Monday, August 14, 2017


According to my records, I have been writing for my little blog here for a little over five years and in that time I have blogged about a lot of biking. Until just over a month ago, I had not crashed my bike. In fact, I had not crashed my bike since I was a kid. It has been so long that I literally cannot remember the last time I accumulated even so much as a bit of road rash. I have had some close encounters (with darkness and a downed tree) but nothing that resulted in injury...until Friday June 30th at 6:15 am.
Thursday night we had a little storm move through giving us a bit of much-needed moisture. I spent the evening running through my rummage sale prep list and going over all the things that I had left to do before our 4 pm rummage sale. I knew I still had a number of things left to do, but I also knew that the kids only had one activity each from 8 to 9 am. Piece of cake! My dad asked about a morning bike ride before heading to bed and I told him that I was up for it.
Fast forward to Friday morning at 5:30 am. I got up after my alarm went off, checked my phone, drank some water and filled my water bottle in preparation for the bike ride. My dad got up shortly after and we were on the road by 6 am. We were taking our new normal route thanks to all the road construction and everything was fine until we went under Broadway. As we followed the trail under Broadway I noticed a lot of mud on the trail. I tried to slow my speed a bit while still maintain enough momentum to get up the hill on the other side of the bridge but there was too much mud. As I turned my bike to go up the hill, my bike slid right out from under me. I don't know exactly how to explain how I fell other than to say I was headed for the ground because my bike was no longer under me. The first part of me that I felt hit the pavement was my chin. It hit HARD! I still remember as the pain shot upward through my jaw I kept thinking, "I hope I didn't just break my jaw!" I think my knee and upper lip made contact about the same time because I noticed those pains at the same time. The last part of my crash that I remember before coming to a complete stop is the front of my bike helmet scraping the sidewalk.
My dad heard the crash, stopped, looked back and asked me if I was okay. I didn't respond the first time he asked because I was trying to figure out the answer. My eyes darted around as I lay splayed on the trail. I assessed where I felt pain and noticed blood dripping onto the sidewalk from my mouth. My dad asked again if I was okay since I hadn't responded and wasn't moving. I told him that I thought I was okay except that my mouth was bleeding. He asked if I knocked my teeth out as I lifted myself up off the sidewalk. I had not thought about my teeth so my tongue explored my mouth and discovered that there was something missing. In the same instant I looked at the sidewalk and did not see any teeth/tooth fragments. I felt around inside my mouth but still nothing. I told my dad that I thought my teeth were in my lip. He gave me his handkerchief and asked if he should call someone. I was still trying to assess my injuries. I noticed some road rash on my knee and could tell that my mouth was bleeding pretty good but I was calm and felt like I could bike home as long as my bike was functional.
My bike had slid up against the embankment that borders the hill of the trail. Upon picking up my bike I didn't notice any damage. My basket was no longer attached. It actually slid across the trail in the opposite direction but not one thing spilled out of it (a few weeks later, an inspection of my bike revealed that my basket actually sustained the brunt of the crash-it was dented in four places). My dad helped me wrench the basket holder back into place and reattach the basket. I looked the bike over again and it seemed fine other than some mud. I wiped away the blood on my chin and got on my bike to go home. My dad said it would probably be easier and quicker to get back on the road and off the trail, but I have to admit-I had no idea what I looked like battered up after the crash and was happy to avoid people as much as possible. We did eventually get off the trail on the way home to avoid some hills that I was not in the mood for.
Dad went in the house first with me trailing slowly behind. He told Matt that I had wrecked my bike. Matt pretty much leaped out of his chair asking if I was okay. I told him that I needed to go to the ER (I haven't had to go to the ER for myself since Cohan was a baby LOL). I relayed to my dad where the kids needed to go for their activities for the day before I let Matt get me in the car and wisk me away to the ER (thanks to my dad and my mother in law, everyone got to where they needed to be). I didn't want to ruin their morning since it looked like mine was toast! Matt rushed me to the ER (even though I told him to slow down-I was okay) until a cop pulled out in front of him and he was forced to slow down the whole way to the hospital LOL.
I got back to a room right away and they assessed my injuries and let me know that it was going to be a bit of a wait as they had an urgent case coming in. They gave me a shot of morphine and a tetanus shot. We waited and Matt made phone calls making sure everyone was okay and trying to rearrange his schedule so he could be with me in the ER. While waiting I made an unhappy discovery...
Morphine is NOT my friend. I was thankful that I wasn't feeling the pain from my mouth but I rather suddenly started having abdominal, chest, and back pains. It came in a slow wave that I can only compare to contractions when I was in labor. It started mild and then came on strong to the point where I was sweating and unable to get comfortable. The ER staff was worried that it was actually crash related but I knew-just knew-that this was med related NOT crash related. I always have odd reactions to medicine and I don't think Matt always believes me when I tell him about my adverse reaction but this one he got to see first hand! I do not like morphine!
While we waited, tooth fragments were slowly working their way out of my lip. I was taken in for a head, neck, and facial CT to make sure that there were no broken bones and to see the status of my broken teeth and my lip. Eventually I was able to get my lip stitched up-twice (once before the CT was back and once more after it showed a large tooth fragment was still hiding in my lip). I was finally able to get out of the ER a little after nine with seven stitches and some prescriptions.
My next stop was the dentist. Thanks to my facial CT, we knew that the roots of my teeth were not damaged. Good news! I still had not looked in the mirror so I had no idea what the status of my teeth actually was. I spent almost two hours at the dentist. They assessed things and then got to work covering the giant gaps in the front of my mouth but putting "fillings" where my teeth once were. My dentist is nothing short of a tooth sculptor. One tooth was pretty much 90% gone and the other was really just a pointy fragment.  He told me that they would have to be crowned after the trauma of my mouth went down but I was amazed-no one could tell that I had knocked my teeth out. Now, after two more dentist appointments, I have my permanent crowns and they look great. I was even able to get them in and all taken care of the last day of our dental insurance!
So, now that I am six weeks post-accident I am doing pretty well. I did have to make some appointments with the chiropractor as I seemed to have messed up my lower back and my neck/left shoulder. I feel a lot better after a few visits though. My teeth feel great with my permanent crowns. My lip still has some numbness and pain. The scar tissue causes me some pain, especially if it gets bumped or when eating or drinking. I can hear a difference in my speech (even if others can't) and I struggle a little with keeping small foods in my mouth because the scar tissue doesn't let my lip move like it used to. I feel a bit like a sloppy little kid sometimes. I am happy that I can eat and drink without worrying as much about my teeth being so sensitive. I guess I'll just have to take what little victories that I can get. All in all, I have to say that it could have been so much worse!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Women's Issues" are Everyone's Issues

I am not an outwardly political discussion type person. I tend to hold my beliefs close and share them only with those that are close to me. I sit back and read and research the things that are presented to me. I think about the people and situations surrounding the issues. I try to put myself in their shoes. I try to be empathetic. I don't appreciate the attacks that I witness on both ends of the spectrum. I don't appreciate the hateful posts and outright lies that the internet spreads like wildfire. I don't appreciate that people cannot simply respect the beliefs of others without believing that their rights are violated simply because someone believes differently than they do. I support all women in whatever fight they are fighting. I support young women, old women, single women, married women, impoverished women, transgender women, ALL women. When we live in a world that values and respects women, everyone benefits.

The Women's March was about women-all women everywhere
I am so tired of the rhetoric surrounding this march that the women who participate were whiny, privileged little girls who had nothing to protest. I am tired of people stating that women DO have equal rights (in many areas we do but it's not like we've had them for very long and people are trying to make sure that it stays that way). We live in a country where the wage gap between males and females has been proven time and time again. In our country there are women who are overlooked for employment because they plan to have children. There are people who see no problem with this and yet we are supposed to believe we have equal rights? There are people who talk of women needing to serve their men, stay in the kitchen where they belong, care for the children and provide for the family while also working full time. These same people do not hold men to the same standard. If that isn't gender inequality, I don't know what is. But the thing is...the Women's March was about so much more than that. It was not just about the women in each community, each state, each country where the march took place. It was about women who are oppressed across the globe. It was about women who are forced into abusive relationships. Women who are kept around simply to have children. Women who endure gender mutilation. Women who are silenced. Women who are sold into sex trafficking. Women who are denied an education. Women who are forced into marriages at a young age. Women who are treated like second class citizens. Female children are dying at dramatically higher rates in certain parts of the world because they are denied basic necessities at greater rates than male children. Women are treated as disposable. Women are born into these lives-they don't choose them and many of them die before they are old enough to fight for a change. We are lucky that we were not born into those lives. We owe it to our foreign sisters to be their voice for change. That is what many women were marching about and that is a cause I can stand behind.
I am also sick of hearing people say that they cannot support the march because some of the women were acting out in inappropriate ways. They were vulgar and rude. Here's the thing, I had friends and family participating in the march across the United States in at least 10 different locations and I heard wonderful stories of the support and friendship that they felt together with these other women coming together to globally support women. (I also heard similar things from the men that I know that participated.) People need to stop judging this gigantic march by the actions of a few. I don't judge all men or all presidents by the words and actions of Donald Trump. That would just be absurd. Stop generalizing.

The media does not divide us-we divide ourselves.
People like to make the media the bad guy but forget that we have a choice to research and fact check the information that we are presented with. WE choose how to feel and act based upon this information. So many people think that the freedoms offered to them in our country means that they can simply live in their own little bubble and stand at the edge of it criticizing and putting others down for refusing to be in their bubble of belief. They think they can simply pick and choose what "alternative facts" they think support their beliefs and tell people that they must feel the same way when presented with these facts. Because we have freedom of speech, does not mean that we should use it to spread hate. Freedom of speech does not mean that we can tell others to stay silent as we shout above them our own message from our own bubble. Freedom of speech is not freedom to be a jerk without consequence.

You don't get to decide other people's personal beliefs-they do
You can be pro-choice. You can be pro-life. You cannot tell someone else that they must change their beliefs to match yours. You are welcome to give your reasons for your beliefs just as much as they are welcome to give their reasons for their beliefs (both sides-stay away from fallacies). You cannot, however, decide what they must believe.
For myself, I am pro-life. I could not choose abortion for myself. For others, I respect their right to have a choice. I am thankful that I have never been in a situation where I was scared for my future and the future of my family. I have never been a victim of sexual assault, I have never been raped, I have never been molested, I have never been forced into an incestuous relationship, I have never been forced into sex trafficking. I am fortunate. So many women are not. To tell women in these situations that you get to say what they can and can't do when their bodies have been abused and their mental state is in disarray is pure insanity to me. Women in these situations need our support and our comfort not our judgement and our personal beliefs shoved down their throats. I am against legislation that puts men in suits in control of the bodies of female victims. I am against telling these women that they MUST continue a pregnancy created through a criminal act. I am for giving them options. I am for THEM deciding what happens in these situations because they have already been through more than enough. I am against forcing them to continue a pregnancy that very well could end their life. Roughly every 9.5 days, 21 mothers die in childbirth in the United States (numbers are much higher in other places across the globe). Are the people legislating the victim's uterus willing to accept responsibility for the death of this woman? Is her attacker now going to be charged with murder? I think not. Have you even seen the "consequences" dished out to these men that commit violent crimes against women (if they suffer any consequences at all)? A man can alter a woman's life forever, be found guilty, and get away with as little as a few month in jail.
Now, I also understand that not all women in the situation are victims of sexual crimes. So many people in poverty have trouble getting out of the cycle of poverty for many reasons. One of those reasons is a repetitive cycle of unplanned pregnancies. In the past few years, we have made progress in this area by providing contraception free of charge. Abortion rates have dropped to a lower rate than they were back in 1973 when the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was made. Unfortunately, some people who are against abortion are also against providing these women in poverty with the birth control that can help lift them out of the cycle. They are against women trying to prevent the very pregnancies that people judge them for in the end. Then, when these women don't prevent the pregnancy (because they cannot afford birth control) and don't get an abortion (because people say the woman does not get to make decisions about her body), and people complain that they "have too many kids that they can't afford" and are "living off OUR tax dollars." They are abusing the system! Wait...what? They aren't abusing anything-they are stuck in a cycle that they can't seem to escape.
We like to pretend that the only reason people engage in sex is to create a child and yet, behind closed doors, we know that this is a lie. People pretend that they do not engage in sexual contact for pleasure but the truth is-sex is good for you. In study after study it has been proven that sex provides stress relief, heart health, hormone regulation, better sleep, and an improved immune system just to name a few things! We tell people in poverty without access to birth control that it is SO simple: don't have sex! Forget the benefits listed above-you know because people living in poverty are never stressed and are incredibly healthy (sarcasm intended). Unless you plan to feed, clothe, and financially support the child that you are forcing a woman to have, you don't get to judge them and tell them what to do. Where are the torches and pitchforks when the men walk away from these women and leave them without support? Why is it not okay for a woman to have an abortion but no one bats an eye at the man who also made the child? Why is the woman the only one called out and criticized? It takes two to tango my friends! Why are men not held to the same standards and criticism for unintended pregnancies? Because this gender inequality exists. As much as children are an amazing and wonderful gift, the truth is that they can be a financial burden-especially to people already in poverty. The average cost of raising a child from birth to 17 is over $200,000. It's no wonder people can't seem to climb out of poverty.

No one HAS to support the person who holds the position of the presidency in our country
I will argue that we should show the president the same respect that he or she shows toward the citizens. I do, personally, have a problem with the things that our current president has said to and about women but that does not mean that I have anything against the people who do choose to support him. No one should be saying that any president should be assassinated. No one should EVER be criticizing the young children of the person holding the office. But people SHOULD be holding our leader accountable for their actions. We live in a country with checks and balances for a reason. Our political leaders should be fact checked. Their interests and motives should be investigated. Critics should not be silenced simply because their ideas are in opposition to the person who holds the office of the presidency. On the other end of the spectrum, those who agree with the president have just as much of a right to voice their support. All parties on both sides need to tone down the hate speech and get rid of the Us vs. Them rhetoric. Quit finger pointing. Quit telling people to "accept it." Quit pretending that every president in the history of our country was always welcomed with open arms. Be open to facts. Don't be a troll. Read the information presented to you before jumping to conclusions or jumping down someone throat. Read more than headlines. Research. Fact check. Don't rely on heavily biased sources for information. Check multiple sources. Don't spread false information. Apologize when you are wrong. Not only will you feel better for being a decent human being, the people around you will appreciate your respect as well.

Even if you disagree with my beliefs, I hope we can agree on this: 
Your words matter. Your tone matters. Your phrasing matters. Your words are powerful. 
Be kind. Use them for good.
You won't regret it.