Just when you think you have gotten “over the hump” – the wrecked car, the tornados, all of the crappy stuff of recent weeks … When vacation time has arrived, and you are ready for a much-needed break and a week of bicycle adventuring – and then the unpredictable forces of the universe strike again, and you can only feel like you are on the losing team in the current competition.
At the end of May, our oldest son Mason left for a summer physics research internship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. We were thrilled that he was chosen for such a great opportunity, and he was excited to have the chance to spend his summer doing research with Dr. David Ernst (theoretical/computational physics, neutrino oscillation) and earning money at the same time. It was a win-win.
With his books and bicycle in tow, he was off to a great start at Vanderbilt – absorbed in his work, enjoying new friendships with his professor and the team of researchers he was working with, exploring the city by bicycle during his hours off.
At home, Mark and I were packed up, excited and ready for our cycling vacation. We were heading to Missouri to spend a week riding across the state on the Katy Trail – a trip I have wanted to take for several years, but we had never managed to get planned and scheduled until this summer. It was not to be.
Got a jumbled phone call from the ER of Vanderbilt Hospital on Thursday night, the 16th. One of Mason’s friends told us that they had been playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee on campus, and Mason had been “clocked” in a collision during play. He had been knocked out, but was now conscious; had suffered a concussion and they were going to perform the routine head CT. Later we learned he also had a shattered nose along with some chipped teeth – all of the information being very difficult to come by, given HIPA regulations, the fact that he was over 18, and complicated by his current lack of mental clarity – he wasn’t initially lucid enough to give permission to release information to us. As a parent, it was agonizing.
We finally were able to speak with the attending doctor who assured us that there was no brain bleeding, and that felt it would be safe to release him with his room-mates looking after him through the remainder of the night and until we could get there.
So, to condense the story … we’ve spent the better part of the last 4-5 days in Nashville. Mason had surgery at Vanderbilt on Monday to “repair” his nose, and he continues to improve each day from the concussion – which has, truthfully, been the most disconcerting part of the whole ordeal. We know that there are expected side-effects – loss of memory, difficulty in concentration, mood swings – all of which should improve over time. It’s just difficult to see him struggling with “the foggy feeling” he’s experiencing, along with some short-term memory problems.
We brought him home yesterday for the remainder of the week. Hoping that he will be feeling significantly better and recovered enough to return to Nashville and to begin to resume/continue his work at Vanderbilt next week.
We also brought his bicycle home to stay for a while. I know he’s really disappointed that he won’t be able to be riding, but he also understands that it’s just too risky, given his head injury. For now, all we can do is look forward to getting back on the bike when it’s safe to do so.
Finally … Dear Universe: Please give us a break for a while, ok?
I am still here …
The temperatures have just been unseasonably (and unreasonably) hot, and I have been like some seminocturnal creature – out on my bike in the early morning or into the evening, in search of water to slide into, and avoiding the blinding heat of mid-day. Some of you may love to see the mercury rise into the upper 90’s (F) each day. Not me. I’ll take riding in a snowstorm any day.
I’ve been drawn to the water. A little paddling, early morning swimming at the Y, riding to the river. It’s all a necessary alternative to riding through the rippling, shimmering heat rising from the pavement. Simply looking at water cools me off.
Ironically, Mark and I are about to set off on another bike touring adventure – nothing as exciting as Italy, but we are really looking forward to it, just the same. Except for the heat forecasted heat, of course. Along with possible flooding along the route (that may be a story for another post). Our timing is obviously not the greatest. If nothing else, it will be some fresh scenery for my camera lens, as well as a chance to really put some mileage on the Xtracycles. So stay tuned.
Meanwhile, summer is here in full bloom – and full heat. Remember to drink plenty of water. (Or swim in it, or bike alongside it 😉 )