Thirty Stitches, A Concussion, & the First Day of my Junior Year
A Personal Recount of the Shittiest Day of my Life
It is pitch black and I cannot tell if I am dreaming. I remember a bike, a car, a curb, and then, did someone punch me in the eye? I wake up disoriented in the backseat of an ambulance. Sirens are blaring, and a man I’ve never seen before is dabbing my cheek with what I assume are cotton balls with some form of antiseptic on them. My facial expression remains stoic, but internally I am panicking. I touch my face, then look at my hand and see blood. It has a watery consistency, not at all like the blood in the movies. He asks me questions to keep me present and distract me from the blood, and it works. He asks me about school, and I actually laugh. Even with a gaping wound, I could not escape the irony of this happening to me the day before my first day of my junior year of high school. My mom shows up at the hospital and I end up with thirty stitches and a mom scared half to death.
For a long time, I was in a state of denial. I desperately wanted to rewind time to five seconds before I hit a curb and went flying, trying to avoid a car. The “punch” I felt was penetrating trauma delivered by the corner of a concrete building. The reality of the situation didn’t kick in until the next morning when I went to comb my hair and half my scalp was numb. It felt surreal to show up on the first day of school thoroughly concussed and unable to see out of one eye because my face had swelled immensely. I got angry when I couldn’t raise my eyebrow or my muscles would involuntarily twitch. I couldn’t wrap my head around what should be a simple concept: how life can veer completely off its intended course within the matter of a few seconds. I felt like a failure.
My brother later told me that he had ridden a few days before me and the handlebars had been stiffening up. I felt them angle forward during the ride, but I kept riding to get home. I will never know if I am the failure, or if me hitting the curb was beyond my control. I don’t know what truth is worse, me being a failure, or knowing this all could have prevented. People wondered why I beat myself up so much over an “accident.” I am aware that it’s irrational, but those with irrational can’t control them. These thoughts began to fester, and no outside help seemed to be of use. I began seeing a therapist, close to the physical therapist’s building. I tried, but it was like I had hit a second wall. I was stuck.
Despite my inner emotional turmoil, I was the highest functioning failure I knew. I placed a greater emphasis on schoolwork as a means of compensating mentally for my physical failures. I threw myself into extracurriculars and focused all my efforts on ensuring that I would be able to attend any college my heart desired. I put myself to work and didn’t stop for months. My mind was wrapped up in trying to prove myself academically that I didn’t realize I had gained the wrong lesson from my failure. I had even failed at overcoming failure. I was constantly looking into the future in order to avoid dealing with the issues I had at the time. Fortunately, it did not take another concrete wall to the face to spur a second quarter-life crisis. If life is always building up to a goal, all the milestones it takes to get there will be overlooked, and these are arguably what gives the goal its value. These scars will be on my face my entire life because of a spur of the moment decision influenced by foolish impatience, but this is not the end. It is an opportunity to learn, grow, and move on. I cannot change who I am, but acknowledge my negative qualities, will help me to overcome them.
I could ponder the semantics of my incident until I reach the brink of insanity, but all of those thoughts would be futile. From my failures, I have learned that you can’t change the past. I have to accept what has happened to me and be grateful that my injury-related problems are now mostly vanity based. I now know that nothing is promised to us, and anything can happen to you.
I have learned from this experience that I am innately impulsive. These scars will be on my face my entire life because a spur of the moment decision influenced by foolish impatience, but is nothing compared to losing an eye or losing my life to an asinine decision. Although I may not have completely come to terms with the gravity of that yet, I can at least look at them and remember to not take risks when the reward is minuscule. Sometimes life gives you lemons and sometimes it squirts lemon juice in your eyes. I am ecstatic to report that I just recently got on a bike again, even if I will most likely be keeping my riding to more secluded areas with softer surroundings… just in case.