The place to come to wag more and bark less...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

An old familiar feeling rears its ugly head.

Today was a watershed day, a day when I took a new old mindset, one I've had for nearly five years now, and replaced it with a new, new mindset.

In a word, I'm talking about pain.

And when it comes to pain, I usually need look no further than my mountain bike. Let me be direct: I am not a mountain biker. In fact, I can't stand mountain biking.

Today I hit the ground-the asphalt, that is, with a force unlike any I've had since my accident with a car back in 2012.

Of course, back then I was knocked senseless for a long, long time. It wasn't like that today. Worst part? It was completely avoidable; I had a puncture in my front tire that slowly but surely softened it up.

When I came off the trail at ride’s end, I thought I'd ask a fellow who was stretching out before his trail run. I saw no one else was there to do it, and he seemed nice enough to take a moment for me.

As I passed him, I sharply turned to go back, but guess what? The front tire gave way. I looked down at it just in time to see it crinkle up at the sidewall and wash out.

Bang! Just like that, I fell flat on my stomach and chest, with my left shoulder taking much of the brunt of the impact.

During that fall to the ground, I'd had that nanosecond to realize that a sudden impact with the ground was inevitable, and that it was going to hurt. Just how much it would hurt was TBD. But I wasn't worried; I'd know in a moment or so.

Sure enough, when I hit the pavement it did hurt. Imagine that! At first, I just lay there. What the hell else could I do except to prepare to assess the damage.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I remembered a nagging thought that sometimes got into my head: When a human body hits the ground it's the body that gives, not the ground.

So much for thinking happy thoughts. Then I realized two additional things: First, someone had witnessed the crash and, if I didn't move soon he might understandably think I am dead.

Second, I remembered that I'm on a blood thinner and that I'd better have a look at my legs right quick. My knees and shins were most certainly scraped up, and were actually already scraped from another (equally avoidable) crash two days prior.

Nothing like scraping scabbed-over skin, I always say. Expecting the worst, I looked with trepidation at my legs. The fact that I could stand was a good thing I thought, for it meant they were at least still attached.

Somehow I expected more blood, given the violence of the crash. But to the young man who was warming up for his trail run I was a hospital case. “Want me to call 911?” he asked.

“Sonofabitch” was all I said in response, “all I wanted was a goddamn picture or two…” as if that explained everything.

Then I regained my composure somewhat and said “I apologize for being so vulgar...but this fucking hurts!”, then we both laughed and he knew I was okay.

“I'm on a blood thinner,” I said, “and any cut looks worse than it really is.” Then I mentioned how much of a drag sleeping that night was going to be. I'd have sticky wounds covered with triple-a ointment that would adhere to the sheets, likely to break open and begin bleeding again.

But that actually didn't matter, as my shoulder-which had been surprisingly pain free all day as I iced it suddenly took on an evil life of it's own.

The pain was so great that I knew immediately I wasn't going to sleep a wink that night. That realization came early, too, about 12:30 a.m.

Throughout the night I heard myself uttering sounds I'd never heard come out of me or any living thing before. I tried to limit the number of times I glanced at the clock, for I know nothing elongates time more than clock-watching.

The pain transcended “acute”. It was what I could only call profound pain, the kind that made me wonder in my painful yet sleepy haze if it wouldn't have been better to have met my maker all those years ago, in my major crash.

Mercifully, the morning finally came. I heard my next door neighbor leave for work and knew I'd have plenty of room to pull my RV out and head to the hospital.

The x-rays showed nothing was broken, that all the moving parts were fine. The pain I was experiencing was simply nerve pain unlike any I'd ever felt.

I left with a muscle relaxer from the pharmacy-the best seventy-seven cents I've ever spent-and went back to the RV and promptly fell asleep. Slowly but surely, the pain subsided, and I never felt better.

Still, I will always hate mountain biking, with good reason. Case in point.

I can't wait for my next ride. It's just too bad it has to be on my mountain bike again.

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