We tend to take our health for granted when we feel well and strong. Only when the amazing mechanism of our body got interrupted, we realize how precious and wonderful our health, for that matter, our life is.
A recent bike accident on the lakefront trail hit me hard with this realization.
It was early on Wed., May 29. I took my new road bike out for a routine ride on the trail at 6 a.m. I hesitated for a moment when a light drizzle hit my face. The sun was above the lake when I got up half an hour before. It wouldn’t rain so quickly, I thought, and forged on since I was already out on the street. I vaguely remember some raindrops and my thought of turning back.
At 9:10 am when I became conscious of my surroundings, I found myself standing in the middle of my living room, my left cheekbone had a burning sensation, my head hurt, and by left side, from elbow to knee, was covered with blood. I realized I must have fallen from my bike on the trail. But how, when, where, and more puzzling, how did I get back? I had no idea. I must have landed on my left shoulder and head, for despite the helmet, I had a big bump on my left temple and I could hardly rotate my left arm. Fortunately, a doctor at the emergency room at the Northwestern Hospital declared that I had no internal brain bleeding and didn’t break any bones, after examining two CT scan results of my head. But I did have a concussion, bad enough to knock out my memories for three hours.
I checked the symptoms of concussion when I got home and tried to rest and take it easy.
The continuous headache, the unusual fatigue, and the left shoulder pain rendered me helpless for two weeks, not to mention the pain from the bruises on my face, nose, and body.
Now, more than three weeks later, I’m nearly fully recovered, though any vigorous movements still give me headache and fatigue. I have been swimming in the morning to rotate my shoulders and building my strength. I even ventured to play racquetball twice, short games. I can hardly wait to claim my active life back.
I got on my bike for the first time since my accident yesterday. The weather was beautiful, and the trail full of people walking, jogging, and riding bicycles. I rode the hybrid bike, with wider tires, and pedaled cautiously and slowly. My legs literally shook over the total of 8 miles I covered—my body must have remembered the trauma of the fall, though my brain didn’t or maybe I was not fit to get on the trail yet.
I was happy to make my way home safely, ever more appreciating the healthy and active life I enjoyed and hopefully will be able to enjoy for a long time.
Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature length documentary and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.