Monday, September 24, 2007

The Not So Good Day

Two awful things happened to me today. Well, one awful thing and one kind of bad happenstance. But the combination led to me sitting on an exit ramp at 8:05 a.m. putting on my panties.
Adding to my panic, was the fact that the Honors English class I'm teaching had begun five minutes earlier. Maybe not begun, since I wasn't there, but had been scheduled to begin.
So I was running late for class and I had to get dressed on my way to class. I peeled off my gray wicking shirt and left the compressing running bra on. I pulled a sleeveless, navy linen dress, which nearly covered the bra, over my head during a break in traffic. When the exit ramp light turned red again, I slammed the car into park and pulled off my running shorts and shoes. That's when I put on the panties and threw the edge of my dress over them as the light changed and I passed the nice policeman who let me turn left in front of the oncoming traffic.
I was running late for this, the second day of class, because I had been at the emergency room since 6 a.m. You've gotta get up pretty early in the morning to make it to the emergency room by 6 a.m. And when I walked, well limped, into the ER, the triage nurse actually laughed.
I think it all started on Sunday though. That's when, in spite of a bad cold, I went to a ChiRunning class taught by an old friend. ChiRunning mixes the methods of Tai Chi with running. It leads to a smooth, injury free run. I'm pretty good at running. I ran the Columbus Marathon a few years ago. I did 16 miles one Saturday last month just on a whim. I'm left handed, so I have a tendency to be clumsy when I walk or cut things with sharp knives. For some reason, I've always felt coordinated when I run. I don't stumble or fall off the edge of the trail.
On Sunday, I was feeling pretty good about my ChiRunning abilities while a friend who had accompanied me was not so thrilled. She complained and pouted that she couldn't get it. I could tell I was going to be good at it. We were taught the proper stance, proper posture, tucked in pelvis and tilted forward torso. The idea, once in the right stance, is to lean slightly forward and let gravity do the running for you. I bought the book. And the metronome to keep me running on the right beat.
This morning, I did the stretches in my darkened kitchen with the cat trying to grab my hair when I hung upside down to loosen my joints. Then I ventured outside where an outdoor cat stood blocking my way as I practiced my running technique up and down the back sidewalk.
Finally, I was ready for the road. I aligned myself again and ran down the smooth concrete alley. I reached the road and turned right. I hadn't run since we moved here, nearly a week and a half ago. I was trying a new route. I stopped after a block to realign myself. Keeping the right posture is really important to chi running. The roads were empty (luckily) because I felt kind of silly stopping and using my hands to reposition myself. The next time I had to do it, I moved to the sidewalk under a tree so I wouldn't be so out in the open. Then I started again, leaning slightly forward. Step, step, splat. An edge of the sidewalk stuck up a few inches above the others and it caught my left toe, propelling me forward.
Falling down is such a surprise as an adult. I never expect it to happen. It seems there should always be some way to recover before the actual sidewalks meets my knee, hip, elbow and hands. The chi running lean gave me the extra momentum I needed to do a full sprawl on the sidewalk. I pushed myself up and looked down at my left knee for only a minute. Skinned, I convinced myself and turned around to walk home. Limp home. It hurt and I would go in the dark house and wash it off, but I wouldn't look at it until I got home. Walking, walking. Don't think about it. Then I saw the drip on my shoe. My running shoes weren't clean, but they were white, now dotted with red.
So the cat greeted me when I walked in the house and I found a washcloth and wet it before looking at the coagulated blood on my knee cap and the runnier stuff that had soaked my sock. I pushed open the bedroom door and said to my sleeping husband, "I fell down."
"What?" he asked.
"I fell running. I'm sorry. I'm just like a little kid." But I didn't sob. Do I get points for that?
He pulled on a pair of shorts and knelt on the white tile floor in front of me.
"Oh," he said.
"Butterfly bandage?" I asked.
"You're going to need stitched," he said.
And that's why I was in the emergency room at 6 a.m. and the triage nurse laughed when he saw my bloody knee and said "Running or biking?" The car valet guy didn't laugh but asked, "Are you okay?" I shouldn't have been snobby and said, "That's why I'm here."
So that was the bad happenstance that led to stitches in my knee and x-rays that turned out okay. But the really awful thing was during the questioning in triage. Keep in mind that I had gotten out of bed, put on running clothes, washed my face and brushed my teeth. Maybe I was not looking glamorous, but the triage nurse sent me into a depression when he asked the question that is the antithesis of being carded for alcohol. For the first time ever, I was asked: "Are you still having periods?"

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