(Let’s see if I can do this without hitting any weird key sequences. I’ll leave whatever random things I come up with as is.)
Yesterday started out as a really ideal city 4th, and ended up as a pretty miserable one. I had the day off, as did most of the city, so I headed to the beach with a friend, as did most of the city. I loaded my bag up with “margaritas”, snacks, sunscreen, and trashy historical fiction and biked up to Montrose Harbor, where Karen and her friends met me for a few hours of sand and sun and cold cold lake. We had a delicious cocktail, sought out emergency hydration, met up with other friends for dinner in Lakeview, and generally made the most of a lovely, if overly hot day, parting ways happy and sun-tired around 6:30.
I headed back to the Lakefront path for my 9-10 mile ride home. It was cooler by the lake, and even with all of the pedestrian traffic for the fireworks, I expected it to be an easier ride than the stop and start and potholes and radiant heat of the city streets. And it was exactly what I expected: †otally packed in some places, totally fine in others. Lots of people not paying attention.
I came up behind one of these groups of people, called out “ON YOUR LEFT”, and just as I went to pass, one of them swerved to her left. Her rear wheel must’ve clipped my front wheel, and we both went down. She got up, asked if I was OK, then rode off with her friends.
I was most definitely not OK. Blood from abrasions dripping from my hand, elbow, and ankle. A suspiciously tender wrist. Ripped grip tape and a wobbly front wheel. A couple of guys saw it all happen and took care of me, calming me down, encouraging me to take off my helmet and Garmin, letting me use their phone, helping me to water, then locking up my bike when I couldn’t manage the lock myself. Shane was going to come get me but I was by Navy Pier, so it would’ve been basically impossible to get to me so close to the beginning of the fireworks. I left my bike downtown and took a cab home – the driver didn’t charge me and offered to wait and take me to the ER as well.
And so I spent four hours in the ER at Rush, taking ridiculous photos on my phone to document the process. I had a tetanus shot and a pregnancy test and at least three rounds of xrays. They hung my arm from the ceiling †o make sure the ligaments were properly aligned before putting it in a splint. I cried when they compressed my wrist to start the splinting, but declined morphine when offered as I had to drive home. I figured that if my sister could give birth without drugs and I could have my cervix dilated without anesthetic, I could do this. I joked that I was red, white, and blue for the holiday. This is the third time I’ve broken my left radius, and the location of the break might require surgery to make sure the joint heals properly.
I left the ER sometime after 1, exhausted and in pain, wanting nothing more than ice cream and my bed, preferably in that order. I found the latter and a Vicodin. I took the rest of the week off. Today was spent calling the insurance company, calling the orthopedist, waiting 2.5 hours to get a referral, drowning my sorrows in a sundae at Margie’s, and napping in a drug-induced haze.
So now I’m scraped and bruised from shoulder to ankle, and I’m in this giant stupid splint until I can see the ortho on Tuesday and find out what happens next. I’m devastated that most of the things I’ve loved about summer in the city so far – biking, the lake, biking to the lake, yoga, taking photos – are no longer options, at least for the foreseeable future. I can’t pin up my hair or zip up some of my dresses. I can’t ride from Chicago to Milwaukee, and while I’ll still be able to go tubing on the river in Indiana, it’ll be with a plastic bag on my arm.
And I hate that I’m doing all of this on my own. The last time I broke my arm, I was in a new relationship, and the way he cared for me in the days and weeks following the accident cemented my feelings for him, as well as those of my family. This time I sat in the back of a cab alone. In the ER alone – though friends offered to come join me. In the interminable waiting room at the clinic alone. At home alone. I’ve played the role of caretaker in my relationships – and have taken the reciprocal care for granted – to the extent that I don’t know how to ask for care or to be cared for. The cab driver teased me that I was probably too proud to let him help me, take me to the hospital. He was right.
At least I have vicodin and AC and a long weekend.