Last Week I Crashed an Electric Scooter and Broke My Arm In Three Places
There’s a lesson in here somewhere.
I sit here attempting to type with a broken right wrist, two broken bones in my right elbow, and as yet unspecified soft tissue damage in the same shoulder thinking, “This is interesting. I wonder what lesson I can take away from this one.”
Thursday, I woke up to Day #2 of a stuffy nose and general shittiness. The last time I fell ill with this kind of upper respiratory issue, my larynx damn near swelled shut in part because, at that time, I was nurturing a bad habit of taking care of everyone except for myself and refusing to ask for help. In an effort to break that habit, I intended to be proactive with my self-care and not allow a little virus to spiral out of control.
So, instead of laying in bed, binge watching Friends and floating in and out of a Sudafed induced haze, I decided to walk my oldest daughter a mile across the campus of her university for her first class of the day. (We live directly across the street). From there, the plan was to meet my Loverman for an immune support smoothie at one of our favorite healthy food spots, another 1/2 mile up the road.
Many of you are familiar with the concept of city bikes or green bikes, which, for those of you who are not, are dockless bike-sharing programs that operate in urban areas. Following the same concept, the semi-urban college town I live in recently added electric scooters to the city bike platform as a means to augment its residents’ public transportation options. The scooters are everywhere and have become a very popular way to get around town.
I, myself, love to scoot. They are an emission-free alternative to jumping in the car to drive only 2–3 miles. And they’re crazy fun.
The weather in my little corner of the country is be-you-tiful right now. 78 degrees and not a cloud in the sky — I’m still wearing shorts. The warmth of the sun was the perfect antidote to my head cold. I was basking like a damn lizard, the rays warming my clammy skin, super happy about my choice to get out of bed, which was no small feat given how shit-tastic I felt.
After reaching our point of departure and kissing my daughter goodbye, I realized that I was late for my smoothie date. (Which, by the way, isn’t a thing. “Take your time” is Loverman’s motto anytime we are meeting since he knows that, being a single mom of four, my life is laced with all kinds of unexpected interruptions), but I knew he had other commitments that afternoon and didn’t want to miss my chance to see him.
Nonetheless, I was running at least 30 minutes behind at that point. Sometimes my kiddo and I get lost in our talks. We had been working pretty hard that day, brainstorming solutions for some obstacles she was facing, so the walk took probably twice the time I had anticipated.
I can’t entirely attribute the crash to being late. I likely would’ve ridden one for the second half of my journey, anyway. I do love riding the scooters…there’s something addictive about the rush of the speed and the wind in my hair. 12mph doesn’t feel all that fast when you are watching someone ride by, but it sure does when you’re the rider, the scooter suddenly stops, and your body becomes the vehicle for of all of that inertia.
I had ridden these scooters many times, but what I had not yet dealt with was the obstacle course that 60,000 undergrads milling around would present while I tried to navigate to my date. I’ll admit that the first 1500ft of the ride gave me pause. The weaving required was throwing me off balance, and I considered stopping, but somehow that didn’t feel like an option. It didn’t feel like what a dragon would do. (I have a thing about dragons.) I wanted to be a woman who wasn’t afraid to scoot through crowds. I watched people do it every single day. Additionally, there is something about being a 39-year-old amongst 20-year-olds that made me feel I had something to prove. If they could do it, so could I.
Except I couldn’t. After about a half mile of weaving and swerving at full speed, I clipped a curb trying to pass two walkers. I remember thinking, “Goddamnit” and then bracing for the pavement that was rushing up to meet me.
Body, flying at 12 miles per hour, meets concrete.
I don’t remember the actual impact.
Of the roughly 50 people in a general vicinity, at least half of them walked over to see if I needed help. I was laying on my side for an undetermined amount of time before I slowly peeled myself off the pavement, embarrassed as all hell, and thanked the people around me for their concern. I proceeded to brush off my clothes (thankfully I was wearing jeans that day, instead of shorts), and make a joke about how if my iPhone X was still in one piece, I’m sure I was fine. (It got a pretty good laugh.) I got back on my scooter out of sheer humiliation and a need to prove to the crowd that I wasn’t a total clumsy asshole.
I am such a clumsy asshole sometimes. Not a dragon move. Dragons don’t put themselves in danger to save their egos.
I had zero damn business back on that scooter. In retrospect, I was in shock with a seriously busted up right arm. I shouldn’t have even been walking, let alone operating the vehicle which had been responsible for the arm busting in the first place.
It was at the street corner, about a quarter mile from the accident before I realized my right hand wasn’t holding the handlebar of the scooter correctly. The grip was weak and my fingers weren’t responding to my brain’s commands. By then, a deep ache had set into the entire limb. Even so, I was committed to powering through this lunch. Maybe Loverman would never know I had just smashed my body on the concrete.
I scanned and locked the scooter, crossed the street, smoothed my hair, and intended to have a lovely immune boosting smoothie, arm be damned.
Except now I was shaking and, unbeknownst to me, bleeding profusely into my elbow joint.
Loverman was still there at an indoor table, grading midterms@. It didn’t register to him that anything was wrong, primarily because I’m proficient pretending that “everything’s okay”. He introduced me to his colleague, with whom I managed a polite conversation, even if I shook his hand with my left, an unprecedented move on my part.
By the time the colleague left, I was unable to ignore the pain. I turned to Loverman and said, in the understatement of the year, “I fell on the way here and my arm hurts.” My eyes must’ve said more than my mouth did, something along the lines of, “Ignore my words. My ego is going to fuck me up this time if you don’t step in. Help me, please.”
He facial expression changed as he looked me over.
“Yeah, you’re not okay. You’re bleeding”, he said inspecting the fresh road rash on my shoulder. Let’s get you to your car.”
My car was a mile away. Part of me knew I couldn’t make it, but my fucking ego wouldn’t let me “whine” or “complain”. I got about 1/4 mi into the walk before I physically couldn’t go on. I was nauseous, my arm was starting to burn like it was on fire, and I struggled to move it. From my vantage point, it looked “okay”. I wasn’t hanging limply from the socket or contorted into some black and blue bone tangle. “Don’t be dramatic, AJ”, I kept repeating to myself, over and over. “You’re okay.”
But I wasnt okay.
Loverman sat me on a bench and called a Lyft to Urgent Care. He called two more Lyfts when the first two Urgent Cares didnt have working X-ray machines. He texted my kids, who were all at school, on the way and told them what was going on. At the third Urgent Care, he stayed with me as long as he could before he had to excuse himself to teach his class. They were taking me into X-ray as he departed. I was sorry to see him leave, but my ego was grateful he didn’t see me openly sob — loudly — like a little baby, when they put my arm in place for the x-rays.
And he cancelled our date for that night, even though I wanted to go.
“You’re not going with me tonight. You know I want you healthy and strong more than I want you by my side tonight.”
I got my results: three bones broken, two in the elbow and one in the wrist, Soft tissue and nerve damage likely. I Lyfted home to meet my babies, who took care of me that night.
Long story short, I sit here typing this, four days later, in a soft cast wrist to shoulder, waiting for my ortho appt, an MRI, and probably surgery.
There’s gotta be a lesson in here somewhere.
This piece took me three days to type. I shit you not.
My fingers on my right hand don’t work correctly and even very slight hand movements cause me intense pain. This piece is a product of my left hand’s tenacity and Grammarly.
“You’re not good at playing the role of the helpless patient,” texted Loverman on Day #2.
I used to consider that one of my better qualities. Now, I’m not so sure.
In the grand scheme, a broken wrist and elbow is not a significant hardship. It’s an opportunity. It will test my resourcefulness and my ability to cope, both physically and emotionally. As a mom, as a writer, and as a person. It will test my girls and their ability to step up. They were very helpful at first, but as the days wear on, it has become a struggle.
The ortho said it’ll be three months to full recovery.
One thing I’ve learned is that my single mom emergency squad does not run deep enough, although I did find help in unexpected places.
So I need to work on that.
There was also something that drove me to take an unnecessary risk getting on that scooter. I need to figure out what that was all about.
The thing I am most focused on right now is figuring out why it is so important to my ego that I be strong and completely self-sufficient. Loverman once said, “The women in your family are pathologically independent.” He’s not wrong. On one hand, I know there’s a part of him that likes that about me. He likes the part that is capable and competent. He doesn't like the dysfunctional part that compromises a successful outcome in service of my ego.
If there is a choice between doing something myself and asking for help, my inclination is to do it myself. I don’t think that mindset is all bad. Being hopelessly dependent is no way to move through the world. Conversely, neither is trying to be a one-man island, especially when you have children whose every need relies on you. I do need other people. It’s a fact. And not letting people help me hurts them.
So I will continue to cope and be resourceful. But “pathological independence” may be on its way out. This situation may have turned out much worse had I not allowed Loverman to take over and help me.
If I claim to want a leader for a partner, I’d better damn well be willing to let him lead. So far, when I do, the outcomes have been emperically better than I could’ve managed myself. My fucked up arm included.
Speaking of resourcefulness and not giving into my pathological independence, anyone have a good “talk to text” software reccommendation?
My ER doc told me ‘Dragon’ is great , which made me smile.
I have a thing about Dragons.