On the heels of Nurse Appreciation Week comes Trauma Survivors Day.
Coincidence? I think not.
On May 15, I arrive at Jefferson just a few pedals short of Mile 7,400. It's 7:15 AM, and the night-time hush of the hospital is lifting like an early morning mist. A few tired nurses straggle toward the parking garage. Administrators in suits arrive. A line forms at the Starbucks counter.
From the far end of the Atrium, I hear the hum of a spin bike. Wheels are already turning. There I meet Beth from the Cardiac Transplant Unit.
|Turns out, she's our opener and closer!|
Today, in collaboration with other hospitals around the world, Jefferson is holding a National Trauma Survivors Day Cycle-A-Thon. It's not to raise money or set records. It's to honor patients who've survived traumatic injuries and the many, many, MANY hospital staff -- across all departments -- who, every day, make that survival possible.
First up, trauma surgeons. They stop by early, right after their morning meeting.
|It's an honor to be surrounded by heroes,|
but even more fun to bike with them!
Nearby tables are set with injury prevention swag. There's info on bike safety and burn prevention, and nightlights to prevent falls in the dark. There's a poster display about the Trauma Survivors Network, which provides resources for patients and families rebuilding after trauma.
There's also a plug for bike helmets... of course. Hope you still wear yours!
| Can you believe 4,000 miles have passed|
since the Bike Helmet Blitz?
I switch my knee into "biking mode," and jump on and off the bikes each time someone I know comes by. We're not going anywhere really, but as we pedal and talk, it's like a ride down memory lane.
| (L to R) That's Nora, who organized the event,|
Jess, who took care of me thru many long nights,
and Deb, who's been with me every step of the way!
All over the hospital, teams take breaks from their busy schedules to come down and ride -- for as short as two minutes or as long as an hour.
|Cheers to the OR team!|
I recognize some people, but some recognize me. For the first time ever, I meet Lisa, a nurse who took care of me during my first week in the Trauma ICU. After more than 8 years, the story of my accident is still unfolding. It's incredible that there are still people out there I haven't had a chance to thank!
|At Mile 7,395, I finally get to thank Lisa!|
Mid-afternoon, my friend Michelle drops by. We met back in 2011, when we were both outpatients at Magee. I was learning to walk on my prosthesis, and Michelle was learning to walk after a spinal cord injury. With PTs holding tight to our gait belts, we'd lumber by each other on laps around the gym. We even had matching canes!
Michelle returned to college and then, in 2016, swam for Team USA in the Paralympics! She's now a 3rd year med student at Jefferson.
|Which makes her both a survivor and a hero!!|
Biking brought me here, and again, biking brings me back.
Being a survivor is a balancing act. There's JOY and GRATITUDE in every day, but it's sprinkled with the residual effects of what happened. Emotional overload once in a while. Pain sometimes. Fatigue often.
And -- today in particular -- a prosthetic knee that stubbornly refuses to switch out of "biking mode."
Oh well. Guess I'll ride some more.
As a wise surgeon told me many miles ago, "It's just a bump in the road."