So, here’s the short but sweet – well, you get the idea – version of what happened yesterday evening around 5:30. I had a pretty bad fall at approximately .68 miles into my run. I was supposed to do a little 5k to be in a sort of solidarity with a student I tutor, because we had to miss tutoring yesterday due to her mandatory participation in a 5k with her school. (She is neither fan of outdoorsy things nor of running.) I had already run just over that on Thursday, and I didn’t necessarily feel like getting out to run and do a whole workout (core upon return to the house, of course), but I’d told her I would do it on Friday, and I knew I always felt great after such a workout anyway. So, I headed out. It was an amazing start to the run, and the weather was great.
However, when my eye was caught by a mother doing a sort of super-protective stance between the road and her small child, possibly as a means of preventing his sprinting suddenly to the street when a truck was passing, that great feeling changed quickly. Since I was caught off guard by her stance, and, of course, I had to process what I was seeing before moving on in life, I was mentally focused on the mother, even though I turned my head back to the road ahead of me. And, though, I was looking at the road again, it was not quite enough time to process that one of the manhole covers a step and a half ahead of me, while it was supposed to be flush with the road around its rim, and concave for the actual cover, the indefinite-looking roadwork of the street turned that flush edge into a lip.
And yes, I did trip on that lip.
Put simply, I flew forward. I got another step and a half-ish under me as I began to fall, but I was already turning Superman, and I knew I was not going to recover my feet. I had a brief thought of not wanting to fall simply so as not to freak out the poor onlookers – it has to suck to witness someone fall hard or be part of some accident… I regularly think of how terribly frightening it must have been for that angel driving behind me when I went down on my scooter on the road that night last year. Nonetheless, I saw before the thought even finished that, oh, well, they were just going to have to witness it, and I was just going not to worry about it, and to do what I needed to do for my own health and well-being.
And so, I went down, and I went down not just hard, but with a hard forward slide. Man, it was like I were Speedy Gonzales or something, because there was no way I could have been running very slowly to slide that hard and that far, and so quickly. And I always thought my longer running was slow. Good thing I’ve been working on improving that for myself… it really paid off yesterday evening. Not.
(Note: I’m not at all bashing improving one’s skills or athletic abilities – not at all. I am merely having a fun thought and play at how, in this particular instance, being better at the sport actually made for a worse situation. Think, I might not even have fallen, if I hadn’t been going so fast. However, that changes nothing in my plans to continue to improve in my running.)
Anyway, so I went down, and I knew people saw, and I had slight concern for them, but also didn’t care and didn’t have the mental space for almost any thoughts aside from dealing with my own body’s safety and survival at present.
It really sucked. I immediately rolled to my back. I was just lying in the street then, tears pouring from down my temples and upper cheeks, as I quickly examined my hands. They were a total mess. Gashed terribly, tissue fluid and blood already everywhere, and grainy gravel bits of all sizes and dark colors everywhere on them, mixed in with the blood and peeling skin and tissue fluid. My knee was stinging slightly, and I had a feeling it was much worse than it was letting on, hidden beneath my spectacular running pants – I could look at that more later, perhaps when I got home… it only would get worse once I let my attention turn to it. The pants had held up, so I knew they would hold in most of the bleeding that likely was underneath. Not that I spent more than a moment of thought on my knee… I just glanced and moved on mentally.
My hands… oh, my hands needed help.
While I was dong this self-evaluation and feeling growing intense pain, crying somewhat calmly yet entirely uncontrollably, the mother was talking to me from her spot back on the sidewalk.
Was I okay? Did I want them to call an ambulance? Did I want them to call somebody else for me? I answer with obvious shaking of my head to all of them. I was grateful to hear, when the husband was trying to move along, the wife (mother of the little kid) said pointedly, “No, she’s not okay. She’s really hurt.” Though, I only slightly processed it, what with the pain and my own mental focus at the time. When she asked if they could get me anything, I managed, after another several seconds of gasping-like breathing, to ask, “Do you have any water?” After which I resumed the intense breathing. The crying, of course, never paused.
I was still lying on my back in the road, and it had been at least a minute at this point. Granted, I was to the side of the road, but I was definitely entirely in the road, at least a yard or two from the curb. So, I ask again about the water, figuring out how to get water, if these folks don’t have any, and she answers to me that they do. A few moments later, I hear someone begin to approach, and a hard plastic cup being set on the driveway next to me. I say next to me, because it was perpendicular to the road, st the specific spot where I lay. It was not, however, actually very near to me. It was at least three yards away from me.
“Honey, just bring it to her, ” I hear the wife say, followed by the husband’s hushed, “No.” Her response was borderline furious, and something within me felt like there would be a rage in their house tonight.
Alas, there was water, and I needed it for my hands. There was no possibility of my getting up from my spot in the road, so, I stuck my hands above my head, Superman-y again, and rolled two-ish turns toward the driveway. I then forced myself to sit up – though I’m really not sure how, seeing as my hands were no real use at that point. But I grabbed the little blue sippy-type cup, and started carefully tipping the limited, precious water onto one hand at a time. And it hurt. And I knew it wouldn’t be enough – there was far too much blood and dirt that wasn’t going to come off by just dripping a single cup-full of water onto it with no real rubbing.
Not that I wanted to rub my hands…, but I needed to do it.
A truck driving past as I fell, – the one from which the mother had possibly been”protecting” her child – backed all the way up the block, and stopped even with me in the road (in which I am still sitting, of course, but I’m by the edge now). It was, for lack of better descriptors, what I would call a Mexican work truck. Likely, the guy had been working on building a house somewhere down the road – one of the new builds I had passed on my way there, perhaps. The driver exited the truck and was doing something with the truck bed for a minute. I was almost certain what would come next – it’s just a part of the culture, you know?
After a few moments, I finally comprehend that the guy is standing near me, setting down a bottle of water. He then hands me a white piece of cloth and says, “Clean. I’s clean.” (That’s “it’s” without the t, by the way.). I could barely form any words in any language, though I knew he spoke Spanish and possibly almost no English. I believe I thanked him then. I set down the sippy cup back on the driveway, and picked up the icy cold bottle of water. This will hurt, I think, but I know I need to do it.
I struggle for a few moments in my efforts to open the bottle, but I cannot manage it – this simple task is impossible for me in this moment – and so I set the bottle back down on the ground. Within seconds, the guy was back at my side, picking up and opening the bottle for me. He then holds it out in a way that I know he is offering to hold it and pour for me, and so I extend my hands and allow him to pour. I cough out some tears at the pain of it, but we can both see that it is helping clear away the mess. When I’ve wiped away as much as I can tolerate, I nod and thank him a couple or few times, as I press the white cloth into my hands, absorbing what excess still remains, and shooting pains into my hands at every press. I was barely able to see his upside down face through my tears. But I saw him and thanked his face, even if I couldn’t see his eyes.
Meanwhile, the couple stood with their child on the sidewalk, watching, mumbling. As the Mexican guy stepped back into his truck, a white Mercedes that had been briefly waiting, with the guy and me in full view on the side of the road, and his truck parked in the middle of it – keep in mind, this is a neighborhood road, not some throughway or anything – decides to squeeze between me and the truck, now that the guy isn’t standing next to me anymore. When the mother on the sidewalk commented with fury at the fact that the woman had seen us and easily could have just gone around the block – and these are tiny blocks, by the way, in a traditional square arrangement – I genuinely agreed with her. Though, I also felt sad at the driver of the Mercedes. How miserable must one be to be such an a** during an obvious “situation” of someone sprawled in the road?
Anyway… I really liked the wife/mother. Not so much the paranoia of the husband, though. Which, by the way, he picked up that cup after I set it back down to give it back to them… Just saying.
Okay, so everyone moves on. I have my keys and my phone again, and I roll myself the rest of the way fully onto the driveway. I lay there a handful of minutes, still crying. I hear a dog collar approaching on the sidewalk behind me, and am unconcerned. Minus the tiny hope that the owner won’t be too distraught at the sight.
It turned out to be an older guy, out walking his dog. He asked if I was okay, and I carefully told him that I wasn’t but that I would be – I could talk now. Kind of. He offered to bring me bandages, saying that he lived just right nearby, and I said that that actually would be really great. His walk turned into a cautious jog of concern, as he raced around the corner, heading to his unseen home. I hardly even knew how he looked. I still couldn’t process such details.
And so, when her returned a couple minutes later, I sat myself up again, and got to work. I poured the hydrogen peroxide on my knew first, then my left hand, and both were okay. It hurt a bit, but it really just foamed and mostly was okay. The guy was surprised at this. He’d even said he would look away while I poured the peroxide, clearly indicating that he didn’t want me to be embarrassed at my likely reaction of intense pain. An old man had approached at this point, and was asking questions. I had already worked hard enough to answer them for the first guy – what happened; yeah, I’m definitely hurt; I’ll be okay, just not yet; I live about .62 miles that way – so I let him answer them for me. He didn’t seem to mind, once he saw that I clearly wasn’t up to it. Then, while they chatted, I poured the peroxide on my right hand. And that, my friends, was the exact memory I had had of hydrogen peroxide from my childhood, and the reason I was terrified of it as an adult. I had used it a couple times recently, and couldn’t understand why I’d been afraid of it. My mom had given it to me last year (?), saying that alcohol burns, not hydrogen peroxide. And it had been true so far in my adult life. Until this moment, in a stranger’s driveway with two older guys chatting about me and my present situation.
My body took over control as I convulsed and wailed, and even more tears poured from my eyes, the rate increased significantly from the original fall’s. I felt bad for this pour girl on the side of the road. I couldn’t imagine how the onlookers felt. (There was a secret onlooker across the street in the apartments, who had clearly been considering off and on whether to come help. She, too, looked hispanic, and I fear her concern was one not only of COVID-19, but mostly of a fear of not being able to communicate. I don’t exactly exude Spanish (or any language other than English, really), so I get it.
Anyway, so that really sucked, and I had to pour the painful cold water on it to make the pain go down at least somewhat – I couldn’t take it anymore. Funny how that cold water was suddenly not so big a deal anymore, right? Eventually, I blew my nose a bunch more with the rest of the paper towels the guy had brought, and I put a compress on my knee. I had raised the pant leg while still in the street, and, aside from the clear layer of skin that was plastered to the fabric, my knee didn’t look like it needed too much immediate attention. So, after the quick rinse of water and the peroxide, it was good to go, in terms of germ-prevention and safety until I made it home.
Now, all this time, I had been evaluating how I would be getting home. No family lives anywhere near me, so that was out as an option, if I couldn’t walk it. I considered a high school acquaintance who lived nearby. I was rather sure he would come get me and drive me home, if I really needed, but I didn’t want to turn to that except as a last resort. So, my options were really either to walk or to run home. If I ended up being able to run, I knew I would end up finishing the 5k. It was a slim chance, but it wouldn’t’ have surprised me. However, walking was the most likely of the three options. And, at this point in time, I noticed that I still had not felt that moment of, Okay, let’s get up, that we always get at some point after a fall. And, so far as I could tell, it was nowhere nearby either. I wasn’t going anywhere for a while. I mean, I hadn’t even fully stopped crying at this point, and it had been ten minutes already.
I had started “chatting” with the younger of the two older guys, during the times that I could use my words, and, after I had finished all my dressings, he offered yet again to drive me home – “We can put the windows down, be safe…” – I said, at last, “I think that would be a very good idea,” nodding and speaking with obvious effort, pinches of tears falling. He hopped into action, and took his first aid kit and hydrogen peroxide and, even, the trash back to his home. A couple minutes later, a Jeep came roaring around the corner, windows down.
I struggled to find the least painful way, and managed myself to my feet without too much disruption. But, oh, did it hurt to use my right leg/knee… The guy opened the passenger door for me, and I struggled my way into the seat. I fumbled for a while, throwing in involuntary cries of pain, getting the seatbelt on myself and shutting the door… I just couldn’t use my hands almost at all: no pressure on them from the outside, and no muscle flexing within them.
We chatted on the brief drive back that almost-three-quarters-of-a-mile path, exchanged names, and wished one another well as we arrived and I struggled my way out of the Jeep. I thanked him over and over again, both during the ride and at the end of it. And also before it, too. And then I slowly and painfully stumbled up the walkways and stairs, managed to unlock and open the door, and get myself inside.
I had sent my mom a couple photos after the first group had left, before I lay back down on the driveway, and then had called her when the guy had gone to get his Jeep. I had known that she was driving before then, so I waited to call when I knew she would be able to see the photos. At my first, “Hey,” she knew something had happened. “What happened?” she asked, concerned, but not freaking out. She probably had figured I’d had some terrible interaction with someone mean – that’s usually the answer to What happened?. I told her to look at the photo I’d sent her. She looked, and understood immediately. I told her the present situation and that I thought I would be okay. Now that I was home, I called her again, just to let her know that I was there, and also to see what she recommended I do to help myself at this point.
She prescribed me some time with an ice pack of sorts and an elevated leg, a shower, and then just before bed, rubbing gently hydrogen peroxide into my wounds with a Q-tip (cotton, you see), since I couldn’t get all the dirt off my hands.
The shower was long and hot and extremely painful at first, but it helped significantly by the end of it. The hydrogen peroxide left me, yet again, wailing involuntarily in pain, pouring tears, and practically shouting half-comprehensible phrases and annoyances. By the way, blowing your nose with a tissue and non-usable thumbs sucks. That’s to say the least.
When I woke up in the middle of the night with a need to pee, I not only had to detach my palms from the sheets (painfully, of course), due to sticking tissue fluid, but hobble down the stairs, squat down to the toilet seat, and then attempt to wipe myself with a clumsy and burning left hand (the right was a solid no-go). This repeated itself when my alarms went off at five forty-something to get me up for test proctoring today.
Today, my knee hurts. More like my upper shin than my kneecap, but it still hurts. It’s kind of like a super bruise feeling, but the skin doesn’t really hurt. My hands, however, have been bad. I still have no opposable thumbs for the time being… if I try to use them, I involuntarily wail from the instant pain in my lower palm. The right is the worst. The left, starting this evening, has actually started to come around a bit. They were both still producing tissue fluid 20 hours after the incident, but have since mostly ceased. But any sharp movements or pressure, and they resume it. They felt like fire last night period. Tonight, they only get that feeling when they are either bumped or wet. Or, of course, I attempt to use my thumb for any kind of grip, or clench my fingers in an attempt to grip anything. (I almost couldn’t get out of my room this morning, because the doorknob is very thin and takes a lot of pressure to get open…) In fact, it is extremely difficult even to type this right now.
All in all, that totally sucked, and it still sucks now, but I am mending safely, it seems. And I am grateful for that.
On that note, I shall sleep. But first, the photos:
This was yesterday, after rinsing off and rolling into the driveway.
This was the darned manhole cover with the “lip”.
This was after my shower last night.
I had to set the phone timer for this one.
And these were this evening, about 25 hours after the fall. I had to set the timer on these, too, because I couldn’t both hold the phone and click the shutter button… no thumbs, remember. (I tell you, it is one thing just not to have opposable thumbs. It is something else entirely not to have them in a world designed for opposable thumbs. I am having to learn drastic new ways of completing the formerly simplest of tasks[!!!].)