This post has been a long time coming. Not just because of the obvious handicap but, because mentally, I haven’t been ready to share it for a while. I’m not sure why as, luckily, I haven’t been particularly traumatised by my accident. I think it might be the typical fear of re-starting something after taking a break from it. So this isn’t my typical post. I’ll be posting about the nutritional aspect soon but this is more of a recounting of events, and I’m glad to finally get it all down. It’s very cathartic.

So, three weeks ago, I was hit by a car whilst cycling to work in Brighton. Yes, it was completely their fault. All I can remember in the split second as I was knocked off my bike, was a feeling of annoyance and frustration – that I was going to be late for work, mostly! At first, I thought I had just scraped my face and knees – my wrists felt like they had taken some impact, but I honestly thought I could just get up and cycle to work. I told the people who came over to help as much, but luckily they persuaded me to take it easy and wait for an ambulance.

It was when they stood me up and I started to lose my vision that I started to realise I actually wasn’t okay. Then, whilst sitting in the back of one of the passer-by’s cars, my vision went completely for about 5 minutes or so. My eyes were open, but I just saw black! Apparently, my body had completely gone into shock, and I began to shake uncontrollably and whimper quite a bit, as my wrists were really beginning to hurt now.

At this point I would like to say how proud I am that I didn’t have a major panic attack – I don’t do well with pain, or thoughts that I might seriously be damaged. I once pinged a bungee rope, the ones used to attach things to luggage racks on bikes, right into my eye (hook and all) and had a maaajor panic attack (after screaming for about 5 minutes) that I was going to be blinded in that eye. I was hyperventilating like all air in the world had disappeared, and crying hysterically. Luckily my eye did recover, but it’s never been the same since….anyway I digress.

As to why I didn’t panic, I guess I just felt more…’grown-up’. Sensible. I didn’t want to completely lose control and revert to my panicking 14 year-old self. What good would that do to the situation? Now that I’m 21 and officially an ‘adult’, it was time to act like one. I was, however, wailing and flailing, so probably didn’t appear as ‘together’ as I felt, but I do remember thinking: “just get through this. Nothing lasts forever, this pain/blindness/craziness will stop soon, just get through this, one second at a time”. And it worked. Through positive, sensible thinking, and deep breathing, I was able to stave off a panic attack.

When I was told by the doctor I had severely broken and bent an ‘awkward’ bone in my left wrist (the Scaphoid) and it would take a minimum of 6 weeks to heal, with surgery, my thoughts immediately flew to my newly re-found love of cycling, my guitar playing, and my job as a waitress. It was then that a few tears finally escaped as I digested the information that my life, as I knew it, would be completely put on hold for the next few weeks.
However, this feeling of disappointment didn’t last long, in fact I’d say it lasted about 10 minutes. I even began to get a bit excited about what I could do with 6 weeks off work: get some freelance work in the local music scene, and build up my own business idea involving the local vegan community (it’s a secret until it’s ready!). So, after the plaster cast was put on, we got a lift back to my boyfriend’s (literally a 3 minute drive up the hill behind the hospital), and my recovery period began.

I quickly found that tasks that I wouldn’t have thought twice about were either time consuming, painful, or downright impossible. At first I couldn’t do the simplest things by myself, such as shower, open food items, squeeze the toothpaste onto my toothbrush, or put on/take off my jacket, without help. Luckily, I had two great guys in the house (they work from home) always happy to help, and constantly checking I was okay. Feeling loved and cared for really does make recovering a whole lot easier and, I reckon, quicker! I stayed there for nearly two weeks, and I am so grateful to them for putting up with me.

Just before the operation, a week after the accident, I started getting the hang of things and began to come up with solutions to the obstacles that had so frustrated me before: for example, cradling a jar in the crook of my bad arm’s elbow, whilst my right hand unscrewed the lid. However, it was the little things that still caused much frustration; like not being able to open a so called ‘easy-open’ packet of banana chips, having to ask someone I’d only just met to tie my shoelaces, and having to ask a complete stranger on the street to open my packet of lentil chips. I had also only just begun to feel other injuries, literally coming to the surface: bruises bloomed on my knees and thigh and my ribs began to get increasingly sore, until their pain overtook that of my wrist and it hurt to breathe deeply and any time I changed position to sitting or lying down. It also hurt to hug, which was sad, and frequently forgotten by the huggers – many an exclamation of pain followed a well-meant squeeze.

I will keep details of the operation fairly brief: I had a ‘regional’ anaesthetic (from the shoulder down) which meant I would be awake during the operation. This resulted in me temporarily completely disassociating from my arm; when the anaesthetist picked it up, I got a bit freaked out – that wasn’t my arm! It looked like a prop for a film, I could see him waving it around, he even touched my fingers to my face and my other hand (I kept my eyes squeezed shut), and my brain just couldn’t compute that it was me. It wasn’t very pleasant at all!

Then I was wheeled into theatre and the surgery began. It was weird feeling the surgeons (all women, awesome!) tugging on my shoulder as they moved my arm around. I could sometimes feel a vibration, like a dentist picking at a tooth. To keep calm, I just stared at my heart monitor and concentrated on keeping it at 70bpm by taking deep breaths and trying to lose myself in the relaxing bliss that is Bon Iver’s music.

Luckily, the operation was a success, and via keyhole surgery they fixed my bone together with two tiny screws. It was two weeks ago now, and I’m happy to say that I’m recovering quickly. I’m even typing this with two hands! It’s great not having a cast on anymore (just a bandage), although it does mean I have to be very careful as my wrist is extra sensitive. I haven’t been on any painkillers for about 5 days (which feels amazing, as they give you all sorts of internal problems, yum), in which time I’ve written about 7 songs and even recorded a demo on Garageband – the instrument auto-play feature is so incredibly helpful at times like this!

My stitches are being taken out in two days, and then it should be plain sailing to a healthy, healed wrist from there, hopefully in only another couple of weeks. I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t wait to get back on my bike. It’s such a great way to keep fit, and I really do get such a sense of achievement when I beat a personal record, or climb up the rankings on Strava – an app that pits you against other cyclists who have previously taken your route. I will however be extra aware of stupid drivers from now on, and I urge other cyclists to remember that even wearing all the right safety gear and cycling in a cycle lane, does NOT protect you from other’s misjudgements, so be ready for anything.

More from me soon, I’m feeling better and better each day!

Zoe

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3 thoughts on “Being Hit By A Car: my journey to recovery

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