All The Times I Have Been to the Emergency Room

Yesterday, I was at Marin General and it made me start reminiscing about all the times I’ve been to the hospital/emergency room. Here are all my personal trips to the ER (not counting when I accompanied someone else), as I can think of them:

  • Shattering my teeth in the mall parking lot (a classic, obviously)
  • Biting through my lip when I accidentally slammed a weight-lifting bar into my face — which was also a key part of my Best Week Ever
  • Knocking out my front tooth in college at a pick-up soccer game
  • Hitting a curb and my bike in my first-ever mini-practice triathlon, which caused a concussion and a not-a-seizure
  • Passing out in the training room in high school, after getting hit in the face with a medicine ball, and having a not-a-seizure
  • (I can’t remember if we actually went to the emergency room or just to the doctor either 1. the time I slept-walked in the middle of the night in high school and dove off my bed into my bookshelf and then went back to sleep, or 2. the time I passed out from some weird combination of cold winter running/hot tub/shower, and hit my head on the kitchen floor when I fell. I do know that all those times prompted a whole rash of tests and visits to the Children’s Hospital.)
  • Falling off the slide in 5th grade (I think) and having a not-a-seizure
  • When they thought I had appendicitis in 3rd grade and were all set to take out my appendix, but then I mysteriously got better; memorable because we took a cab to the emergency room, which was the first time I’d ever been in a cab and it was quite exciting
  • Getting my thumb slammed in a door as a kid, and we weren’t sure if it was broken or not
  • Jumping off a pool backwards and slamming my chin into the cement — also the only time I’ve had to get stitches (which got infected and then I had to get more stitches)

I feel like I’m missing one and, obviously, there were plenty of other accidents and injuries that didn’t warrant an emergency room visit. But, as you can see, when I say I don’t need to go to the ER and it would be pointless, I know of what I speak.

The Bad Thing Happened and It Is Fine, Probably

Because we’re so close to Ironman Wisconsin and because I’m so tired — tired past the point of being able to explain it or even care if people understand why I’m too tired to care about them — I’ve been waiting for something bad to happen. It seemed about time for some kind of accident or emergency room visit. And then during the Oakland Triathlon on Saturday, it was such a mess of a race — the roads were bad, the course had dozens and dozens of sharp turns, there were too many people of too varied ability on that not totally closed course, plus it was raining — that I just kept waiting for something bad to happen. So many people were crashing on the turns, and I was taking them so carefully and so slowly, so naturally I crashed on the straight downhill.

I hit a pothole and then I hit two more potholes. I knew I was about to hit the first hole too, but it was too late to really swerve in those conditions; I thought I’d just ride through it. And that worked fine, but then I hit the second one and the third and my hands came off the bars and the wheel turned and I was skidding across the ground.

I knew I was crashing too as I crashed. I’m pretty sure I yelled, “Fuck” multiple times as I rolled and my bike rolled over me. Actually, I’m pretty sure I said, “Fuck” more than 100 times in total on Saturday.

It was this odd thing, because fairly quickly I was sure that I was “fine” in that sense that I wasn’t going to die or have any permanent damage. I wasn’t sure, though, that I wasn’t going to pass out or that I didn’t have some pretty bad temporary damage. So I was trying to self-asses, and swearing like crazy, and bleeding all over, and then focusing really hard on not passing out (which is a super special skill of mine). But when I eventually stood up to get out of the road, so I wouldn’t get hit by people still racing, I couldn’t really use my right arm to get up, and that hurt a lot, so then I really was about to pass out. Which meant I had to lay back down on the sidewalk. And I was laying there curled up on my non-bleeding side on the sidewalk somewhere in a commercial part of West Oakland, muttering “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck” over and over and trying to focus on one thing so I wouldn’t pass out. I was staring at my foot and part of me was looking at the rain and the dirt everywhere and thinking how much this was going to hurt later to clean out, and the other part of me thought ‘my ankle looks really skinny, that’s weird.’

An ambulance came and there really wasn’t much they could do, because if it’s not broken and it doesn’t need stitches or surgery (which it was decided it didn’t) then there’s honestly no real point in going to a hospital. As a professional ER-goer, let me tell you: most of the time, you don’t need to go to the ER. Are you going to spend $15,000 to drive in an ambulance so that some people, who may or may not have more experience than you cleaning out cuts, can clean out your cuts? And then you’ll still be wet and cold and stuck like that for more than a few hours, and they won’t have dry clothes for you and they won’t have food, and you won’t have a way to tell anyone where you are or how to come get you. No, that’s just dumb, and also a misallocation of resources.

Since the ambulance definitely wasn’t going to give me a ride back to the finish and I was starting to shake from cold or shock, and there apparently was no race support to pick up all the people crashing all over the place, and I debated trying to bike it but threw that idea out pretty quickly since I couldn’t use one of my hands or my other arm, eventually one of the totally freaked out volunteers went and got her car to give me a ride back. Which was really nice of her and I hope I didn’t bleed all over her car — but, also, how was that the official system?

Now I have cuts all down my right side, lots of skin gone across my shoulder/back, and a nasty cut/bump on my elbow. I also apparently landed on top of the bike with my knee, so that’s starting to swell too. And I managed to dislocate my left thumb earlier in the race, getting out of the swim. It’s all stuff that should heal. Hopefully, soon. Hopefully, before Wisconsin.

There was this weird part of me too that was relieved a tiny bit that the bad thing happened and it wasn’t that bad. I was like ‘this is fiiiiiine.’

But now I’m tired again, so tired. And cleaning out the cuts across my back was more painful than actually getting the cuts across my back. (I found myself wondering if you can pass out from pain. I think you can, right?) And now I’m in that part in between when you’re busy just dealing with a problem, and the time when that problem is actually better. It’s the part where everyone else is like ‘Wait, you’re still complaining about that?’ And you’re like why is my shoulder still dripping ooze on the floor?

My shoulder is covered in Tegaderm, which is why it's weirdly shiny and you can't really see all the oozing. Yay.
My shoulder is covered in Tegaderm, which is why it’s weirdly shiny and you can’t really see all the oozing. Yay.

 

Ironman Training Week 15: March 31-April 6

Ugh. UGH. UGH!!

This last week was not good. I mean it was — it was a re-start of training again (yay!) — right up until I face-planted into the ground. And, as I sat at the ER, I thought, “Well, at least I already got decent workouts in today.” Because, honestly, I’m about to give up on this whole training seriously thing. Throw in the towel. Lay down on the floor. Etc. It’s hard to stay motivated when things just aren’t really exactly going your way.

This weekend I’m supposed to race my first triathlon of the year. It seems pretty clear that’s not going to happen. I’m still sporadically on narcotics and racing triathlon on narcotics sounds like something I would have tried in college. I’m actually not even sure you’re legally allowed to. Pain killers could probably have some performance-enhancing benefits. Also, they make you go to sleep and throw up. So, that’s less performance-enhancing. Pros and cons.

These are the debates I’m having with myself this week.

Monday

Rode 16 miles (56′) on the trainer with 2 x [1′ at 220W, 2′ at 200W, 3′ at 180W, 4′ at 160W] I meant to do three sets, but then the last set I just sort of stopped. I wasn’t even really battling with myself about it sucking or anything. I just did the 1′ at 220W and stopped. And, then, decided I’d do some 1′ sprints and then try to hold Ironman pace for a bit, whatever that is. I think it might be 145W for me. But, I don’t know. Could someone who knows tell me?

Crossfit in the evening. I did 5 pull-ups. Basically I should retire now.

Tuesday

Swam 3,500 yards in the morning. Oh shit, my arms hurt. I intended to do  3 x 6 x 100 (descending) and then a pull, buoy set, but I was struggling to do the 100s in the low 1:20s. I had two weeks where I was swimming crazy fast easily, so fast. I was going to write a post about how I got fast at swimming. But, that went away. Now, I’m back to struggling for every yard.

About 10′ of PT and light strength stuff.

Wednesday 

Biked 20 miles to the ferry and to the office and back. Moderate and easy and hard and, generally, the way commuting goes.

Thursday

Biked the Point Reyes loop (42ish miles from my house) on my time trial bike. I need to work on getting used to my time trial bike. Did 2 x 10′ as half-Ironman tempo at 170W and did some drills, but mostly just tried to ride in the bars and get comfortable. Before the ride, I would have told you I hate the time trial bike and it sucks. But, then, I did the loop in 2:40. I have never done that loop in under 2:55 or so. It simply IS a three hour ride. Evidently, the bike may be fast. And, if it’s fast then I can deal with it being not my most favorite.

Swam 1,750 yards with lots of band swimming.

Yoga class.

Then: crashed my bike on the 15′ ride back from the gym.

Friday

Ow.

Saturday

I felt great, so I went to a TRX class.

Then, swam 2,000 yards easy and water ran for 20′. It felt good. I got all optimistic that everything was going to be great and I would just miss a day of training and get back on schedule. Yeah, no. Recovering from slamming your face into the ground takes more time than that.

Sunday

Some days you feel better. Some days you feel worse. Sunday, I felt worse.

TOTAL: 11:10

I guess that’s not awful for breaking your teeth and going to the emergency room. Still. I’m having a hard time getting re-focused and motivated. And, it’s been a long, long time since I actually made a schedule and stuck to it through a whole week. This week was not that week.

How Quickly Can You Recover From Trauma?

Not quickly is the answer.

I got new temporary teeth, which took over five hours at the dentist on Friday. And after my whole face swelled and then calmed down, I actually ate some food. That was shockingly refreshing. In fact, I felt so good yesterday that I went to a TRX class and did some swimming and water running. People at the gym weren’t quite sure what to make of me. It was no longer obvious that I’d had an accident, but my lip was still swollen and cut. Mostly I looked like I might have had a lip job that went wrong.

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By today I looked mostly normal. But worn out.

I may have felt too good, though, and overdone it. We had an outing planned, which turned into too much for me for the night.

This morning, I was supposed to go to an event, but when I got up for some work it became clear that I did not feel as much better as I thought I was getting. Why? Because it always takes longer to recover and deal with this kind of trauma than you think it will. Because stress is stress. Because, even if I mostly look better, it still feels like I got my face smashed in.

It’s always hard to know how hard these kinds of things are going to be to come back from. But, really, by now I should know that it’s definitely not easy. I was just hoping it’d be different this time.

Another Trip to the ER

Last night I smashed my face into the ground. It was insanely stupid and has little, if nothing, to actually do with training other than that I really feel about to throw in the towel on everything.

(There’s a picture at the bottom, but it’s pretty gross, so don’t scroll down if you don’t want to see it.)

After some swimming and yoga, I was biking the 15′ back from the gym yesterday and had stopped to get some fries from McDonald’s for a snack. And, I wanted to eat my fries while they were still warm — cold fries are basically not even worth eating — so I was cutting through the neighborhood to get home quicker and I cut across the mall parking lot. I never cut across the mall parking lot. It’s not really even worth it; it’s maybe 45″ time savings. Riding along, I was about to take the closest exit out of the lot, but I was pretty sure there was a better exit under the parking structure, so I headed that way. Only the exit wasn’t where I thought it was. So, I was looking up ahead and ‘oh, the exit is over there’ and thinking how I needed to go up on the curb behind the pillar to get out that way. And, then I was slamming my face into the ground.

Evidently, I hit one of those cement bumpers at the end of parking spaces. But, I never saw it. I didn’t see it before I hit it; I didn’t see it as I hit it; it only registered that I must have run straight into it as I was hitting the ground and couldn’t correct the bike.

Usually, I wouldn’t fall on my face. I know how to fall. I’ve done it a lot. If I had rolled at all or gotten a hand out, I would have just been cut up. It wasn’t even that hard a fall. But, because I had no idea what was happening, none of my instincts kicked in. Not a single one. I took the whole fall right to my face and broke off my four front teeth. And, I don’t have any other scratches on me.

I started yell/crying pretty much as soon as I hit the ground. I think I may have said “Fuck” about 600 times in two hours. It hurt, but mostly I was just so pissed. 1. It was insanely stupid. 2. It was all my fault. How could I be so stupid. 3. Fuck. 4. It is totally going to screw up my training — when training’s already been so screwed up. I bet they tell me to run, since I won’t be allowed to swim or probably bike for a couple days. Too bad I can’t run either. 5. It totally is going to screw up my day and my weekend. And, everything was finally going so well. 6. Teeth are really fucking hard to fix once they’re knocked out. I know.

I did one of those 30″ checks, where you try to figure out how bad this is. For a second, I thought I might be able to bike home or bike the mile to urgent care. But, as I was spitting up blood and fragments of teeth, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Steve was on his way home from Sac, so I didn’t have a car, and it was entirely possible that I would — at any second — have one of my passing out episodes. So, I frantically started dumping stuff out of my bag to find my phone and call 9-1-1 before I could pass out. When I did get a hold of them and said, ‘I crashed my bike and knocked out my teeth and I need an ambulance,’ the dispatcher kept saying, “I’m going to need you to calm down.” And, behind the crying and the swearing and the constant spitting up of blood — so much blood — I was like you know I’m pretty damn calm considering.

I’m about to go to the dentist now and they’re going to figure out what kind of fake teeth I’m getting now. At one point, someone asked if they were going to be able to put them back and I had to point out there really wasn’t anything to put back. The teeth shattered and broke.

The super terrible thing — in terms of commentary on people, not in terms of whether or not this string of events is going to crack my top three worst weeks in the lore of Kelly’s awful times — was that as I was crashing I heard someone on the edge of the parking lot laugh. Very distinctly at me. “HAH, HAH, LOOK.” And, it must have looked pretty stupid. But, then, once I was sitting there with the blood pouring out and crying, whoever it was that saw me crash didn’t come over to check if I was ok. No one stopped to see if I was ok. It’s not that I love people crowding you when you’re having a personal crisis, but what if I had passed out, what if I hadn’t had a phone, what if I choked on the blood. That’s some fucked up shit.

This is what it looked like:
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