What if I'm never the same again?
On Monday, February 1st, I woke up to a sunny, unseasonably warm morning. I was happy. I remember making breakfast, oatmeal and berries with cinnamon, and thinking to myself how great life was going. I was getting over my cold, I was about to start rehearsal for a play with a new theatre company, I had blasted through the house in a surge of post sickness energy and cleaned out cabinets and drawers and made the house feel 'new' over the weekend, I had visited with friends, I was two weeks away from my honeymoon. I remember thinking to myself how great life was right now. I distinctly remember thinking, "I suppose it won't always be this good. Life is long, so much can happen. I should just appreciate this time." I remember where I was and what I was looking at when I had that thought.
I rode my bike to work. I was really happy that I didn't have to wear a lot of extra clothes. I taught my classes and was excited that my honeymoon was soon. I remember telling a few of my students about it. I got on my bike to go home and put my sunglasses on. Excited that it was sunny and warm. My husband was taking half a day off of work, he had my cold. I had texted him to see if he wanted me to pick anything up for him. I had planned to come home, go for a run in the warm 40 degrees, have dinner with him and make sure he was comfortable and then head off to rehearsal.
I was twelve minutes from home, going north on Lincoln, just having passed Lincoln and Byron and coming up on Lincoln and Larchmont when a light blue car going south on Lincoln suddenly turned in front of me onto Larchmont, cutting me off. I squeezed my breaks but couldn't stop in time. He didn't stop. It seemed like everything went frame by frame as I watched the panels of the car go by, getting closer, wondering if he would speed up enough to miss me. He didn't. There was no where for me to swerve. I hit the back of the car hard.
There was a Comcast van that I had been riding near for some time. I would pass him, he would pass me. He was a van, so I noticed him because we were both trying to give each other room. Sometimes the vans don't try and give you room and just terrify you. The driver of the van was the one I heard first yelling, "are you okay?! are you okay?!" I tried to say yes, but I couldn't get any words out. I couldn't get any breath in or out for a few seconds. I tried to push myself up and he put a hand on me and said, "don't try and move if you can't, just stay there, you're bleeding." Then I saw little drops of blood falling. Drop, drop, drop. Like little rain drops when the rain suddenly gets serious. I started trying to take my helmet off and pulled my sunglasses off. They were broken. I was bummed about that. I really liked those sunglasses. I looked over at my bike and started trying to move it. I wanted to see if the front tire was okay. The front reflector was busted off. I picked it up and put it into my helmet with my gloves and balaclava. No idea why. It was cracked and busted. I landed on my right side. My right shoulder hurt. I remember thinking, 'fuck, did I just fuck up the same shoulder again' and at the same time wondering if the physical therapy that I had diligently done on my rotator cuffs every weekday since September 2014 would protect it. Other people started coming over. Then I started noticing things outside of my immediate field of vision.
There was a woman calling 911. There was the Comcast guy, he picked my bike up and moved it over to the sidewalk. I heard him telling the lady on the phone that the driver who hit me took off and he didn't get a plate number. I started trying to sit up. I started crying a little bit for no reason. I mean, I guess really it wasn't no reason, but I had no feeling attached, my body was just doing it. This hysterical woman came over, very concerned about how much I was bleeding and telling me to please close my eye because she didn't want blood to get in it and yelling at someone to get her a napkin or something. I remember thinking, "why do you care if blood gets in my eye? Is it gross looking?" She and the Comcast guy got me up to sit on the sidewalk. She tried to take me into the Brownstown restaurant because she was concerned that it was cold outside, but I wanted to stay by my bike. I still had my bag slung across me and I realized I wanted to call Dean and started fumbling for my phone. When I touched it my activity tracker started giving me stats about my ride and I began turning it off. The hysterical woman, who's first language was not English, started trying to take my phone from me to do it for me. I said, "I want to call my husband." She said, "I will do it! I will do it! Where is his number?" So she went to recent calls and dials Dean. This is verbatim what she said; "Hello? Yes, I think your wife? Yes, she was hit by a car? Yes, Lincoln and Larchmont. She is bleeding from her eye. Will you come?" As soon as she said that I was hit by a car, I started saying, "but, I'm okay, but I'm okay" because I knew how that must sound on Dean's end. He didn't hear me. So he probably had visuals of me laying in the street bleeding from my eyes. Someone had given her a stack of Papa John's napkins from the restaurant next door. I remember looking at them. I like Papa John's. I like the pepperoncini.
The firemen came. The firemen are always very nice. Donate to the firemen whenever you can. I was hit once before. It was worse and better than this time. Worse because the damage to me and my bike was worse. Better because the guy stuck around. And I got a settlement. Anyway, the firemen were nice. They locked up my bike for me. They even took the front wheel off and locked it to the frame. They put ice on my head. They talked to the witnesses. They didn't call the police because there was no point. They asked me what hurt aside from my head. I said my right shoulder hurt and my ribs hurt, but not bad. They looked at my eyes and put ice on my head. They moved me into the sun so that I would be warmer. They asked if I wanted a blanket but I said no, the sun was good. They asked when my husband was coming. I said he was only a 12 minute bike ride away. They said they would wait for him. I called Dean again to see where he was and also so he could hear that I wasn't laying unconscious on the pavement bleeding from my eyes. He was at Montrose, he was coming. I saw him a few minutes later and said, "there he is." He started frantically trying to cross the street and the firemen said, "God, let's not make it two." One of them went out and stopped traffic and let Dean get across. Once he got there, the fireman in charge basically briefed Dean on my condition and said he would like me to go to the hospital and get checked out. Dean said he agreed.
We got to ride in the ambulance. I was grumpy. I was worried about my bike. My shoulder hurt. I wasn't going to get to go on my run. I didn't know what my face looked like. My favorite sunglasses were broken. Ambulances cost $1000 minimum.
We got to the hospital and I had to get x-rays and stuff. I forgot how they wheel you around in a wheel chair. I must have been more out of it last time. Or I was on the stretcher last time. At some point while Dean and I were alone in the room I realized that I was still on my period and didn't have a tampon and needed one. So Dean asked the doctors for one and the guy was like, while you're in there, here's a cup for a urine sample. I was kind of like, okay whatever, but why? Like, now I'm asking, why? In case there was blood or something? Just so there could be something else on the bill?
While we were in there, it kind of occurred to me that I wouldn't make rehearsal that night. Dean called my stage manager that I had never met. Dean asked if we should call both sets of parents. I told him we could call his. I didn't want to call mine until we knew something. We sat in there a while, Dean called his parents. His mom said she was willing to come up and be with me if I needed. At the time I was still thinking I would go to work the next day. At the time I was still pissed that I was going to miss a run outside in nice weather. We sat in their a while longer. I took a picture of my head on my phone so I could see what I looked like. It didn't seem SO bad at the time. The doctor came in. He was the most blase doctor ever. He said he was going to get x-rays ordered and someone would come in and take me to get a cat scan. I told Dean that I felt like everything was taking much longer this time than last time and I was in the middle of shift change last time. He said, "Well you were a little more banged up last time." It's true. Last time I landed on a curb. And was kind of t-boned. This was still not fun.
Finally someone came to put me in a wheel chair to x-ray my ribs and shoulder and cat scan my head. As I was getting in the wheel chair Dean asked if he should call my parents. Again. I asked what he thought. He said he thought they should know. I said okay go ahead. I got x-rayed and cat scanned. And had a conversation with the nice lady that I would have with many well meaning strangers. "what happened?" "were you wearing a helmet?" "well did he stop at least?" "did anyone get his plate number?" "were there cameras?" "well at least you're okay, it could have been a lot worse." Yes. It also could have not happened at all and I could be on my run and taking care of my sick husband and getting ready for my rehearsal. I never say that last part to people. Since family had been called I passed the time by posting the picture I took on Facebook. It was nice to at least be 'talking' to people who were concerned. I got lots of nice texts also. The blase doctor came in and said nothing was broken and there were no contusions. He said I was going to get a huge black eye and it was going to drain all down my face. I mean, I guess he's an ER doc, so this wasn't a big deal. But he was totally like, "yeah, so I think you should put the desk in that corner because it's the only corner where you won't be blocking a doorway." I mean, that's the kind of emotion he put behind telling me that my face would be a wreck for a while. Maybe he was on the end of his 36 hours or something.
Dean contacted our friend Mike who picked us up at the ER and also put a bike rack on his car and picked up our bikes and brought us home. My bike seemed amazingly okay other than the reflector being broken off. It was ride-able. People wanted us to call them when we got in. I didn't want to talk to anyone. Dean's parents wanted to Facetime. I didn't want anyone seeing my face. I put an ice pack on my head while we did that and stayed out of frame. We called everyone we needed to call. I had nothing to say. It was weird. It was like, yes, I'm fine. Yes, I'm going to ride my bike again. No, we can't find the guy. No, no police. No, there's nothing we can do. I'm sore. I was just grumpy. There's no other word for it. There was no real feeling except a vague discontent. I found subs for my classes the following day.
The next day was okay. My face was a mess. Dean was still sick so he stayed home with me and bought us coffee and we had muffins. I did a lot of rubbing out my eye with frozen spoons trying to dissipate the swelling. I tried to be a good sport. Mike brought us to Mariano's. We didn't need anything, I just wanted to get out of the house. We called 311 to make sure there wasn't anything to be done. We called our insurance to make sure that we'd be okay even without a police report. I contacted my agents and told them they probably shouldn't send me on any auditions until after the honeymoon. I updated various supervisors. My friend Tiffany came over with some champagne and cheese. That was the best part of the day. The next day, Dean and I got up and I was more sore. Dean asked if I still wanted to do our standing coffee shop date. I asked if it was okay if we didn't. I was tired and sore. He left for work.
I started having a hard time. I made myself go for a run like I normally would have done. There's an Asian guy who always says good morning to me when I run on Wednesdays. I love that guy because he reminds me of running in the south when everyone says good morning to you and waves. Today he still said good morning, but he looked at me funny. Everyone did. My face felt weird, like there was extra face there on one side. I came home and showered and broke down in the shower. Okay, that's done, I thought. I got ready for the day. It was going to be a long day. I was going to take a yoga class, teach some classes, then go directly to rehearsal. I started getting ready to leave and I couldn't stop crying. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I called Dean at work and couldn't stop crying. I finally had to call everywhere I worked and get subs. I went back to bed and slept most of the morning. I tried to be 'productive' and clean the house and do laundry. I would occasionally cry. I didn't know why. I was fine. Other than my face being a mess. A guy from ComEd came by and buzzed saying he needed to get in to change the meters. Apparently no one else in the building was home. I was kind of like, 'why do I need to deal with this right now?' But I did. And he asked me what happened and I let him into the basement and went back upstairs. Dean called on his break. My mom called. It was weird. I wanted to talk to people, but I had nothing to say. I tried to say things, but it was exhausting. They eventually ran out of things to say and we would hang up. Dean kept telling me that he could come home if I needed him to. Everyone at work would understand. I told him there was no point. And there wasn't. What good would that do? Eventually he got off work and came home. I had contacted my stage manager and said that I would come to rehearsal but I might leave early because I was having headaches (which was true, I was taking some big time Ibuprofen.) Dean said he would bike to rehearsal with me. I just needed to get that first bike ride done. He came home and sat with me a while and then we started getting ready to go. I cried. He asked if I didn't want to go. I said I didn't want to go. I didn't want to go to work, I didn't want to go outside, I didn't want to do anything, I wanted to just make the rest of the world go away until we were on our honeymoon. He hugged me for a while and I cried. I knew I needed to just do something. We rode to rehearsal. A bus almost killed us. It was terrifying. I was like, 'really?' We made it there. I got to rehearsal. Everyone was really nice to me. They told me I didn't need to be there. They would have time to catch me up. I stayed for about an hour and a half, two hours, then I begged out. Everyone was cool. I texted Dean. He asked if I wanted him to meet me and bike home with me. I told him I didn't want to MAKE him do that. He said I should try by myself and not be afraid to stop and take public trans and call him if I needed. I made it home. It was fine.
The next day I woke up at 4:30am and go ready to go to work. It was the worst. I made it, though. I saw people People saw my face and how bad it was. Everyone was pretty nice. It was still hard. Everything was extra effort. I taught my first class and it went fine, but it was almost like someone else was teaching it and I was just riding inside that person. I clocked out after. I wanted to go do sprints. I mean, I didn't WANT to, but that's what I normally did. I ran into a yoga student who really liked a class I had subbed once and had always talked to me since. She wanted to know what happened. If I wanted a hug. If I wanted to talk about healing. She was very nice, but it made me want to cry and hide in a corner more. I started getting ready to go run. I put on Facebook, "What if I'm never the same again?" I hate putting cries for help on Facebook. It's so public and so full of people who really don't care and are sitting there judging you. But it's also full of friends and family. And it takes very little energy to put something like that out there. I mostly got really nice responses back. I made it through sprints. I went to the bathroom and ran into a friend. We talked for a bit and it was actually kind of nice. In that gross bathroom. No one else was there. It was nice to talk to someone kind of honestly who knew me outside of just work a little bit. I finished my run after. Finished my monkey bars. Did my physical therapy, rolled out my leg and showered off. I taught my next two classes. I had to tell everyone what happened. I had to deal with looking at my face in the mirror the whole time I taught. But it was okay. Teaching felt good and normal. I biked home. I hung with Jake the Cat. I went to rehearsal. I felt good at rehearsal. Almost normal.
I had trouble the next morning. I still went and did yoga. I still ran into friends and talked and sometimes it was good. I still had people see me and go, "Oh my God! What happened?!?" I still had to relive it several times. There was some okay times, mostly when I was teaching. But everything took a little extra effort. I came home and made a list of simple tasks to get done. Eat. Bathe. Pick up. Clean litter. Take out trash. Write. I also took a nap and tried to remind myself that I had carved out this little safe place on this couch in this dwelling with this cat by my own doing and that I was safe here and it was okay to just be safe here for a bit.
I don't know why this is hitting me like it is. I don't know if writing this will help, but it's something that was suggested. So I though I would try. I don't remember going through this last time. But I also was hurt physically more last time. There was an entire week off, doctor ordered. There were things I had to do. Doctors, physical therapists to find. Lawyers to talk to. Bikes to asses. Bikes to donate. New bikes to buy. A marathon training interrupted. A yoga teacher training to try and finish. So maybe I just don't remember the emotions as much. Or maybe I didn't get to have them. I'm having them. And they're weird and I don't understand them. But I have a lot of supportive friends and family. And I'm putting one foot in front of the other. And I will be okay.