How quickly one routine evaporates and another congeals. Out on the road I thrive on ride/talk/write. The balance between physical exertion and mental analysis, sociability and isolation is near perfect. Then – bang – bike meets Porsche. Within two weeks I’m home, anxious about how I will navigate the weeks or months (no one ventures an estimate) until I reach a functional plateau.
Inactivity is Paul Fallon’s nemesis. The resolution to everything – anxiety, healing, fitness – hinges on embracing a new routine. Within days I find a rhythm; not as satisfying as cycling cross country, but not so bad either.
Fortunately I have nothing to do but be an exemplary patient. The doctors tell me to walk, so I do. Five miles a day, sometimes more. I put out a call to friends to join me around Fresh Pond morning and afternoon; I have company most days. After a walk, I’m exhausted.
Standing and walking are the most comfortable positions for my corseted back, but I get fatigued and need to sit, vertical and cushioned. The kitchen bar stools pinch my hips, my desk chair is excruciating, the sofa is out of the question. I take a pillow, march through the house, and test every chair. I only own a few sticks of furniture, but my housemate Paul is an antique lover. Wingback, club, slipper, I test each of his valuable specimens for comfort. His quartet of gold brocade Bergere armchairs provides the perfect blend of cushion and support. We set one at the table where I eat, another at my computer, a third in front of the TV. I spend my day moving between them like a member of Louis’ XVI’s court. C’est magnifique!
After dark I climb the stairs, swallow two Advil, slip off my brace, lay board flat on my back and fall asleep. Ten hours, maybe twelve.
Progress is not linear. Some mornings my elbow buckles trying to sit up to brace position. Sometimes my head woozes when I stand, despite planting my good hand on the armrest, taking a conscious inhale, and exhaling to rise. I can’t discern daily improvement, but after a week my walks are longer and dizziness abates.
I give my HMO high marks for timing. Whenever one aspect of my recuperation gets under control, they up the ante. Three weeks after hospital release, the PA removes the pins in my hand and sends me directly to occupational therapy. Kerry, a motorcycle chick from Arkansas, demonstrates a series of exercises to get my finger joints, grip, and wrist in motion. She shapes a splint to my swollen, deformed hand. I am to repeat the exercises four times a day. Being the good student that I am, my soul stirs with purpose at the prospect of three hours a day of hand therapy.
On my walk home – I walk everywhere these days – I stop by the library and check out season compendiums of all the miniseries I’ve heard about and never seen. Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, House of Cards, Network, Downtown Abbey, The Wire. Each 45-minute episode aligns perfectly with the time I need to manipulate my hand. I watch violence layered upon violence while untangling the damage inflicted on my own body.
I know I’m getting better when envy creeps into my countenance: cyclists banking the curve along my street. I’m weeks or months away from getting on one of those. Although I suffer no pain in stillness, an uneven sidewalk crack can jolt my spine, a sudden turn can pop my shoulder, the road rashed skin on my left hand is still too tender to touch, and my pinkie joint moves like a barnacle encrusted rudder. I don’t have nightmares about my impact with the Alabama pavement, but I wince at every car crash the miniseries dish up. When and if I can return to my bicycle, will I even want to?