I couldn’t believe it, I was hit by a truck. I always thought that happened to other people. I was so careful, so pro-active, always assuming cars didn’t see me, always looking for the car that might hit me…until there I lie on the pavement, struggling to understand what just happened and how it happened to me.
I was actually angry about being hit before the truck even made contact. I remember thinking “F***! That guy isn’t stopping. S*** he just hit me REALLY HARD”. I braced for impact, in fact I leaned into the hood of the truck with my back out of instinct like you would if another rider were about to hit you. But he was a bit larger and moving a bit faster then another cyclist…about 5500 lbs more. He didn’t even slow down for the stop sign, just blew right through it as if I didn’t exist.
I hit the ground and couldn’t move, I was frozen. It was hard to breath and I was a bit in shock, maybe denial. I saw the front of his F-150 looming over me and realized it wasn’t just a bad dream. All of a sudden this guy is leaning over me repeating over and over “Ma’am are you ok? Ma’am are you ok?…”
my response…”If you say that one more time I’m going to punch you in the face…NO I’M NOT OK! YOU JUST HIT ME WITH YOUR TRUCK!” The adrenaline had kicked in. A witness to the incident rushed over and asked what he could do so I told him to pull my bike off me. I knew I needed to get up off the ground before the pain really kicked in since I could tell all of my limbs were at least in tact. I got up and realized I barely had a scratch on me however the pain between my shoulder blades was unbelievable.
I could feel my vertebrae moving with each breath…they shouldn’t do that. I called Max. I wasn’t in the right mental space to make decisions. Part of me really thought he would just pick me up and we would go home, load the car and head up to Rochester for the UCI races that weekend…He helped me come to my senses.
I got in the ambulance and went to the hospital. A few hours, half a dozen x-rays and some pain meds later we left the hospital. Max knew it was my decision, he was willing to drive 6 hours to Rochester only for me to realize it wasn’t going to happen. He knew it wasn’t going to happen but I had to come to it myself. So we headed to my office to get a real exam by Dr. Dembski and an acute Cold Laser treatment…it would help with the pain and inflammation.
Max picked up some Thai food for lunch and we headed home. I started coming to the realization that the meds were wearing off and the pain was getting much worse. I couldn’t even pick up my bike due to the horrible pain in my back, I knew this weekend wasn’t going to happen. I carefully laid over on the couch. A few tears formed and rolled down my cheek. I couldn't cry as hard as I wanted to because my back pain was now excruciating. But it was the emotional pain that was killing me. All of the hard work from the past 8 months flashed through my mind. I realized the first World Cup was less then 2 weeks away and I felt like the season was basically now ruined. My pity party continued for about an hour…and then I got over myself.
I needed to focus on the positive. I was alive. In fact I walked away from a situation that could have left me mangled beyond repair. I would get better. I’ve come back from worse. The timing sucked. The UCI cyclocross season was literally going to start tomorrow without me. So I focused on getting better for the Las Vegas World Cup in 10 days. That was the new goal. The inflammatory process would take at least 7-10 days so I had to do everything I could to optimize it. I had the entire weekend to rest so that’s what I did. Changing positions was nearly unbearable so I just laid still for 3 days. I could barely sleep, forget about rolling over in bed and getting in or out of bed was a huge challenge. Over the next week I still managed to work and see patients. It was ironic really, treating others’ back, knee, hip, neck pain while I was in so much pain myself but it made me feel better. I wasn’t letting this completely disrupt my life. We lightened my schedule and I just did the best that I could. After 3 days I found I was able to sit on my bike on the trainer and pedal a little. After 5 days I was able to shift my car into 5th or 6th gear which meant I could drive on the highway…I could drive to Nittany. After 6 days I could ride around my block outside as long as I stayed seated. After 7 days I could dismount and remount but still really couldn’t pick up the bike. I was willing to try.
One week after being hit by the truck I painfully loaded the car and drove to PA…