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The Lucky One

I was going to make this post an update on my foot, and then the weather happened, and suddenly my foot seemed completely insignificant. So I'll make the foot prognosis brief.

I met with my orthopedist last week to review my MRI results and plan for recovery. I already knew I had a stress fracture, so I'd prepared a long and detailed list of questions to ask the doctor. The main takeaways are these:

  • I would need to wear my fracture boot again, for two to three months (!)
  • I could not run or walk or use the elliptical or do anything weight bearing, including standing exercises, such as air squats
  • I could, however, continue to swim and even bike, as long as I didn't feel pain or stand on the pedals (as in a spin class or to climb hills--no problem, I live in Florida)
  • Icing would not help, nor would NSAIDs (like ibuprofen), and in fact my doctor said NSAIDs could actually do harm, so I should avoid taking them
  • No type of therapy would help; I just needed to rest the foot and stabilize it
Fashionable, no?

I left my appointment feeling pretty good; I was still able to do two endurance sports, and I had a plan for recovery. But later in the day, perhaps after spending a few hours in the boot, the reality of two to three months set in, and I got depressed about my situation. But I had already been thinking about getting a road bike to enhance my cycling experience, and now that I had the go-ahead and would need the extra motivation to continue "training," I decided to look forward to my new purchase.

I'd pretty much had my bike picked out, so I went to Outspokin Bicycles in Tampa to try it out on Friday and loved it!

My new friend!

I got my first ride in on Saturday, and finally got 30 miles in, which I'd been aiming to do for weeks but just didn't have the stamina on my other bike. I need to get used to this particular bike; my hands hurt a bit in new places, but they didn't fall asleep like they'd been doing on my other bike, thankfully. And I don't know if my seat was a little crooked or my butt was, but I realized after my ride that I'd really hurt a deep gluteus or pelvic muscle, but only on one side. I had a hard time bending over and sitting down afterward, but the soreness has since diminished (whew!).

My ambitious break-in ride.

That was the morning. Then the rains came, and they didn't stop for hours. I had plans to meet my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces for my brother-in-law's birthday, on my side of town. I live in South Tampa in a flood-prone area. I've known this, and I've seen the streets get flooded before. But in over 13 years of living in Tampa, throughout the worst of hurricane seasons, I don't recall the streets flooding as badly as they did later that day. I waited until the rain had let up some before I went out in it, thinking the waters would recede fairly quickly like they usually do. But after I started driving, the rain came down again, harder than before, and suddenly I found myself trapped. It didn't matter which street I turned down; one was as flooded as the next. So I pulled into an alleyway I thought was safe and told my family not to come to my part of town. I was stuck where I was and knew I had to just wait it out.

But the rain was persistent. I couldn't stand the sound of it anymore, and yet I couldn't avoid it. All I could do was sit in my car and wait. And I waited for over an hour. When I saw that the water on the pavement beneath me was rising higher, I grew concerned that I wasn't on high enough ground to keep the water out of my car. So I decided to try to drive home, which was only a few blocks away. I'd seen other cars passing by, though most of them were trucks and SUVs. I felt like I had to make an attempt to get out of the location I was in. So I went for it. Only, I had no idea which direction to go. There was no telling which road was flooded more than another. I made my best guess and tried to plow through, and that's when I realized I was in too deep, and I turned off the road as soon as I could, into another alleyway. But it was too late. I could feel my car starting to stall. I got it to as high a place as I could, hoping that I hadn't done too much damage.

My second "resting" place, with the front end elevated.

I was scared and alone and upset with myself for moving from what might have been a better spot to stay parked in--though I'll never know. At this point I had no choice but to get out and walk home, a couple blocks away.

I started out with shoes on, thinking I didn't want to cut my feet on something I couldn't see on the ground, but I left my boot in the car to keep it dry, and obviously because it would've been a hindrance to drag through the water. When I started my trudge home, the water was only up to my knees. But as I got farther down one street, I kept rolling my shorts up higher and higher until they were as high as they'd go, and the water eventually came up to my hips. All of that effort to keep my clothing dry proved pointless when I stumbled over a curb I couldn't see and tripped and fell all the way in the water, also losing one of my shoes. By then I felt so degraded that I didn't care about trying to find my shoe in the brown, exhaust-filled water, and I took my other shoe off and left it behind.

I still had a sense of humor when I took this photo.

This is right about where I fell in.

More scenery.

I finally made it home and was relieved that at least my condo unit was completely dry. However, right outside the main entrance was another story.

My neighbors, out to watch the show.

I knew there was nothing I could do about my car until the flooding receded, so I decided to drink wine and watch the most recent season of Homeland.

I never drink at home alone, and for good reason.

After a couple glasses of wine (which is one too many for me), I was feeling the urge to go find my car. So I asked a friend if she could drive me to where I thought I'd left it, but as I was outside waiting for her, I ran into a neighbor who had parked his truck on high land and was about to drive it home, a few blocks away. I asked if he could take me to the cross-street I remembered leaving my car at and told my friend not to worry about coming for me. The neighbor dropped me off as close as he could get without entering a still-flooded area, and I hopped out into the murky waters once again to trudge through to my car. Only, it wasn't quite where I thought I'd left it. I must have walked around for the same four-block radius for 30 minutes before I finally found the nearly hidden alleyway I'd turned down and left my car. I felt pretty confident that it would start, and that's all I wanted to know. So I walked through some mud to get in my car, stuck the key in the ignition, turned it, and heard the most devastating car noise--the dry-heaving of an engine that won't turn over.

I called AAA to see if anyone could help me, and they said they'd try to get a technician to me as soon as they could. So I waited on the curb in the dark by myself for about 45 minutes. When the technician came, he tried to crank the engine and then looked under the hood and said he couldn't help me. It wasn't the battery or spark plugs. He called AAA to try to get me a tow truck as soon as possible, which still meant it could be a couple more hours. He asked if I could go home and wait, and I told him my foot was fractured and I should be walking back and forth, especially without my boot, and so I said I'd just sit on the curb and wait. Then he asked me how my battery was on my phone, and I told him--now through sobs--that it was low. He told me to sit tight and be safe and left. I sat and cried, feeling pathetic. Then it started to rain, again. And, as it was already close to 11 p.m., and I had nowhere to go nearby for cover, I decided I couldn't really take anymore and went home and canceled the tow truck.

The next morning, I woke up and called AAA to re-request a tow truck and was told the expected arrival time would be 12:45 a.m. the next morning, Monday. But I didn't have much choice, so I accepted it, not having any idea what I'd do once the tow truck actually arrived. I spent a lot more time crying, calling my family, texting with friends, unable to think clearly about how to fix my situation. My sister suggested that I get a rental car that day, Sunday. I rejected the idea at first but then realized I sort of had to. Not knowing the exact status of my car--how doomed it was or wasn't--I was unable to utilize my auto insurance's rental coverage, so I decided to just pay out of pocket.

A great friend offered to take me to get the car (one of a few great friends who really showed up for me during this event), and as I was waiting for her to pick me up I missed the call from the tow truck driver while I was on the phone with my dad. I had no idea I was going to get the call that early, about 12 hours earlier than quoted--and by the time I called him back he'd already moved on to the next ticket. So I had to reschedule. And when I did, I made it clear that I was not home and would not be home for another half hour while I was picking up my rental car. So of course, just as I'm driving home from the rental car place, I get the second call from a tow truck driver. I explained that I wasn't yet home and didn't expect to hear from them so soon and was trying to get home ASAP. This one took pity on me and said he'd wait.

When I got back to the location I'd left my car, the tow truck driver walked with me to the car, spent about five minutes assessing it, and told me my car was totaled, that I'd flooded the engine. He pulled out the dip stick and showed me the water that was on it where oil should have been.

So, yeah. Some water and other nature got in there.
The "water" mark on my car.

Soaked book that was sitting on the floor behind the driver seat.
Knowing that my car was ruined, even though I still needed the insurance adjuster make an assessment, I pouted for a while and tried to figure out what to do. Not having a plan is incredibly frustrating for me. But since I had this rental car now, and I knew I'd probably be in the market for a new car soon, I decided to go out and look around for what my next car might be. Even if the insurance adjuster doesn't total my car, it won't be worth putting a new engine in. I've had her for a good nine years, and it was getting close to the end of our time together anyway.

I looked at some decent options but didn't decide on anything for certain. However, just getting out and doing something about my situation made me feel better. I went to bed last night feeling better.

Then this morning happened. I awoke to a text from my sister telling about storms in the area and cautioning me to stay home if at all possible. Well, home to me meant flooded roads all around me, so I thought instead I would try to beat the flooding and go into work with the intention of going to my sister's house afterward. But as I was heading to work, the roads didn't look good, so I made a last-minute turn to go to my sister's, who lives in a higher area. I was so, so close to the interstate--where I would have been home free--when I saw deep flooding up ahead. I was in a rental and too afraid to risk flooding out yet another engine, so I pull off the road into the nearest parking lot, which I later discovered was a funeral home. A few other cars had done the same thing. I sat and watched as the rain continued coming down relentlessly. I once again felt helpless and stranded. But I knew I was on high enough ground that the car wouldn't get flooded.

I eventually fell asleep for a while, and when I woke up, nearly four hours had passed. Even though the rain hadn't stopped, it had lightened up for some of the time, and the street didn't look as flooded as it had before. I got out to get a closer look at the cars driving toward the interstate, and they were all making it, some of which were smaller and lower than mine. So I decided to go. There was one deep section of the road in particular, and as I drove through it my heart raced and I could feel the blood rush through me. But I made it. Once I was on the interstate, I was so ridiculously happy that I probably cried again, but out of joy.

I got to my sister's house and saw my nieces' smiling, excited faces and felt so very lucky to be in a safe place with loved ones. Even though I spent a large portion of the day trying to work out logistics about the old car, potential new car, insurance, etc., I got some much-needed bonus time with the people who make me the happiest these days, and it seemed as though everything was not only fine, but actually good.

My loves.

I know that others who've been affected by the floods have endured much worse damage--to their homes and properties and possessions--and I know there are raging wild fires in the western U.S., not to mention human travesties continually occurring across the globe. I had a rough time and lost my car and developed some new anxieties about the rain, but throughout everything I never had to look far for supportive family and helpful friends. Despite writing this really long post, I don't feel I can adequately explain how grateful I am to have these people in my life. So in the end, I guess I'm the lucky one, and I thank everyone who has shown me that over the past few days.


x said…
Awwww glad ur okie -bryon

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