That was probably the most terrifying millisecond of my life when that thought crossed my mind last week. At the point that thought was happening, I was in the air, over my handle bars, and while my arms were on their way up they weren’t going to have enough time to catch up to my head to protect it. Several other thoughts flooded in too, much more typical for me and far less terrifying:
Will those coyotes I was trying to dodge eat me once they smell my blood?
Did I pay for insurance on this rental bike?
Dammit, this is my favourite jersey.
At least I got all the climbing in for the day already.
…this is going to ruin the rest of today…
…I deserve a burrito after this.
I rolled and skidded a bunch. A few days after this whole fiasco I looked at the gear I had been wearing and I don’t even understand what happened. Sure there were huge holes and tears in my jersey and gloves where I now have bandages, but there were also huge tears and holes in areas I don’t have a scratch.
Naturally most of the damage was to my face – having landed on it and all. And I knew this right away because teeth aren’t normally as sharp as they are after they break and my mouth was full of blood. Also my jaw hurt.
Within a minute or two of crashing, just long enough for me to drag myself over to the side of the road and think “Well, fuck” a car came flying around the corner, as only a car in LA can, and screeched to a stop. “Are you okay?” “No. I.. think I probably need to go to a hospital.” “Yeah! I’ll take you.”
Can I just say the people in LA were amazing. Absolutely wonderful people. This girl gave me a pair of old sweat pants, or something, to bleed all over. Texted Jillian for me and told her the hospital we were going to and kept telling me to stop apologizing for bleeding all over her fancy car (sorry, Canadian). Across the street from where I’d crashed was a house and the woman there came out, offered to hang on to my bike while we were at the hospital and then asked me about my Insurance.
Home Owner “What hospital do you want to go to?”
Broken Face “…what?”
Home Owner “Do you have good insurance?”
Broken Face “I.. I dunno. Probably? I’m Canadian. I have travel insurance.”
Home Owner & Driver “!!!! St. Pauls then!”
I’ll refrain from going into a rant about public versus private health care and all the different aspects of that mess, but holy crap that was the most insane question I could’ve been asked at that point. It felt about as relevant as asking if I was satisfied with my long distance phone provider – I don’t know, I’m bleeding on your drive way and my jaw hurts and my teeth are over there on the road, and frankly I’m not sure where I am — why do I need to worry about paying bills RIGHT NOW?
Fortunately I didn’t! Off to the hospital we went! In LA traffic! Actually traffic wasn’t too bad, but it did slow us down just long enough for my lapsed EMT training to start sneaking back in and saying “uh, shouldn’t you be on a back board and not in a convertible?”
I had to wait about an hour and half for a bed at the ER. Which sounds awful, but until I just went back and looked at the time stamps on some messages I sent and received while I was sitting there waiting, I thought the wait was only about half an hour. Time flies when you’re emotionally shocked and exhausted!
There’s been some key moments in this little saga of mine and finally getting to lay down in the hospital bed was one of them for sure. It was a combination of “everything’s going to be okay now” and “I fucking love lying down”. Glorious.
The cuts on my face were so bad they were distracting everyone:
Doctor “Where does it hurt the most?”
Broken Face “My jaw”
Doctor “Yeah sure, but does your chin feel worse or your lip feel worse?”
Broken Face “Uh, I guess my lip. But mostly my jaw fucking hurts. Also my teeth are broken.”
Doctor “Uh huh. Okay, we’re going to call plastics down to take a look at your lip and chin. Then you should be good to go!”
Broken Face “My jaw?”
Doctor “Sure, fine. Let’s do a CT scan as well. Just in case.”
Guess what the CT scan showed? Yup, broken jaw. All of a sudden everyone agreed some stitches on my lips and chin weren’t my biggest issue. So much for that burrito I’d planned on.
About 9-hours after my face hit the road we left the hospital. My arms, shoulders and face were totally covered in bandages. Between my chin and both lips I had around 25-30 stitches. And you can’t exactly put a jaw in a cast so it was wired shut.
For those curious what that really means, it’s almost like they put in some temporary braces: there are metal bars that go around the outside of my teeth and are connected to my teeth by essentially really strong twist-ties. Those two metal bars (one on my upper teeth and one on my lower teeth) then get tied together with some more wire. Literally wired shut. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
The following 24-hours were a mess of: trying to get the rented bike back to return it (FYI the only damage to the bike was a single broken spoke, not a scratch any where else), moving flights, figuring out how to eat (worthy of it’s own post), filling prescriptions, and getting home.
And that’s the story of how I broke my face. Recovery so far is going well and revolves around taking life slow, finding new things to try drinking, and avoiding yawning at all costs.
Oh, one last thing. If you’re ever in the LA area and want to rent a bike to (carefully!) explore the awesome climbing in the area, I highly recommend Synaptic Cycles. They deliver a really great bike (that is apparently bomb proof) to wherever you’re staying and pick it up when you’re done. So much easier than stuffing your own bike into a bike bag and paying crazy airline fees.