Sunday, August 26, 2012

Your face is not a good brake pad

I intended to have fun today. The plan was to race the singlespeed class at the Dark Mountain XC race, see what kind of [lack of] fitness I had, not take things too seriously and just have some fun. Despite a good start, I pretty quickly got the message from the engine room that the red line had been surpassed and that an emergency shut down was imminent if I didn't throttle back a bit. Cool, I can do that. I mean this is for fun and all.

I have ridden Dark Mountain a lot. I've ridden it in the rain, in the dark, when I felt good, when I felt bad, when I wondered why the hell I was riding a mountain bike, and just about every other permutation of external and internal conditions possible. I've crashed there. Nothing major - just the usual scrapes and bruises. That sudden lightning bolt of pain mixed with shock and surprise that leads to a moment of lingering on the deck, contemplating all of the choices that you have made in your life that has led to you hitting that tree (or root, or rock...), but nothing like my little adventure today.

Post ER, pre emergency dentist/orthodontist visit
Dark Mountain is rooty, to say the least, and as I went through a nice section of roots on a descent at a nice pace, I suddenly found myself pile driving my face into a root with a briskness that shocked and surprised me.

The rider behind me said, "Are you ok?"

I pushed myself up on my hands, the leaves and dirt covered with a dark red splatter worthy of a Dexter opening scene and a large, curving tooth lying whole on the ground in front of me.

"No. I'm not ok."

He asked me if I wanted him to stay with me, or go get help and I asked him to go get help. I never got his name, don't remember what team uniform he was in, but let this be my thanks to him. Thank you for taking off to get help.

Then a Cycles de Oro rider named David asked if I wanted him to stay with me as he stopped a few minutes later. I told him no, but he insisted. I asked him to help me find my teeth. I'd found the one immediately when I crashed, but since that time I had determined that I had lost 3 and only found 1. In between racers coming down the trail, David looked for my other two missing teeth.

We're gonna find these teeth," he said.

He found one and pointed to it so I could pick it up and drop it into my water bottle with its brother. We found my two front teeth, but couldn't find the other one. I figured two out of three isn't bad, so we just sat there waiting for help to arrive.

Soon after, another rider, Tyler, stopped and David asked if I minded him jumping back in the race while Tyler waited with me. "Sure," I said, "Thanks for waiting with me." Shortly after that, Kelly a rider for Cycle Therapy, stopped to see if he could help. "I'm a doctor," he said and then hastily added, "Well, a pathologist to be exact."

I ran through what had happened with these guys and then posed the idea that we start hiking out to meet up with whatever help was coming to speed up the process of getting me to the ER. All I could think about was the clock ticking on reinserting my teeth and the chance of success dwindled with time.

We met up with the cat on the 4 wheeler, who took me to the EMT's at the race start. They got pissed because I had been walking, but I reiterated that I had not lost consciousness and did not have a concussion. I've had plenty of both. I can diagnosis and ignore those symptoms with the best of them and I assure you this was not the case. This time.

I asked to go to Caldwell Memorial, banking on the odds being pretty good that someone I know would be working in the ER. Sure enough, Dr. Diana McClinton came to my stretcher, gave me a bit of a stern look and I knew I was gonna be just fine. The first order of business was to get my teeth back in. By this time, my mom (a dental hygienist) was there and was pretty up front about wanting to help get those teeth put back in right. She cleaned 'em up and popped them back in. They made a popping sensation, a lot like fitting two lego pieces together. The she started cleaning up my lip which had been split open from just below my nose all the way down. She trimmed off the ragged edges, removed a couple of pieces of the root and then started stitching me up. She cleaned up the rest of me and sent me on my way. Thanks, Di!

The dentist my mom works for, Dr. Hollar, along with the local orthodontist, Dr. Shell, met us at Dr. Hollar's office and proceeded to splint my teeth to help keep the ones that had been reinserted in the right place and to give them the best chance of healing properly. Thank you Dr. Hollar and Dr. Shell for taking the time to take care of me on a Sunday.

I'm sure I will be sore as hell tomorrow, but today I want to thank everyone who helped me out. This was one of my worst wrecks (not the worst, but definitely in the top 5) and I don't know how I would have fared without so many people taking the time to help me out on the trail, in the ER, and in their office. I'm glad my mom was around today to help save my teeth. I'm thankful to have a wife and child who can take me looking like a horror show in stride and make the best of a bad situation. Thanks to to the Greens for helping me make some sense of communicating with Golden when I wasn't sure where she was.

Always remember, kids: your face is not a good brake pad.


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