A couple of weeks ago I had an accident during The AIDS Ride For Life, in Ithaca.
For months, I had been training, getting ready and raising funds for this event. I had so many supporting friends and family behind me. But, this was an especially exciting event because this year, my daughter was supposed to join me for the last 42 miles out of the 100 planned. I was truly excited to do this with her and all the wonderful bikers.
We started at 7, after a beautiful opening ceremony. My daughter was the youngest biker at this years event, all excited and ready.
The ride started up-hill and I felt faster and stronger than I expected. Once I got up the first main part (30+miles into the ride), the one I had feared because of all the up-hills, I felt great. Going strong, chatting with the riders I passed and smiling all the time.
But then in one instance it all changed. A biker cut in front of me, and then she hesitated I guess, about where she was going so she slowed down, without any mark. I was going more than 20mph and realized she stopped but all I could see was the busy highway in front of me. I was In The Zone…, in my thoughts about calling my husband, at the next stop, and making sure my daughter is ready and excited. That biker, on her white and pink bike, truly caught me by surprise, and I braked. Fast. Next thing was me on the ground spitting out teeth. I saw my bike on the ground really far away and understood I had flown off my handle bar. The adrenalin was high and I told everyone it’s OK, I just broke some teeth, I want to keep on going. Little did I know what they saw….
Well my personal angel came and stopped me. Told me he is a dentist and to lie still. That I can not keep on going. That I am hurt. At that moment I realized my teeth felt funny and I could not understand why. He was calm and smiling and I will never forget how comforting and reassuring he was. He even said that today, dentists can make miracles. I guess those sentences should have given me a clue about the situation I was in, but it had still not sunk in.
I was wrapped up, placed on a board, my helmet was taped to the board and I was ambulanced off to Syracuse University Hospital. The only thing I could think off was my disappointed daughter, who would not get to ride, and all my amazing friends and family who were supporting me on Facebook and chats this whole time. I found myself posting an update on Facebook, in the ambulance…. an apology for not completing the ride. I laugh at myself now, but it was really important for me at the time.
At the emergency room, I realized I had broken my jaw from side to side and my right hand as well. At once I felt like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Doctors and residents coming and going, checking me out, talking about me, sending me to have X-Rays and CT scans done, coming and going and coming back again. I could not open my mouth at all. I got no water or IV, and all I could think about was the helmet drilling into my head and how painful it was. My hand was swollen and I was bleeding from my face.
It had still not kicked in. The realization that the day I had so looked forward to, that I was so excited about, was over and done in one moment. I felt so sad when they cut off my team shirt, but I guess my daughters face made me realize how bad it was. Seeing her looking at me is something I will never forget. It broke my heart. I could not believe I caused her to cry and be so stressed and sad. I could only think about how this was supposed to be our day. Our big achievement.
I am now 5 weeks after. The recovery has been slow and hard. Jaw surgery, wired mouth shut for 8 days and still wires on all teeth, broken hand, broken teeth.
The open sores have healed. The wires will soon get off and the cast as well. I have not chewed in 5 weeks, although I eat well (luckily I’m married to a wonderful cook) and my mouth can still not open wide.
Healing is a journey with ups and downs. It demands patience and positive thinking. I do have those, but at times it is over-whelming. The change in pace, the things I can not do and the pain. The discomfort. But I am on this journey and realizing that my comfort zone has changed drastically and I have to change as well. To adapt to a new reality and find my way, my mark, in this new reality.
To heal many things need to align. The body needs to be able to heal but that is possible when you have the right support system. I am lucky to have family and friends care, checking in, sending their support and good vibes my way. My kids have been amazing and my husband is my rock.
For my soul, deep inside I found that, as always, baking is my healing path. Very soon after my injury I felt a need to step into the kitchen and figure out how to create things, with one hand. One of the first things I made, was Challah. It was Friday and I felt like making dough, kneading and rolling. It demanded creativity to roll, knead and roll out the dough with one hand but it made me realize that it is possible. I also made 100 Beigalach that each is rolled out, dipped in egg and in sesame. it took me a lot longer than if both my hands were at work, but the slow pace actually felt good. Comforting.
I am still healing and still embracing my set backs with my abilities. My current disabilities with my passion of creating scrumptious things in the kitchen.
One day at a time. Slowly but Onwards and Upwards…. that is the general direction I choose.
A note – it’s been a couple of month since I wrote this and I feel the need to add to anyone going out, all excited to do a group sport…. remember that being a part of a group is very VERY different from being on your own. You need to think of others, be constantly aware and in the moment, communicate and care about the others. If you are passing, pass wide and safe, if you are approaching someone call out, if you see something dangerous, share with others. Be a PART of your surrounding. Even if it is competition but even more if not. Your awareness and attention might save a life, or at least prevent accidents…..