Zero days without a fall

October 23, 2015. Phoenix AZ. John C Lincoln Medical Center. Room 540. Through all the training and preparation I have done for this ride I never actually believed I would complete it. I always thought some how, some way there were just too many miles for me not to hurt myself. Prior to this year I can’t remember the last time I fell. But not trying to do the ride was unacceptable. Yesterday morning we were cruising along at 25 mph and I felt great and for the first time ever the thought that I might actually be able to pull this off popped into my mind.  We were riding through Phoenix and made it through all the traffic and were on a bike path next to the canal. No traffic, minimal pedestrians, no obstacles to speak of.  For the whole ride I have been focused on the road in front of me, looking for obstacles and only occasionally stealing a glance at the scenery around me (and Ian’s butt in front of me).

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I think on the bike path I allowed my mind to wander.  I got too close to a curb while looking around and just went over it. On the other side of the curb there was gravel as far as the eye could see in both directions. Except for one 10 foot section of large rocks.  It happened very quickly, but as I went flying over the bike the irony of where I was about to fall still had time to register.  I don’t recall going over the handlebars, but Ian says that I did.  I lay there on a bed of rocks yelling in pain, trying to get myself to shut up,  but this just had to run its course. Once I gathered my faculties Ian helped me to the curb to sit down.  He asked me if he should call Rae or an ambulance then asked a couple of other questions that I should have known the answers to but didn’t.  Then he decided himself to call an ambulance.  I have never broken a bone before, but there is no mistaking the feeling of cracked bone rubbing on cracked bone. The paramedic who braced my arm said “ooooh, yup, that’s broken.”

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In a previous lifetime I would still have been trying to figure out ways of continuing the ride but as they hoisted me into the back of the ambulance and closed the doors I knew it was over for me.  There were so many places I could have fallen over the last 5 days in the middle of nowhere. But I ended up falling less than one mile from a trauma center.  I have never ridden in an ambulance before either.  It was a decidedly short ride though. No flying down the highway through stop signs with lights and sirens going. I felt cheated. It seemed that no sooner had they closed the doors then they were opening them again and wheeling me into the ER where the first thing they did was cut off my Rays Little Ride jersey. Several X-rays, MRI’s, EKG’s and CAT scans later I am told I have three fractured vertebrae, three fractured ribs, a pneumothorax, a fractured humerus and a concussion. On the X-ray they also pointed out to me my collection of old fractured ribs from previous falls. Apparently my rib cage is a living history of my cycling mishaps.1023150837a

I have never spent the night in the hospital either, at least not when I wasn’t being paid to be there so it was a day of many firsts. The question is, now what? It is now the morning after and on the wall at the end of the bed there is a checklist on the whiteboard of people that have to come and see me to give me the all clear. The only blank box left is a cognitive evaluation. Once they arrive and sign off, we will be on our way. What exactly that means for the future of the ride? This we will be talking about with the team when we get out of here. They are waiting back at the hotel room with fresh bagels, cream cheese and lox.

Ray

83 thoughts on “Zero days without a fall

  1. Hang in there Ray! We are sending strength to you and the team!
    Enjoy a restorative Shabbat. Love –
    Deborah and Stephen

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  2. Every step of this journey you have amazed us “regular” folks. I’m sure whatever your next step ends up being will be no exception. All my thoughts are with you.

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  3. There are no words to describe how damn proud I am of you Ray. Regardless of the result, YOU DID IT. You set the example. You showed us the true meaning of stubborn determination. No matter what happens tomorrow or the next day, You win, and nothing changes that.

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  4. Ray, you are such a strong man. No matter what the outcome of your ride I will always look up to you for your perseverance and ability to always have such a positive attitude!!! I wish you the best!!
    ❤️ Tina

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  5. Ray, don’t let this get you down. You are strong and courageous. I have a feeling there are angels out there that will finish this trek for you in your honor. I pray for your speedy recovery and much needed healing.

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  6. Ray, First let me say I am glad you are able to keep a smile on your face through all of that! I know how bad you wanted to finish the ride but in my heart and mind your “Over” finished the ride before you even started!! Even though it was only 5 days into your ride You accomplished so much! Who couldn’t admire that!! You take care of yourself and know that you did a Indeed great job!! We’ll be waiting for your return home ok!! But please come back in ONE pieace!!

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  7. Hang in there, friend. Have a good cuppa. Reassess. Peace be with you. Know you have way more love coming your way than you even know!

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  8. Ray, I’ve spent the last 2 days reading every word you have written on here. You continue to amaze, inspire, and encourage me. There are a bunch of us pulling for you from Nashville, TN; no matter the outcome, you’ve touched each one of us. Stay strong.

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  9. We’re thinking of you and sorry to hear about your fall. We love reading your blog and seeing your pictures. We hope you the best always!

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  10. Ray: your ride didn’t begin in California but many years before. And it hasn’t ended with your fall. You will be an inspiration to your family and friends.

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  11. Ray, I’ve worked with you for years and though I always thought you were a great person and midwife, I never knew how profound you can be. I LOVE reading you blogs. I’m so sorry this happened on your ride but I keep picturing how big your smile has been in the pictures that are posted. I’m so glad you got the opportunity to do this “Little Ride”

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  12. Wow look at all the “firsts” you achieved in one “swell foop”!! Seriously..your guardian angel did a good job. Glad you were close to care!

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  13. Your strength and your words have rocked me to my core! Meeting you for the first time in the midwives practice, I knew there was something special about you. But even as you helped me bring my daughter into the world, I had no idea just how incredible you truly are. You are amazing, Ray. We are all so proud to even have been in your presence. If you and your team should decide to finish this ride at any point, please let me know. I will be on the first plane to ride with you all! Thank you.

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  14. Recumbent trike with one-handed joystick steering? Just a thought.

    Totally admire your courage in taking on this challenge. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Ray, You are a wonderful man. You have done so many first things. You have always a positive attitude. I enjoyed working with you for many years at Carle. And my daughter Erin working with you at Planned Parenthood learned a lot from you. We are proud of you!!! Kimberly M

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  16. Ray, You inspire us all to become a better person and reach for goals we have always dreamed of and wanted to do but never took the time to try and conquer. Love you and thinking of you during this hiccup ! Positive and healing vibes coming your way ~ ~ ~ .
    Diana Reynolds, CPC
    Carle Physicians Services

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  17. WTF!!!! You did a “Buckner”??? Oh man, I’m sorry….I feel your pain….really! You should have asked them to put on the lights and siren….it doesn’t cost any more!
    Seriously, wishing your quick healing and limited pain, as you continue your journey in YOUR WAY!

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  18. Ray
    You and your team are to be congratulated for the awareness you’ve raised for ALS. So many wanted share in your satisfaction of completing the bike route, but what you have accomplished is so much more. You’re a champ!
    Nancy Wozniak (peace love and midwives)

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  19. Ray,
    You are a hero and an inspiration. I also have ALS and your story has touched my heart. May your injuries heal quickly, may your falls be few and far between and may you continue to enjoy each and every day! #kissmyALS

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  20. Hey Ray! Check this out: http://sunseeker.bike Look at the X3 AX Trike. It’s how I’m getting around these days. While I’m building leg strength, I ride mine down the alleys behind the houses where I live and get everybody’s dogs barking. It’s not the same as sitting high up on a two-wheeler, but as one little girl I passed on the road said, “Hey Mom! Look at that AWESOME bike!” I have PLS, ALS’s fat, ugly cousin. Don’t be done yet! Maybe you just need to try a new vehicle… Also, you have my sympathies. Falling sucks!

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  21. Kudos for the magnificent journey Ray! You are extraordinary and I’m glad to hear that you are not done yet. Sending you and your team lots of healing energy.
    (Just a suggestion for Ray’s Little Ride- Continued, would a tandem or recumbent be an option?)

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  22. Ray – I was just reading your blog for the first time last night, and was so sorry to see this morning that you’d had this fall! I know you need to heal for some time – but if you’re thinking of more biking in the future – what about a tandem? Take care and I hope the broken bones mend quickly.

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  23. Ray,
    As I told you before you left, you are an insperation and have an amazing gift to express yourself. This leaves me wondering what’s next for you. I’m thinking it will be something amazing, somehow.

    Feel better.
    Craig Voigt

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  24. Ray – I was just reading your blog last night, and was very sorry to see this morning that you had a bad fall. I know it will take some time to heal, but if you decide to do more biking, how about a tandem? Take care and I hope those bones heal quickly. – Jane Domier

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  25. I was wondering about whether you were able to take in any scenery, with the attention required by and to the road itself. What kind of a ride is it if one cannot look around once in a while? Great big gentle hugs to you, Rae and The Team.

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  26. Ray,

    You are an inspiration to many! I couldn’t have asked for a better person to help me through my pregnancy or delivery my first baby. I hope you are able to continue your journey.

    Best Wishes,
    Samantha

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  27. Aw Ray, I’m so sorry to hear of your injuries.Your bones may be broken but your spirits are not. Sending love to you and Rae.

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  28. I have loved following you on this trip. You are a total badass. Raising so much awareness. Sending healing thoughts your way.

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  29. Hi Ray- When are you heading out and which direction are you going? We’re from Urbana and live in Flagstaff now. Want to wish you happy voyage if you’re passing through.

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  30. Thinking if you Ray! Sounds like you are looking up at the bright side of things even after the fall. Love seeing your blog posts and progress along the way! Hope you heal quickly!

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  31. Dear Mr. Spooner,

    Hello. My name is Lucy Poteshman. You probably don’t remember me, having delivered so many babies, but you delivered me in Urbana, Illinois, 14 and a half years ago. I am very inspired by your high spirit and I wish you the best.

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  32. Thinking of you and hope you heal quickly. My mother was a nurse for many many years at John C Lincoln.

    Diana (Rae knows me & my boys)

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  33. I have just found out about your diagnosis, ride, and fall all one afternoon. Yikes! Your strength, calm, and encouragement during the birth of our first child (Tai, wish I knew what number he was in your book!) will never be forgotten. I will continue to follow your journey, sending all that your gave to us.
    Here’s to the rest of the journey, because you are very much Alive!

    Meredith Hill

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  34. Oh Ray, sorry about your injuries. If you are looking for some way to pass the time go to 929 ( תנך ביחד;Tanach beyachad; the Bible together) and listen to Dan Kaner read the Bible one chapter a day in beautiful Hebrew. We are in the middle of Judges, and since you already know the Torah inside out, all you have to catch up on are Joshua and half of Shoftim. If your Hebrew is good enough click on the 15 minute “commentaries” by Rav Beni Lau. He is really good.
    G-d bless and feel better soon. And Fucket.

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  35. Ray..my all time favorite Midwife…so sorry to hear about your tumble in the rocks and the short ambulance ride. Wish it didn’t hurt so much. Thinking about you every day…you inspire me.

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  36. Hi Ray, I’m a high school friend of Rae’s….
    I was pondering what you might be thinking regarding the rest of your trip. What about plotting out a point to point trip across the US visiting friends and seeing sights. I know Portland OR is way out of the way but you certainly have an invitation! Hope you are feeling better soon and glad your cognitive tests were clear!

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