Life is funny sometimes. A bad thing turns into a great thing, a great thing turns out to totally derail you or a nothing thing turns out to totally change your life. Two years ago, I got hit with a 1/4 scale gas powered RC car, got 7 stitches in my foot (the first in my life) and spent about 2 weeks on crutches for the first time. At first I thought this was a terrible thing. I was and am an avid mountain biker logging 1500 km each year and for a while it looked like I might have cut the tendon in my foot. It happened in July my busiest time of year and two weeks before my 32nd birthday at not the best time in my life either. But within 70 days it also led me to my first triathlon, rediscovering running and a great love of racing. Now that I’ve thought about it a lot more too.
Exactly what Happened
Glad you asked! We happened to get it on video, which I just uploaded this week on honey’s youtube channel. I’ve mentioned on here that Richard had a Remote control youtube channel. We mostly just have fun and it’s an accident that we created it and had any (limited) success with it. On there we do a series called RC Date Night where we basically just film ourselves having some RC fun. So we set up the camera at the local high school during summer break and started filming. The video pretty much speaks for it’s self as to what happened. Click the links to check it out on youtube, it should open in another window.
The steering linkage on a quarter scale gas remote control car broke and even though I jumped and Richard tried to swerve it came at me like the two of us were magnetized. Yeah I screamed and cried in the video and a bit more at the hospital later but overall I had it together. In the video you can see Richard try to give me a good shirt I made him with his RB’s RC’s logo and I tell him to go get a towel instead. I also told him to go get the runaway buggy in the video the first time he leaves me and pick up all the stuff as the video ends. Later he tried to pick me up and carry me to the car and I told him to move the car closer to me instead. I’m pretty good in an emergency generally but that day I learned that’s true even when I’m at the centre of it.
We tried at the walk in clinic but it was Sunday so it was closed and so I sent Richard into the drugstore to buy steristrips and orange juice for the trip to the ER. I had the bleeding stopped within minutes but it was still a four hour wait. By the way fun fact that was only the second time in four years I’ve worn that skirt. The first time was that one time I decided to play tennis, that was part of the outfit I ordered and I got hit in the throat with a tennis ball hard by Richard’s then 9 year old son. I’ve since come to think it might be cursed. Richard dotted on me the whole time fetching me my yoga blanket from the car and felt terrible for the whole 4 hour wait. He felt terrible and was 4 days into (successfully) quitting smoking at the time.
There were a few whimpers during the wait, it turned out there was a little piece of metal from the car in there that was making me uncomfortable in all but one very specific position. I can be a more anxious than average person particularly of the unknown and work myself into a good and proper froth only to remark, “that wasn’t so bad,” after the fact. During those four long hours I had time to recall how everyone says that the freezing is the worst part of stitches. Later I had time to hopefully remember that there was a certain window then no stitches for you, perhaps we had entered that window?
Now this next part I’m not proud of but it happened. I was so worked up that when the took me in I was in full panic crying mode. The poor busy paramedic ripped the cut open to check the tendon right away noting that it was torn slightly as I swore and cried VERY loudly. Seeing my own bone didn’t help. Richard told him I was an avid mountain biker and crazy yoga lady so he slipped a dissolvable stitch in there likely leading to me avoiding wait and see surgery 6 weeks later. I must have asked what it was going to feel like when he was holding the needle and, “a buttload of burning,” was not comforting at the time and the crying and swearing reached it’s peak. Once the first stitch was in I totally and immediately calmed down after quite a performance and took the other 6 like a trooper. He was less than impressed when he found out I was about to turn 32. Ooops!
In two words and anxiety and boredom. That night all the what if thoughts started. It was our busy work season, what would they do without me? How was this going to heal, would I need tendon surgery? What if I put weight on it too early and blew that internal stitch too early? Would I ever, run, bike or do yoga again? I’m not a great healer, still now, how long would this take? Would it get infected? Was crap still in there from the car? Money was already tight, how was this going to affect me financially? It was a rougher point in our relationship, how was that going to work out? Would Richard do a good job taking care of me while I was laid up? I really did put on quite a performance at the hospital, was Richard mad at me? It was a low point for me emotionally I had been applying to so many jobs and not landing anything yet. I knew it was taking a big toll on me how would I cope with this too? I barely slept three hours all for all the worry, well 50% throbbing pain, 50% worry. How was I going to cope with this pain?
The next day was certainly a fresh one. The pain was pretty much gone compared to the night before. I crawled down the stairs got in the car and bought first aid stuff and rented some crutches after everyone left for work. Carrying stuff was terrible so I hand stitched some hello kitty pouches for my crutches, that material was stretchy yet strong. PS I handed those in with the crutches when I was done and the pharmacist said they were genius. I could carry a full mason jar of tea upstairs in each one.
Then I was bored. REALLY, REALLY BORED! I was mostly stuck in my office upstairs, next to the bathroom and going up and down stairs was a chore. By day two I was back to making the boys lunches, dinner and tidying up. My hanging clothes on the line with my crutches even led to a fight for a yard fight between my neighbours (he doesn’t think she does enough generally) so that was entertaining for about 10 minutes. But for the first time ever I bought game levels for my iPad and I got really into the plane repo show. To the point I watched all 5 seasons and a few weeks later remarked that that was a terrible thing to do to a perfectly good G6 when we were watching a movie.
Overall nothing I was worried about actually happened. It healed well, but slowly and I cleaned it obsessively. Richard took great care of me and all the other stuff worked it’s self out. Lots of backstory I know but I want to share this in one particular place where I know people are sometimes having a rough time. I’d say that all that worry and anxiety was more than a waste of time but where I was at the time and my personality pretty much made it a given. I probably left the stitches in a few days extra, I took them out myself. If I can dissect a sea monkey I can handle stitch removal. The crutches and bandages stayed on longer on me than they ever would have on Richard but I got back to berry picking on my bike, bandaged a couple of weeks later.
Unintended Good Consequences
Never ever did the thought cross my mind in those two weeks that this cloud might have a silver lining. Even though life had already taught me that a few times already. And if the thought crossed my mind it was never that I would come back to racing through this injury. I had done a few mountain bike races back in the early 2000’s when I was actually really good and had a chance to place well. Fast forward to 2015 and beyond and now I love signing up for races, it’s something I love to do and look forward to them. I’ve always run, sort of. It’s been a great way to get my fitness back each spring to hop onto the bike before the snow melts in the woods or they dry out a bit. I also ran in the fall when it might be too cold for the bike or the days are too short for anything but a quick run. That spring the snow wasn’t gone until well into June in the woods after one hell of a winter and I was running more that year pre injury.
Well I was smad that I hadn’t logged my usual 1500 km on my bike that summer and was feeling antsy. I usually work up to a big ride each year like a (metric) century or a crazy long and technical trail day like Gore by myself. I knew I wasn’t quite in the shape for that but wood chopping in the winter and RC boat retrieving in the summer left me feeling somewhat confidant. I happened to be driving by the course for an upcoming triathlon and warning motorists to be on the lookout next Sunday. For some stupid reason I decided, I should do that and went home and registered for the sprint. That antsy feeling from being laid up led me to doing something I would have never, EVER done otherwise. I knew I wasn’t going to do very well particularly since I was planning on riding my mountain bike and most people train for this crap. And I didn’t do very well, but I also didn’t come last! Getting my first stitches made me do something else really far out of my comfort zone which is not something I’m known for at all! I initially figured well I paid my money so I might as well try and if I don’t finish I don’t have to tell anyone but mostly I had already paid…
In previous bike races I had been at the front of the pack and during this one all the people passing me were so encouraging. It felt amazing just to finish and though I swore never, ever again. It was less than a month before I registered for our region’s big race weekend the following spring for the 10k having never run one before. I realized it was fine and fun just to finish and that was an accomplishment too. The people were so nice including my childhood dentist and the mom of a kid I previously tutored at the start line. The experience really opened my eyes to the fact that I could be out doing this having fun and just finishing is accomplishment enough! Letting go of perfection and an ‘I only want to play if I can win’ attitude has made me grow as a person. It makes me so much easier on myself and others.
Now I participate in about 10 races a year and Richard comes to every single one. I have done more sprints but I mostly do running races since they are more convenient, there are more of them and they are cheaper. Signing up, training for and dealing with race day nerves can make me pretty anxious but doing it anyway and being happy I did on the regular makes me more confident to deal with other everyday stuff that ruffles my feathers.
It’s also been the starting point to leading me down a path to accomplishing things I previously thought were impossible. During harder times running has been a great go to for me to deal with horrible feelings and thoughts. At one point like that when I was 25 I was running a lot and I seriously considered training for a half but I decided that I couldn’t physically (due to a previous car pedestrian accident) or carve out the time needed to do it. Well my new found love of just finishing led me to completing that goal 10 years after I decided that ship had sailed. Accomplishing things I never thought possible every year or more often if you count training gives me more confidence as a person.
I’m sure a lot of ladies in particular can identify with this next point since we tend to be the consistent caretakers in our relationships and families. I can sometimes feel like I’m doing more than my fair share of the supporting and occasionally feel resentful for that. But seeing Richard up well before the crack of dawn with me, making me a medal holder, standing at the finish line and holding my stuff in the pouring rain should I need a sweater sometimes for hours reminds me every month that I am supported too. My races and his showing up and being excited for them is a way I can give him an opportunity to show his support, which is something I realized I wasn’t doing before. From my perspective at least the fact that I now consistently sign up for races makes our relationship better and that makes me a happier person too!
Takeaways from this experience
We finally decided to put the video online this week for no other reason that it’s kinda funny and we had the footage. For more than 6 months I didn’t really want to watch it, mostly until I could see the humour in it and then well I was busy with other things. Might as well was the motivation there and editing it took about 5 hours. I put it up last night and we knew Richard was going to get some hate over it but it’s pretty entertaining too in that ‘oooohhh that looks like’ it hurt sort of way. My foot healed great (thanks patient yet unimpressed paramedic) and every once and a while it aches ever so slightly when I over do it. But I really have to think about it to notice it.
In editing it and responding to comments I realized that painful moment really did improve my life years later in bigger ways. It gave me a new hobby, made me a better person by learning to be easier on myself and others and continues to make me value my relationship more and more. I needed the reminder that every cloud has a silver lining and that on some personal level the butterfly effect is real. Writing this post also reminds me to be less judgemental in general. When you get a brief look into the window of someone’s life it might look perfect or like a train wreck in the moment. They might have just won the lottery or been arrested but in the long term those things might have the opposite effect than you might think.
It also makes me think that even in your own life try to live in the moment and not judge a moment in the moment. I got injured by a broken, huge, runaway RC car, not the biggest deal in the world but I would have not gone that day if a crystal ball could have told me what was about to happen. Other bigger things like my mom getting cancer worked out okay in the end 15 years later and brought us to the closest years we ever had. Buying my dream car for a price I could afford derailed me financially in repairs for a number of years after I even sold it. Some of our biggest fights, the ones we almost didn’t survive in 14 years made both of us and our relationship better. But nothing things like, ‘a man walks into a bar’ and ‘my husband says he went to high school with you’ have changed my life too.
Embrace that life is always changing and live in the moment. Be open to good possibilities. Simple sentences but such a tall orders to accomplish. This and so many other experiences have taught me that, but I’m still only able to do it part of the time. Hopefully by the time I’m 75 I’ll be able to purse my lips, shrug my shoulders sand say ‘either it will work out or it won’t, life!’ with the same calm tone my grandmother used to.
Do you have a good thing, bad thing or nothing moment that changed your life in unexpected ways?