How It All Went Down

For many years, Wednesday has been my favorite day of the week; it was run night.  Shawn and I use to run our tempo on Wednesday’s and I spent all day looking forward to them.  When I joined the Toronto Olympic Club, Wednesday remained a staple in my running diet and rarely would I miss a practice.
This Wednesday was no exception.  I was looking forward to a quiet night at home with the dudes, making cookies and helping with homework, but all that was going to happen after 7:30, after I got home from training with Coach Kevin and, this week, the guys.  As any other week, I got dressed to run at 5:30 and left just before 6:00 to meet them at the Rec Centre.  The temperatures were perfect; a drill of 1 kilometre repeats was planned; I was going to like this workout.
I left the house in my Saucony neon pink jacket and warmed up along the quiet roads.  I was only 300-400 metres away from home and I felt myself start to fall, but it was an almost surreal experience.  I felt my toe hit something and I couldn’t figure out what was happening.  In fact, I clearly recall thinking, “What is happening to me?”  All I do know is that I was airborne.  I felt my body float forward, my bottom jaw thrust with it, my top jaw follow and my chin whack the concrete road.  My head rang; it was as though a gong inside my head was hit and everything was dinging from ear to ear.  At that point, I realized I was lying flat on the road.  The ringing stopped.  My forehead was okay, but I was not.  Then I knew that my toe hit an ice rock, the black chunky ice that gets stuck to the back of cars, which had somehow managed to stick to the road.  When I hit it, I moved, not it.
Dazed, I entertained going to the Rec Centre as it was closer than home but I knew something was really wrong.  Quickly, I grabbed a handful of snow to ice my chin and realized I was losing a lot of blood.  I started to walk home, shaking, scared, and scooping up handful after handful of snow to try to keep down the swelling, leaving a trail of blood.  My teeth didn’t feel right and I counted them – twice – to make sure they were all there.  “It’s Wednesday night,” I thought. “Thank goodness the dentist works late.”  Cars passed but I couldn’t get my hands away from my mouth fast enough to get the drivers’ attention; when I saw two runners, I wanted to yell but I couldn’t open my mouth enough to get the words out.
As soon as I got home, Dave called the dentist but he had just left. “We have to go to Emergency,” I said.  “There is something wrong with my jaw.  I think I’ve dislocated it.”  The dudes scrambled to get my health card, and Dave and I left for the hospital.
When Dave and I arrived at Emerg., there were too many people to count.    At Triage, I was told my blood pressure was high (135) because I just fell.  “But it’s never that high,” I replied. “It’s normally at 80 or 90.  Even when I was pregnant, it never got that high.”  “But you just fell,” the nurse repeated.  When we finished, I asked how long the wait was likely to be and started to cry; it was the first time I had cried that night.  The nurse looked ant me and asked, “Well, how much pain are you in?”  “I was in less pain when I delivered both of my kids.”  She booked me as a “9” and fast-tracked me.
By the time I finally saw an intern, the bleeding on my chin had mostly stopped.  I knew that my teeth had been displaced and I was still fairly certain that I had dislocated my jaw.   The intern did an assessment, concluded that I had a mild concussion, there no indication of a dislocated jaw and I needed stitches on my chin.  He consulted with the ER doctor who said the same thing.  “But my jaw doesn’t feel right.  There is something wrong with it.”  The two walked away but I heard them say that they would x-ray me “as a precaution.”
When the images came back, the doctor came in surprised.  “You have a broken jaw.”  My mind raced with images of a former student who broke her jaw while skiing and had to be wired shut.  I worried about being away from work and getting things done around the house.  I didn’t want to be out of commission for any chunk of time.  But it was too soon to get any answers.  All they could do was pump some antibiotics and painkillers into me, stitch up my chin, give me a prescription and a few meds to get me through the night and a referral to see an oral surgeon the next day.  Home we went.
On Thursday morning, Dave and I went to see the oral surgeon who showed me the x-rays. There are 4 fractures: 3 closed and 1 open.  Two are next to one ear and the third is next to my other; that explains the ringing sensation I had.  The open fracture means that the bone has broken into my gums and has pushed behind my bottom teeth.  The surgeon wants to wait for a week for things to settle down before he makes any decisions, but he is hopeful that he won’t have to wire my jaw shut and that my teeth will slowly start to shift back into place.  He topped up my prescription with more antibiotics and painkillers and ordered me to a liquid diet and bed rest.
It’s five days later and I don’t know how much improvement my jaw has seen.  I am getting use to liquids only and have perfected a soft-boiled egg that I can simply “swallow”.  I’m trying to staying positive but there are still a lot of unknowns, and unknowns frighten me.
There are so many times that I have stumbled while running and been able to recover.  This was such a freak accident and I still can’t figure out how it happened.  Lighting was obviously a factor; at 6:00,  a black icy chunk of rock blended in perfectly with the road.  Why I wasn’t able to catch myself will always be a question.
I have always been a believer in “things happen for a reason” but I don’t know the what this one’s is.  When I figure it out, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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