Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Tread-ed Truth

I'm running.  I'm in the groove.  I can feel it.  Five miles per hour.  Breathing is steady, deep.  Song is playing on the discman.  I'm dance running.  

The sweat clings to my body, ready for the next step, to fall into a puddle, to be absorbed into my tank top.  I cover the timer with my towel so I don't obsess about the time, about the calories, about the blinking red lights.  

I really do love running to this song.  My arms are moving.  I am feeling the funk.  

My hand hits the earphones cord.  The discman plummets off the viewing tray and travels down the running belt...seeming to go way faster than five miles per hour.  I stumble.  I think, for a second, that I might have recovered.  I look back to see the discman break into several pieces.  My ear phones still stuck in my ears.  

I realize, in the biggest oh shit moment ever, that in all the commotion, I am losing momentum.  My body is not moving as fast as it was, and the treadmill is still moving, really freaking fast.  I try to balance.  Wobble.  Grab.  Reach for the buttons, the handles.  It's not working.  I'm not going to make it.  Oh shit.  This is gonna hurt.  I am. Going. Down. 

My feet stop moving all together.  I am horizontal in the air.  Like those cartoon images...waiting for the drop.  

My chin hits first...the tread...scraping the first layer of skin.  I am forcably shot three feet backward off the treadmill.  My body hits.  I lose a of moment of consciousness. 

I am in pieces.  On the floor.  Right next to my discman.  And, the disc is still freaking spinning.  

I lift my head.  Try to gain my composure.  Try to focus my eyes.


I see it.  I taste it.  I see it!

The treadmill is still five miles per brain is moving just as fast now...just as fast...trying to put together the pieces of what just happened.  The blood.  Scared.  Panicked.  

I push myself up and off the floor.  Leaning over to keep the blood from getting on my clothes.  (Who does that?)  I grab my broken discman and head downstairs to my apartment.  My roommate is home.  The look of horror on her face confirms that I am in a state of shock.  I don't see the horror she sees.  I am still running on the treadmill.  I can still hear the machine.  My feet pounding the belt as I land.  The music.  I was dancing.  I was looking at the glimmering swimming pool.  I was fine.  

My bottom lip is bleeding.  Bleeding terribly.  She grabs me a washcloth.  I dab.  I insist I am fine.  I see the inter-workings of my lip that no one should really ever see.  My knees start to feel weak.  My hands start to tremble.  

I anxiously try to examine the rest of my body.  Did I hurt anything else?  Am I bleeding anywhere else?  No, but my lip is still gushing full force.  My knees are still making it a challenge to stay standing.  I feel nauseous.  I want to laugh.  Did I really just fall off a treadmill?  Did anyone hear it?      

I tilt my head back to see the point of impact.  From one side of my jaw bone to the other I have what looks like dirt.  It's not dirt.  It is a bruise, already forming.  My chin is black and blue.  

My roommate insists we go to the emergency room.  I don't have the strength to tell her no any longer.  I give up.  I am ready to pass out.  She drives me to the hospital.  

Lesbian domestic violence.  

I am sure that's what the nurse is thinking.  He asks if there is anything else I need to tell him.  If I need some privacy.  If I need my roommate to step out of the room.  I insist she stays with me.  I am semi-conscious.  I am in shock.  She makes me feel safe.  Makes my hands stop shaking so much.    

I tell him the story.  I tell him about running.  About the discman.  About the falling.  

He laughs.

Yes.  He laughs.  

The ER doctor comes in.  She's eating a sandwich.  She looks at my lip.  She tells me I need stitches.  


My roommate gets to help her.  Gets to hold the tray.  The tray that holds all the items the sandwich-eating doctor will use to close my lip.  

She places a place mat over my head.  There is a hole where my mouth is exposed.  I can still see everything she is doing.  I wonder if this was for panic prevention or for her breadcrumbs.  

I watch her stitch each of the stitches.  I try to not think about the consequences of my my my beautiful face.  I try not to cry.  Try not to laugh.  Try not to shake.  

We leave the hospital.  My lip is huge.  It's late.  I have to work tomorrow.  I have to work tomorrow!  I am a high school teacher, and this is going to be hell.  How do I do this?  I am going to get so much shit from my students.  

I call my department lead.  She can't understand me.  I can't speak correctly with my lip this puffy.  Hard consonants don't come out right.  "I pell obb the treadmill and my liiiib is puwwy" I say.  It's no use.  My roommate gets on the phone.  She tells the story..."She fell off the treadmill and her lip is puffy."  I am so very grateful.  I still decide to go to work set the lesson pretend like everything is I didn't just get 15 I didn't just do all of this...feel all of this.  

The denial is thick.  My tummy is growling.  I can't eat.  This is going to take a while.  A really long while to recover.           

It was over 10 years ago that I was launched off the treadmill.  My lip, although still scar ridden, has healed well.  The laughter with my family and friends carried me through those weeks of recovery.  Everyone I know loves to tell this story, to know someone that did this, to know that this really does happen to people.  It's not just a funny youtube video.  Although, I do wonder how much money I could have made if there were a video.  Millions, I tell you.  Millions.

Bottom's okay to laugh...everyone does...even me...even now.     

Surprisingly, I still really love the treadmill.  It's been a while since I gave it some love, and perhaps my true intention of writing this homage to this whole experience now.  I yearn for that time.  For that space.  For that fun.  For me.  For the privacy.  For the body movement.      

If you use it, you've got to play it safe.  Here are the safety guidelines, and some sarcasm as an added bonus:  
1.  Obviously, wear the damn safety belt.  It really does make the world of difference.  Ask my lip.
2.  Keep a clear space behind and around the treadmill.  If you fall off, you have room to land, and not be sliced like a piece of meat.
3.  Buy an arm band to hold the ipod/phone...then you don't knock it off the viewing tray.  (Discman...I know...I'm old...what can I say?)  
4.  Run dance.  Dance run.  Whichever.  It's the best!  

This is the second in a series the discusses my return to body movement and exercise.  Be sure to read my first posting Hitting the Gym.  

Have you ever experienced anything like this or know anyone that fell off the treadmill?    

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