The Downward Spiral — Part 2: That Was Just the Beginning
If you haven’t yet read the Downward Spiral — Part 1: Until It Fails You, I do suggest you do so first.
It is hard to follow the timeline for me, from the time I felt that I could beat all that ails me, to the point where I started to feel there was no getting out from under all that did. So please forgive me, if sometimes it seems out of order.
So at first, I developed Sciatica — mark that as the first in the line of my downward spiral and what I covered in the first part (again, go above to read it before reading this).
Between the age of seventeen and my early twenties, I sustained another injury. At this point in my life, I was living in Parkdale a suburb of Toronto, not far west of downtown Toronto. I was just starting to attend a career college, which ended up being one of those fly-by-night colleges that you pay a lot for and really don’t get much out of. If I’m correct, the name was something like “International School of Business and Technology”, or something similar to that.
At that time I was biking from the Parkdale area to around Davisville subway station, in Toronto. It’s a good long bike ride, there and back and on the way back I was attempting to do a volunteer position at the Toronto Humane Society. Kitten bottle feeder was what my title was, I was genuinely happy to be learning how to do this. Often it was for kittens who’s mothers didn’t lactate enough or had an ambivalence to their offspring. They were days old at most. It was the second time coming in to volunteer, on my way back from school that I was hit.
Coming back from the Davisville area, I was taking Young Street home, it was the most direct route that I was aware of. Between the parked cars on one side and the traffic on the left of me, I was clipped by a car on the left side of my handlebar. It was all so fast — one minute I was biking as cautiously as I could, making sure to give a meter to the cars on the right in case they could not see me and I guess another car that chose to go beside me, probably because they were in a hurry.
When I became aware of what happened, I was on my left side between two parked cars. Left arm outstretched above my head, right arm dangling forwards, my body was turned in towards the curb and out of the lane thankfully. I was wearing a helmet, also thankfully. I picked my glasses up from in front of me, somehow they were not broken. Only one person, on that busy street, stopped to ask if I was okay — oddly, he was actually on his cell phone. There were at least ten people per city block at that time.
I asked the guy if they saw who hit me. To my dismay, nobody had seen what had happened and if they did, didn’t come forward. Maybe, I seemed too alright. I mean I was upright, after all, talking, didn’t seem like things were broken. My best guess is it was a Taxi, there was one in the far distance that seemed to be driving particularly fast, but for all I know I was out for a few minutes — the car could have been long gone. Yep, it was a hit and run, or a hit and oblivious driver, I don’t know.
Given how I’ve seen Taxi drivers behave on the roads in Toronto, it wasn’t a stretch to me to make the assumption. Not just a week earlier, one had driven right in front from the left of me, to right in front of me, slammed on the breaks and the passenger in the car swung the door open as if actually trying to door me. Narrowly I missed getting hit on that occasion by just a foot, I had to jump off my bike to stop in time, using my feet to brake (I didn’t have hydraulic brakes, just rubber shoe calipers). For a fact, I know I swore like a trucker and the taxi driver just drove back out, no sorry — no nothing.
After picking myself up, checking to see if my bike seemed okay. No bent tires, nothing appeared to be broken, including me. Shakily, I continued on towards the Toronto Humane Society and it wasn’t until I got there, did I realize my entire body was shaking and I felt faint. I’m not sure what took so long for my body to react that way, but I started to realize just how scratched up I was.
After checking in with someone who oversaw my volunteer position, I asked to be excused from that session. I never went back. I’m pretty sure at this time I had called my parents to let them know what had happened, or maybe my then boyfriend, I’m not sure. After I got back home, I had more time to assess the damage. I was banged up. The bruises didn’t show up until the next day, the pain started that night. I had to sleep propped up on the couch for at least four days. Mentally, I never thought enough about what had happened. It just didn’t dawn on me that I should have gone to the hospital.
At this point in my life, I was extremely afraid of needles, of hospitals, so I probably convinced myself that once again I was made of rubber. I must have also, convinced my parents that I wasn’t bad enough to go to the hospital. After that day, I was never able to convince myself to ride my bike downtown again. That sense of being able to overcome, be quick enough, and fast enough to deal with it just left me. It scared me to death.
After a few weeks, I felt better. But I felt like I had failed. I let the kittens down, I let my parents down by never taking the exams for certifications I was supposed to obtain. At least I felt like I had. Either way, mentally I still recovered and I did regain that sense of feeling like I could bounce back again, but I never had the same level of confidence on a bike since then.
Not until over ten years later, would I learn the damage that it caused me?
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