Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm Officially Well Enough to do Exercises that Hurt

I wasn’t mad at the driver who ran me down on my bike and put me in the hospital for 6 days. I wasn’t mad that he broke my collar bone and my nose and fractured my skull in 5 or 6 places, and bruised me all over. The driver is a neighbor (even though we’ve never met) and accidents happen. But it’s been almost 2 months now and he hasn’t called. He hasn’t come over. He hasn’t even sent me an apology or a get well card.

And now I’m officially well enough to start doing rehab exercises and stretches. Let me tell you, in case you don’t already know – those things hurt! And I have to do 5 sets a day of them. It adds up to about an hour a day of self-inflicted pain. And why? So I can get my body back. And why do I need my body back? Because my neighbor ran me down with his car. In a sensible world, he’s the one who should be doing these exercises. But no. He gets to go on about his life as if nothing happened, except maybe he’ll have to pay more for his insurance next year. Maybe. Lots of insurance companies don’t raise your rates if you just have one accident.

Yes, I’m lucky he stopped and gave his name and insurance information to the police. He could have been a hit-and-run like the driver who killed a bicyclist on a nearby street a week later. I’m lucky that between his insurance and my insurance, I probably won’t be out-of-pocket for anything but the co-pays on my rehab, and my bus-fares.

But when I’m trying to push my arm into positions that used to be easy, and it doesn’t want to go, and the exercises feel like I’m trying to break my own arm, I get mad.

It’s been almost two months and I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs. I can’t ride my bike because I can’t carry it downstairs to the sidewalk. (No, I can’t park it outside because it would be stolen no matter how well I lock it.) I have to take the bus everywhere which takes more than twice as long as biking. And on the bus, I meet people who want to talk with me.

The ones who know I bike want to know why I’m on the bus. Then they want to tell me their medical stories. One woman told me she had to wear a battery when she broke her collar bone and that was 30 years ago and it still hurts. This is not what I want to hear. I want to imagine than I’m going to get my life back.

The battery was supposed to make the bone grow back. It was the latest technology from the military. And her doctors made her show off the battery and its wiring to a bunch of student doctors. Showing off to student doctors is really not on my list. I’ve already had to demonstrate my range of motion to one of them who pretended it was good, as if that would soothe me. I know what I want my body to do. Whether or not my current range of motion is good for somebody who broke a collar bone is not interesting.

I have to spend my time going to doctors, going to rehab, doing painful exercises and stretches, and riding buses. I’m not able to carry my own laundry to the washing machine, or shop for my own groceries because I can’t lift over 5 lbs. All because my neighbor, who doesn’t care enough to drop by or send me a note, shouldn’t be driving a car. If anybody should be consigned to riding a bus – he should. That way he won’t run anybody else down.

So, yes, I’m mad. I’m mad at my neighbor for running me down. I’m mad at my city for not putting up protected bike lanes. I’m mad at the bus company because the bus routes don’t go enough places and I have to pay extra and wait a long time for transfers because they have inadequate routes and infrequent buses. I’m mad at the insurance companies because they make me submit the same bills over and over. I’m mad that I don’t have my life back yet. I’m even mad that my rehab PT thinks I’m funny and he actually asked me, “Is there anything else you want to ask me, so I can say, ‘No.’?”


  1. When first you said you do not like to ride the bus because people...want to TALK to you, I thought I understood. My sister and I never liked to get our hair cut because the hair-cutter person wanted to...TALK to us. We are always anti-social, but my sister, when asked what she is reading, says: "A book."

  2. Yes, there is THAT kind of TALKing on the bus, too. I seem to have a sign on me that looks like a big EAR.

  3. Oops I meant "we are NOT always anti-social"! Freudian slip!