated chart of some sort to fan me with. A good friend, Michael Wilson, showed up in the examining room. The ER knew him well....he could do as he pleased, basically. He worked for the funeral home. Ha! Ha! When I saw Michael come in, I wondered if St. Peter had sent him a memo. But no, I was assured, I would be ok. Michael had been on the bike ride also and had just come to check on me. He started stroking my hair and the thought came to me (sort of like the shaving thing)......Oh Lord! I should have washed my hair. I may have said it out loud because I vaguely remember hearing Michael saying something about how he always stroked Linda's hair, when she didn't feel good. After Michael saw that I was going to be ok, he left. He and Cliff still had on their skimpy bike clothes and I'm sure they may have started feeling sort of naked and vulnerable.
At some point, the nurse needed to ask me some questions, for the records. I answered each one until she asked how much I weighed. What! I know she didn't! Oh yes she did. "I can't believe you just asked me that right in front of my husband." Well that just threw them both into hysterics. I made Cliff leave the room. And then I still wouldn't answer the question until I was assured by the nurse he was far enough away that he couldn't hear. She may have thought I was crazy. But hey, wreck or not, pain or not, loopy from the pain meds or not....I had enough good sense to know that I was not about to reveal such a sensitive number as that. I still had my pride!
X-rays done, pain meds administered, diagnosis made. The doctor came in and said, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that it is not dislocated (which is what I thought). The bad news is that it is broken very badly." Well, crap! He wanted me to go see an orthopedic surgeon in the next few days because he said that it may require surgery.
What the heck? I mean, I finally started to get some exercise and then it came to a screeching halt. So, I did what any woman in my position would do. I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it. They placed me in a sling and swath, probably gave me more pain meds, prescriptions for pain meds and care instructions and wheeled me to the front lobby of the hospital where Cliff and I waited for Whitney to come give us a ride home. I was in a wheel chair in an upright position, of which I had not been in for a couple of hours. And, I was full of pain meds, most of which I was probably allergic to anyway. And then it happened....I puked right there in the lobby...right by the security guard sitting behind the information desk. The reverberations could be heard all over the lobby and down the halls. Good thing the ER sent me out with one of those pink basins. It caught everything. A couple of people sitting across the hall left abruptly, once the heaving began. Good thing. No need for everyone in the hospital to hurl. Cliff was a good sport. He took care of the pink basin and made sure it was clean and available in the event it was needed, for a future hurl.
Whitney finally arrived and as Cliff was wheeling me to the car, she jumped out, came over to me and asked, "What happened Mama, did you run over another snake?" I felt like smacking her, but I didn't have but one good arm and it was still clutched around the pink basin. She was going on information from the ride a week before. There had been a dead snake in the road and I rode right by it, before I even knew what it was. Gave me the willies. I hate snakes dead or alive. So, she just assumed it had to be something of that epic proportion to cause me to wreck my bike.
Once we were back home, Cliff fell into caregiver mode. Oh yeah, he made a jam-up nurse! He sent Whitney to the pharmacy for my prescriptions. And Lord knows, before anything else happened, I needed to wash my hair. Well, I certainly couldn't do it. I was drugged up and only had one arm. So, Cliff had to. There was only one way to get it done. He cleared the kitchen counter, cleaned out the kitchen sink and laid me on top of the counter with my head hanging over the side. Best shampoo job I ever got! Oh wait, in case you were wondering, he was duly threatened if a picture of that incident ever showed up.
Well, what a day? I was exhausted. The rest of the long story made short....I was fortunate that I did not have to have surgery on my arm, but I did have three fractures of the humeral head and one at the surgical neck. I had to wear the sling and swath almost three miserable months and then had nearly another two months of physical therapy. Oh and get this, I also tore a ligament in my right thumb in the same accident. After my arm was well enough, I had surgery to repair the torn ligament and was in a cast for another few weeks followed by more physical therapy. So, that's it. Most of it wasn't so funny at the time, but now I can laugh about all the crazy stuff that happened. It took a good seven to eight months to completely get over the accident and then another couple of months before I could get up enough courage to get back on the bike. But, I did. And today, even though I'm skittish about riding with a group, I do enjoy riding very much.