What goes up…

must come down and come down hard.

Today our family dealt with what every runner dreads – the fall.  Gravity always wins.  Everytime. The question is not if you will fall when running but when and how hard.

Steve took off for a run this am while I was still only semi-conscious. So I still wasn’t quite alert when I was digging out running clothes and heard him calling me a short while later.

When I rushed to the front door, he was at the door but holding it cracked open. He said, “I need you to know I had an accident before you open the door.” Being the calm rational person (ha), I grabbed the door, saw blood everywhere and screamed. And I had five thoughts in rapid succession.

My first thought was “God that’s a lot of blood.”

My second thought was “Dear Lord why didn’t he bring home his entire face??”

My third thought was, “Oh my god that’s a lot of blood.”

My fourth thought was “Get the kids out of the hallway and into their rooms.”

And then, I must confess my fifth thought came from that stupid runner’s part of my brain. And it was, “Crap I won’t get my run in this morning cause I’ll be in the ER with Steve.”

Now, lest you think I’m cold and heartless – I love my husband dearly.  He is my best friend and the man of my dreams.  And he understood when I confessed this thought hours later. Cause he also has a runner’s part of his brain.  The runner’s part of his brain was the one that remembered to hit stop on his Garmin when he got up (can’t mess up the split times!) and which also thought, “I hope I’m okay to run on Wednesday this week.”

After the scream, I managed to:  call the neighbor to watch the kids, dress myself and the kids, pack breakfast (it was 8 am!) and books and Nintendo DSes for the kids, dress myself, get a clean shirt for Steve (he had taken off his shirt and was holding it on his bleeding face), got water and snacks for him, and load everyone into the car  – all within about 10 mins.

On the way to the hospital, Steve explained that he had no idea what happened.  He was going along at a good clip (7:40 ish pace) and went down. He had no time to throw up his hands so he landed on his left eye socket. Yeah – major ouch.  Later, we drove by the spot and figured he slipped on a cobblestone section of someone’s driveway. I hope they don’t notice all the blood spatter on their patch of sidewalk…it looks like CSI should sweep the place.

Thankfully the ER was rather slow as the Labor Day festivities had not really started by 8 am.  We got through triage quickly and to an ER “room” (read: bed with equipment offset from other beds by two curtains on either side). Beyond the blood, Steve was shivering as he had been sweating from the run and hadn’t changed his clothes. They swaddled him in warm blankets which helped.

The amazing news – no broken bones on his face. Nose is probably not broken either. He didn’t damage his eye – but ripped off the skin under it. And banged up the nose badly. Clearly his guardian angel was completely flattened by now but had prevented REALLY bad things from happening. 8 stitches under the eye and 3 across the bridge of his nose. His eye is blackened and swollen – and his nose is swollen too. I suspect he’ll have two black eyes by the morning.  Poor poor thing.  The kids are still a little upset to look at him and our son keeps asking when he’ll get back to his “normal” face.  Poor poor poor thing.

But, he was thrilled his “running parts” are all good. Not a scrape on his legs, no foot pain, etc.  He tweaked his back a bit, but nothing more than needing a few days of rest and targeted stretching.  The fact that this was a running injury was not lost on the medical staff.  We heard it all including:

“That’s why I walk instead of run.”  Okay I’ll keep that in mind.

“See running is dangerous.  That’s why I quit.”  The nurse laughed at the doc at that one and said, “Really?  That’s the reason?”  

“Man, it doesn’t pay to try to be healthy.”  Um, maybe but this was a rarity. He’s run 100s of miles without incident.

And my favorite: “See you should stick to a treadmill – much safer.”  Yeah, cause banging your head on that instrument panel would be so much better. And when the belt keeps going when you’re not – that’s just plain awesome.

Okay I wasn’t that snarky in real life. I am very grateful for the incredible doctors and other medical staff. But really?

Life is dangerous. Yeah I’m old enough that I remember being a kid and not using seat belts and bike helmets.  I played on playgrounds that didn’t have mulch and pillows under the structure.  I’m not advocating returning to all those ways. Not at all. But we have to realize that unless you pad yourself and sit in a corner away from the world, life has stuff in it. And to avoid it all is sort of silly. Cause you can’t.

But you can be wise.  And you should be.

  • Don’t go running without telling anyone about how long you’ll be gone. Check in with someone before and after. And be sure they are conscious when you tell them! (I had no idea how long he had been gone when this happened.)
  • Wear an ID!!  A long while ago, Steve bought us both Road IDs that we wear on our shoes. And another great option is GO Sport ID.  Had he lost consciousness (thankfully he didn’t), someone could have found our phone number on his foot along with his name.
  • Bring a phone. Of course this will probably not change with Steve. But I do run with my iPhone strapped to my arm – for tunes, Nike+, and safety.  Only have had to use it once when I tweaked my calf and couldn’t walk home.
  • Run with others when you can – or at least in well populated areas so someone could find you if needed.  Steve was running through a neighborhood where lots of runners come through and lots of houses with people.  I know I know – many runners want the freedom of trail running or being out away from people. But in that case – definitely bring a phone.

Later, after we were home and the kids were home and settled down, I went for a run myself. I had to prove to myself that falling is a rarity – even for a klutz like me. I managed to almost make it a 5K (the mid day heat was oppressive).  The worse part was my second scream of the day when I nearly stepped on a headless mouse on the sidewalk. (He did not have id on him.) It reminded me just how lucky Steve was in his fall. Yes, I realize he wouldn’t have lost his head but it could have been way worse. 

And so I headed home to my poor banged up hubby.  Full of thanks that he will heal. And that he will run again.


1 thought on “What goes up…

  1. Hope the pain is not too much today and he made it through his classes. Sneak the phone in his pocket if he won’t take it with him.

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