to go: 399.19
son-of-a-bitch, aren't I?" David says grimly.
and I've been following behind him on the Canal Trail for the past ten
minutes -- mostly to keep an eye on the situation, in case I need to
whip out the cell phone and dial 911 -- but now I crank the Butt-D-Luxe
up a notch and ride along beside him. His face is
very pale, and he's riding at about a third of his normal oomph-level.
It's hard to tell whether he's grinning ... or grimacing. I suspect
it's a little bit of both.
I reply, "I
think the word you're looking for is 'idiot.' "
never went to medical
school. I've never seen more than one or two episodes of "ER," in all
the years it's been on television. I never even finished earning my
First Aid merit badge: *Junior Girl Scout Secra* found all of that icky
blood-and-iodine stuff a little tough to handle. (So she earned her
"Young Hypochondriac" badge instead.) But even without benefit of a
formal medical education, I'm pretty sure that you're not supposed to
ride a bicycle on a sprained ankle.
on an ankle that's been sprained for less than ten minutes.
think we should turn
around now," I insist for the 43,897,621st time. The Subaru is only a
few miles away: the nearest emergency room, less than twenty blocks.
(His parents' house is actually still within limping distance. But
perhaps we'll save that as a last resort.) All we have to do is find
some place safe and comfortable, off-trail, for him to park his bike
and elevate his ankle. I'll ride The Butt-D-Luxe back to the car: then
I can come back and pick him up and drive him to the hospital for
x-rays. But for the 43,897,621st time, he insists that he's fine, he
can do this, he wants to finish the ride ... let's just keep going, OK?
We've already racked up forty miles: another five, and we'll have met
our goal for the day.
he says. "It
doesn't hurt when I'm actually riding."
And to show me just how much it doesn't hurt when he's actually riding,
he leans forward on the Cannondale, digs his left foot a little deeper
into the cleated pedal ... and screams like a little baby girl.
H. Christ on a
say that men and
women react differently to pain: physiologically, intellectually,
emotionally, every way that counts. I've heard a bazillion different
theories about why this is so. Epidermal thickness. Nerve fiber
density. Brain biochemistry. Hormones. Childbirth. Parallel flange
indicators. I find all of these gender-difference studies fascinating,
but ultimately useless. It's a little bit like debating the
differences between male and female orgasm: fun to talk about,
interesting to debate, but how on earth can you ever really prove
anything? What I do know for a fact, though, is this: when I feel pain
-- or when I sense that someone I love is in pain -- my first response,
as a woman, is almost always How
do I fix this? Other women I've
discussed the subject with tell me the same thing. Pain, for our
gender, is like a call to action. We immediately want to get started
looking for solutions ... for help ... for ways to provide comfort and
relief and damage control.
man's first response
to pain, on the other hand, appears to be How
can I immediately make the situation much, much WORSE?
still not exactly
sure what happened. One minute David was standing at the busiest
intersection in Walnut Creek, reaching for the crosswalk button ... the
next minute he was flat on his back in the middle of the traffic
island, with his bike on top of him and his leg twisted beneath him
like a Wetzel's Original Unsalted. I knew before he even hit the ground
that it was going to be bad. This wasn't going to be like the puny
little spill he took at the Navy Base last month: this was going to be
one of those slow-motion, gut-wrenching, tendon-twisting Agony of
Defeat Moments. For about thirty seconds after he hit the pavement, he
just lay there ... moaning, pale, drooling, flopping around on the
concrete, unable to form sounds into actual words. I knelt beside him
until he was finally able to speak again, and then we eased his cleated
bike shoe off his foot so we could assess the damage. His ankle was
already blowing up like a prize eggplant, but at least it didn't appear
to be broken. We checked to see if he could wiggle his toes. (He
could.) We checked to see if he could move his leg, and then we checked
to see if he could stand up. (He could, and he did.) He drank a little
water, and I rummaged around in my bike bag and found an ancient
Band-Aid for the gash on his finger, and I sort of poked him and
prodded him all over, checking for further injury.
already I was trying
to figure out how I was going to *fix* the situation.
"So now we're heading
back to the car, right?" I said hopefully, once we'd figured out that
nothing was broken/nothing was hemorrhaging/nothing was lawsuit-worthy.
If he wasn't going to let me take him to the emergency room, I could at
least take him home and fuss over his sprained ankle for the rest of
he had other ideas.
"No," he insisted, wincing a little as he climbed back onto the
Cannondale. "Let's keep riding."
thought he was
kidding at first -- nobody could be that stoopid, could they?
especially someone with as many years of riding experience (and
riding-related-injury experience) as David, right? especially someone
whose mom is a NURSE
and whose wife is a *Young Hypochondriac,* forcryingoutloud?!? -- but
five minutes later, here we are back on the trail. I must say, however,
that we're not exactly breaking any land-speed records. We'd already
been riding for five hours by the time David had his accident, and I am
worn out. Plus my idiot husband is riding with a freshly-sprained
... he's singing.
on SMIIIIIIIIIIIILIN' thru the rain!"
he bellows, in his big booming Fozzy Bear voice. "Laaaaaaaaaughin'
at the pain! Just floooooooowin' with the changes, till the sun comes
the other big
difference between David and me, when it comes to pain. My husband --
like 99.999% of the men I've ever known in my life, including my son
and my first husband and The Oregon Boyfiend and that UPS delivery guy
I knocked over with the wheelbarrow during the summer of 1994 -- seems
to view pain as a minor inconvenience ... something to be avoided and
ignored and run away from as much as possible, the way you'd run away
from a psycho ex-girlfriend at a high school reunion. Men don't seem to
have any concept of how valuable a good, juicy, wholly
unintentional/completely verifiable/non-life-threatening injury can be,
in terms of sympathy, attention, message board/Internet journal
material, sanctioned time-off from work. If it had been me laying on
the pavement with my ankle twisted beneath me, ten minutes ago, you'd
better believe that I would be milking it for all it was worth. As a
matter of fact, I'd probably be calling JoAnne on my cell phone RIGHT
NOW, negotiating next week's
... David just
blows it off. "Nah," he says. "I'll be fine."
put you in bed
and elevate your ankle as soon as we get home," I muse aloud, as we
make our plodding, torturous way along the Canal Trail. If I'm going to
be forced to ride for another forty minutes, I'm at least going to
amuse myself by planning my *Damage Control* strategy. David hates
being fussed over -- I think he hates it more than he hates being
injured in the first place -- but once we get home, I plan to
out-Florence-Nightengale Florence Nightengale ... whether he likes it
or not. I've still got an ice pack in the freezer, left over from the
last Ridiculous Bike-Related Injury. And I think we've still got half a
bottle of ibuprofen in the cupboard. Although now that I think about it
... do I want to give him ibuprofen? Or Tylenol?
can never remember
which OTC is the anti-inflammatory," I say, stealing a sideways glance
at him to see if he's paying attention. "Do you
time there's no
mistaking the expression on his face. He is definitely grimacing.
throw a rock