“Yep. They’re broken.”
One of my oldest memories is when I was two years old. My mother, my sister Joy, and I were visiting my grandmother. My mom had just prepared a cup of coffee and I went over to her. Somehow, someway, she accidentally dumped the scalding hot liquid over me. I started screaming. I remember my mother scooping me up and rushing me over to the sink, and my grandmother running cold water over me. Mom took me to my grandmother’s doctor and he bandaged me up.
In photos of my third birthday the bandages are still wrapped on my arms.
On Tuesday, July 16, 2013, another painful incident was forever chiseled into my brain.
We (Alissa, Iris and me) were on a tow-path training ride. Like our last ride we had a late start and the harrowing thunderstorm we encountered was still fresh in our minds. So we were taking it easy. At the ten-mile point we turned around and started back. I was leading, and as always riding as fast as I could.
There is a new (one year old) bridge across Tinkers Creek; a little tributary of the Cuyahoga river. The bridge is constructed of rough-hewn planks and makes for a bumpy ride. I usually slow to 5-6 mph when crossing it; I don’t want to hurt the bike or the baby by going too fast. As I crossed, I heard something fall and hit the planking. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it bouncing along the planking. I stopped as soon as I crossed the bridge, straddling the bike.
Alissa stopped on the bridge, picking the mystery object up.
“Hey! This just fell off the trailer.” Waving the wayward part at me.
“Ok! I’ll come see what it is!” I called out.
At that particular point where I was stopped on the tow path, there is a short section of split rail fence, to insure riders do not accidentally go off the trail and tumble-down into the creek.
As I said, I was stopped and straddling the bike, with both feet on the ground.
I swung my right leg up and back, so it would clear the bike and I would be dismounted. I don’t know why,but my leg did not clear the bike and instead became entangled with the saddle.
I started falling.
In sloooow mooootioooon.
I saw my chest smash into the fence’s horizontal rail. The rail didn’t budge. My chest did. I could see it enveloping the rail. I watched, frozen in space-time as I slid off the top rail, and my body headed for the second rail. My right foot remained stuck on the second rail and my body crumpled on the path.
I screamed. Just like that kid with the burned arm so many years ago.
I screamed because it REALLY hurt.
I screamed because I knew this was a serious injury and I wanted Alissa to come help me, as fast as possible.
She ran up to me. ”Doug, what is wrong?!”
“I can’t breathe!” And I struggled to suck air into my lungs.
“Doug! Where is your cell phone?!”
“It’s in my pocket.” And somehow I reached into my pocket and dragged it out.
She called 911. I heard her talking to the operator: “No. I don’t know where we are!”
“Tell her that we’re at Tinker’s Creek!” I called out as loudly as possible.
Now, others started gathering around me.
One of them identified himself as a paramedic. ”What’s wrong buddy? Where does it hurt?”
“My ribs! I think I broke my ribs!”
He unzipped my riding shirt and glanced at my chest. ”Oh yeah! They’re broken!” He said.
I coud hear a siren in the background. I tried to just relax and breathe.
Next: Another unanticipated adventure.