Friday, April 28, 2006

Post Traumatic Stress

A week after he hit the ground, Steve is up and walking around. He's a long way from getting back into training, but he's easing back into some shop operations.

He's grappling with the complex unhappy feelings that follow a traumatic injury. He's replaying the event, trying to find solid answers in vague memories that grow more vague and mingled by the day as he considers how it might have been.

We look for answers after a catastrophe. How did it happen? How can I keep it from happening again? The victim may be the worst witness. We almost always black out at least a little. Things happen so fast we can't sort them out. Unless someone else sees it or we can reconstruct it from unaltered physical evidence, we're left to guess at some critical moments.

Some of us cope with that guesswork better than others. Because no one has come forward who saw the actual crash we all have to create Steve's flight path from our own visualization. This includes Steve, who hasn't been able to say for sure if he went over the bars or just down past them as the fork collapsed.

The root cause of the crash was Steve's left shoe disengaging from the pedal. In all likelihood, his shoe was never properly engaged to begin with. After that he was the victim of physics. The foot went into the wheel, the wheel dragged it into the forks, Steve went down like a stunt horse in a movie scene catching a trip wire.

Everything is at risk all the time in this life. It may not be obvious. We try to manage and limit risk. But everything is at risk and everything eventually changes into something else. Some dangers are more obvious than others, but a damn asteroid could fall on your house while you're cowering in bed. Just as we only hear about the planes that don't arrive safely while thousands do, think how many cyclists go about their daily rounds with nothing worse than a little chafing to mar their day.


Anonymous said...

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

cafiend said...

Mmmmmm...Xanax....washed down with a slug of booze.