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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Upheaval and Trauma and Good Fortune

With a title like this, you just gotta read it, right?

After Esparto my racing season was done, and our training for the Big Sur Half Marathon began. All our cycling was for fun, and in between easy, short runs, it was.

On Tues., Sept. 27th, we invited our friends M & B for a short, fast, let's-beat-civil-twilight ride. We rode to their house for a warm up, and headed north towards Winters, over the rollers and to the flats.

We were hammering at a decent pace north on Old Winters Rd., working a fast, smooth paceline. Chris pulled a while, then dropped back. B, a multiple Ironman medal-winner & steady wheel, was pulling about 24 mph. I was right on his wheel, M was behind me and Chris brought up the rear.

I heard the sickening sound of plastic and metal vs. asphalt, M screamed, "Stop! Stop!" I hit my brakes and thought she'd gone down. I turned around to see Chris lying in the lane, still.

I freaked out and called out to him to lay still. He's a well-trained 1st Responder at the refinery and knows to take time to self-assess. He moved before I could get back to him, sat up. We gathered around him; moved his bike off the road, turned down an offer of help by a motorist. Chris seemed dazed but at that point we thought he was OK.

M is a Captain in the Air Force, and an RN working on her Master's -- she noticed the odd gap between his acromion process (far end of the clavicle) and his shoulder -- we thought it might be dislocated. Chris stood up then had to sit right back down as he was immediately dizzy and nauseous. His helmet was crushed pretty badly, he had significant road rash on his shoulder, the buckle on his left shoe was shot, his left glove ripped -- and the bike was OK.

The consensus was that he wouldn't be able to ride home, so B elected to speed back to his place (about 10 mi.) to get his truck to drive us home. Shortly after B left, a guy in a huge SUV stopped and offered to help. Chris was feeling pretty bad at that point so we elected to take the Good Samaritan's offer.

Turns out this guy, G, is a retired Vacaville firefighter, and he loaded the bikes into his vehicle as I loaded Chris -- and G apologized several times for not having a sling. He offered to drive us to the ER but we declined, as we were on bikes. He drove us home, I gave him my card and told him to call if he ever needed anything, he hung up our bikes and left us with his good wishes.

We changed clothes and headed to the ER. Who'd expect the ER to be crowded beyond belief on a Tuesday night? Yes, indeed. It was over an hour before Chris got a shot of morphine. He doesn't complain and I could tell he was in pain.

Fast-forward to when the ER doc shows up: He'd looked at the X-ray and proclaimed the injury morphine-worthy. Clue #1. They dressed the wound, gave instructions and drugs (some of those instructions were directed to me, clue #2). We got home around 11, and although Chris went right to bed, I was wound up like a cheap watch.

At this point we didn't know the severity of the wound, but knew he had to be seen by our primary care doc to get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon -- even this untrained eye knew that fracture would need surgical correction -- and the pre-op, prescription filling, daughter-shuttling -- and just like that, I was in charge of everyone getting to where they needed to be regardless of my needs. I felt as though I was back in the early 90's, Taxi Mom redux.

Let me say here that I'm a trouper, I step up when the need arises, yet sometimes resent having to do so. I was having a tough time being the driver, cheerleader, support, do-it-all person for 1-1/2 people and having to still keep my business and responsibilities going.

That first weekend was awkward; I was still running and riding, and feeling quite guilty about leaving Chris behind...except that I needed my bike time to work off the stress of these abrupt changes.

Surgery was Mon. Oct. 3 -- we ran 3+ miles in the morning, Chris without benefit of coffee or food. He sustained other bruises and injuries besides the clavicle/shoulder, the worst of which was a strained groin/psoas muscle on the left side. He didn't run so much as shuffle. I jogged along with him, impressed that he was moving despite significant discomfort.

Stay tuned for part II...it gets better.

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