The next thing I knew, there was a voice somewhere in the background saying something about having been unconscious for more than five minutes….
Girls on bikes
With The Fear firmly conquered, I was determined to go on the girls’ mountain biking day organised by a local bike shop. Having two under 10’s makes it tricky for the husb and me to get out doing stuff together as much as we’d like to. And while I love to run and hike solo, I kinda prefer some company when I’m out on my bike, and the girls’ day sounded like fun and a way to meet more like-biked females.
The husb was going to be away in the UK when the girls’ day was on, but it turned out that the summer Club Jeunes (Kids’ Club) hours just gave me time to drop the girls off in the morning, mountain bike all day with the ladies and be there to pick them up when it finished. Happy exhausted kids, happy exhausted mum. Whoopee!
The day arrived and all started perfectly. Without a car (the husb had had to take it to the UK for an MOT! Turns out you can’t get an MOT for your English car in France… hmmm), anyway, without the car and buses only running every half hour, I’d sorted a nice wee bit of logistics. The girls would go to the bus stop, I’d say ‘see you in a bit’ and ride my bike to the Club Jeunes rendezvous. They arrive on the bus, I hand them over and say ‘see you later’ and ride back home for a few bits and bobs and then on to where the bike day rendezvous is. It all went perfectly.
I decided I fit best with the the intermediate group, and was in good company. Some girls were a little more bold, some had more speed, but we all balanced out at about the same level with similar fears, concerns and curiosities. There was that moment when, given a choice of high or low detour on a trail, I went high without enough oomph, hit an unexpected dip, ground to an awful halt and crashed down onto the lower path kinda on my head. Ouch. But I was okay, these things happen and I’d probably only have a little bruise on my hip…
We did the same run twice, which was great for our training, and I didn’t make that mistake again! Plus the second time down I hit the wooden wall near the bottom way better, as we all did, and started feeling really pretty good about my riding.
Slow lunches during activity days make me a little edgy. Snow’s good? Let’s ski. No thanks, I don’t need to stop for elevenses, or beer, or chips, and a fat baguette sandwich from my pack is fine for lunch. Snow’s good. Let’s GO! The husb is worse than me – he’d just eat muesli bars on the chair lift and never stop. So long lunches on activity days make me a tad edgy! I should probably take more time and talk longer to more people in my life to be honest – it’s not my strong suit – but anyway, once we’d lunched I was raring to go, but most of the others looked like they’d sit chatting all day and I was getting itchy pedal feet!
I decided I’d ride over to the nearest loos and get ready, and I guess that had the desired effect of gently getting everyone moving, or maybe they were just ready to get going too, but by the time I and a couple of others got back, the group was remounting.
For the afternoon we were going to ride together and put our new knowledge, tips and confidence to the test. I felt so much more in control of my bike. I was cornering better than I ever had. The Fear was in my dim and distant past.
We took a blue and stopped now and again to regroup. Before I knew it we were nearly back at our village and I wondered whether everyone was up for another run down. The weather was threatening a bit, but I reckoned we could get at least one more in before it rained.
The next thing I knew…
There was a voice somewhere in the background saying something about having been unconscious for more than five minutes.
Then I was throwing up and someone was holding a bag under my mouth.
Then I felt the thing I was lying on being lifted and slid.
Then there was movement and sirens. And more sick. So much more sick.
I think I spoke occasionally. I suppose someone was talking to me. Presumably in French. I remember at one point, either in the ambulance or the hospital, feeling very pleased that I was still speaking in French, in spite of everything!!!
Of course I had no idea what ‘everything’ was.
I must have drifted in and out of consciousness. Maybe I was falling asleep. At one point I was slid, or lifted, or wheeled, into a tubey thing. They gave me a CT scan.
Nothing came up broken. But I didn’t feel fab.
I can’t remember any of the last part of the ride. Only odd bits from the ambulance and hospital. My What’s App is a revelation! Someone called the husb straight away to tell him I’d had a bad crash (remember, he was in the UK at the time). He got on the phone and sorted out the kids and What’s Apped me to reassure me all was well (while feeling pretty scared and worried and working out how the heck to get the heck back to the alps as quickly as possible).
An hour later I messaged him to tell him I’d fallen and was in hospital.
He messaged me back to tell me I’d fallen off my bike! He also filled me in that he was my husband – he had no idea how bad things were, or weren’t.
Then I panicked about the children and messaged again.
He reassured me all was sorted and they were ok. And friends were coming to visit me. With clothes and things I needed.
I suppose I knew I’d somehow crashed my mountain bike. At some point someone explained it to me, and where I was – then the doctors and nurses would test me every time they came into my room to see if I could remember.
I was on drips, in a neck brace, thought I had facial stitches (it was cuts on my face scabbing over, no stitches) and looked a bit puffy – nice fat lips and a swollen face.
They kept me in overnight then a friend came for me and took me their flat, where another friend who’d had one daughter for the night swung by and picked me up.
So many kind people.
In the hospital I realised that my side was hurting. There was a gouge out of it!
Then a few days later I realised my sternum was really painful. A bit of googling and it was clear I’d cracked a rib – something that apparently often doesn’t show up on x-rays. Every morning for the first fortnight I’d wake early, groan my way into a ‘more comfortable’ position, and after the third or fourth time of doing so, get up.
Here's where I decided not to post a photo montage of my various cuts and bruises - just no need!
The scabs healed fast and brilliantly. I picked the bits of black grit out of my chin as they were uncovered.
The weirdest thing has been my head. Apparently when whoever found me found me, I was blue in the lips, gurgling and not really breathing, with a huge bump on my head. But in the hospital there was nothing. No bump, no graze, no bruise, no external tenderness. The husb has been reminding me that the brain has no sensory nerves – you just have to know it’s hurt, and be nice to it. I’m trying to remember that if my rib still hurts, my brain, which undoubtedly took the brunt of my tumble, is also still very much mending. I’m fortunate it was my first concussion, though apparently quite a bad one at grade 3.
The Hamster House test
A couple of days after the crash we needed to clean out the hamster. I always make him a new house from a box I’ve set aside from the recycling. Sometimes it’s not quite the right shape but it only takes a few minutes and a bit of glue to modify it into a nice cosy hamster house.
Not this time. It was SO weird. I stared at this cereal box and simply could not figure out where I needed to cut and fold and stick it. How could this be so confusing?
In the end I managed to cobble something rather lop-sided together for the mercifully unfussy hamster, but really!? It was the first really tangible thing that showed me things inside my head were not as they should be – and it was good. It made me see that I needed to rest and be kind to myself. And I have been.
One month on
Everything’s a lot better. I still wake a bit stiff, but nothing like before. My rib is a little more sore after a busy day, but it’s getting there. My back can be the worst in the morning – I had a nasty fall down some stairs back in January so no doubt this crash made that injury flare up a bit…
I’ve ridden my bike round the lake on the flat. It’s so tempting to just do one run down the mountain. Oh, so tempting. My head’s in gear enough, but I know a small tumble would really hurt those ribs, so I’m being super sensible. So far….
I didn’t drive for ages but have now driven a bit on the motorway, but haven’t tackled a city. The other day I drove to a nearby small town I don’t know – major confusion. I mean, I would have been a bit muddled on a normal day, but it was like I was in a maze where someone had put up every sign under the sun so I could never find my way out again. Awful. Exhausting.
I’ve run about 1.6km in one go. 1.6km! Pathetic! And my pace was shocking (I Strava’d it, of course). Next day my calves hurt and my rib was a teensy bit sore. Worst – I felt shattered. I pulled out of the 12km mountain run I signed up for that’s this coming weekend – aside from anything else I’m not fit enough after a month off running. Plus three weeks have been spent at sea level (a whole nother story) which hasn’t helped much either.
Ho hum. I’m here. I’m thankful that my good health and fitness has meant I’ve had such a good recovery. I’ll keep running and slowly up the distance. I probably won’t get another downhill ride in before the lifts close for the season – so I’ll just have to get into some enduro riding up and down when I’m all better, won’t I!