Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
While that quote is certainly inspirational, it assumes that things like hope and light are infinite and apply equally to everyone. Are they and does it? I do not know and am certainly not wise, nor insightful.
Darkness, on the other hand, is provably and obviously infinite. One just needs to consider the universe.
There is one constant that has applied to my life, especially but not just my adult life. Just one. That should not seem too bad, right? Keeps things simple. That is usually a good thing.
Before I get too far into the muck and grime, let’s catch up to the dumpster fire known as my life.
Even though my latest fall, literal this time and was on the first day of this month, it is still affecting me negatively. That probably makes sense, but it has affected me in ways that are seemingly unrelated to the injury and surgery. I am in quite a lot of pain and on an opioid for much of the day. At least the time under their effects each day is decreasing. I can type with two hands without hurting too much, so that is good. Even though it may not seem like it, I have a high pain tolerance. Mostly because even when not hurt, I am in pain every single day of my life. In the past, I had severely cut my hand and did not notice it for a while, despite the blood dripping and had similar reactions to burns. I often do not feel it. Depression is helpful here because it really does deaden nerves. I hate most pain medications with a passion, so if I willingly take the pills, you know I am really suffering.
It seems this essay needs a little bit more to make sense - very little sense is intended here - and what happened is nearly irrelevant to this rant. If it wasn’t this accident stopping progress, then maybe it would have been a car wreck, or perhaps a nasty case of COVID19, or whatever. It is irrelevant. The point is that the universe does not allow progress or happiness. If both are happening at the same? Watch out! It should have been learned about a year ago. Apparently, the
hero loser of this story is incapable of learning. Confused?
How could I not have predicted this?
I had big plans for that day. A 20-mile bike, mow the front yard, and go catfishing in the evening and into the night a bit. Yes, that constitutes a big day. About 15 miles into the bike ride, I started to feel really good, the happiest I have felt all year, by far. That morning, I had a wonderful conversation with the best person in my life. That really got me smiling. The high from the bike ride just added to that. For most people, that is a good thing. For me, that is a warning sign. Oddly, I didn’t think of it as a warning sign at the time. I was happy to be happy, which is strange.
I am not really sure exactly what happened, or more precisely, what caused it. It was at the 15.57-mile mark, that is what my bike computer said anyway. I was going at a good pace, at least for me. I remember looking down a minute or two before the accident and seeing that I was going around 18 MPH. I doubt I was going faster than that when it happened. There are no super tight curves on this trail. This curve was the only tricky one, and I had ridden past it dozens of times this summer. It seems that I hit a pine cone or a large-ish rock, I do not know.
At first, I thought I had regained control and narrowly missed slamming into a tree; instead, a few branches smacked me in the face. Then the front tire lost its grip - I am not sure if the front tire hit something here at all or even for the first time - on the paved trail. The next thing I remember is bouncing off the pavement and remember hearing and feeling my collarbone break in multiple pieces. Luckily, there was no one on a bike or walking near me.
When will I learn that with happiness, great pain quickly follows?
Breathing was difficult. I was out of breath from the hard ride. Like usual, I was pretty calm about the accident. I worry about all sorts of things that could possibly happen; when a bad thing happens, I manage it pretty well. The biggest worry was the bike. It seemed and still seems to be okay. It is made of carbon fiber, so I will need to get it checked out. If it is, I can get the drive train and hydraulic disc brakes adjusted. If the frame is damaged; well, that is $1400 gone for less than 4 months of riding, actually barely over two since I had severe left shoulder bursitis for about 6 weeks.
I moved myself and the bike off to the side so people could ride past. Many people did go by without asking if I was okay. I called out for help with no luck. I think with being out of breath and my ribs hurting so much, it wasn’t loud, so hopefully, they just did not ignore me. Strangely, someone like me would focus on being ignored. One lady taking a walk about 30 minutes after the accident asked if I was okay, but at that point, help was on the way.
My first thought was to walk my bike home the 5 miles because I didn’t know what to do with it. Also, I did not want to go to the ER dressed like I was. I really am self-conscious in compression pants, even broken and in massive pain. So, I set off for home and went maybe five feet. Nope, way too painful.
I ended up calling 911. It took the fire department a bit to find me off the GPS data. The accident site was not a simple place for access. They checked me for concussion and put me in a sling, and we walked out of the area. My ex-wife eventually picked me up to take me to the ER.
Really long story short, or at least shorter than the full story.
I collapsed in the X-ray room and didn’t lose consciousness but could not answer questions or respond to anything, yet I could understand what was going on. It was a weird situation. I started sweating, and it felt very wrong, I can not describe it. It was somewhat like a seizure aura, but not really. Of course, the doctor did not know I really could understand. The doctor yelled, “head CT, stat” and everything went into fast motion. I thought the whole thing was a little exciting.
Happily, no concussion was found. Another problem came up because my left shoulder is a dumpster fire. The doctor had trouble figuring out what exactly was wrong. He had to contact the VA hospital to get some old scans to unravel this mess. They eventually retook the x-rays and twice more went back into the CT machine, which I hated. Moving me onto the CT table hurt so badly.
The results were about what I expected: collarbone was broken in three pieces and five rib fractures. They gave me a full body scan to make sure nothing else was wrong, and outside a really nasty and large bruise on my chest, nothing else was damaged. The doctor said I did a real number on myself. I said, “anything worth doing is worth doing right.”
They asked if they could admit me so they can keep an eye on pain management. I am not sure that was the truth, because they had me hooked up to a heart monitor my entire stay. They also asked what I wanted in the ‘unlikely’ event that I went into cardiac arrest. I wonder if my heart was somehow a problem, and for some reason, they did not tell me. I honestly had no answer for that, and they asked if I prefer to be revived. I said, “I don’t know.” and they just laughed. That wasn’t a joke. I did not know if I wanted to be resuscitated.
The first night in the hospital was terrible. My roommate was very old and out of his mind. He talked loudly and non-stop the entire night and kept ripping out his needles and bandages and even tore some sutures a little and then screamed at the nurses when they tried to help him. A nurse told me that things like that always happen during a full moon.
I finally slept at 11 AM when they took him for some treatment. Three hours later, he comes back, and mercifully, the nurses ask if I want a new room. Of course, I said yes. They gave me a private room, so I finally got a lot of rest until the next day.
What makes me think the pain management excuse was a lie is because all they gave me was morphine. Most of the time, the morphine leaked out of my vein and into my elbow. That just burned really bad for about 20 minutes and did nothing for the pain. Occasionally they would dilute the morphine in a liquid before injecting it, and that helped. The last day, they gave me Percocet, a very weak pain pill, which did nothing. When they released me, they gave me a ton of hydrocodone, a very middle of the road opioid. That is what the ER was going to give me if I decided to go home. So, what was the point of being admitted?
The very worst thing is that I spent my time in the hospital wearing torn up compression pants and a cut-up shirt, the same I was riding my bike in. They gave me no clothes except non-slip socks. I barely got water and only ate three times from Tuesday evening through Thursday afternoon when I went home. It was very little food. Less than 1200 calories, I would guess. They also said an orthopedic surgeon was coming and would likely get surgery before being released. No one showed up. They were worried about something. They didn’t release me until I got so bored and stir-crazy that I went for a walk around the floor, dragging all of the equipment that I was tied to. After about 30 minutes of walking non-stop, my nurse stopped me and said it looks like I should be released. The walk was not too difficult, other than the shoulder pain. It was not mobilized well and kept shifting and grinding and pinching things. It felt so good to walk.
On Friday, I went to the orthopedic surgeon’s office, and he showed me the scans and said it was possible they would mend itself but would be bumpy and crooked. He also expressed surprise that my forearm and wrist was not broken. I told him I have fallen a lot in my life, and I am a professional at it. I know when to and when not to try to break my fall. I have never broken any bones before this. Putting my arms out might have saved a few ribs from fracturing, but I would prefer that then to doing all that damage to my lower arm. No hip or back damage, I chalked that up to being lucky because the universe has plans for bad things to happen to those in the future.
The two loose bones were too far apart and pointing in the wrong direction for me to think that could happen, so I elected to have surgery. Of course, it was a Friday and Labor Day weekend, so I was scheduled to show up Tuesday at 530 AM. The weekend was nothing but pain. I was alone all weekend with bones moving in my shoulder but somehow survived.
Surgery seemed to go well until I woke up. Now, I had not slept even a little the night before, and I guess I slept a long time in the recovery room. I had told the anesthesiologist about the issues with my last surgery. When I woke, I think I was in full-on psychosis. I was in a big room with lots of people and felt like something sinister was going on. Since they had a tube down my throat during the surgery, it was very sore and was difficult to speak. I freaked out and tried to get help, and I think I fell back asleep. When I woke, some nurse was yelling at me and accusing me of faking something, I do not know what. It was a 90-minute surgery, and from the time of the procedure to when I left, over 6 hours had passed, and I remember just a few pieces here and there.
I tried to stand up, but they had my bed set up for seizure danger protocol, and could not get out. A different nurse helped me and gave me my clothes. I dressed and left. They did not give me any water, food, or pain meds in the recovery room and gave no instructions about what to do at home.
I should give them credit since I didn’t wake up in an alley or dumpster. That was nice of the nurses that they didn’t do that.
I am very used to being treated like I don’t matter but not really by nurses. They are typically pretty nice and make a token effort at pretending to care about me. I guess that is good that I get reminded how very little I matter. You would think it is something I would never forget, but I need to learn that over and over again.
Since then, there have been noticeable improvements every day. Recovery is going much faster than my previous injury, which involved a separated shoulder, Hill-Sachs lesion, and a torn rotator cuff. The incision really hurts, still. It is not infected. It is both numb and feels like 1000 pinpricks all at once. The collarbone is heavy and stiff and feels like metal is poking out of it, but that is subsiding. I think it will take a while to get used to it, and I have a follow-up next week and hopefully start physical therapy. I got to get back into shape, so I can get torn up again!
Here we go again!
As I wrote before, bursitis really put a crimp in my summer plans, both with the time I had with my grandson and also my fitness goals. Before this happened, I was riding up to 50 miles. I was hoping to hit 100 before the weather was too bad to ride. I really only had another 6 weeks before my accident and prioritized time spent with my awesome grandson, but I got some riding in. He had left about two weeks before, and I had seriously started to get back into riding. Three days before the accident, I had gone about 35 miles, and it is a trek that was extremely difficult for me earlier in the year. I had done this route quite a few times, but this was by far the fastest and the easiest on me. I was surprised. I had not only been out of commission a while, I had gained some weight, but I did well. Shocking, right?
I had been developing a decent amount of strength in my legs and hip area, which translates to far less knee pain. That helped to increase the enjoyment and benefit I got from my rides.
The next day I rested, Monday I went 15 miles on the same route as the 35-mile ride, but I turned after 7.5 miles. That ride was amazingly fast and pain-free. So the next day, I was thinking of riding a different direction, and I really should have, but I went the same direction, which means that in the past three days, I had gone through that turn twice. Third time is a charm, I suppose.
So, here it is, fifteen days after my crash. The only exercise I get is slow walks that are very short, one to two miles, because my shoulder starts aching and I get dizzy. Of course, my knees are starting to click again, and it hurts to walk a lot of the time. That means that my knees are back to where they were over a year ago. They are not damaged further, so that is good, but why do I always have to start over?
I can go back decades, and no matter the gain, I lose it and have to start over, usually having to try something else. At least this time, I won’t have to give up what little I have gained. Unless something worse happens this winter - which it very well could - and at least maintain my weight, I can recover everything lost. That is actually a rare thing.
Yes, I was starting to get happier but not really happy in a general sense. That seems to be gone forever. At least during my bike rides, I am temporarily happy, and that happiness sometimes lasts an hour or two after the ride. I honestly thought that was okay, and fate wouldn’t trip me up over that.
At some point, wouldn’t a sane and rational person say ‘enough’?
Does it always have to be such doom and gloom with you?
No, and yes.
Yes, I will do my knee exercises. Yes, I will do whatever therapy my shoulder needs. Yes, I will ride my bike again. Probably earlier than I should. Yes, I will start running again. Well, I will run again if I can get my weight down a bit, which is a difficult thing to do if I am getting hurt.
I do have an indoor recumbent bike that I should be able to start riding soon. I was thinking about selling it and getting an upright exercise bike since those work more muscles. Maybe I can by December. I just can’t put much weight on my shoulder for 6-8 weeks. I really hate indoor bikes.
I always need to be going somewhere to stay focused. A good example is being able to run faster on roads or even in the hills than I can on a flat track. It is why I have been spinning my wheels on my personal goals and projects the past three years; purpose seems to have been lost. Before 2016, I was putting in a lot of hours on my projects even though they didn’t have a set goal. I think it was just something to keep me from looking too closely at my life.
My birthday is coming up quickly, and I was not supposed to survive my last birthday. I wonder if this past year was worth sticking around for and why I should bother this year? No matter what good things might happen that I work towards, it will be lost. Sadly, I am not down enough to become suicidal, which is depressing but whatever. I had somewhat come to terms with what I now know what my life will be until whenever it does end. I am not totally at peace with it. I can’t let go, but it is what it is, and there is nothing to do about it.
Today is my first day without taking opioids, so maybe the depression will slow down a little.
See, I can be positive.
Also, hey!!! I have some neutral and outright happy and positive essays!
Is there a point?
That is the question nagging at me.
I know one or more terrible things will happen after I recover from this, in the next year. There is no doubt. There is also no doubt that no real good is ever coming my way. I used up all my luck in the past few years. It makes me ashamed, but two thoughts got me past that. The most important is my grandkids. They are more than enough, but I just wonder why everything good that happens in my life comes with a boatload of pain and suffering.
Yes, I know that I whine a lot in these essays. I do it for a few reasons. One is that even though I get an amazingly massive amount of hits - 120-150 unique visitors a day, which surprises me since I have done no search engine optimization - I am very certain no one reads this. The reason for creating this was to make it public enough that I would try to make my journal coherent and at least spell a word or two correctly; on occasion. I am not a good writer.
The second reason is that I have no one to talk to. It may seem weird, but whining is a decent coping mechanism for me. I write out my thoughts, and my mind clears up, which is helpful from time to time.
Yes, I have some articles about external things, and I am hoping to be able to write on some programming topics as well as more cooking. The recipes are somewhat for me, so I have them written where I will not lose them. Part of the reason is that I hope that I can help someone else. Maybe my whining articles might be helpful to someone. That would be nice.
I have been told that I have excellent coping skills and can get through things without much problem, and supposedly a lot of people can’t. I get knocked down, either literally or figuratively. Usually both, and I whine a lot and mope but come out of it with new goals or at least able to function to improve some parts of my life even if I am still clinging to what smacked me. I am far from perfect.
The whining part is somewhat new, but the coping part is not. I have always been able to shrug off some pretty terrible things without a scratch on my psyche or even much thought afterward, no I am not a sociopath or anything. I just used to be really good at packing things away. I saw some bad things and had several scary near-death incidents. I never ended up in a hospital because of these. However, I was literally less than a few centimeters away from certain death, in one case it was legitimately about 1 mm. I have walked away from some scary situations without a scratch and people shaking their heads saying how lucky I am. It is certainly not luck, more like the universe not wanting to lose its chew toy. I do think that maybe packing this stuff away might leak out while I sleep, which also might be one reason my sleep really sucks. What happens when I sleep is nothing terrible, but I don’t think it is normal. It is also possible that it is related to my seizure disorder. I am such a mess.
Confounding sleep matters, the nightmares I was having in August and September of 2019 have made a comeback. The exact same ones! Add all of that to the fact that my shoulder makes it hard to fall and stay asleep and I am back to 1-3 hours, 4 on a great night. Even then the 4 hours is not continuous. I move around a lot in my sleep and wake up in a lot of pain if I roll on my left side, although it is slowly improving. Lack of sleep is likely slowing down recovery and making the dizziness I inexplicably get, much worse. A few days ago, I got really dizzy on a walk, fell and barely made it home. Now, I walk with a cane to avoid falls. It seems that there are some concussion symptoms despite not having one. Hopefully, it will not last long but that feels unlikely. When there are so many things wrong, a few added pains and annoyances should be too big of a bother, right?
It is all part of my apparent awesome coping skills. COVID19 forced a lot of people to live my life - more or less but most people still have friends and neighbors to talk to so it shouldn’t be that bad - and they all seem to really hate it and have trouble dealing with it. I guess that means I should try to change my life, but when I do, bad things happen as this website has documented. So what to do?
I am already coming out of this latest setback with a few modest plans for projects around the house and even two somewhat simple programming projects. One will assist me when I can exercise again, and the other helps me fulfill my desire to be useful and helpful to others. I am even sketching out a plan for remodeling my walk-in closet. I know what made me think to do it, but I don’t know why I have this need to do it. I have the materials needed for more than half of the project and am just needing to wait until I can use my shoulder.
I am trying to limit my plans because I tend to make too big of a to-do list and get overwhelmed. Making an unreasonable list typically only happens if I am currently hypomanic. I doubt that is coming anytime soon. The cold is depressing, which should be here within a month, and it seems that exercise is the main trigger, which also won’t be happening soon, at least not enough to cause it.
I don’t think that there is a point, other than being an amusing joke to the universe, which loves to torment me. Still, it seems like I am marching forward to whatever catastrophe is waiting for me next.
Maybe this year, I will get no “Happy Birthday” greetings. I share my birthday with my daughter, which is fun, but makes it hard to forget about my birthday. Also, having many sisters makes it hard to sneak my birthday past my family.
I just want to forget I am old and broken. Fat chance, but I might see if I can handle a little catfishing on my birthday.