Monday, September 17, 2012

The Inevitable

In an effort to satisfy our Whistler withdrawals, we escaped the Phoenix heat and headed up to Flagstaff a couple Saturdays ago. It's a three hour climb from Phoenix to Flagstaff, from desert floor to pine forest in a 6000 vertical-feet climb. We had been meaning to get up there and shuttle some trails for quite some time, and it felt so good to be scoping tacky trails in cool mountain air again.

Our first order of business was to make some laps on Wasabi, a short Mount Elden trail with tight flow, a few small drops and jumps, plenty of berms, and a quick shuttle. We left the camera in the car for a few warm up laps. After a couple runs we ran into another group of three dudes and we decided to combine forces for some more runs. We hit upper Wasabi, including the infamous Wasabi gap, and vowed to snap some photos on the next run. 

We dropped into lower Wasabi and Wes must've been feeling pretty zesty, because he was totally gone. I tried my best to chase him down and finally succeeded...when I came around a corner to find him laying in a berm. I peeled off, asking if he was alright. He calmly said "I'm done." And then he held up his hand to show me his finger...

Oddly enough, I think there was some actual debate going on as to whether it was broken or not. I think it was mostly wishful thinking on his part, unwilling to imagine that such a good day was already over, as the rest of us sadly assured him that his finger was clearly toast. What a bummer! Apparently Wes had been moving pretty fast, hit the berm a little hot, blew over the top, and slammed into the large pine that the berm was built up against...with all his momentum focused on his little finger.

Acceptance of injury apparently comes in stages. Once we established that the finger was definitely broken, the debate turned to whether Wes could keep shuttling us for the rest of the day or if we should make our way down the mountain. 

The onset of pain and shock settled that discussion pretty quick. All that was left was to decide how much of his soul Wes wanted to give to the doctors. 

First stop? Urgent care. $400 for an x-ray and a splint. No setting of the bone. No thanks. We can splint it ourselves. Emergency room? No quote, no promises. A bunch of hacks that are there to stabilize the injury and nothing more. What do we do now? Why, lunch of course! Maybe a famed Flagstaff Diablo Burger would help us figure out what to do next.

Eased of his pain during a short trip to flavor country, Wes remembered a friend with a dental surgery practice. I had my doubts about a dentist fixing a broken finger, but you get what you pay for, I suppose. Wes was pretty positive as we drove down, in between waves of pain that had him laying across the back seat. Lots of fuss for such a little finger.

I don't know if I've ever seen anyone enjoy such immediate pain relief. Those syringes look like a tool of the devil to me.

That forty-five degree bend? Yeah, it's not supposed to be there. 

We all knew his finger was messed up, but not THIS messed up. Pretty messed up, eh?  

Some odd sounds were heard as the doc-man took a stab at straightening the finger. It turned out... better... but still pretty jacked. Lots of encouragement for Wes to see a specialist, lots of Wes saying he'd just deal with it. 

"Hey Wes, give us your best hang lose!" It's been couple weeks and Wes is still doing his best to put on his happy face. The day after the break, I watched him during church, clearly in a rare degree of pain. Especially for someone as tough as nails.  He was visibly sick; sweating, green, restless.

Wes called the other day on his way home from work. He saw a specialist, and it was pretty much worse case scenario. Crushed into five pieces, it won't heal without surgery, and will probably have to be amputated if he doesn't get it fixed. I hear him wince in pain as he shifts his truck. On top of the pulse of the crushed finger comes the annoyance of people telling him "It's just a pinky." And, "Aren't bikes for kids, anyway?" But the real pain, the one that he really hates, is deeper under the surface...

It's the pain of knowing he won't be riding for a while. And it eats at all of us. But if you're going to ride a lot and ride hard, then the inevitable will happen. 

Wes, if you're out there, get that thing fixed, and let's go ride!

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