things you can do with only one arm and other observations

on june 25th, i was on a “recovery day” training ride with a group of friends when what every cyclist dreads happened to me… humiliatingly, right in front of my local bike shop/sponsor, kent cycle. i was riding along in the street talking over my right arm to my friend melissa, who was riding on the sidewalk. a car was behind me so rather than swerve in front of it, i shortened my swing-out to go over the curb. a curb i have gone over 100 times at minimum. my front wheel was not perpendicular enough. i mildly high-sided. except i didn’t really high side- i was in my drops when i hit the ground, so my right hand took all of the impact. below is the result of this low speed (15 mph? 12? less?) fall.

at u.h. portage, after some swelling pushed the ulna back into what’s passing as a wrist… tough grrls never cry, they just breathe deep and control that heart rate!

i heard the crunch when i hit the ground and thought for a moment it was one of my bangal bracelets. i sat up and saw my bone, outside of my arm, where it clearly does not belong. reports are that i quietly uttered the phrase, “oh this is bad.”

my radius broke in two and twisted toward the outside of my right arm, forcing my ulna through my tendon and out the side just below my wrist. i took the woowoo wagon to the local hospital.

here are some interesting details about the corona pandemic. hospitals were bracing for an overflow of patients with the respiratory disease so they shuttered many services (like surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions). time went on and (at least here in rural northeast ohio) the patients never came… but neither did the money from the cancelled surgeries. as a result many medical staff are laid off or on furlough. whole floors of my local hospital are dark. the emergency room is staffed by one doctor and a group of emt’s. the emt staff is fun and we spent a lot of time sitting around talking shit.

after a round of x-rays to confirm what appeared to be the obvious, i was told not to eat or drink anything & expect to see a surgeon that day. after 5 hours, the e.r. doctor came in and told me he couldn’t find a surgeon. not here, not in cleveland, not in akron. at 3:00 on a thursday afternoon. the best he could do for me was clean my wound, splint my arm and send me home. at least i got to eat the granola bar that i had been staring at for what seemed like an eternity. pretty sure i didn’t even taste it.

the original x-rays. for the record, the doctor that saw me in the emergency room is definitely the only doctor working there because a week later, when my brother crashed HIS BIKE and broke his hand & some ribs, the doctor said to him, “i just saw your sister in here!” also for the record, the doctor is a VERY nice man.

so home i went to party like a rock star. and when i say that i mean i sat on my porch doing the unthinkable: eating antibiotics with bourbon and marijuana brownies until i fell asleep.

i had surgery on june 30th involving a titanium plate, 9 screws, 13 stitches and about a gallon of surgical glue. i would not see my arm again for 2 weeks. i have some bizarre and amazing stories to tell about the surgery, nerve blockers and my slightly goofy polish speaking doctor who graciously took a photo while they were gassing me down for the procedure. says the doctor, “this? this is nothing. i do this surgery in 45 minutes.” the last thing i remember before surgery: i’m stoned, my nerves are completely blocked and my doctor is wagging the arm around making jokes about how broken it is. great dude, that dude. totally.

it only took 5 days before i was trying to ride a bike again, but 2 more weeks before i was given a brace that i would actually be able to ride well in. to get that brace i had to initiate a hostage situation, but eventually with enough threatening i got what i wanted. the orthopedist was not pleased about the situation. i had plans to complete the crusher on the original dates (the weekend after my monday morning appointment with the ortho). i went to the yoop anyways with my new fancy removable cast, dog and boyfriend in the possum van to support my friends. i managed a few miles of the course and found the riding heartbreakingly beautiful. i was so happy to be back on bike my eyes kinda teared up a little bit before i reminded myself to rule number 5. todd poquette, who manages that fiasco up there along with several other shit-stupid events to do on a bicycle, looked at my arm and said, “pffffft, you’ll be out here finishing your miles in september.” yeah, todd, this injury is practically almost literally no big deal, eh?

it looks like that hoser is right. the orthopedist and i are getting along much better now as my “i do what i want” routine seems to be helping my arm heal very quickly. upon returning from the yoop i was cleared to start riding on the road again (no drops, keep wearing arm support) so i threw a flat bar on my fixie. at my most recent appointment i was granted clemency from the diabolical support while doing everything but driving and riding. hopefully in 2 more weeks i will be out of this thing all together.

before marji got cancelled i thought that weekend (september 18-20) might be a good time to hit the crusher course. i still might go that weekend, maybe the weekend after. but sliding in before the october 1 deadline would be a huge triumph for me after all this drama. and in the meantime, a couple of THINGS TO DO have opened up here in ohio!

my friends at joy machines racing are hosting another solo turbo gravel tt, which i hope to complete with my dad this week 🙂

mclain farm is holding their gravel grinder on august 29th and i’ll be there (only 35 miles! baby course for busted arm!) with my padawans from shenanigans cycling.

all in all, things are pretty good here at the possum lodge. i wake up every morning sore but a little stronger. i can ride my bike. i’m planning on going swimming this weekend. i’m typing this with two hands. my brother jeff is recovering from his crash and i imagine we will be out there doing 100 mile fixie rides again in no time. modern medicine is amazeballs, but thank glob i’ve always been left handed!

my current inspirations are:

  • david goggins, who stays hard and never gives up
  • the emt staff working at university hospital, for holding the line and doing more than their job
  • my riding partners and teammates because they’ve helped make this disaster into a joke and we all need more laughter in our lives