Two nights ago, Amanda and I set out on a bicycle ride that ended with a trip to the ER. There is a spot along the cycling path where the path crosses under a busy street. There is a gradual hill leading down to the point where the path turns to the right. Along the side of the path we were on, leading into this blind corner, there is a concrete wall.
I’ve ridden this section of path dozens of times, never once have I seen a fellow cyclist riding fast through this blind curve. So, I felt comfortable with Amanda leading the way. Her confidence and enthusiasm had both grown, and I was behind her, encouraging and coaching as she approached the curve.
That’s when it happened. A flash of red and black spandex came zipping out from behind that blind curve. Though his wheels were in his lane, much of his body hung over onto Amanda’s side of the path. She quickly corrected course to avoid a collision with the oncoming cyclist.
Unfortunately, her course correction took her straight into that concrete wall. It’s been my experience that on the rare occasions on which I’ve witnessed an accident, my brain seems to play the scene out in slow motion. This instance was no exception as her initial impact followed by tumbling over her bicycle seemed to to take forever.
I was at her side and helping her only seconds later. I had ignored the other cyclist, believing that he would surely stop to offer aid. Instead, he not only didn’t stop, but was soon followed by a second cyclist, riding just as recklessly as the first. This one breathing an expletive as he zoomed by the “obstruction” created by Amanda and her bike.
My experience with the cycling community had, up until that point, all been very positive. In general, if one cyclist sees another stopped and in distress, assistance is offered. Sadly, these two were apparently too busy to be bothered by something so trivial as slowing to assist someone else.
I was, in the moment, too focused on Amanda’s needs to be concerned with the careless duo that had just passed by. Her arms were bloodied, and I had clearly seen her head hit both the wall and then the concrete path below. I was so frightened by what I had seen, and was certain that I’d be calling 911 shortly.
Before I knew it, Amanda was looking up at me with a smile. “I’m fine,” she said, “just help me get back on this bicycle.” Her perseverance amazes me.
I helped her up, and tried to head up the bike path to get out of harm’s way when I noticed that her bike didn’t want to roll. Upon further inspection, I discovered that her front wheel had been bent and twisted in the fall.
Since we were close to home, it was decided that I should ride home and come back with my car and a bike rack. So we found a shady spot in the grass for Amanda to sit and wait, while I sped back home.
On the way to the ER she was showing off two cracks in her bike helmet. It was then that the severity of her crash settled in. Had it not been for that helmet, we are both certain there would have been no avoiding that call to 911.
Once at the hospital, Amanda was thoroughly checked out to be sure nothing was broken. The staff took excellent care of her, and assured us that she would be fine. Very sore, but fine.
During our wait in the ER, we were discussing that helmet. Of course it was destined for the trash. It had served its purpose well. So well, in fact, that Amanda asked if I would order another just like it. In a matter of moments, the new helmet had been ordered. The best $89 investment I have made in ages!
The bike will be ready to ride again sometime late next week. I’m sure our mechanic, Jake, will have it good as new. Amanda and I look forward to getting back out and riding again as soon as her body has mended.
In the meantime, Amanda made a decision that is, for an addict, both brave and miraculous. At the ER, one of the first things she told those treating her was that she is a recovering addict. She told them that she DID NOT want any pain killers. Just ibuprofen thank you.
For a non-addict, this may seem like an unnecessary step. After all, the pain is very real, so taking prescribed pain medication as prescribed only makes sense.
The problem is that for an addict, it is a treacherous slope. Like the blind corner on the cycling path, that first pill can lead to a serious crash. Sure, there may come a time when pain relief isn’t optional, but this time around, she is choosing to experience short term pain rather than risking long term problems.
Needless to say, I am very proud of my wife. I know she is in great discomfort, and is fully aware of how easy it would be to find relief. Even more, no one would blame her if she sought out that relief. Yet, she stood by her commitment to recovery.
We have each come to trust the program of Narcotics Anonymous with our own recovery. Like that bike helmet, the NA program offers a means by which an addict can find protection from a disease that kills so many. Recovery is put to the test daily as we face life and the challenges it can bring.
The “concrete walls” of life do not have to bring us down as they once did. We have found relief and safety through the twelve steps and spiritual principles. We have a “helmet” that offers lasting protection. Recovery is that “helmet,” and it can be trusted to keep us on the right path.
Have a remarkable day!