January 25, 2010
Gloomy days make the mind succumb to dark thoughts. Saturday morning I lay in bed thinking about my last crash. It happened on a day just like Saturday, mild and damp but not so wet that I worried about being careful on the turns. In other words, dangerous.
I’d ridden about 25 miles in town without a problem. The streets weren’t that bad, so I let down my guard and slid out while turning on asphalt. It was obvious I was in trouble by the sound–that sickening scratch of tires losing control. I went down hard, even though I was only going about 12 mph. At first it seemed like everything was fine, except for the numbness on my hip. Peeling back the spandex at home told another story. Over the next 24 hours the bruise blossomed into a classic hematoma–a hard beige center surrounded by a ring of red and purple, and finished with a fringe of pukey green. It looked like something from outer space, a nebula, only slightly smaller than the real galactic phenomenon.
This is not my hematoma. It’s very similar, but it belongs to some other poor sod, a man, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Normally I would have just stayed off the bike for awhile, but Husband and I were leaving for Wisconsin and a week-long ride known as Bike Northwoods. I showed the massive bruise to friends; they couldn’t believe I was seriously considering cycling. The knot at the center became harder and bigger, and a bloody stain began to ooze down my leg beneath the skin. Was it safe to ride? What if bicycling caused a blood clot to break loose and lodge in my heart? Please God, don’t let me die in Wisconsin. Paranoia, paranoia. Time to call the doctor’s office.
Now, our doctor at that time had a bike-loving physician’s assistant known as Micah. Not only was he a great P.A., but Micah was one of us. Just seeing a patient wearing a ride shirt in the doctor’s office made his endorphins kick in. When I called to make an appointment, I asked for Micah.
The next morning I strolled nonchalantly into the doctor’s office, trying not to limp. The nurse showed me into an examination room and instructed me to remove my slacks and lay down on my side with a white sheet concealing my bare leg. She left, and I followed her instructions. After a few minutes she returned with a chart and pulled back the sheet. Dear reader, I wish you could have seen the horror on her face. The first words out of her mouth were, “Oh. . . my . . . God!” Other exclamations soon followed, including “It’s huge” and “Doesn’t it hurt?” She wrote something on the chart, then slapped down her pen, exclaiming, “I don’t even know how to describe it.” She said Micah would soon be in, and left me alone in the exam room with my nebula and worst-case-scenario thoughts. Well, that was it. Obviously I wasn’t riding in Wisconsin.
Then the door opened and Micah blew in. The nurse followed him, smug in her certainty that Micah would exhibit the same reaction to my disfigurement. Instead, he pulled back the sheet, laughed heartily and said enviously, “That’s awesome!” We had a lovely chat in which he told me about a bad spill he’d taken that caused his bike to break apart, and then he asked how my own bike was doing. Micah tried to educate the nurse by pointing to the tan line above my knee and explaining that cyclists considered it a beauty mark. She had that detached look of all non-riders who are trying to disguise the fact that 1) they’re bored with the conversation and 2) they know you’re crazy. Micah prescribed an analgesic cream to reduce the pain, told me to massage the bruise frequently to break up the fluid (can you say embrocate?), and encouraged me to ride, ride, ride. Husband and I had a great time in Wisconsin. Thanks, Micah! We wish you were still working in our town.
Saturday afternoon I bought a set of cyclocross tires for the Specialized. Gotta get out on the bike.