Early morning training has always been mind clearing and one of the best possible ways to begin the day for me, so why not begin on November 1 (my nickname when I was younger was “Spock” – logic and orderly always worked for me). We had finished closing the studio and taken care of most of the administrative obligations that go along with something like that a couple of weeks prior; it was time to begin our outdoor Gavia Cycling training!
I arranged to meet David at his home at 5:15 AM and when I got there we decided to do some easy hill repeats on Churchill – big ring of course. It was a bit cool (but I was wearing my new GFNY jacket with an under layer – that was more than enough). The first two rounds were uneventful, just took it easy on the way down and then up to the top; we decided on one more. As I got near the bottom where the road winds to the left then right I saw a car making its way up and thought I would move over a bit more to my right in order to give him or her a wide berth, saw the pile of leaves I had already passed twice, knew that I would need to ride over the edge of the pile but clearly misjudged the depth at the edge and watched my front wheel move in a way that flashed “trouble!”.
“Vito – do you know where you are?” “Yes, I am in an ambulance.”
“Do you know who you are with?” “Yes, my friend David; we were doing hill repeats on Churchill.”
“OK great – we are taking you to the hospital now.”
..and so it went. I don’t really remember the ride too well; I do remember that my wife was waiting for me at the hospital and that the staff brought me in to take some x-rays and CT scans then wheeled me into a room where I waited for the results. I was a little bit more coherent. was able to speak normally, felt a little bit beat up but otherwise not too bad.
Results – broken clavicle, fractured rib and a concussion – an excellent start to the training season! The ER doctor told me the clavicle would heal on its own and offered me a prescription for some painkillers which I kindly refused (twice!). David, being my medical guardian angel referred me to an excellent orthopedic surgeon – Dr. Keller – (for the clavicle) as well as an internist (to check the rib fracture and anything else that might need looking at). Dr. Keller performed the surgery early morning on the 9th, adding a titanium plate and 4 screws to fix the 4 breaks. I had a follow up visit on the 17th, Dr. Keller removed the ends of the stitches (the rest of them dissolve on their own), let me know that I am a strong healer, cleared me to ride my trainer at home and also to get out on my bike as soon as I feel comfortable enough to handle my bike.
Consider how lucky I am. I was riding with David who was able to call the ER at the hospital and also refer me to doctors who are at the top of their profession. (David was not so lucky – he had to watch me crash in front of him, had to get me out of the middle of the street, try to figure out how I was, ask me for my wife’s cell phone number and call her to let her know what happened, call an ambulance and then, adding insult to injury, had to walk home (UP Churchill) with both bikes!
I was wearing my GFNY Limar helmet; it took the brunt of the blow when I fell, clearly saving me from what could have been a lifelong disaster. As I tell everyone – ALWAYS WEAR YOUR HELMET! THE HIGH SPEED DESCENT ISN’T THE CONCERN, ITS THE LOCAL RIDE WHEN YOU ARE MOVING AT 20 KPH AND YOU HAVE A SILLY FALL THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER. Guess what – this was that fall.
Modern medicine and having a friend like David. I had a surgeon who is at the top of her profession. I am sure there are others, but I was lucky to have Dr. Keller and all the support staff at Hackensack Hospital.
Last, and definitely not least, my wife Melanie without whom I would not be around today. The last two years of medical issues have been a tremendous burden on her and yet, she smiles every day, takes care of me without complaint, manages to keep us moving forward in a sane way irrespective of the business issues I have created and simply believes in me and us. Of all the unearned blessings and good fortune I have had in my life my wife is the biggest gift of all.
Ah yes, the title of the post. A leaf, or a small grouping of leaves, changed my life for at least this month and perhaps a little bit longer. I look at this as a warning – perhaps my ego was getting the best of me, perhaps I was not focusing on the human aspect of life as much as a should have been, perhaps I was not paying attention to the details as much as I should have been, perhaps I have not been as present as i should have been – I am not sure. I am sure there is a lesson in here someplace – part of the lesson is taking the time to consider what happened and the lesson we can draw from it.
I am grateful for the kindness and generosity of spirit you all share with me – thank you.
(I expect to write more often, not sure that it will share well on social media; if you would like to read more inspiring cycling related stories please follow this blog).