No two injuries are ever the same. ~~ Anonymous runner
You might be thinking that running or walking long distances might be a fun thing to do, but you have sustained some sort of injury over the course of your days that makes you wonder if some of your body parts would be up to the challenge, the biggest culprit being the knees.
I too have gone through such thoughts. My knees have become quite banged up and bruised over the years, but the biggest injury came in the year 2000 when I was living in Calgary.
I had been living in the city for a couple of years by this point and coming from the west coast of Canada I was no novice to driving in the snow. I was however new to the blizzard conditions that would blow in and dump massive amounts of snow.
On one particular night we left work early because of one of these said storms. Instead of following my regular route, a co-worker schooled me on a better way to get to my side of the city. Why I would follow his advice when it would be a wiser choice to stick to my familiar route in such bad weather, is a question I still ask myself today.
For whatever reason I took his advice and listened to the echoes of his directions in my mind while ticking off the left and right turns on streets whose names were quickly becoming buried in white flakes.
I surprised myself when I was almost home and on familiar territory once again; I had not become lost, my car was still on the road while others littered the sides, and I had avoided the freeway. Only ten more minutes and I would be warm and cozy and I could forget about the -29 temperature outside.
Five minutes away from home I began to relax my white knuckle grip on the steering wheel, my confidence returning, but let it be said here and now that I never let my guard down.
I approached the last intersection on my trip, and as I am about half a kilometer away from it and the light is green for all cars going my way, so I don’t tap the brakes at all.
I watched in complete horror as a black sports car in the oncoming left hand turning lane starts to move into the intersection. “No!” I breathe incredulous to how this person could think that they would have enough time to cross my path and make it to the other side of the intersection before I came through.
This is where things start to slow down visually for me, yet in my mind my thoughts begin to take on a rapid fire machine gun like quality and somehow they seem louder as they fight for control.
I first try to pump the brakes to slow the impact. I can’t stop it, that would take an act of God at this point, but I did slow it some. While I was managing that I was cursing this person I didn’t know for their sheer stupidity. Then when I saw the other car spinning its wheels as the driver became aware the inevitable, the curses turned to a brief anger at the unfairness of it all. I wanted my warm apartment, not a hospital bed that it looked like I was in for if I was lucky.
I remember saying, “Oh shit, this is going to hurt.” as my acceptance of the situation settled in. Then at about 68 kilometers per hour, I t-boned the black sports car. I spun around in the intersection 3 times and crashed again into a Mercedes Benz and a cab.
Things after that were shards of time for me. I seemed to be in and out of things. Not totally unconscious but not completely there all the time either. Suddenly I was aware of a man behind me in my car holding my head and on the phone telling what I supposed were the paramedics where we were. Then he was on the phone again telling someone he was at ground zero and would be late. Ground zero? Who used lingo like that? And how did he get into my car? I began to fear I had really rattled my brain. I could feel something warm running down my leg, I could hardly breathe and I was shivering violently.
“I am so cold.” I told him, this stranger in my car with his hands about my neck. I wondered if he was a soldier or a cop, who else would say ground zero?
“I know Hon, they are on their way, just sit tight. Is there anyone you want to call?” I gave him my home number and he informed my partner about what had happened and what hospital I would probably be transferred to. In the distance I could hear sirens. The biting cold was like needles jabbing into me with no remorse. I tried to focus on the man behind me and the puzzle of who he could be for a distraction. I no longer thought he was a soldier, I didn’t think Hon was in a soldier’s vocabulary, and it would be a bit of a stretch for a cop too.
“Is the other driver ok?” I asked.
“I think so.” Came his reply, “There are people with that driver now.”
“I’m sorry about your car.” I said.
“Luckily you didn’t hit me, but you did a number on someone’s Mercedes, the other one was a cab, everyone looks ok there too.”
I was relieved, but I continued to shiver and those siren cowboys could not come quickly enough!
“What is taking them so long?” I asked.
“They have to weave through the backed up traffic the accident caused.” He answered. What a political answer I thought. He didn’t say the accident you caused, which led me to believe he was married and knew something about women and how they react, or he understood the impact of his words in general and was in some sort of a management position. Either way he was becoming more of an enigma as the moments passed.
Finally the flashing lights of the medic wagon drew near, and I was never happier to see them. Those lights meant I could get out of this freezing steel mash that had a vague resemblance to a vehicle, and perhaps I would not lose my fingers and toes to frostbite. I just prayed it would not be my ex-boyfriend who would be tending to me, because just like injuries, no two break-ups are the same. I would definitely be feeling the sting if any needles were needed.
When they came to take over the situation, the man in the back told them what happened and how I was doing, then he was going to leave and become a shadow in the blizzard, but I called him back while the medics assessed my injuries.
“I need to know why you said ground zero before.” He was a handsome man with glasses and a goatee.
“Oh that,” he smiled, “I am a reporter with the Calgary Herald, guess you could call it geek speak.” Then he tossed me a little wave and turned to the cop who wanted to question him.
Well that mystery is solved I thought as the medics and firemen put a brace about my neck and put me on a backboard as gently as they could. I tried not to shriek in pain, but I was sure they had heard it all before. It was uncomfortable at first but after a couple minutes it was excruciating. The hardness of the board bit into the back of my skull, but just on one point where the two made contact, so it was like a pressure point of pain. I have since only experienced one thing worse, which was labor for thirty one hours, but that in itself is another story.
Once they got me rigged into the back of the ambulance we head out with sirens blazing. I am not impressed as this does nothing for my headache, but I am too happy about getting some warmth and the pain in my knee is quickly becoming more of a concern.
“What is wrong with my knee?” I ask the guy beside me. I feel rude not looking in his eyes while asking, but I am strapped to the board and the choice is taken from me.
He puts down the chart he is writing in, “Right or left?” he asks.
He cuts up my pant leg with a pair of blunt bent scissors and I grimace because I can’t remember if I shaved my legs the night before.
“Which side was the ignition on in your car?” He asks.
I had to think about it a second, “On the same side. Why?”
“I think your keys punctured your knee.” He told me, “I would bet money on it.”
Immediately I know I am going to have to lay up the running shoes for a while. I wondered how bad it was really going to be at the end of it all. After we got to the hospital and the various tests and x-rays were seen to and analyzed, they finally un-strapped me from the board and I found that I no longer had any feeling in the back of my skull.
Good news though, only soft tissue damage throughout my neck, back and knee and after some stitches and being fixed up with some crutches I am released.
It took over seven months of physiotherapy and medical procedures to get my knee, which after the accident was the size of a small cantaloupe, to regain its normal size again and for me to walk without a limp. It was much longer to regain the freedom of lacing up regularly without the knee swelling again, and that is something I still have to be careful of today when I rise from a crouched position.
I am so grateful to be out there on the roads still plugging away and logging more kilometers under my soles. Perhaps next time I will tell you what happened to my other knee. After all no two injuries are ever the same but some can be quite funny.