Riding Through the Pain

10 08 2011

It’s weeks like these that remind me of the freakishly good luck my existence relies upon. Which isn’t to say it’s been a good time, because I’ve been quite miserable. What was supposed to be a routine visit to the dentist turned into a big freakin’ deal, and I was left with a bloody gaping hole in my mouth, recovering from unexpected surgery. For most of the next week I was in a lot of pain, could barely speak, could only eat food in tepid mush form and could not do any heavy lifting or straining (not good for sufficiently tightening axle nuts).

“Bhhrut cahhhn ah rhhide mah bhhike?” I asked the dentist, mouth stuffed full of bloody gauze (I had also, of course, ridden to the appointment).

“Yeah, that should be okay, just don’t fall off of it.”

In too much pain to enjoy such a beautiful day.

I slowly rode home, and decided that I should go into work as soon as the wound stopped bleeding, as a lot of other people’s work depends on mine and there’s no one else who can completely cover me. Not to mention that if I was going to be in pain, sitting in front of a computer anyway, I might as well be getting paid for it as I now had a hefty dental bill to deal with. So I got out Porta-Bike, small so I could easily take it on the train, and with a gear ratio so low I couldn’t over-do it.

The train turned out to be a bad idea. After waiting close to half an hour and watching four trains go by the other way, hundreds of people tried jamming onto already overcrowded cars. The driver made an announcement, asking people with bikes and strollers to wait for the next train, but that train was equally crowded. With people pushing and shoving all the way, as I finally got off the train I could taste fresh blood in my mouth from the dislodged clot. At this point, I was regretting not staying at home.

After a few hours of putting out fires at work, I headed out for a slow, gentle ride home, avoiding the train this time. Thanks to the painkillers, I was more than a little bit out of it, and was compensating by being extra slow and cautious riding through the downtown streets, when I heard someone call my name. An old friend, whom I’d not talked with in many years, was on the sidewalk, waving. He looked a little worse for wear, and I immediately noticed his teeth were in horrendous shape. He spoke with pride of his now grown up son (who I remember as a child), and we caught up, with me doing my best to talk.

“I’m going in for dental surgery too, next week,” he said. “They’re pulling all my teeth, and giving me dentures. When I was younger, I didn’t have any money to get my teeth fixed, but if I could go back, I’d pay twice as much as it would’ve cost back then to keep them.”

I rode away from that conversation both feeling reassured, and with the knowledge that my problems could be a whole lot worse, hoping for the best for my friend.

I had only ridden another block when I was waved down again, this time by an acquaintance from the bike scene and we stopped for a chat. It’s funny how many people have dental horror stories. One thing I’ve learned from all this is that I’m lucky to have made it this far in my life before I had my own. Another thing I’ve learned is that a smiling face and a hug are more powerful than painkillers. I was so glad I rode my bike. It hurt to smile, but I couldn’t help it, and I surely wouldn’t have been smiling had I taken transit or stayed home.

The next day, I ventured out on the TransendEx, hoping that the heavy, solid, bike with suspension would cut down on vibration.

The TransendEx, taking a frequent rest stop (this time near a teepee).

Worried about my still apparent dopiness, I took a different route home than normal, staying on the side streets. Delightfully, it turned into a repeat of the day before, with random friend encounters (they call it Friendmonton for a reason) adding happiness to what had been another miserable day. Not so delightful, I hit a giant pothole while distracted by an eccentric house, and was thrown off my pedals and saddle. I managed to get back in control of the bike without crashing (though I have some doozy bruises on my inner thigh to shown for it), and continue my pootle home.

As I crossed the bridge, I heard someone saying “ring-ring, ring-ring” as they approached behind me. It turned out to be another friend, who also happens to be a Can-Bike instructor. She was concerned that I was weaving and lilting to one side, so she escorted me the rest of the way home, kind of scared me by speculating that perhaps the surgery had affected my balance, but still left me smiling and happy to be part of a great community. (It turned out that the pothole impact had loosened up the saddle and I didn’t notice it, and my balance is fine – whew!)

This post is actually several weeks old. Before I finished it, another event really made my whining about pain look trite in the bigger picture, so I hesitated on publishing it. I am doing much better now, and have almost fully recovered after a tough couple of weeks, and am no longer choosing my ride based on what will rattle my head the least.

Sending love back to Friendmonton! ❤

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2 responses

10 08 2011
Ashley

glad to hear your feeling better!

12 08 2011
Deborah Merriam (@ecoDomestica)

Friendmonton – I love that. Hugs to you, lovely lady, and so glad you’re doing better.

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