I’ve always opened up on the emotional side of things, versus the traditional posts from others. It’s vulnerable and hard, but its a look at how the last few weeks have been. I’m very thankful for every person that has come to my side during this time. I will forever be indebted. I am on the road to recovery, and I’m committed to getting on the bike as soon as I can safely. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Maybe this will help others on their way to recovery, too.
Sunday morning I couldn’t wait to ride everything together for the first time: New wheels, new bike, new handlebars, new shoes, new tires, new helmet, and the skin suit I won my world cup medal in. I was leaving for Germany in less than two days, and was going to play some fun sprint games with the boys to brush out the cobwebs.
I remember coming around corner three, passing him. I didn’t enter the lane. I remember opening my eyes, and my face was sliding on the wood. I remember opening my eyes again, and someone was holding my head telling me not to move. The first thoughts that crossed my mind were, “something is really wrong”, “my head hurts”, “where is my bike?”, “I’m going to Germany in two days”…
“Where does it hurt?” WTF. Where doesn’t it hurt.
“Melissa, do you know your name?” You just said it.
“Her collarbone is clearly broken. There’s a severe deformity.” Then the tears just fell.
It’s hard to put into words how hard this has been on me. I spent a lot of time in denial. I kept thinking I was living a bad dream and this would go away the next morning. I remember a sudden switch into anger. I couldn’t listen to the “you’ll be back before you know it”, or Andy talking over training plans with his athletes. I remember one day I had to get up and close his door, in tears, listening to them talk about racing in ttown and how much fun it will be.
I was angry for a long time. I couldn’t express what I was thinking. Andy coaches the athletes I was riding with. I couldn’t put blame on him, or the boys or myself. I watched the video, I saw the impact that broke my collarbone in three pieces, fractured and dislocated my wrist, tore the ligaments and meniscus, and gave me a concussion. I cried a lot. I missed out on the USA National team trip to Germany. Now I’m missing out on all the ttown events, all the Colorado events, and most likely the national championships as well. My dad was going to come to ttown over fathers day, to watch me race for the first time in person since 2010. And before the crash I was riding all time best power and flying 200m times.
I’ve had to give up the hope and possibility of racing until mid-august now, missing all racing to earn points towards the USA Cycling Pan Am and World Cup team qualification date, meaning my shot at those teams is completely out of my hands. Not making those teams means missing the chance to be named to the Olympic Long Team, which later turns into the short team, which then determines who will be representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Instead, I sit and wait. Cross my fingers, and hope by some miracle this dream isn’t going to die by an accident that wasn’t my fault.
It sounds weird, to have so much emotion over a crash, but I was following the stages step by step and I didn’t even realize it. I was lashing out, and as more people came to visit, I would feel better, but when they left, I sunk deeper and deeper into a depression that wasn’t just hurting me, but everyone around me, too. Andy was feeding me, bathing me, dressing me, driving me, putting me to bed…I couldn’t do anything on my own. My headache was about to explode my head, my elbow on the right has a bone chip, my left arm is splinted past the elbow, and my collarbone wouldn’t let me turn my head. I was going over UCI points, rules, selection documents, and race schedules, every single day, trying to come up with some sort of plan.
Then something just gave. I gave up. I didn’t see the point, I was tired of trying to act how everyone thought I should be, of trying to be positive and hopeful. I accepted that I can’t do anything. I can’t lift, ride the track, ride bent over on a bike. I’ve got weeks left in this recovery, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t feel anything. I was just…there.
Then I went to the gym and felt the pressure of the leg press again. It’s one of the few things I can do, I got light-headed, nauseous, and couldn’t push much before I could feel the effects of surgery and the concussion, but it was enough to start pulling me back out from under the shadows. To get out of the house was huge, to get back in a place I was familiar with that wasn’t a hospital gave me some more hope.
Not even a week ago, I went under the knife again. This time to repair the ligaments and meniscus that were damaged in my wrist. Now I wait some more. With recovery between 6-8 weeks, that puts me at July 10th-24th, when I’ll be able to put pressure on my wrist again. So, I sit and wait. I’m still struggling with the anger, but its much better. I feel as though I want headphones, to walk around with so I don’t have to a) listen to people complain about how hard their workout was, or b) make plans to go racing. It’s a constant battle in my head, but everyday I’m trying.
All great athletes have had tremendous hardships. Anna Meares is a fantastic example. And just as my sports psych says, they all go through the same thing I’m facing now. I can’t control the future, I can’t control what decisions are made, how fast I heal, or how long it takes me to come back. But I can control what I am doing between now and then to help better myself, to move forward, and accept it for what it is.
My frame is back home now. Its got a big scar on it just like I have. There is a new IO on order since the one I had was completely destroyed. The disc will be shipped soon to be repaired. I’ll need to replace my helmet. But everything is coming together. It will all be patched up, and so will I.
Thank you for all the cards, gifts, donations, and encouragement. No matter when I am able to come back, its only because you have made it possible for me. Thank you to my sponsors, Wheelbuilder, Mavic, Neogenesis, Spidertech, and Simmons Racing, for helping put together my broken equipment, and the care packages. Thank you to USA Cycling and the US Olympic Committee for being supportive and helpful throughout this whole process.
As the medical bills continue to pile up, my fundraising site was changed from funding for racing, to helping me pay medical expenses. There’s only one day left in my fundraising campaign, but the support I’ve gotten has been life-changing. I don’t know what I’ll use to travel to races, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
For those interested, here is the link to my fundraising campaign, in its final hours:
I entered my 25th year on this planet with a bang, a lot of blood, and some new internal hardware. I guess if this is how it’s starting, I better be ready for what’s coming next.