As the days went by, it was becoming more and more clear that the injuries I sustained were around to stay. Thinking back, I realized I went through the five stages of grief.
- Denial – I was totally focused on recovery and hitting the road again. Giving up? Not even a passing thought.
- Anger – My cycling trip to this point has been more amazing and eventful than I ever thought. To think of the possibilities waiting for me for the next 1000 miles really upset me. Plus this cycling trip was supposed to be my training for my trek in Nepal to the Mount Everest base camp. WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN??
- Bargaining – I began to realize that I won’t be able to make it down to Los Angeles in my condition with the given time. I already booked my ticket to China. I decided that I would go as far as time would allow, and cover the rest by train. Maybe all the way to San Francisco? Or at least the Redwoods?
About five days in, I tried hopping back on my bike to gauge how I felt. Miraculously, my bicycle was intact. No bent rims or spokes that needed tuning. However, I couldn’t get myself to cycle more than 500 feet despite being on pain killers.
- Depression – It became evident that I will not be able to move forward. The pain in my wrists leaning into the handle bars and my limited range of movement in the knee made it nearly impossible. As much as I had the balls-to-the-wall mentality, I at least had the sense that if I pushed on, I could potentially cause permanent damage. I told myself, “I’m only 27, I have an entire lifetime ahead of me to pick up on this.” Yet I couldn’t help but think this sort of time off and freedom may never come again.
It just so happened to be Doug’s 68th birthday that weekend and he invited me to his condo. He also had two beautiful dogs and a kind wife that whipped up a delicious dinner. Sharing in the celebration lifted my spirits.
Doug drove me all the way back to Portland so I could take the train home. It was about a 35 hour ride back down to Los Angeles, but I barely slept. The views were beautiful, as the train hugged the coast for much of the time. As I gazed out the window, I wondered what would be next.
When I arrived at the comfort of my own home, the reality that the cycling trip was over hit me like a ton of bricks. For the next week, I only came out of my room to eat. I didn’t want to see anyone.
- Acceptance – I recalled that the last couple days before the start of my cycling trip, I actually mentally prepared myself that death can be a possibility (dramatic, I know). I knew that there was a possibility of getting sick, hit by a careless driver, mugged/attacked by an unstable person, attacked by mountain lions/elk, falling off the road down a cliff, and the list goes on. To have a fall and walk away without any broken bones…I’d say I got off easy.
I had about four weeks until I was supposed to fly out to China for my backpacking trip. Barely able to walk, I knew I was definitely in no condition to hike in Nepal for weeks at extreme altitudes, bitter cold, and a heavy pack…but I still really wanted to head out to China. The doctor at the urgent care highly recommended that I get an MRI. The X-rays can detect fractures, but it cannot detect ligament damage. The whole idea of backpacking through Asia was a big question mark.