Bike wreck and concussion.

The last 14 days have been a blur; mountain bike wreck, surgery to repair my broken collar bone, a substantial concussion and plenty of pain meds.

June 1, I was in Colorado to speak and participant at the Skirt Sports Ambassador retreat. The morning I was going to speak, I took advantage of a group mountain bike ride. It was an epic ride – until the very moment it wasn’t.

I lost about an hour of time and have no memory of the wreck or rescue.

One minute I was riding and laughing and hooting/hollering and the next moment I was in a hospital and being told to hold still while they performed a CT scan. I remember being wheeled back to the ER room and seeing Michelle and Jen for the first time even though they had been there for a while… I would lose that hour – and to date not a single recollection or memory of what happened has come back.

I was told I had a concussion and that the helmet I was wearing had most assuredly done a good job of keep me from much, much worse harm. I had a ‘fracture’ in the left collarbone. I had scrapped up my left leg sliding on the dirt as well as bruised my calf pretty good by colliding with what we suspect was the pedal.

The plan was to keep me drugged up/pain-free, fly home to Bend and consult with a surgeon there about the collarbone… The Boulder ER dressed me up in scrubs, a sling and then turned me loose to Michelle and Jen’s care.

Even with a broken bone and a concussion; I can pull off a selfie. I wanted a reminder of these two angels who stayed with me in this scary-painful moment. Angels with sass and humor. (Me, Jen Szabo, Michelle Sroda)

I wanted to go straight back to the Skirt Sports retreat and give my speech. And I guess I was fairly adamant… Ok. Single-minded. Annoyingly persistent. I guess when I was on the ground, being transported and early in the ER I kept making the point to everyone that I had to go give a speech. I don’t remember any of this. But that’s what they’re telling me… And it makes sense… This is a speech I had been working on for more than six months. It was about ‘belonging’, a message near and dear to my heart. Nicole DeBoom, a woman I deeply admire, had invited me to be a part of this event. I was responsible for part of the program. It was the reason I had traveled to Colorado in the first place.

I HAD TO GIVE THE DANGED SPEECH.

Jen and Michelle were fairly easy to convince to go along with my exiting-the-ER scheme. The plan was to go straight to the retreat. Speak. THEN Michelle would take me to Target to get the pain meds prescription, something to work as a bra that wouldn’t have to go over my left shoulder (TUBE TOP for the win!) and a shirt that I could button up. Easy. Straightforward plan.

And it worked. HECK YES! It worked perfectly.

I gave the speech (here is the link) on ‘Belonging’. I think I did just fine considering that in the days that followed I would begin to understand just how hard I had crashed and how beat up my body and brain really were. New aches, pains, bruises would continue to show up for the next 10 days…. But I wanted to give that speech – and I did!

I flew home from Colorado on Monday June 3rd. Within hours of landing back in Oregon I was consulting with a great orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Woodbury showed me that it was in fact a 2+cm break of my collarbone and the break would need to be surgically healed/corrected with a plate and screws. Surgery on June 7th was successful. I have the post-op on the 17th. More good news to follow I am sure – I’m healing really well! 🙂

The concussion I sustained from hitting the trail is a new beast. I grew up on a farm and have had my fair share of broken bones. I trail run so I’ve come to a few ‘complete and involuntary’ stops and felt the muscles get super cranky for a few days afterward. But the concussion is proving to be alarming and scary and slow-healing with daily reminders that this is going to be all new territory.

I know there are people in my life who know what this is all about; I am on a new, steep learning curve. I’ve told people – the concussion is by far the worst of the injuries. And I mean it. Grabbing for a word and not catching it many, many times a day. Unexpected and seemingly illogical emotional responses or non-responses. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, blurry vision, low grade anxiety, exhaustion. I’m sure there are other symptoms I’m forgetting – which, ironically, is another thing that can happen with a concussion. And yes – I have been following a concussion protocol and have PT for the concussion lined up and ready to get started next week. I am aware how serious this is and I feel like I’m doing all the right things to help my brain heal. I’ve got one brain – I intend to take care of it.

In the meantime my friends are patiently letting me re-tell (X100) stories and repeat ideas and thoughts. Because I can’t seem to remember what I’ve done or who I’ve told anything too in the last few weeks… It’s all jumbled and confused. And that patient processing time from friends is an amazing gift. In the past 5 days or so, I’ll catch myself remembering that I have already said something! And with the headaches and blurry vision no longer happening – I feel like these are all signs my brain is physically healing.

I am beyond grateful for those who were literally on the ground with me in Boulder, helped me get back home to Oregon, helped me through surgery and the awful early days of dependence and confusion. Nothing like taking the independent 50 year old and forcing her to ask for help with the smallest of daily personal tasks including putting my hair in a ponytail, helping me get dressed or letting me hold their arm while I step off a curb…

I knew it, but reminders are always welcome; I’m blessed with some amazing friends and family. And I have been treated with kindness and compassion by complete strangers which is a whole different level of gratitude…. People have been generous and caring even when I couldn’t form a sentence and they could tell that I was fighting hard to try to make sense of things.

I’m humbled. Grateful. Soaking in the love, care and kindness being abundantly scattered my way. And that helps me heal. I am healing really well. Which as a post-type 2 diabetic still stuns the crap out of me! My body really does want to be healthy and my job right now is to do all I can to help her find that footing and let her do her work.

P. S. Sometimes big, traumatic events teach us really important and basic lessons. I’ve had a bucket full of ‘a-ha!’ moments in the last two weeks…. And here’s one of my new favorites: When you offer to help someone try to be as specific as possible. I would get these wonderful text messages that would say ‘let me know if I can help’ and my concussed brain could NOT process what of the 1,000,000 undone and pressing things I could possibly ask them to help me with. Or how could I ask them to spend money or help with something mundane or personal or put their life on hold? My brain would fizzle out. Almost literally. My heart would be happy they reached out. And my brain would go blank at the stress of having to sort, prioritize and choose. I wouldn’t take them up on the offer because I was literally incapable of making a request or sorting out what I needed. However when Peggy texted me and said ‘do you want me to come over and wash your hair in the kitchen sink and then we can go for a short walk?’ I could simply say YES — OH, PLEASE! YES! And I might have literally said ‘a-ha!’ out loud. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Bike wreck and concussion.

  1. Wow! Thank goodness for that helmet. I do think that maybe not remembering the wreck and time following if sometimes for the best. The panic and pain from an accident or trauma may be best of just “forgotten”. I am one of those people who say “let me know if I can help”. Your post made me realize why people often don’t respond to those words. They may want help and simply don’t know what to ask for. I will be more specific from now on. Hang in there and heal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Betsy, you have been in my heart for days. I am glad you are healing. Your writings are amazing, especially with all you have been through. I love you lots and pray for a complete recovery for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a similar accident on skis in January–concussion and all. My helmet saved my life, and has the cracks to prove it. I am still experiencing symptoms of the concussion because I wasn’t diligent about staying off screens and laying low the first few weeks. TAKE CARE of yourself! Brain injuries are no joke! Hope you’re healing well and are back on the bike soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So glad you are doing well. im sure you will return to the trails as soon as you can. i had a motorcycle wreck years ago that prob would have killed me but i was wearing a helmet. i walked away, though bleeding and bruised.
    You continue to amaze me ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John! Thank you for sharing your story. ALL new respect for helmets… they told me the outcome would have been very different if I hadn’t let the helmet take the brunt of the crash. I’ll return to the trails soon – with deep gratitude. Deep. Thanks again for sharing your story.

      Like

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