I have been incapacitated for 12 weeks now, and it is really starting to chafe. Even though I can go into the office now (thanks to my new compression stocking) and that is fun, I find that I am irritable. I can only maintain a good attitude for so long. And when people tell me things like, “You should just be grateful that you’re alive! And that your son is okay!” I kind of want to punch them in the face. Yeah, sure, it could have been worse, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy that my entire summer was ruined and I can’t go out with my kids and that after three months I still have weeks to go before I can try walking again. Maybe I shouldn’t have weaned myself off all of those narcotics.
Then again: I have forgotten the entire month of May. Seriously, my son was asking me questions about some things that happened then, things in which evidently I had some involvement, and I had no memory of them whatsoever. I do remember that in June I bought my daughter an entire new wardrobe on eBay after my mom mentioned that a four-year-old probably shouldn’t be showing so much VPL or sporting crop tops. Normally I would go to the local consignment store and pick up stuff in her new size, but I couldn’t leave the house. Luckily for me, there are scads of amazing deals on eBay for people who have nothing but time. She’ll be spending the next year or so in secondhand cashmere. Nonetheless, thank goodness our son goes to a uniform school.
There are things that I can do, although they are limited. Given that I can only use my left leg, and that university housing still hasn’t gotten around to putting grab bars in the bathroom despite our requests, I can do pistol squats on that leg until I fall asleep from boredom. That means, as I learned recently, that I can give my kids one-legged airplane rides in bed. That’s fun. And we can watch movies, when they’re into that. I can read them bedtime stories. I can give them rides on the cool electric cart that I use at the grocery store (although the competition for those carts has been fierce lately). That’s about it.
Matt takes them out to do all the fun things I wish I could do. They’ve been swimming at city pools and ice skating and last weekend, they went to Sunday Streets on the Bullitt with the Roland add+bike attached. Poor Matt is getting worn down by the constant attention the Bullitt draws, and sticking the Roland on the back only adds to the effect. That will be our commute vehicle next year, so with any luck it will get a little more familiar to people on our usual route.
Some good things have happened, although I get the news secondhand. Our daughter has finally started at her new preschool. After the for-profit takeover of her old preschool I would have been happy with anywhere that let her go to the bathroom when she needed to and anyplace where her teachers didn’t tell her than she was “wasting mommy and daddy’s money” when she didn’t listen and she wasn’t told to “turn and face the wall” any time that she talked to another kid in line. But her new preschool is apparently awesome even by standards much higher than our radically downsized ones. She looks forward to going and she’s surrounded by her future Rosa Parks classmates—it’s a Japanese immersion preschool and a feeder for the school.
I am also grateful for my colleagues, who make me happy every time I’m in the office that I work in academic medicine. I have scars on my right leg that look like a giant red zipper running from the ankle to above the knee, and they can’t stop telling me how great they look. Sure, they’re saying that because they’ve seen so much worse, but I don’t mind. One person told me it looked like a shaving accident. This is so far from the truth that when I reported it to Matt, he laughed so hard that he almost stopped breathing. But the person who said it was speaking the truth as he saw it, and that makes me feel okay about wearing skirts to work again one of these days.
I have x-rays next week and if they look good I will get permission to start putting weight on my leg the week afterward. And according to my surgeon, who is also a bike commuter, if I can walk, I can ride. Sure, there’s the minor matter of what bike—I suspect I won’t have the strength to get the Brompton up our hill for a while, I know I don’t have the range of motion to get on the Kona because the top tube is so high and the stoker bars mean I can’t swing my leg around the back, and Matt sometimes needs the Bullitt so I can’t ride it every day. Maybe I could put an assist on the Brompton?
And one more piece of good news: just before I was hit, I wrote to Rainbow Grocery after a difficult Bullitt parking experience asking them if they’d reserve the end spots on their racks for cargo bikes and bikes with trailers. A friend of mine sent me a picture of the racks just the other day, and the new sign on them that gently requests that the big spaces be saved for big bikes. So life goes on, with or without me.
7 responses to “With or without me”
Injuries can be so demoralising – I broke my shoulder falling off a motor scooter, and it killed my ability to play water polo, which I love. I couldn’t drive for 6 weeks (and it’s critical for my job, so I had to be chauffered). It takes forever to feel normal again, that’s for sure.
hang in there HotC– you’ve made great progress! You’ll be back on the bike soon… up and down the hills of SF with your wonderful family.
Thanks–I get a little grouchier every week, I swear.
Hi I hope you will soon recover yourself physically and mentally. Look, your children always need you. They always watch you. Their faces in these pictures tell that absolutely. Hang in there. You will be soon OK. (My left arm was shattered when I was 8 years old. I rode a mike with two friends that day. I lay on the bed in a hospital for three month. My arm’s born seemed to be scatted inside. But I was/am OK now and then. Your family is always besides you. 😉
Thanks for telling it like it is. I’m sure you are very thankful that you are live and that your son was not hurt, but that doesn’t change the fact that what happened to you really sucks and you rightly can feel loss. Loss of experiences over the summer and loss of freedom, mobilty, etc. I truely hope that every day gets better and that the improvements keep coming.
So sorry to hear about your accident. I came across your blog earlier this year when I was researching the BoBike Jr., which I ended up purchasing and have been using since April. There is one left turn I make with my son that makes me nervous – may have to change to Copenhagen version. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Deirdre – Washington, DC
Thanks again for your great work! I am coming to SF this Friday July 19 for a wedding…maybe I could do an errand for you or something to return the favor? Also where can I rent a Bullit in SF to try it?