Labor Day Weekend, 2020

Friends, on Saturday, Freddie was involved in a pretty serious bike crash. He hit a bad patch of road and went over the handlebars and slid about 30 feet on his face. He was unconscious and bleeding when we got to him literally seconds later, so we called 911. He was airlifted to Morristown Medical Center Saturday evening.

A bike crash is never a good thing, and this was less good than most. His injuries are primarily on and in his head. The helmet took the brunt of the impact and did its job admirably, but he does have a concussion and has fractured his face in at least three places. We have been waiting for the swelling to subside to see if and how much surgery will be necessary, but the doctors have said to me that everything looks good (the bones are all in the right area, just not actually attached the way they should be). His neck and back are all fine and he didn’t break any arms or legs. From the neck down, he just has some road rash here and there.

It happened very fast. One instant we were all riding and the next… we weren’t. I will have to keep talking to Jillian to find out exactly what she saw because she was right behind him on the road. She has been truly amazing – she got off her bike and moved out of the way and let us get on with what needed to be done. I was behind Jill and I managed to get off my bike (it’s never graceful and I usually just fall over) and get to Freddie. We were with our friends MK and John, who are the exact people I would have called first anyway. John is an experience mountain biking coach who has been trained in bike crash first aid (handy!). I am a Girl Scout but I am also Freddie’s wife so most of my first aid training went right out the window and once I realized I wasn’t going to be able to help, I dialed 911 and gave my phone to John. Then I went into the driveway of the house we landed in front of and promptly started to lose all my shit.

A car came down the road and stopped to help. Turns out it was an RN from New York who just happened to be passing by. Someone said something about how she was going out for coffee and changed her mind and turned down that road on a whim just to see where it went? It’s fuzzy, maybe that’s not exactly right but that’s what I remember being told. I’m not religious and I don’t really believe in much other than the idea that the universe has a perverse sense of humor, but this lady was put in that place at that time for a reason. She wouldn’t tell any of us anything more than her first name (Jen) but that information might be in the police report and if it is, I’m going to send her a stupid-big gift basket. Or open an Edible Arrangements location on her front lawn because I am so grateful to her for being put there by whatever inexplicable force guides us all.

The owners of the house we landed in front of were also absolutely spectacular humans. They came out with gloves and masks and towels and didn’t mind at all that five bicycles were parked in their landscaping. We’ll be sending them a big thank-you as well.

After I had a little freak-out, I managed to pull it together and check on Jill (she was fine, she pulled her headphones out of her bag and stuck her face in her phone because she’s a teenager and that’s what they do) and through sheer force of will, I guess, I kept going. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug, too.

It’s funny, the things you focus on in these kinds of situations. I needed the keys to my truck and we dug through the backpack Freddie was wearing but they weren’t there, so they must have been in the pocket of his shorts. Everyone was like “you’ll get them later, it’s fine” and I remember thinking “no, it’s NOT FINE, that’s literally the only set of keys I have for this truck.” Sure, it would have been fine but can you imagine if they’d been lost? I would have had to figure out how to get a new set of keys somehow. The number of small errands that would make up that large errand… nooooo thank youuuuuu that was not a thing I wanted to have to think about having to do, so dammit, I needed those keys (we did get them). At one point, one of the cops (or fireman guys or EMTs) was like “does he wear glasses?” Me: “yes, do you have them?”

He handed me a single lens. Okay then! Turns out glasses aren’t going to be part of Freddie’s life for awhile anyway.

So they loaded him into the ambulance and explained that they were going to helicopter him to Morristown. Mary Kay was going to handle getting Jill home to check on the dogs and see what she wanted and needed to do. Since the house key was also on the truck key, I asked Jill if she knew where the spare house key was hidden and she does. But that location had recently been rearranged and cleaned up as part of one of our Coronavirus projects so it was possible that the key went elsewhere. I had to make sure Jill could get in so we discussed how to go in through the window if need be. Luckily, she didn’t need to do that.

John and I went to the hospital to wait. We got there only a few minutes after the helicopter did, so we had to waaaaait and wait some more. A nurse came and took us from the ER waiting room to the Trauma Unit waiting room and we waited SOME MORE. Finally he was stabilized enough that we could see him but he was a MESS and totally out of it and 100% did not know anything about anything. They had him intubated and sedated and restrained (he gets very punchy in situations like this, it’s the weirdest thing). But he was alive and that was really all I was concerned about at the time. I gave them all the insurance information and all that jazz and signed all the things and when they got ready to move him to a room in the ICU, we were able to leave.

I had John take me back to my truck and then I drove home. I honestly could have left it there and dealt with it later but the way I’m made, I like to not have things to worry about so it was just easier for me to go get it and drive it home. Got home, checked on Jillian (she’s fine – she’s surprisingly unflappable sometimes) and paced around the house for about three hours (adrenaline hangover) and then I finally fell into bed around 2AM.

Yesterday I was able to visit. When I got there in the morning, he was still intubated and sedated and restrained but they had done CT scans on him and were waiting for the results of those so we could make a plan. Over the course of the day, various nurses and doctors stopped in to explain what was happening and they gradually took him off the fentanyl (likely the cause of him being so combative) and worked on getting him off the ventilator. I left briefly in the afternoon to come home and check on Jill and put pants on (hospitals are FREEZING) and by the time I got back, he was off the vent and starting to be more aware. Eventually we were able to talk a little bit and I was able to tell him where he was and why but because of the concussion, his short-term memory is flickering so we had that same conversation about 4 different times. The nurses have assured me that this isn’t out of the ordinary and we’ll keep an eye on it.

I’m exhausted. I keep going with caffeine and carbs and a lot of REALLY terrible jokes. Just… truly offensive things that make me laugh about this situation. Because if I stop making jokes, then you know it’s very serious and we can’t be having that. So we laugh.

I have at least 6 different group texts going right now with various friends and family members, which is one of the major reasons for this post. I can post updates here instead of sending 13 texts a minute.  I am heading up to the hospital in a little bit and I will post updates when I have them. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers and we’ll all get through it together. We have everything we need, for now. Jillian is well taken care of and as long as our supply of Trader Joe’s mac & cheese holds out, she’ll be fine. I am holding it together but I am keeping a list on my phone of things I am planning to do when this is all over and I have the time and space to have a breakdown. It’s going to be AMAZING, unless I just never find the time to do it. Then I will just… keep on keepin’ on, I guess.

The staff at Morristown has been outstanding. The people whose house we crashed in front of were outstanding. Nurse Jen was amazing. The first responders were amazing. The cops who laughed at my wholly inappropriate jokes were amazing. Our friends… there are no words to describe our friends. We take “ride or die” VERY SERIOUSLY in this house, apparently.


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2 Responses to Labor Day Weekend, 2020

  1. David Roth

    WOW! Thoughts are with you, him, and Jill…

  2. Jesus tapdancing Christ on a cross Rach- what a fuck show! I’m so relieved to know that Shouty Man is alive. I’m sending you Care Bear stares from Alaska. Hang tough and know I’m thinking thoughts to lift you up.