In late 2009, at the height of my “clean eating”-induced anorexia/exercise bulimia, I was told I had osteopenia. That means that my bones were thinning and on the brink of osteoporosis.
From late 2009 until May of last year, I put my body at further risk by eating a vegan diet lacking in many major nutrients and exercising too hard for what my body could handle.
And then all of that changed when I ate my first hamburger and started this blog.
On 4:55 pm on Thursday, I hit the “down” button on the elevator at work. Leaving with that five minute buffer is the only way to make the 5:14 pm train, the only way to make it back to San Jose in time to drive home, finish answering emails and preparing for the following day, and change for the 8:30 pm yoga class.
All I wanted was to get to my yoga class on time.
I said goodbye to Jean (who was in the elevator with me), and hopped onto my Xooter kick scooter (with a magnesium board, made for commuting in the city) and took off toward the Caltrain station at 4th and King, as I do every day.
I’m a conscientious scooter rider. I keep to the right, I make sure to warn pedestrians when I am behind them, and I always, always watch the lights to make sure I’m crossing at the right time.
At 2nd and Harrison, I was the last “pedestrian” to enter the crosswalk. The little traffic signal man morphed into the 14 second countdown once my scooter was off the sidewalk. I had the right of way. Not that I was worrying about that.
And then time slowed down. I saw the grill of a large, black SUV out of the corner of my left eye. In that split second, my thought was, “He’s going to see me and slow down, and I’ll have time to swerve away.”
Which was precisely when he hit the gas.
When my head bounced on the pavement, my first thought was, “I just died.” The noise it made was deafening, it seemed. My left side ached from where I was first hit by the car and then thrown backward onto the pavement.
My second thought was “I’m fine, I have to go NOW or I’ll miss my train.” Which was when I started crying hysterically–involuntarily, it seemed. I couldn’t move my leg or my arm. People were gathering around me, including the guy whose left turn into oncoming traffic was the reason I wasn’t going to make it to yoga on time.
My third thought, as I lay at an awkward angle on my backpack, was, “I hope my computer didn’t break.” This little MacBook Air is my entire livelihood–my day job, my freelance work, my blog and podcast…
And then I started yelling thought number four out loud: “Someone–please, anyone–just pull my dress down. Please pull my dress down.”
Thank god I had chosen to wear boxer brief style underwear under my dress instead of a thong.
The rest of the night was horrific. An ambulance drive to SF General, being strapped down on a gurney and left in the hallway next to a detoxing drunk who was struggling against his restraints, having my 7 of my thin veins collapse despite the fact that the doctors were using pediatric needles to try to set up an IV so they could do a CT scan to make sure I wasn’t internally bleeding, being told I had a broken hip (and finding out they were wrong about 3 hours later), having to wait until 3:18 am to be released due to the arrival of a couple of stab wounds and someone requiring the nurses to don Hazmat suits…
When I woke up on Friday morning after 2 hours of sleep, with my entire left side bruised and aching, my left leg (my former good leg) in so much pain that I couldn’t walk, and my neck unable to lift my head from lying to sitting without extra support, I realized how lucky I was to be alive and so relatively undamaged.
And I’m chalking it up to the changes I’ve made since I first set off down the path of learning to live without ED:
For the last year, since mid-May of 2012 when I first discovered Paleo & ancestral health, I have been eating homemade bone broth (literally every day for joint health and bone strength!), healthy fats, fermented cod liver oil, and generally working on healing my body through nutrition. Since my surgeries in July and August, I’ve been starting with walking and body weight exercise, progressing to weights, seeing a physical therapist and chiropractor, introducing yoga, and picking up MovNat to start strengthening and healing my muscles, bones, joints, and ligaments.
When my head hit the ground, I thought I was dead. When the doctors glanced at my x-rays, they thought my pelvis was chipped. I was wrong and they were wrong. I am stronger than we could have imagined.
I escaped this whole ordeal with whiplash, pain, bruises, and some kind of injury to my good ankle.* I am more than lucky to be alive. I am grateful that I found enough respect for my body one year ago to begin working through my eating disorder, my poor eating habits, and my destructive exercise obsession.
To those of you out there who think it’s all about getting thin or performing athletically, please, take from me this lesson: it’s about health. Strength isn’t muscles, beauty isn’t thinness.
I am alive, I believe, because I found strength and beauty in the details: what I ate, how I moved, and how much respect I grew for this body that, in turn, saved my life.
*We’ll know for sure after the X-ray/MRI at the podiatrist this afternoon (Monday 6/3, for those of you reading this in the future).