Sunday, February 1, 2009

Freak Accident - Part I

A little difficult to get my thoughts together on this, and unfortunately even more difficult to type it.  After a good 1:20 session on the elliptical on Friday, I was ready for a solid 8-miler in the park on Saturday.  I laced up my shoes, left the house, started the Garmin, and was on my way into the park.  

A nice run - weather was beautiful.  It was about 10:30 in the morning, and my thoughts drifted to the things I wanted to do later in the day - there was no way I'd ever have imagined that I would not be returning home from this run until about 5:30 in the evening.  

No stiffness from the hamstring early on, and the pace felt smooth and effortless - about 7-flat during the uphill portion taking me to the 3.3 mile mark.  Coming back down, the pace picked up naturally as the effort decreased;  about 150 HR at a steady 6:24 pace.  At the 5.6 mile point I have the choice of running one more mile to get home, or to loop back to extend the run.  I chose to loop back.  As I head deeper into the park I close in on my turn-around point where I'll make one final turn before heading home.  A few minutes later I'm almost there - the turn-around is just ahead.  One quick check of the Garmin to make sure my mileage is right, and that the subsequent straight shot home will net me the desired mileage for the day - looks about right.  I began the transition from the paved road I was on to the dirt trail that headed home, and that's when it happened:

My recollection of the details here are somewhat sketchy.  The counter-clockwise turn was fairly sharp, but one I've done 100 times before.  I don't believe the paved path was wet or slick, but I clearly remember my inside foot (the left foot) sliding out from under me.  I was still going at a pretty good clip and I knew I was going to hit the ground hard.  Instinct took over and I guess I tried to reach back w/ my left arm/hand to brace my fall.  After I hit I believe I rolled completely over at least once because I remember seeing my left hand for a brief instant and seeing the image of my ring finger bent in directions a finger is not supposed to go.  Then just like that the image was gone.  I came to a stop a second later still on the pavement.  I quickly looked at my left hand to see if the image I saw was in fact real.  

I was pleasantly surprised to see the ring finger intact.  Phew, that was close.  At that point I decided that outside of the obvious embarrassment of falling during a run, I'd just dust myself off and jog home.  It was right at that moment that the horrible image of the mangled finger re-appeared.  It was a finger next to the ring finger (pinkie) and it was seriously disfigured.  

The next thing I noticed - much to my surprise - was that my right shoe was very red.  (which was odd because I was pretty sure they were white and orange when I left the house)  Next I'm seeing red everywhere.  On the ground, on my clothes, on my hand - and I feel 100% fine - what the hell is going on?  I look down at the left hand again.  The pinkie is obviously seriously dislocated.  The thought enters my head that I should snap it back into place.  I turn my hand over such that my palm is facing me and that's when I discovered the source of the flowing blood.

The skin around the middle knuckle (where the dislocation occurred) was split wide open and I could see the tendons/ligaments, etc sticking out, perhaps even the knuckle itself.  I remember giving one tug on the end of the finger (probably not too smart, but I surely wasn't thinking clearly now) but I couldn't get it to budge.  

By now a crowd had gathered around me.  Several people were talking to me at once.  "Are you OK?", "Do you need help?"  One guy called 911 for assistance.  Another man was telling me that he needed to move me into the sun so the inevitable chills wouldn't be as bad.  Another told me that within 2-minutes I'd become extremely nauseous.  

At that point I was sitting up looking at what now reminded me of a circus.  I still wasn't sure what the extent of the damage was yet, but I knew it was bad enough already.  At the very least I seemed to have a dislocation and a compound fracture.  I remember hearing someone exclaim he was going to try and find the park rangers to see if they could drive me to the hospital.  With all the noise and commotion, what I clearly remember more vividly than anything else was the absolute silence that surrounded me as I hung my head, stared into the small pool of blood on the ground and muttered to myself, "what have I done?  What the f#@% have I done?"

(more later - tough to type this w/ one hand.  I promise it's not quite as dismal as it's sounding right now)


bricey said...

wow..tough luck. Sounds terrible. I do hope it's not as serious as it reads!!

Andrew said...

Hope you are ok!

Grellan said...

Jeez Mike that's tough. I dislocated that very finger playing football when I was a kid and my dad straigened it for me. It didn't split open though. I hope you're ok.

Well written even though it was hard to write.