It happened so quickly. I remember things in pieces, as if you tore different pages from a magazine. Blood and dirt. My bike in pieces. A field to sleep in. A stranger asking me if I was okay. Being in my driveway. Ambulance. Intensive Care. What happened?
Descending on a steep pitch that bends back to the right in the middle of the dive, shoulders down, elbows in, I moved to the left a bit to compensate for the bender. Glancing up to check my line, a car is headed up but in my lane to “shave” the curve. Zero time to think. I go left. The edge of the road approaches quickly . . . and a shallow ditch. The last thing I remember is attempting to bunny hop my bike over the ditch. I must have been traveling around 35 mph or so, when I left the road.
About forty minutes pass. I know this because I had stopped to take a picture before the descent, and it was noon. The next time I recall anything (lying in the ditch covered in blood), it was close to 1PM. I was hurting all over. Where is all of the blood coming from? Touching my face and head, I figure it is from there. This is where the fragments of memory come into play . . .
Somehow I lost my rear wheel and somehow I was able to reattach it, before somehow riding to the base of the hill, before my derailleur stopped working and I could no longer pedal.
I see a beautiful field where my bike stopped working. That looks like a great place to sleep and if I sleep I will feel better. I walk into the field, leave my bike by the road and take my helmet off, using it as a pillow. Darkness.
“Are you okay?”
A mountain of a man stood above me, blocking the sunlight and causing him to have a glow around his edges. “I don’t know,” I replied. How long have I been here?
“Just climb in. I’ll get your bike. Holy cow, this is light.”
Driveway of my house. “Are you sure I can’t take you to the hospital?”
I gingerly climb out of the truck and sit down in my yard, and my bike is placed beside me. “I think I’m just banged up bit. I’ll be okay.” Darkness.
Sometime later, I realized that I cannot get up and slide my cellphone out of my jersey and call my wife for help. Darkness.
“Sir?” There is an ambulance in my driveway and other vehicles with flashing lights. A man in a uniform is standing over me, along with my neighbors. Waves of pain are pulsing through me, and my body is locked in a fetal position. I hear my wife’s voice. There she is . . . I’ll be okay now.
“I’m right here.” She touched my shoulder and face. Darkness.
The neurologists stood at the foot of my bed. I was alone. Covid kept my family in the parking lot. They said that they had discussed my current condition and decide that I would not need surgery; then they gave me a rundown of my injuries: I had broken C1 and C2 vertebrae, T6-8 vertebrae with a burst fracture in my T4, and broken two posterior ribs . . . along with facial abrasions.
“Mr. Brooks,” said one of the men robed in white, “I don’t think you get the severity of this. The breaks you have incurred breaks down like this: 50% you are where you are and 50% you are dead.”
My eyes fill up with tears, and I swallow hard. I wanted to be home. I drifted off to sleep again. The darkness is a great escape by this point.
I spend three days in ICU and (was told) a lot of time on the phone with my wife and children and other family. I did not come out of the drug fog until I had been discharged and brought home for more than a day. My adult children had come to stay at our house and help. I was helpless. I despise being pathetic. I had a neck and back brace that would stay affixed for the next six weeks. I was about to climb a mountain that would be a grinding psychological battle. I
I did not want to be burden to others. At the same time, I am having thoughts like I know I can make myself better if I can at least get back on my trainer. I am tougher than this. My wife is an RN and knew the road ahead of me. Over the next weeks and months, she would be my rock.