When I was growing up, I loved having a bicycle. It offered freedom and adventure. I would ride my bike to friends’ houses and as necessary transportation. Back in the day, we didn’t wear helmets. I was responsible in that my bike was registered with the city and it had a license sticker on the frame.
Generally speaking, I was a careful driver. I rode on the right-hand side of the road (not on the sidewalk) and used hand signals when I was turning.
But there was this one time when I wasn’t as careful as I should have been…and I suffered the consequences.
I was at my friend Julie’s house. she lived three blocks away from my house, about a 4-minute ride. We had just discovered that a really good movie was on at the theatre and if we hurried, we could hit the next show. I jumped on my bike and headed home to get money. It was a sunny bright Saturday afternoon. I was wearing jeans and was barefoot. My shoelaces were tied together and I threw them over the handlebars.
I peddled down Mary Street hill to increase my speed. At the bottom of the hill, I slowed imperceptibly as I turned my head from side to side to not only look both ways for oncoming cars but also listened as I blew through the stop sign at the bottom of the hill.
I continued to peddle and switched my gears to go even faster.
Suddenly, my bike seemed to stop. My feet flew forward off the peddles and my privates hit the center bar. I skidded abruptly with my feet on the pavement. Shock and confusion were my mixed emotions. I hadn’t flown over the handlebars, but what HAD happened?
My tennies had swayed back and forth in my short ride and one shoe began to swing lower and lower before lodging in the spokes of the front tire.
By bike appeared…o.k. No apparent damage.
I shakily walked over to the curb and sat down. Shaking I just sat there trying to get my bearings.
That’s when I noticed. I could see blood from right below the zipper on my jeans seeping through the denim. My heart was beating so hard. By the time I thought I might be able to stand, blood was already mid-thigh.
Gingerly, I got on my bike and peddled the rest of the way home.
By the time and reached the bathroom, blood was down to my knees.
“Lisa! Lisa! Are you ok? What’s wrong? what happened?” Mom stood outside the bathroom door. She had followed a trail of blood in the back door, through the kitchen, and up the stairs.
Lowering my pants and trying to get a look at my lady bits was a challenge. I used a mirror to get a better look while mom kept vigil on the other side of the locked door. But what was I seeing? I had no words to identify or explain the problem.
I got out the instructions from a box of tampons in the cupboard beside the sink. Examining the labeled drawing, I tried to identify what part of my anatomy had been damaged. The words were unfamiliar. I had neither spoken nor heard the word “labia” before.
After a few more minutes of study, inspection, and shouting at mom through the door, I finally decided that I wasn’t going to be able to solve this problem on my own. I unlocked the door and allowed my mom to come in and have a look.
Her assessment of the problem confirmed my worst fear…we had to go to the emergency room. More people–probably a man–were going to be checking out my privates. I’m not sure that I can express the depth of my mortification.
I remember nothing of the ensuing ride. But when we reached the hospital, my experience continued to confirm my fears. I was assigned to a male doctor.
And that is really where my story ends. He came…looked…and basically said, “Ouch. That looks painful. But there is not much we can do. That’s a very “vascular” area (I do remember him using that word) and that’s why there is so much blood. But it will stop in a short amount of time. Keep padding on the injury, with pressure, and all will be well. Use an ice bag to help with the pain.”
Moral of the story: Shoes belong on your feet when riding a bike…not on the handlebars.