Funny thing that. Age really has nothing to do with bike helmets. At 56, I learned that yesterday. A bit of a slow learner I guess, or, the reality, just ignorant and stubborn. Okay, mostly stubborn.
I had the best time with my son as he showed me how to get to his house via the bike lanes in town. Then he took me to a wonderful little café for lunch where we sat outside and enjoyed the beauty of the day seeping through the latticed canopy above.
As we were leaving, he asked if I wanted to go back the same way or take a fun way back. Not one for boring, I opted for the fun way! It was all downhill from there…and it was all my fault. He was leading. I should have allowed myself more following space, especially given I had no idea where we were going.
We both made the turn onto the water-filled, mud-holed dirt road. We were both changing gears. He slowed down, but I was on the same trajectory he was trying to miss the mud holes and trying to shift gears…and much too close.
There was no time to go around him.
I didn’t want to hit him.
So, I stopped.
Well, the bike stopped (the brakes work really, really, really well).
My body did not stop.
I was unprepared. The bike was already in a lean from having taken the turn onto the road, and I was not ready for how well the brakes worked nor did I have the time to think about my butt that would not come off the seat in order to put my right foot down as I was braking. Nope. I stayed attached to the bike…until…I hit the brakes.
My right knee took the initial brunt of the hard fall, then my hip, then my upper arm and then…my head.
As I popped back up out of adrenaline, shock and embarrassment (no pride here), I actually thought it all happened in reverse and that my head broke the fall, because when I landed, all I knew was that my head hit the ground really, really, really hard. Jostled my brain hard. My eyes must have been partly open because I saw the sunlight like a TV on the fritz where the picture is a series of fast-moving parallel lines. My head had vibrated like a fast dribble inside the helmet.
My new best friend.
Today my body reminds me I’m alive. My whole body seems to be sore and some parts are not moving as well as they did prior to the fall. I also have bruises I don’t remember seeing yesterday – but, nonetheless…I’m alive to tell you about it.
I believe without that helmet I would not be able to write this post today. At a minimum, I could have sustained a concussion. From there, the scenarios in my mind get worse.
My generation did not have bike helmets growing up. We were fearless. Not coddled. Left on our own to discover the world. Told to be back by dusk or when the streetlamps came on. And if you were part of a “gang” (at that time a gang was merely the friend or friends you hung out with), you pushed one another to explore, to go faster, to be braver…to be dare devils. And it was for nothing more than an “in the moment” rush because it was really, really, really fun 😊. We felt like superheroes. But I always made sure my kids had helmets as by then helmets were commonplace, and I wanted to keep them safe. But I didn’t need one.
Perhaps I am being overly dramatic, but I believe the helmet saved my life. I never thought I would say that. Ever. On a motorcycle, definitely. On a bike? No way. I bought the helmet not because I wanted one but at the seemingly commonplace attitude of my son of “why wouldn’t someone get a helmet?” I even road my bike without it when we were not together. It’s stupid. I look stupid. I’ve never been in a bike accident where I hit my head. It’s unnatural, and it’s not like I’m a professional bicyclist. Whhhhhhyyyyyyyyy? But I always wore it when we were together.
Today, I have a whole new appreciation for that bright fuchsia, flame designed, out of a comic book looking piece of Styrofoam.
Hi! I’m MJ! And I’m a survivor of Domestic Violence. This blog, yes, is for other survivors of Domestic Abuse. However, sometimes I like to write about other learning curve events or thoughts in my life.
Through VictoryLife House, survivors can find information to help them through the trauma they’ve experienced. Through this blog, I hope you also enjoy these random types of musings.
Life without abuse IS an option. Choose life!
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