Friday, September 29, 2006

PHYSICAL THERAPY UPDATE. Today was my second visit to the PT. The first was fairly easy and actually left me feeling quite good. It also gave me a clearer idea of the condition of the injuries and my prognosis for continued recovery.

Today was hell day. After actually having 2 days of feeling fairly good and two nights of sleeping fairly comfortably, reality set in. Yikes! If I thought I was sore before, I must have been dreaming! I won't elaborate--mainly because I am sore and wrung out--except to say thank God for ice and heat and a short day at work.

But I am hopeful that this will just be another step in the healing process and that things will get better little by little.

One thing I am encouraged about with this PT is the use of free weights and weight machines, both of which I can do on my own once I get back to the gym. I haven't been there for a month, obviuosly, and even if not for the limitations because of injuries, I have been waiting for the bruising and road rash to clear so it isn't so awful for others to look at. Its just a constant reminder then and I don't want to have people cringing whenever they see me!

Okay, I'm off now to ice and heat and hopefully get my energy back for tomorrow's Race for the Cure. Its going to be a "long" walk for me tomorrow, so I hope I can pull this off. And I'm really interested to see just how fast I can really walk this thing. One race I had to miss out on earlier this month, had I been able to walk, I probably would have placed in my age group. Go figure on that! I can't beat a turtle when I run, but had I walked I most likely would have placed (first in AG was 57 min. for a 5k walk!). Results tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Life of the Walking Wounded

I am trying not to get frustrated or negative about this, but at the 3 week mark, I still have to remember that I am injured. Not injured like a pulled muscle, stress fracture, sore knee, etc. but really injured. Everyone sympathizes with me, but no one realizes that how I look does not relate to how I feel.

And I really try not to act or look too injured. I don't want to draw attention to my injuries everywhere I go, but there are noticeable things: a limp (getting better) from the broken toe; holding my body in such a way to not use the injured side to open doors (like wth my shoulder), or picking up things mainly with my left arm. And of course there is the 24/7 pain factor, which if it doesn't show on my face (sometimes), it is affecting my attitude.

You're still injured. First time at rehab made that very clear. Unlike other injuries where you take a couple of weeks off but can still do reduced workouts, this isn't one of them, obviously. I was reminded again, if not for the pain alone, that broken ribs do take a couple of months to heal. And every time they do more x-rays, new fractures are showing up. I now know I have two fractures at T-2 and T-7 or 8.

It has become a different life for me right now, working half days, coming home and pretty much resting--sitting, reclining, always with ice or heat on my back. Taking walks, and then sitting and resting again until bed. I am forcing myself to do the resting to heal fully and faster, but I can't help get a little resentful. And I don't expect anyone to stop what they are doing because of me.

I find that I am enjoying posts or blogs about others' races a lot right now, sort of living vicariously through others. It keeps me positive and optimistic. But I can't help hoping this stuff doesn't last more than 2 months. (See how conflicted I am?)

So what am I doing or what can I do to make this better? For one, I am walking at least every day. I'm cleared for that, and with limitation am okay. Don and I have been walking every day together, despite him keeping up his running and other workout schedule. I have signed up to walk Race for the Cure, because I can do this while others can't. I'm only doing the untimed 5k walk, but its something. I can see from my physical therapy that I can safely do some weight training to keep the muscles toned and flexible. I actually feel better after the therapy. I am finding that I want to make this down time restful but productive at the same time. I have to take responsibility for my own recovery and healing.

I think its important that I keep up some sort of activity to make it easier to transition back into full activity when I am able. I don't want to make it harder on the rest of my body later and end up with something else wrong.

I hope to start looking at bikes soon--before nothing is left in stock--but I really haven't been able to get out there for any length of time. And for some reason, I'm really fearful of not being able to get what I want, even though my attorney thinks I should be able to get something much better than I had before. (Did I mention I work for attorneys??)

But at the same time I worry about my ability to get back on a bike next season. The more I learn about the accident, the more fearful I become. I'm bothered by visions of being hit now, when before that did not enter my mind. Maybe it has taken a while to heal mentally so these thoughts are surfacing, I don't know. Considering the speed at which I was hit, and most likely how I was hit, it leaves me shaken, even riding in a car at times. So I have to look for a way to overcome this as well.

So many facets of recovery! That alone takes time and energy, so I know I can't rush this thing, no matter how much I wish for it. My biggest disappointments right now are not being able to participate in the events I had signed up for through the next few months, and the fact that I will be starting from square one when I do get back at it. I really mentally had gotten to the point where I believed I was ready for and could do an IM and planned to sign up for IMFL for 2007. Now I am having doubts about my ability to recover fast enough to really do something that monumental. I will be exactly at the 2 month mark on the day of IM FL this year--and I won't be able to attend as a volunteer for that either now. Again, another factor I have to deal with.

As for the driver of the car? Who knows what she felt, feels, or even thinks at this point. I have to believe she was bothered at least some by this. My attorney has sent her a letter asking that she contact him and also to put her insurance company on notice about the accident, something she may not have let them know about. Everyone I know wants her to pay, and for the reasons stated above--time lost from my life I can't make up plus the altered lifestyle--so do I. I do not want to be or mean to be vindictive. But I also do not want her taking the attitude that she wasn't at fault. She was, 100%, and the accident report states it. Knowing my actions that day, I know it too.

So right now, I have mixed feelings about everything. I am trying to find a focus and keep looking forward. I continue to appreciate everyone's good wishes for continued recovery.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Last night was my 35th high school class reunion. Yikes! When I did the math about 6 weeks ago, I realized it had really been that long. Since my divorce, I have pretty much been off the radar as far as being located goes, having moved enough times that I no longer receive any forwarding or junk mail from any previous address. And for the first time in probably 3 reunions back, I have felt confident enough in myself as my own person to attend--by myself. No longer under the shadow of my ex, I was ready.

I took a chance and looked on the Internet under the website and did find a listing for an upcoming reunion. First, as a warning if anyone else decides to try this, be forewarned that even if you do somehow manage to get info on your class, you will also be, for a better word, spammed about any other class from the same school that has any listings. While I did find specific information about my class, I still get e-mails from "classmates" in the 5 years previous to my graduation year, none of which I would have any idea who they were. (High schools are generally no more than 4 year schools, right??)

I was not on the popular circuit back then. I had grown up in the area with most of the kids but had not attended public schools until high school, so while some were neighborhood pals, none were actually friends. I had my own circle of friends soon enough, most of which no longer live in the area and I haven't seen in so many years I've lost track.

My social circles for the past almost 20 years has been running and triathlon related. I was curious then to see if any of my classmates who might attend might be someone I had gone to school with. There is one woman who runs that I see from time to time, but surprisingly no one else.

Arriving at the reunion, I started getting nervous. Why I don't know. I was pretty sure I would not remember anyone or be remembered. But being that it was 35 years later, what were the chances any of us would be the same?

The first person to greet me was one of the organizers of the reunion, a woman I did not remember. The second person was someone who had been in my homeroom for all 3 years I attended the school, and he did remember me, and after closing one eye and cocking my head a little, I remembered his face. :)

I guess the biggest thing I noted about the evening was that most of us attending looked fairly good. I wouldn't be able to say too many of us looked like we were in our 50s, but then do I really see myself that way?? It was interesting to note that all the guys on the cross country and track team now sported guts. None of them ran any more--bad knees, bad back, no time, etc. The usual excuses. But I have to say that I probably was in the best shape of all the women. :)

The other thing I noticed was how many people married classmates (me included) and how many were still married! That's amazing to me.

I did run into my old neighborhood pal, one woman I knew way before anyone else there knew her. She was one person I had hoped to run into. I haven't seen her in 25 years. I only vaguely recognized her. She actually looked older than me, but still was nice looking. So we caught up on family news and our very different lives.

The "most popular" girl--you know the one who was prom queen, homecoming queen, cheerleader, etc.--in high school showed up later. She was always snobbish to anyone but her close circle of friends, which included many. I can't remember her exactly being in any of my classes, but considering her reputation, you can't forget someone like that. I'm happy to say she probably looked the worst of any of the women there. While she was never "pretty" in high school, but you figured she would grow into her looks, that apparently never happened. Since she was always the one who tanned heavily in H.S., she looked much older than her years. And she was only moderately in good body shape.

And then there were the surprising success stories--spoiled little rich girl goes on to be assistant superintendent of a high poverty school district (Cicero, IL) and loves it. I never would have figured her for that.

I will say I am not the person now I was then. I'm sure that is true for any of us after so many years. Its always interesting to see what talent comes out of your class, either high school or college, and it makes you proud then to be associated with that. That's the only way I can explain how I felt when I left.

And once again, I am happy for my world of triathlon because that is what helped shape the person I am now. It has provided me with so many things I wouldn't have had or experienced because of it. Going to a reunion or making connections with your past however makes you realize what a small minority we triathletes really are, so we have to stick together and share our experiences, if even through our blogs. It opens up our worlds in ways we could never imagine way back when.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Its been 17 days now since the accident. I am healing as best as can be expected, and then maybe better than most. I returned to work Monday, part-time for 2 weeks, and while I have no outward signs of injury, I really don't know what everyone expected. I know they didn't expect to see me that soon, or up and walking. Maybe they thought I would need crutches? (Ouch! not with broken ribs!). A wheelchair? (I'm injured, not crippled.) And of course there are those who had to say, "See what happens when you try to be healthy? If you were sitting at home eating bon bons, this wouldn't have happened." (If I was sitting at home I would also look like you!) Yes, I have some limitations, but I am doing what I can because I can. I have triathlon to thank for strength in getting through this, physical strength that I suspect many women at my age would not have. Good enough physical condition that it has slowed me down, temporarily I would hope, but not stopped me.

Yesterday, I returned for a follow-up with the orthopedic doctor for more x-rays (ouch, more pain!) and some sort of prognosis. He noticed something new, a compression fracture in the middle of my back, between the shoulder blade area. That is what has bothered me the most, making it uncomfortable to sit most of the time, and which for a pain description is like having a knife in the middle of your back and trying to work around it to avoid any unnecessary pain. Can't be done. He did prescribe 800 ibuprofen for that, together with a pain medication, which I am using only Tylenol x-tra strength. Works as good as Vicadin, in my experience. And the two can be used together, something I didn't know before. The two together seem to keep me feeling good most of the time that I am home at least. The prognosis of course is "no biking" (Really? No bike anyway.) Swimming if I can tolerate it. (probaably not yet) No running for 4 weeks at least. (that's to be expected with my ribs and toe) Walking as tolerated up to as much as 45 min. (meaning to me of course 1 hour).

So at least maybe I can do Race for a Cure next week, walking at least. Better than nothing. I have been walking almost every day since getting home anyway, so at least it was good to get the okay. I continue to progress every day.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


As I said, the emergency room time is a bit blurry. Most of my family had arrived and were awaiting word on my condition. From my estimate, it was approximately 1 hour after the accident before I even arrived there. Once there, a team of doctors and nurses got busy on me. I remember getting my shirts cut off and a gown put on. Then my bike shorts. Naturally I don't wear any underwear but what could I do?

I remember having an MRI, they put some sort of monitoring device on me, and I really don't know what else for a while. Since I had a collapsed lung (pneumothorax), that meant getting a chest tube inserted. Let me tell you what fun that was! They sliced into my breast and then with what felt like a spiggot and hammer, they inserted the tube. They actually hammered it in between the ribs. That was painful, even if I don't remember any other pain clearly at this point. That was the scene my daughter came upon when she arrived, bloody and me crying out in agony. So that freaked her out more.

I must have complained about my foot hurting because they then took me for a foot x-ray. As it turned out, my 4th toe on my left foot was broken, and my entire foot from toes to the heel was black and blue.

I remember doctors coming and going and one in particular saying I would likely be in the hospital at least until Thursday. From what I have been told, I must have been asking when I could go home. At some point after this, I was taken to a room. It was approximately 2-3 hours after the accident.

I still had the neck brace on, which was highly uncomfortable. You can't do anything except look at the ceiling. I couldn't see people in my room, the TV, or clock. Just the ceiling, and only a certain point of that. Just bright lights. I don't remember who came to my room necessarily, other than my daughter. By this time, she had gotten ahold of my other daughter who lives in New Jersey, and as expected she panicked but was able to catch an almost immediate flight here, but with a long layover in Cleveland, meaning she wouldn't arrive until 10 pm that night.

Again, the next hours are not clear. I probably slept some. I couldn't get up so they put a catheter in me, but I'll tell you, I never felt it. I had trouble swallowing, but realized later it was because of the neck brace. No food, just liquids, even though at this point it had been determined no surgery was necessary. I was hungry. I hadn't eaten since probably 8 am and then only enough to get me through my ride. I didn't get any solid food until the next day, and I wouldn't exactly have called it food. So I existed that day on water and broth.

Recap of my injuries: 8 broken ribs; pneumothorax; broken toe; broken transverse process bone (next to a vertebrae); deep cut on low back/hip area (I would find out later this was where I was hit by the car's mirror); bruising on one leg from heel to upper thigh and entire left hip; bruising across entire low back; road rash on right leg; scattered cuts and bruises everywhere else and more that showed up over the next week.

I was lucky, I know that. It could have been so much worse, and for this I am thankful and grateful. Not that it was a picnic, I can assure you. I spent the next 2 days in the hospital, surpassing the expectations of the doctors in going home on Tuesday. I was in good enough shape that the worst thing wrong were my injuries. Yes, I was and still am sore--ribs don't heel overnight. And with the punctured lung, my breathing capacity is diminished right now as well.

My bike, helmet, and riding clothes are trashed. I don't really know how things will play out, but am told I should at least be able to get a new bike. I wanted a new bike in the worst way, but this wasn't how I expected to get it. Yeah, I know, you have to be careful what you wish for!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Sunday, September 3, 2006, 9:35 a.m. That's when it happened, according to the accident report.

I had wanted to do a couple more training rides on the bike course for my next tri that was to be on my birthday, Sept. 9. I was going to be going alone since others were tapering either for Ironman WI or the 1/2 in Racine the day before. I wanted to get one training ride in on Sunday, then go and do my mile or longer swim. Then another ride Monday with a run off on the hardest part of the course.

I planned my Sunday bike time to avoid the churchgoers on the course and the sun in the eyes which you get if you leave before 9 am. I left approximately 9:08. I reached the halfway point at 9:28, and was pleasantly surprised at how much better this ride was going than I had expected. I came to the light at the turnaround and, to be safe, waited for the light to change so I had the entire light to turn on and go through the wide intersection. Not much traffic in any direction, and nothing coming close, as far as I could see.

I made the turn, crossed the intersection, and within moments it was as if I was in a dream. There was this explosion in my head and the next thing I remembered was seeing my bike away from me, my left shoe still clipped into the pedal.

The next thing I remember was being treated at the scene by paramedics. I heard a woman clearly say "I didn't see her because the sun was in my eyes." And "I was going between 40 and 50 miles per hour."

Those four things I remember clearly. The rest was a blur until I arrived at the emergency room of a local hospital. No, I do remember them putting me in the ambulance and how painful that was. They might as well have thrown me down a flight of steps it was so bumpy and painful. I vaguely remember making some phone calls and then the rest was at the hospital. I know I called Don but barely remember. I remember talking to my daughter who called while I was in emergency, as I heard my phone ring over and over but no one answered it. Finally someone did and said it was her. Before I knew it, many members of my family had gathered at my bedside waiting for the prognosis.

That's all I can write for now as it is painful to sit and type. More later.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


What was supposed to be my birthday celebration triathlon today obviously isn't going to happen. Some of you probably know about me getting hit by a car on my bike last Sunday, and hopefully soon I will post about that experience. For now, I just want to say thanks for all the well wishes, e-mails, etc. from everyone out there, and I hope to be back at it soon.

Friday, September 01, 2006


That's what my Kolbe Index points to. The Kolbe Index is a business tool that
assesses how we subconsciously invest our energy, providing a means of predicting the way in which we go about solving problems; that which we strive towards and how we are likely to act in a given situation, independent of whether we are extraverted or introverted or our social style. The theory suggests that, if we are forced by circumstances to work against our 'natural or instinctive grain', we will be subject to conative stress, under-use our talents and be less productive.

"Forced by circumstances" to work against my instincts; subjected to conative stress; underuse of my talents; less productive. That pretty much sums up my life and training the last few years. Part of it of course was due to circumstances beyond my total control, but some was due to my fear of flying, so to speak. Fear of failure. Fear to try the unknown. That is me mostly. But I have started discovering something all of a sudden: if I am a strategic planner by nature, then why shouldn't I apply that to my training as well? Why couldn't I use this inate "talent" to make a plan and then work it? The answer of course is that I can.

I know my confidence has been boosted by several factors over these last few months, but I have to give myself some credit for picking myself up, dusting myself off, and getting on with what I have loved doing for years and stop letting outside influences and others dictate how I live my life, when it has mainly been a guilt trip that has kept me from standing up and taking action.

I also am having this feeling I am being steered by a more powerful force to take this direction. Things that have been smacking me in the face for so long have suddenly become clear to me. Things that I can put into a plan to help me train for the next year towards a goal I have been almost not daring to think about for so long but keeps nagging at me as a possibility. That's why I think I am finally ready to take this triathlon training to a whole higher level. THINK BIG!