09 June 2013

Transamerica cycle 2013, day 19

When I get up in the morning, Jenn tells me that the nurse practitioner has actually come down here to see me, so I get up and stretch a little until I'm lucid and then go out to show her my wound. She decides that yes, it *is* infected, and takes me to her practice in her van to dress it and give me an antibiotic shot in the hip. They dress it with a clear dressing that should fall off when the wound is healed enough for band-aids alone. At least I don't have a fever. She also calls in a prescription to a pharmacy down the road for some oral antibiotics for me to take and I thank her profusely and offer to give her my insurance info but she says she'd rather not deal with the paperwork.

Back at the church I eat a banana and an apple and some scrambled eggs with garlic powder and pepper in them and a couple fruit punch drinks that are like Capri Sun but aren't. Me, Jenn, and Dan have a few arguments that involve shouting and almost-crying because of leftover stress from yesterday. I had been very paranoid, before this trip started, of feeling rushed and pushed too hard seeing as I'm a weaker cyclist than most of the others on top of having dietary and digestion issues with a compliment of pain and fatigue issues that crop up from time to time. All I wanted was to have a fun and challenging vacation but the past few days have been very difficult on me and I'm afraid, because if this pattern continues without respite, I'll be spending more of the trip miserable than not. Dan and Jenn think that I'm not acknowledging how accommodating and helpful and proactive they've been for me so far and take issues with the way I express and frame things. By the end of it, tho', I think we reach an agreement of a path to take--move a bit slower, take breaks more often, let me eat *before* sitting down in restaurants so I'm full and not pathetically envious of all the poison floating around me, etc. The others put in a few helpful comments as well and eventually everyone calms down so that we can move on.

Then it's, unfortunately, time to pack everything up and get moving again. Outside is a group of lifeteen people with vans and there's two girls who caught newts in a stream and named them Lizzy and Spot and let us hold them. They're here to use the building we're vacating. They're a church youthgroup thing, but I don't get to talk to them for long because I have to cycle down the street to the pharmacy to fill my prescription for antibiotics for my arm. I do so and it turns out someone else paid for them--I don't have to give them a cent and they don't ask for my insurance information or anything. We've hit a motherlode of kindness here in McKee, wow.

We do leave a thank-you note and a donation to St. Paul's before we go, at least!

After I've obtained my pills we start cycling again. When we've gone about 3 miles, we hit a bit of a traffic jam. Cars pile up behind us because the roads are bendy and there's a lot of oncoming traffic. Sometimes we pull over into driveways to let folks by. Other times, when we can see further ahead around a bend than the car behind, we wave them on to pass. There's a large truck at one point, like a small semi, and Dan who's in front waves him on because he has just enough time to pass us. He does so but there's an oncoming car and while he has time he still pulls in front of us again really abruptly and causes our whole line to slow down. I can't slow down fast enough because I wasn't prepared (I'm 2nd to last in the line) so I swerve, and hit Ben's left pannier, and start to spill onto the road. A red car which blindly followed the semi passing us (even tho' there wasn't time for 2 cars, only for the semi, to pass) is next to me when this happens. This red car didn't leave us enough space while passing, so as my left elbow hits the asphalt the car's rear tire smacks that elbow and the body of the car clips my shoulder. The car swerves to a halt as soon as the driver hears the THUMP of my body against it.

I get up off the road quickly, afraid of being hit by the next car coming, and shout something like, I CAN'T DO THIS TRIP ANYMORE as the stress of the argumentative  morning, misery of yesterday, and severe trauma and fear from what just happened fuse together in my brain. It is soon followed by, I JUST GOT HIT BY A FUCKING CAR. Someone helps me get my bike off the road into the grass and moves me as well. I'm standing and walking okay, my left knee is bloody again but that's nothing major--it's my left arm and elbow that's super swollen and in pain and I shout things like IT'S THE SAME ARM and I THINK IT'S BROKEN. It is some kind of cruel twist of fate for the same arm which got dressed up this morning due to infection to be almost run over in the road not 3 miles later.

Jenn puts down a yellow raincover on the ground and has me sit down as I sob and shout things and try to process all the fear and adrenaline running thru my body, holding my arm to keep it immobile. I remember Anna Faye telling me to breathe and after I stop shouting she keeps telling me that I'm doing really well and that I've calmed down quickly and that I'm handling everything really well. Travis and Jenn get out one of those tinfoil emergency blanket things and drape me in it and Jenn sits next to me and she's crying too and I say I'm so sorry I yelled at them this morning and she says they're sorry too. Dan and Ben deal with the other driver I think, who is a bit hysterical also because she thought she killed me at some point and someone calls the police and an ambulance and the cops come and get info from me and then the paramedics come and look at my arm and splint it and they apologize but they have to put me on one of those immobilizing board things with the head blocks and the big collar just in case of spinal injuries. And they do that and load me into the ambulance in a stretcher and Jenn rides up front, leaving the others to find a way to get themselves and our bikes 20 miles to the hospital in Berea, which is where they're gonna take me.

The lady in the ambulance gets all my info and my vitals and makes smalltalk with me while we ride. It's not super uncomfortable on the board except for a pain in the back of my head because of the pressure of the strap on my forehead. At some point I reallyreally have to pee but I can't so I hold it but all I can think about is how bad I have to pee. In the cab Jenn and the driver are talking about the Boone Tavern in Berea and how it is supposedly haunted.

We reach the hospital and all I see for the longest time is the ceiling. Eventually some nurses find me and I tell them I have to pee but they have to do an exam of my spine first before they can take me off the board. It takes a while but they finally clear my neck and spine and let me up to go pee. I hold my arm awkwardly out in front of me and take care of business and I feel a lot better when I get back. At some point they come and give me a tetanus shot since I can't remember when it was I last got one (but it was probably time to get another one anyway...).

Jenn talks to me and keeps me company while I'm in there waiting for x-rays. The x-ray tech is a nice guy, retired navy, makes me smile with some dad-jokes. He takes off the original splint and takes pictures and sends me back into the ER. Another wait and the results are in: no fracture! Just a really bad contusion. There is a chance that a hairline fracture can show up in a few days when the swelling starts going down tho' so they give me a CD with the x-rays on them and say if it doesn't improve by Monday, go get them re-x-rayed. they wrap my arm in a splint and a sling and put me in the hallway to wait. We wait in the hall a while for outprocessing and once I've given all my info for the 100th time and given my insurance information they let us go out.

And who should we see in the entrance but the rest of the Handlebarbarians! Turns out that Rebecca, our guardian angel from yesterday, just *happened* to be riding by the fire station where they were with all our bikes trying to see if they could hitch a ride with a pickup or something. She stopped to see how they were doing because she recognized them and when she heard what happened she summoned two volunteers and two vans to ferry everyone to the hospital. When I get outside she's brought me two slices of gluten-free bread (I confirm it's Udi's before partaking) and for the others, chocolate covered coffee beans. Dan gives me the pre-cooked bacon that was supposed to be tomorrow's breakfast and I have a bacon sandwich and some juice and feel better from that.

Rebecca then calls around to the catholic church of the area, St. Clare's I believe, for permission for us to set up camp in their backyard and she calls the neighbors to tell them what's happening and she doesn't leave us until she knows that we'll be safe and sound for the next two nights as needed. We take photos to remember her by (and to post on facebook) and bid her a warm and grateful farewell. The volunteers drive me and Bike Rothar over there while the others cycle. Cursory examination says BK is all right--she'll just need some new handlebar tape and some adjustment to the hoods/brake levers.

everyone pitches their tents, but I don't because I know that I'll need to sleep indoors tonight. there's a Knights Inn just across the street so I decide that I will sleep there. first thing we do is all walk half mile to Walmart where we get some more food and I fill my prescription for pain pills that I was given in the hospital. the people in the pharmacy are really great and they offer me a lot of condolences and heal soons. I buy an orange carrot juice because I'm really thirsty but I can't really think of anything else and I'm not terribly hungry so that's all that I get besides the medication. when we're all done with Walmart we walk back the other way past the church to go to a Italian restaurant that was recommended to us by Rebecca and the volunteers earlier. obviously I can't eat anything here but I'm not hungry so I just get a Dr Pepper and refill it a couple times. everyone else eats pizzas and bread slathered in garlic butter. I spend some time trying to find out where my uncles in Missouri live and if it is a good idea to try to go ahead to Missouri and wait there until the others pass through. they'll be there about 10 to 14 days from now and if my elbow is not fractured then I should be healed in time to join them. but my uncles in Missouri live kinda far out in the country, and it's looking like it'll be difficult to reach them, especially since Berea Kentucky has no train station no bus stop that we know of and no airport. I do call my uncle Danny and ascertain that he would love to have me over so it's just a matter of trying to get there. it is too late at night however to make any solid plans about Missouri. Ben calls an old family friend who is currently in Lexington, Kentucky, to see if she can give me a ride up to Lexington because I will be more likely to find rental cars, trains, buses, and planes up there than in Berea. She immediately agrees and says she will come first thing tomorrow morning. Our first instinct is to get me a rental car but we're not sure yet if that is feasible.

when everyone is done eating and drinking, we all walk back to the Catholic Church. it is now dark, as the Sun has set. Jenn and Dan help me walk my bike with all my stuff on it to the Knights Inn. I check in for one night and I'm given a whole room with two beds to myself for only about $50. Jen helps me change into sleeping clothes and rewrap my arm after I'd had taken the bandages off to stretch it a little and make sure the joint is still flexible. dan commiserate with me for a little while because one time he broke his collarbone in a accident with a car while he was cycling and he understands what it's like to have difficulty using one side of one's body. they make sure that I can get into an out of bed on my own and a few other things without help, and then they head back to the campsite for the night, saying that they will come back in the morning to help me get dressed and ready to go.

I then spend some time texting my friend nan and reading things on the internet and waiting for the pain pill to make me fall asleep. it takes a bit longer than usual because I was just drinking Dr peppers with caffeine, but when I fall asleep I fall asleep pretty hard. I definitely could not have slept in a tent with my arm this way.

I'm glad that my injury is not worse and if anyone had to be injured I'm glad it was me and not someone else. however, I am very disappointed that I won't be able to continue the trip with the others come tomorrow. hopefully, I will be able to join them again at some point. I don't care if I skip States, I just want to make it to the Pacific Ocean.


today's numbers
distance cycled: 3 mi
riding time: 15 min
avg speed: panic
max speed: ambulance
odometer: ~920 mi

[ since today was so traumatizing & terrible how about a picture of my puppies? the brown one is 10 pounds and the black one with brown accents is 5 pounds and they're both Miniature Pinschers. here they are cuddling up together and sleeping.]

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