Some Unfortunate Events (and a Birthday)

Warning: this post contains some slightly gruesome content. But I have a positive message, I promise!

Well, I turned 29 yesterday. Yep, it’s one more year for me in my 20s. I’m not mad. I’m honestly happier than I’ve ever been, and feeling like it will be another awesome year. I’m actually pretty excited to have a little bit more free time this year – summer especially – to work on home projects and have some free weekends. Last summer was extremely busy, due to races, wedding preparations/celebrations, work, and of course getting married. Our weekends are pretty open for the next couple of months, and I am way OK with that.

Monday birthdays are never great, and I wasn’t expecting to make a huge deal out of my day. Unfortunately, we got some bad news last week that a family member passed away, and the funeral service was planned for my birthday. We weren’t close with this person, but we were fortunate to be able to take the time off of work and go spend the day with family to give our condolences. Needless to say though, not my first choice of ways to spend a birthday.

So in light of the situation, we planned to have a casual early bday celebration, inviting friends over on Saturday for some drinks, yard games, and then going out to dinner. It was beautiful out, and as we often do, we decided to ride bikes to dinner rather than driving after a couple of beers. (See, making “safe” choices, older and wiser, right?!) Everything was going well, we made it through town to the greenway (sidewalk trail system that runs around town), and just when we were a few blocks away from our destination, something terrible happened. Jesse and our friend Josh suddenly swerved into each other and Jesse’s foot went through the spokes on the front wheel of Josh’s bike, locking up his wheel and sending him straight over the handle bars onto the sidewalk. Unfortunately, he was not able to catch himself and took the entire impact with his face. And by face, I mean mouth. I’d like to warn you all to wear your helmet, (and I still will. just do it.) but in this case I have to admit that a helmet probably would not have made much difference. He was not knocked unconscious, and although he broke several teeth and looked like a scene out of the Walking Dead, he got up quickly and seemed pretty lucid right after the crash. So after calling 911, we decided that an ambulance was probably an unnecessary expense, and told them that we would get Josh to the emergency room. We then called one of our friends who is a nurse, and she was awesome enough to drive out immediately, armed with gloves, water/sanitizing supplies, and a water bottle filled with milk. Apparently, putting broken teeth in whole milk will prevent them from drying (I assume the calcium extends the “life” of a knocked out tooth), and increases the chance that you will be able to have the actual tooth re-built or re-inserted. It turned out that the dental surgeon is not going to use Josh’s broken teeth (they were not able to get to this within 12 hours and apparently the teeth were too old at that point) but will do re-construction with crowns. But hey, it never hurts to try.

So while we waited for our rescue car to arrive at the scene, we tried to convince Josh to remain sitting down, and tried to monitor his bleeding and his mental state. His bleeding slowed surprisingly fast, he didn’t seem to be in as much pain as I would imagine, and he was talking to us the entire time. We also had to tell him several times just to stay down and relax. He tried to get up several times, insisting that he was fine, and then he proceeded to take some selfies. I’m not making this up.

Josh broken jaw, Kelly Julie concern
Look how concerned we are. Not so much Josh.

So we were feeling pretty confident about the outcome of the incident, all things considered. As we waited though, he started to repeat himself, showing signs of a concussion. We got him loaded up and safely on his way to the ER with a couple of friends. It was in the two mile or so drive between the accident and the hospital that he started forgetting what had happened… and continued to take selfies. Not to make light of the situation, but seriously. This happened:

Josh with a broken face + Julie

We were able to get a few people and some bikes in the car and to the hospital with Josh, and the rest of us rode up there to meet him. They got him in right away, and started checking him out. By the time he was admitted, he could not remember what had happened, what year it was, or the names of our friends. It was confirmed: he was badly concussed. While we initially thought there was a possibility that he would be released that night, it became apparent that he had injured himself more seriously than his reaction would imply. A CAT scan and x-ray revealed that he had broken his jaw in two places, in addition to the four teeth that were also broken. His lip was punctured, his chin split, and the left side of his face badly scraped up. Jesse and another good friend stayed with him until about midnight, and the rest of us headed home after we were sure he was taken care of and there was nothing else we could do. They scheduled reconstructive surgery for the next day, to screw his jaw back together where it had cracked and shifted at his chin with a plate.

We went in to visit Josh both before and after surgery on Sunday, and most of his memory from the day before had returned. He remembered most everything leading up the accident, but did not remember getting on bikes to head to dinner – which we never made it to. He was also in extremely good spirits, making jokes and being tougher than shit by refusing any major pain meds. The hospital kept him overnight Sunday, and he was able to go home yesterday after less than 48 hours total. He’s still pretty banged up and swollen, with stitches, a new metal plate in his chin, and some surgical braces and rubber bands that will help keep his jaw in alignment while it mends.

Long story short, we are extremely grateful that Josh is ok. While he is going to be drinking smoothies for awhile, the outcome could have been much worse.

So while my birthday weekend was not quite what I had hoped for, here are the things that I learned/was reminded of:

1. If you ever happen to knock out or break some teeth, do this.

2. I haven’t always followed this advice, but I’m almost 30 now, so listen: While riding bikes around town, please wear your helmet. It’s just not worth looking cool and hoping that something crazy doesn’t happen.

3. Dental surgeons apparently very rarely wire broken jaws shut any more, unless it’s absolutely necessary. So while we were fully prepared to play Kanye’s “Through the Wire” on repeat for Josh, it wasn’t totally relevant. (JK! We love you Josh! Sorry for being assholes, and we’re glad you didn’t have to go through that!)

4. If you need an ice pack, it’s easier and cheaper to make one at home rather than buying an expensive one at the store. Jesse’s foot ended up pretty swollen and sore after it got caught in Josh’s wheel (not that he’s complaining – we’re lucky he didn’t go down in the crash as well). Here’s a quick easy recipe, which was originally shared with us by Jesse’s mom.

5. Our time on earth is limited. We have awesome loving families, and an amazing group of friends. They are all willing to drop everything and support us and each other, and we are extremely grateful for them. It’s much more important to spend time with the people in our lives that we enjoy and love, than to worry about making it to just another birthday dinner.

Josh going into surgery

 

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2 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness what a crazy story! I’m so sorry to hear about your family member but really glad everyone is ok!

    I always see people in DC riding around without helmets which is so crazy to me! Do they not see how people drive around here??

    1. Thanks Lindsay! Yeah, it was a weird, tough weekend. But it does kind of put things in perspective.

      And yes, we don’t even have much traffic here, but it’s still scary. Helmets are cool, right?! Right. That’s what I’m telling myself.

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