In just one week my national autism awareness tour will be beginning, but right now it's hard to focus on that with what happened over the weekend.
I was working a race in Ohio and just as with the week prior to my 2012 tour the flagstand I was in was struck by a car. This happened on Saturday and the impact knocked me off my feet and the stand got knocked off its posts and I fell straight down and landed on my radio. Thankfully, unlike 2012, no bones were broken but I got a rather nasty bruise on my tailbone and hip.
This accident occurred near the end of the day so someone else took over for the remaining hour and as I got back to the hotel I was hoping that I'd be ready to go for the following day. I took a hot bath and mobility and the ability to flex didn't seem all that difficult. Then I woke up the next day.
As with any time I've been in any crash, whether it was as a driver or flagging, the morning after is not a pleasant experience. So too this time was the same and all the other accidents occurred on the final day, but this one occurred on the 1st of two days of racing. I was hopeful the night prior that I would be ready to go because, after all, I live for race days and flagging is something I'd drop everything to do. When I woke up, however, I knew there was no way I'd be able to do so and when I took my first steps of the morning it the pain brought me to tears.
The tears were from two sources. One, obviously, was pain but the second was knowing that I was going to be unable to fulfill my duty as flagman. I've never missed a race day I was scheduled to flag in all my 18 years of doing it. I knew I could probably try, but I'd have been a hindrance as I wouldn't have been as quick as I needed to be and when safety is important a flagman who can't rotate and turn without cringing is a severe hazard.
I sat in my car debating what to do as I still wanted to go to the track but I knew that wouldn't end well. Another official saw me in my car and could see the discomfort I was in and she quite simply told me to, "go home. You have too much going on this week and next. We can handle it; you take care of yourself!"
It took some time to hear those words and know that they were true. Knowing it, and accepting it are two different things though and I yearned that this wasn't the case, but I knew I couldn't flag to the best of my ability on that day, so I did start my car up, pull out of the hotel, and came to the stoplight. This moment at the stoplight will haunt me for a long time to come as Eldora, the race track, was a right hand turn and to turn left would start the journey home. It took more force than you'd realize to get in the left turn lane to start driving home as it all felt wrong.
The entire drive back to Saint Louis was the worst drive I've ever had. Every second it felt as if I were cheating, or doing a misdeed as I knew I should have been at the race track with flags in hand, but here I was driving home and all felt wrong with the world.
Getting home felt wrong as well, but it was the right thing to do. I spent the rest of the afternoon resting and today I am getting back to being 100%; I'm still tender in spots, but I'm sure if I'd have pushed myself yesterday things would be different. As for today I am now in Springfield and am speaking to three schools tomorrow in a town about an hour away. I'm very excited about that and also, don't forget, my national tour starts next Monday but between now and then I have another race to do in California so this next week is going to be super busy!