Eight weeks ago today, I was viciously attacked by a pack of three pit bulls while riding my bike with a girlfriend on a paved road that winds next to the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley. Just three minutes into a ride blessed by sunshine after an overcast morning, I found myself in an unforgettable scene from a horror movie – fighting for my life.
I wrote those words, “fighting for my life” then deleted them – worried that I would sound like a drama queen – a sensationalistic blogger. I typed the words again. The truth in those words is wrapped in gratitude.
I am lucky.
I am thankful the dogs attacked me rather than my companion rider. Merry had just purchased new pedals for her road bike the day before. We could not get her cleats to clip into the pedals so she was not attached to her bike but I was firmly clipped into my pedals. Merry only weights 110 pounds – much less than the biggest dog in the attack. She would certainly have been pulled from her bike at a horrible disadvantage on the ground – just two weeks before her wedding.
I am thankful for more-than-twenty years of experience as a hard-core mountain biker. People who understand technicalities of biking marvel at the fact I stayed on my bike even after the largest dog sunk its teeth fully into and around my calf, another dog jumped and snapped at my other leg and a third dog cut me off in an intense stand-off inches from my front tire. Survival instincts kicked in. I was determined not to go down.
Two visits to ER, a summer solstice hospital stay due to an invasive blood infection followed by rounds of heavy IV antibiotics that threw my whole system into a post-antibiotic fit of unhealthy symptoms lasted for weeks. My body began to make progress healing but then my mental and emotional state crumbled. While the dogs did not succeed in yanking me off the bike, they did succeed in an unprecedented derailment. I felt broken.
PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) descended heavily on my psyche. I have been overcome with unfounded debilitating fear at random times followed by emotional hangovers and dark depression. The skills I acquired during life lived as a super sensitive soul barely kept me afloat during the past two months. I mustered the gumption to rally each day to care for my mother during the last weeks while her live-in caregiver was away. I have never felt so internally exhausted.
I haven’t written. I haven’t created. I have taken care of myself and let others take care of me. My leg is freakishly tender-to-the-touch but last week I experienced a few days without pain (as long as nothing touched my leg). The recent relief from daily physical pain did wonders for my spirit. I am seeing a trauma therapist. Momma Nature, self-nurture, my loving partner and good friends are potent support during a difficult time.
I am lucky.