TW: Medical stuff, traumatic injury.
My first day as a Technical Support Manager at my new company was Monday, November 12th, 2018. That first week of onboarding flew by in an exciting blur and on Friday afternoon, I sat getting to know my fellow TSMs over a beer. When it was my turn to talk about my weekend plans, I told them about my plan to take Oregon’s motorcycle endorsement class to learn how to ride my brand new scooter. I left at 5 o’clock practically walking on air. Life was on an upward trajectory. I started my dream job! I was getting my moto endorsement! Good things were happening!
That Sunday, November 18th, I was in a serious scooter accident during class that sent me to the hospital and straight into emergency surgery for a badly broken leg. The EMTs cut my favorite boots and jeans off right there at the scene.
The next few months would be one of the most difficult periods of my life. I had a tibial plateau fracture, which means the bone split almost vertically right under my knee, like this:
When the Physicians Assistant came into my room and looked at my x-ray for the first time, he whistled and said, “Wow, you really did a number on yourself. This is one of the worst possible ways you can break a bone!”
Thanks for that, doc.
I came out of surgery with one of these (an External Fixation Device) on my leg:
Sorry, no weight on that leg for three months.
Fast forward through another surgery to remove the “Ex Fix”, install plates and screws, add a cadaver graft, repair a ligament, then two months of medical leave, and I returned to work in January 2019. In a wheelchair.
If I worked just about anywhere else, worrying about my brand new job would have added even more stress to an already terrible situation. Instead, my company’s unwavering support during this time showed me that the focus on values and employee satisfaction I’d heard so much about isn’t just lip service. I am forever grateful.
Since January, I’ve transitioned from a wheelchair to a walker, to a cane, to being mostly-cane-free these days. This experience has opened my eyes to how people living with a disability are forced to interact with the world. “Challenging” does not adequately describe how difficult it is. I plan to use this experience to make the world just a tiny bit better, in any way I can.
“Will you ever ride again?”
People ask me this all the time. I gave myself six months to heal before even considering the answer to this question. Today, the answer is no. Maybe that will change someday.
Anybody wanna buy a brand new scooter?
Through this accident and navigating my recovery, I found a well of strength within that I never knew existed. I thought it would be interesting and perhaps valuable to some for me to share my experiences as a temporarily disabled person at work and just in the world. Watch this space.