Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Worst Pain Of My Life And Picking Up The Pieces.

It is time to write this post.  I have been unable to pull these words together until now.  Saturday and Sunday developed into the most painful 48 hours of my life to date.
Sera and Wilbur doing what they do best.

As of the last post, I was healing from the last bike crash.  Since then, I had been having significant issues with shortness of breath and had suffered a number of attacks that were painful and terrifying.  A return to the hospital after the last confirmed that I was dealing with uncontrolled asthma exacerbated by a low blood count.  I left armed with prescriptions and mixed feelings.  I have managed to make it almost 40 years without being on any major medications.  (Probably due more to inconsistent, shoddy medical attention than any great accomplishment but I make everything into a goal or competition.)  However, I hoped it would provide a turning point for my training and my life.  I have been struggling with this as a handicap without even realizing it for a long time and finally having it treated is akin to removing a huge burden.  So, in spite of the struggle and the expensive, demoralizing trips to the hospital, I view this as a potential silver lining of the crash.

The ribs were coming along well, the breathing issues have a learning curve but over the course of the week following, I started back into a regular workout schedule and was feeling pretty good about things.  I did a number of solo workouts and planned for a 56 mile group ride over the Austin 70.3 course this past Saturday.

Friday night, my dog started acting like she wasn't feeling well.  I realized I was probably going to need to take her to the vet first thing Monday morning and just to be safe, I looked up the emergency clinics in the area.  She seemed to rally a bit later Friday night and was not far from her normal self early Saturday morning... or I NEVER would have gone on that ride!!

But I did go.  And while on that ride, I crashed again.  This time there was no bug, no rain, no circumstances that would contribute to a crash.  I was soft pedaling and putting my bottle away, which is on a torpedo mount between the aero bars.  I was in the lead group and we were loosely arranged and waiting on some others to catch up.  Suddenly, I was tumbling into the pavement.  My reactions were a mix of pain, anger, surprise, and frustration but I pulled myself together and rode 45 mins back to the car, escorted by another rider.  I chose to take a slightly longer but flat route back because I had some serious pain in the hip flexor area, the result of hitting the back of the aero extensions.  I was concerned about my ability to generate the necessary power to get up any hills.
torpedo mount

I hit the rear part of the aero bars.. OUCH!

I made it back to the car with nothing more dramatic than a few tears.  Along the way, I heard myself tell my companion that I thought I might be losing my dog soon.  He questioned why I was on the ride and I responded that it wasn't like "she was going to die while I was on this ride", I just knew deep down that it was coming.  She was old and this time it seemed different.  That is the best explanation I can give you.  I was unconcerned enough to stop by the bike shop and drop Seabiscuit off with the declaration that I believed there might be something loose in the front end. After that, I headed home.
Posing comes naturally to these two.

I walked in the camper and immediately saw my princess.  She was gone.  I had gone on that ride and she died while I was away.  The rest of the day evaporated.  Nothing else mattered.

I gave my own physical condition no consideration as there is an unpleasant but necessary logistical issue when dealing with the death of a large dog on a weekend.  I pulled myself together enough to get the details taken care of... with a huge amount of help from a neighbor, MVF the cycling fiend, and a local vet who agreed to receive the body even though they were closed.  I finally settled down and got out of my cycling clothes late that evening, took a couple ibuprofen, slapped an ice pack on the swelling on my pelvis, and let grief take it's course.

The next day the swelling was... impressive.  I took some more ibuprofen and began icing it, aware that I had made a mess for myself by not treating this immediately.  Before I knew it, the selling was increasing by the minute and so was the pain.  I barely made it to the ER and by the time I got through the doors, I was in shock and hyperventilating.  My body was threatening to shut down due to lack of oxygen.  As it turned out, that pelvic injury was a ruptured vein that was still bleeding into my pelvis.  Because the pelvis is like the head, all bone with no where for the blood to go, the pain was excruciating.  There was also some significant potential issues with complications if the bleeding could not be stopped.  They finally brought the pain under control and eventually released me from the ER with a referral to a general surgeon.

The following day I went back to the ER after the swelling started to rapidly increase again and that now familiar burning sensation began to return.  Fortunately, this time a period of immobility in a hospital bed was all it took to bring it back under control.  They decided to change the referral to a general practitioner rather than a surgeon, which is excellent news.  I was assigned basically bed rest, with the exception of going to the bathroom which was about all the movement I was supposed to have, for a few days.  They also said to keep my overall activity to a minimum for at least a week to a week and a half, though they suspected pain would keep me benched for longer than that.  When I begin to return to regular activities, I am under instructions to keep it very slow and easy but if I do things right, there is no reason I can't make a full recovery in a reasonable amount of time.  (If I try to do too much too soon, there are some really nasty chronic side effects if that vein does not clot and heal correctly.)

The face that charmed the world!

Cuteness in 2010.
Now I am resting, sidelined from work and training, and trying to get used to life without my big dog.  I still have my little dog and he has been a true companion these last few days.  I am so grateful for his loving, positive demeanor.  I am including some pics of Sera, the most perfect princess, in this post.  She was a joy, my rock, and the heart and soul of the trio of misfits living, working, and traveling in this camper.  Sera, Wilbur, and I, we were a team.  There is a huge hole left from her passing and I don't expect to get over it soon.  But she was a wonderful dog who had a great life and passed from this earth as gracefully and she lived.   She is missed.
Naps are serious business.

Trigger and Sera.. both brought great happiness and both are gone.

This may be a creepy motel but you still need to wash behind your ears!

The couch in the camper may be ugly (it has been covered since) but it passes muster.

The last few hours of her life.  I couldn't get the lighting right... though now that seems appropriate.


  1. Oh, my heart. I am so sorry for both your injuries and Sera.
    I remember losing my Maggie Dog - my best friend throughout college and early adulthood. It HURT. It hurt so bad. But it sounds like she went peacefully. Give all your extra love to Wilbur, he'll be needing it.
    Best of luck with your recovery.

  2. This breaks my heart! I am so sorry you have to go through this. They certainly do become a part of your family.

    I hope your heart & injuries heal soon!


  3. Thank you. I admit I am really struggling with this but life is doing what life always does... going on. I am grateful she was a part of my life for as long as she was.

  4. Awww Duckie, I am so sorry about your injuries and Sera. We lost Jake (my dog of 14 years) last year and it was so painful. Our fur babies are part of our family and losing them leaves such a void. Sending you huge cyber hugs for healing both with your fall and with precious Sera.

  5. Duckie,
    I don't know how I missed this post, but I am so sorry! My heart broke as I read this post. The loss of our furry loves are the hardest. And your bike crash sounds awful!
    Please take time to heal all of those hurts. Heart hurts too. I will pray for you as you get stronger and back to what you love to do.