This is What it Feels Like

The amount of attention that comes from being a celebrity on a day-to-day basis is the same amount I imagine one gets after an injury

I am prefacing this by saying that some of you may feel inclined for my well being after revealing that I took a spill on today’s morning ride. While I find the idea thoughtful, more of me sees the obligation for others to impose their opinions and thoughts onto others (have a nice day, get well soon, glad to hear you’re alright) completely counterproductive and stressful. Lets all save the redundancies and skip such phrases. Not once have I questioned ones ability to empathize with another after something negative has happened, so please don’t feel the need to remind me.

For those of you with the burning questions of, “How did it happen?” I’ll keep it short and sweet. I was going downhill on my own. Decided to take a turn more aggressive than I usually do, and managed to have the bike slide out from under me. Must have been some gravel I rode over. I rolled, slid, got back up, and rode home.

Seeing as I didn’t black out I was able to experience the thoughts that occur during a crash (thus the inspiration for the title.) The physical feeling is all the same. If you have crashed once, the next time it happens doesn’t feel significantly different from the precious experience. In all the times I have crashed there seems to be a cycle of thoughts and emotions that occur. The events leading to the inevitable feeling are the shortest lived. The peak that comes is finally accepting that you are out of control and are left to the mercy of physics. Once your body makes contact with the surface there is an initial feeling of pain, but is immediately masked by hormones and followed up with a self-defensive mindset that when best summarized, it is the mind waiting for the crash to be over and done with so we can spring into action to recover. I never realized this up until now. The pain subsides and we are left waiting until whatever is causing the pain is finally over. The only experience I have to speak from is through cycling. I’ve never been in a fight before, but I imagine this must be a similar feeling when you’ve accepted that you are not going to win.

Once we have accepted our fate, it is fate itself that is surprisingly less significant than anticipating such an event. I can remember a time when I was getting back from a group memorial ride that involved a tremendous amount of climbing, the likes of which I wasn’t ready for. I had to cut the ride short due to fatigue and lack of motivation. I made it downhill just fine. When crossing the road, in my dazed and confused state, I failed to properly scan both sides of the road and came in close contact with a driver. Judging by the speed both of us were traveling, I thought to myself, “Well, looks like I’m gonna get hit by a car for the first time.” I ended up not being hit in that circumstance. Instead I slammed on both brakes (the front more than the rear) brought my rear wheel up about three feet, and stopped right next to the driver’s front right fender just in time. The point I’m getting at is that once I had mentally accepted that I was going to get hit, there was no more tension in my body. I was no longer panicked by the thought of being hit because I was convinced it was going to happen. It’s a strange thing what the mind does to have preserve the body’s well being.

The reason I didn’t immediately jump to the social interwebs was for a few reasons. On a side-note, I can remember someone on a motor scooter checking up on me and asking if there was someone that I could call to possibly get a ride home. I couldn’t think of a soul. While this isn’t what I would consider a rational thought to be, it was a lead-in to another idea I discovered on my ride back home.

Working in the medical field, not only was I able to access myself (and inevitably negate and undermine my own advice as all medical professionals seem to do. “Me, I’m fine!” or “I’m not sick. I’m a doctor”) but begin to understand the assisted healing process from a grand scheme. Never has the rule of requesting consent been so clear in my head after today. A little known fact for all civilians without medical backgrounds, medical staff (no matter their qualifications) are not allowed to treat without consent (unless you’re on a psychiatric hold. But thats a story for another day.)

Am I aware that others care for my health and safety? Yes. That being said, I cannot stress how little you are helping anyone else when you force yourself (or your words and thoughts) onto others without their consent. A more productive question to ask someone who you suspect might need help (or unsolicited advice) is, “Do you need help?” I will take the liberty of answering this for all of you right now; no I do not need your help. I’m pretty banged up but I have also done all I can to make the best out of the situation. So save your breath and you can share your kind words when I am ready to hear them.

This point hit home the most when I was about three miles from my house. A scruffy looking guy on a bike came up to me and first asked me if I was a professional rider. I responded, “Yes.” ( I was wearing a BMC kit, riding a BMC bike. In this case yes, I was a professional.) Then, just as I had predicted, he proceeded to poke and prod me with questions and lecture me on what I should have done in my case.

“Your clothes are torn. Did you crash?”

Nothing gets by you buddy…. “Yes”

“Oh wow, did you get hurt pretty bad?”

Theres blood on my hands and hips. You get a medal for most observant “Yes”

“How did it happen?”

I have no idea why people expect you to immediately explain all events leading up to the present willingly. Maybe I don’t want to talk about it right now, ever think about that? “I fell going downhill”

“Oh, well, you should be more careful the next time your riding your bike. You need to be more careful.”

“Ok, time to go, see ya later.”

This entire conversation was not helpful in the slightest bit. In fact, it figuratively salted the wounds I already had. I am reminded of the grocery store analogy I’ll always have burned in my head from my first job. We were told to ask every customer if they needed help finding anything, no matter the circumstance (whether they liked it or not.) I can also remember getting in trouble for failing to do so in front of a manager. When he took me outside and asked me how I would want to be treated if I was a customer walking into a grocery store, every ounce of my being wanted to respond with, “I want to be left alone when I go shopping. If I need help, I’ll ask.” But being young and still lacking a sense of identity, I couldn’t get the words out of my head and through my lips. I still feel this way about a lot of things in life. I am more aware of whether someone wants something at any given point in time. As much as I may have the right words to say to that person, if they don’t want to hear it, than anything you say after that point in time is a waste of breath.

This may come off as cold and harsh, but it is how I feel. And to deny or undermine me of my personal identity and my own thoughts is selfish and rude. I am aware that others care about me and I wish to get well soon (at this point in time) but I do not need to hear it from everyone I see for the next few weeks. As far as kind words go, Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll let you know if I need help.

-dfj

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