M.I.A: Recovering After a Bike Accident

On August 13th, I went to Santa Cruz with some friends to preview the bike course for the Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz that we had signed up for. We had planned to ride for about 60 miles, however 15 miles in I swerved off the curvy narrow road and fell on my head & face and got facial lacerations. I split my upper lip open, got a deep cut on my chin, cuts on my nose, and got a concussion (luckily I was wearing a helmet that took a lot of the impact).

My memory of the event is spotty as I was blacking in and out. I remember my friends coming back to help me and being taken to urgent care by a woman who happened to be driving by. Once at urgent care, they told me I need to go to a trauma center because I needed to be stitched up and I was loosing a lot of blood from my face.

An ambulance took me from urgent care to a helicopter where they airlifted me to Stanford University Hospital’s trauma center. This was my first ride in a helicopter – I was so excited that I asked if I could get my picture taken! Once at the hospital, I had various scans/tests done to make sure there were no broken bones or brain injuries. A plastic surgeon then stitched up my lip and chin. I asked the doctor if I could still do the race, he said he’d hate for me to miss the race after having spent time training so politely he said if I’m well enough, then yes I could do it. When my friends picked me up, the first thing I said with excitement was that I could still do the race! That was crazy.

I was then taken to my cousin’s place in San Leandro. I had plans of staying with her because I had gotten into CHAMPS Summer 2016 Leadership & Career Development Training at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland which was that weekend. I thought I was well enough to still go – another crazy thought. The next day I was picked up to head back home to LA.

Before

After

I may have been in denial about my condition because I acted like everything was fine, until two days later when my mom found me unconscious on the floor. It took a while before I was able to respond again. She thought I died for a minute, I swore I head my deceased grandmother’s voice when I was out telling me to pray and go back because it’s not my time. The ambulance came to take me to Huntington Hospital where I got tests/scans again because when I fainted, I hit my head again. The tests were fine, I was just showing signs of a concussion so I was told to take it easy and that I would need to be patient since head injuries take a while to fully recover from.

My friend Yvette got me this mask & pig suit since I couldn’t smile (definitely smiling on the inside)

 

 

 

The following week I started school – taking organic chemistry and physics at CSULA and music classes at APU (which means moving the harp around). Getting back to life was extremely difficult, I was frequently fatigued and just did not feel myself. My face was stiff and swollen so I lost the ability to smile for a bit and had difficulties saying my B’s, M’s, and “P’s. What a trip!

Now, three months later, I feel much better. I’m able to smile again and live my life with ease. I will say that I am SOO thankful for my family, friends, and medical team that took such good care of me in this adventure. A special shout out goes to my mom for being such an all around reliable help. I learned so much from this experience, some of which are listed below:

  • SLOW DOWN – I’ve been so used to living life in the fast lane, it was quite the challenge moving over to the slower lane
  • BE PATIENT – It’s okay to go slow and take your time on things; healing takes time
  • LISTEN TO & RESPECT YOUR BODY – When your body asks for rest, give it rest! My body had been asking for rest for some time, it took an accident to finally force me to rest; Feed yourself well and be conscious of what you intake; hydrate; take care of yourself!
  • IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR LOVED ONES & IT IS IMPORTANT TO SHOW IT – I felt so much better when people visited me, sent gifts, prayed for me, sent kind messages, etc. It really meant the world to me!; Visits were the #1 thing that made me feel better, I feel as though I took energy from my visitors but gave back through jokes and having and overall positive energy
  • DON’T TAKE THE ABILITY TO SMILE FOR GRANTED – Not being able to smile or imitate facial expressions was such a downer; there is a hidden power of smiling
  • BE COMPASSIONATE – Between the head & facial injuries, fatigue,  inability to smile, missing the race, feeling slower in understanding the material at school, I felt all sorts of out of whack emotionally being one of them. It was so helpful when others were understanding and showed compassion during these times – they knew it was not me and that I was going through a hard time. I am extremely grateful for those people who showed me their love & kindness and provided that safe space for me to have cathartic moments and move forward. Through this example, I was better able to be compassionate towards myself and for that I am thankful

This accident could have been so much worse and I am thankful my injuries were superficial. I am fortunate I injured parts of my body that are not necessary for playing the harp (very glad I’m not a brass or woodwind player). I feel blessed to be alive and surrounded by such wonderful people in my life. I’m grateful to be able to see life through a new perspective.

Although I didn’t race, I still went to cheer on my friends

Cheering my friends who were there when I got in the accident

My mom, the real MVP

Facial scars added to my collection (arm scars from 2002)

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