Whistler Woes

I knew when I hit the ground that my season was over. One moment of inattention combined with a perfect storm of otherwise minor circumstances, culminated in a freak accident which turned my left femur into a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle. I wish I could tell you that I was bustin’ a sweet whip off the 40 foot Crabapple Hit, or dropping the BIG rock on A-line, or slithering down some butt puckering wet root section through the fog on the upper mountain, but no, I was literally just riding along. Yup, a genuine JRA.

So, what happened you ask? Well, in a nutshell, I clipped a fencepost with my handlebars. It was the dumbest crash ever. I had ridden that section of trail leading to A-line twice that morning, taking the same line at the same speed on the same bike before lunch. The only difference this time was the fencepost leaning into the trail. It wasn’t there before, and the bike patrol fixed it right after my crash, so it was only in the way for at most an hour or so, and I guess I was the only one who didn’t see it. Perhaps it was hiding in my blind spot, perhaps I turned back to make sure my posse was behind me at just the wrong time, either way, I didn’t see it until it clipped my bars. Had I been on my own bike, with narrower bars, I would have missed it completely. Had I been going slower, I would have had time to defend myself, and ride away with a bruised hip and bruised ego, had I been going faster, I probably would have broken the post and crashed with a tumble, once again riding away with a bruise and a smile. Turns out the speed I was traveling at was just fast enough to give me no time to react, and just slow enough to throw me onto my side, with my seat pressed firmly to the inside of my thigh, so that when I hit the ground, my femur was trapped between my seat and the Earth. The seat was too tight to deflect, and the ground was, well, hard and immovable. I hit the ground with my hands still on the bars, slamming my full body weight into my femur, so yeah, I basically pushed my saddle through the largest bone in my body. And that is exactly how it felt.

I thought I knew what pain was. I have been told that I am pretty tough and have a high tolerance for pain. I have had broken bones, I have had severe sprains, I even ripped my knee open to the bone with a dull pine branch, but nothing in my life compared to the agony I felt laying on my back in the dirt saying “oh no, oh no, OH NO!” over and over again. I didn’t dare move, even though I knew my leg was flopped over to the side at a decidedly wrong angle. “Don’t touch me” was the next thing I said as my friends and husband rushed to my side. Lucky for me the bike patrol office was like 100 feet from where I crashed and they were on me like stink on DH armor.

Nitrous Oxide is a good thing. It doesn’t take the pain away, but it moves the pain farther away, and the harder I sucked on that canister, the farther away the pain went – until they had to straighten and traction my leg. I didn’t know pain came in colors. The sick, purple color of wrongness in my thigh went instantly to bright shiny glaring angry chrome, like opening your eyes to the sun from a deep dark sleep, that was the color of shattered bone grinding on soft tissue when they began to move my leg. I was panting like an animal, the nitrous oxide like a bandaid on a hatchet wound. Finally, they got my leg stabilized, got me on a backboard, and silly me, I thought the worst was over. I didn’t think about the ambulance ride, the bumpy, rocky steep fire road ride down the mountain. Fire road was actually an apt description. The pain was now the color of fire, I now know what hell feels like, and I am going to be a better person so I never have to go there again. Finally we got to pavement, and then to the clinic, and morphine, sweet morphine. They knocked me out briefly to do X-rays, and the next thing I know I am being loaded onto a helicopter, since femur fractures can be life threatening, they were sending me to Vancouver General ASAP for surgery. Apparently it is possible to sever the femoral artery with the type of fracture I had, and they weren’t taking any chances. Luckily, I didn’t sever anything, and I am grateful to everyone who cared for me and made sure I got the best and fastest treatment, especially the bike patrollers, who helped me stay calm and still when I was most afraid. From the time of the accident to my eventual release from Vancouver General, I felt like I was in good, competent hands every step of the way.

It has been a month to the day now since my wreck. I have a shiny titanium rod that runs the length of my entire femur held in by two big screws, and a set of crutches that I don’t ever want to see again. I was cleared to ride my trainer 2 weeks ago, and I have been faithfully spinning away ever since. I have been lifting weights every other day to offset the muscle loss in my legs so I can still enjoy food without feeling like I am turning into a fat blob. Recovery is coming along, but nothing is fun and even the simplest tasks take twice as long. I can’t do my job and that is frustrating to no end, and every day I must deal with the sinking feeling that I may never get back the fitness that I have lost, my leg may never be the same again. Everyone says it will, but they don’t really know for sure. The prognosis is good, and I eat better than most, I heal fast and I was in top shape when the accident occurred. These are all facts in my favor. Still, I have never been injured like this before, and I know that even if everything goes right, it will be years before I am 100%. It is difficult to keep these thoughts out of my head since the one thing that always cleared my mind has been taken away. I need to get back on my bike. The trainer is not the same. So far, I feel like I am getting better every day, but I also feel like I am so far in the whole I can’t see out of it yet.

Sorry this is not a happy blog, but I am not in a happy place. I go to see the doctor in two weeks to find out if I am healing right. If he likes what he sees, I may be allowed to get off the crutches and on to my road bike. If that is the case, it may be what I need to get my head on straight. Til then, I guess I will continue to heckle my friends on Facebook, watch reruns of Storage Wars, and worry about how I am going to do my job this Fall. Take care, and I will update in two weeks, hopefully with good news.

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