Because everything happens in 3’s

You will not believe this post. I almost can’t believe this post. I have taken one for the whole cycle365 team. I have saved all of you except Scott and Rocky substantial pain and hospital visits. I have ‘thirded’ myself so you don’t have to, since everything happens in threes.

Yes, on an absolutely gorgeous day where I was attempting to climb 3 gaps and complete the longest distance ride I’ve been able to manage in a very long time…

It’s a beautiful day for a ride with the water returning to the dams and the green returning to the fields.

I got attacked by a dog.

Yep, Scott is 1, Rocky is 2, and I am 3. When I read Scott’s post, I thought, “wow, I’m so glad we don’t have to worry about that stuff over here.” In 20 years of riding here, I may have been chased by a dog twice. And those were friendly guys just wanting to play and go for a run.

Now I know nasty dogs, and nice dogs, and everything in between. I know the different types of dog approaches and what they indicate because I grew up in Indiana, and you cannot go for a bike ride in the country there without at least one dog chase. I’ve been bitten on the ankle once as a teenager (but don’t remember the bite hurting too badly but the shots being terrible – maybe it was a rabies one? I don’t remember now). And on one of my bike tours crossing Iowa, a dog latched onto my shoe and got caught, and I had to shake the damn thing off and almost lost my shoe.

But that just doesn’t happen in Oz. Until today.

I was just about to start up a new road to a low gap. It was to be the first of 3 gaps today. I started into the gentle grade on gravel when this short, stocky, muscular dog comes out of nowhere and only snarls at the last moment. Stealth approaches with a snarl are never good. He runs in front of the bike and I make contact with him and almost crash. I’m going slow enough I can recover though. He comes around the other side of the bike from behind and sinks his teeth into the meat of my calf.

CURSE WORD. CURSE WORD, you CURSE WORD bastard bit me!

As I’m saying that, I am pulling out of the toe clips and dismounting to the opposite side of the bike faster than you’ve ever seen a middle-aged chick do so on a slippery gravel road.

The owner is calling the dog off, but the dog is still trying to get around the bike to get to me. His teeth are bared and he is growling, barking and jumping at the bike. I keep yelling “HEY!” at it. But whatever that dog is – a Staffy crossed with something – it is staying incredibly aggressive.

Finally, the owner manages to call the dog off. He tells me to wait while he ties the dog up. He had been sitting on the front porch about 250 metres uphill with his 10-12-year-old son.

The guy comes down to talk to me. He is really sorry. He asks if there is anything he can do. He offers a band-aid (at this point, there is more blood than a band-aid is going to handle). He offers his details, but I don’t take them. I just confirm the dog is up-to-date on all of his shots.

It certainly doesn’t look too terrible right afterwards, but the depth of the puncture wounds here is not evident, and the blood will keep coming whenever I put pressure on the down-stroke of the pedal.

Then I keep riding. Damn. I just got bitten by a dog in Australia. That’s almost like being shot. It just doesn’t happen much at all over here.

So I ride into Myrtleford which is another 12 or so kms. The bleeding seems to have stopped mostly, except pushing harder going uphill. I am worried about the bacteria in the bite, though, so I think the wounds should be cleaned.

You can’t just show up at the hospital these days, so I ring to tell them I’ve got puncture wounds from a dog bite, and ask if I should come up to get them cleaned. They say yes, come up immediately, and they will meet me at the emergency entrance. There are no COVID cases in this shire at all, but who knows when it will get here.

They are waiting on me and come out as soon as I roll up. The nurse says my bike will be fine there by the bench and asks me all the COVID questions while she takes my temperature standing outside. She then gives me a mask to wear and takes me inside to the emergency department. I am the only one in there. It is super quiet and the clock on the wall doesn’t work. (My dad, who worked at a hospital for 38 years, always said we couldn’t get hurt on a public holiday, because he WAS NOT, under any circumstances, going to spend a billion hours in the ER since it was always nuts on public holidays).

Well, at least I now have a mask if Oz ever goes down the “must wear in public” route.

The nurse pulls, pokes and prods with the tweezers and tells me the puncture wounds are really deep for a dog bite. She asks, “What kind of dog was it? It had to have a strong jaw to do that, and for that spacing, that was a big mouth!” One of the punctures is 2 cm deep and the other is 1cm. She irrigates them and then tells me she is going to get the doctor to see about stitches.

That growing pile in the foreground is all the clinical waste piling up from my treatment. I will have to make up for that somehow.

While I am waiting on this to happen, I read the posters on the walls around me. There is an entire poster related to “Christmas Eye”. Fuck me dead. There is something else that sounds horrible that you can get from an insect that is very common around here. It’s got to be common if they have a whole poster about it. Oh man, with my luck with insects….

Later, Google turns up a couple things about it – scary stuff from when beetles fly in your eye! And it only seems to be a big problem right where I live and ride. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_eye and from my optometrist https://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2019/12/12/christmas-eye/

The doctor says no stitches. Stitches can trap the bacteria inside. So they steri-strip me up, put on a big waterproof bandage (that keeps coming unstuck all the way home – it is not sweatproof) and give me a tetanus shot. They give me a script for an antibiotic and tell me to get it if my leg starts to swell at all or turn red with or without swelling. I can ride home if I want.

And so I do… all 40 kms and over Taylors Gap. I miss my third gap though because my leg is starting to hurt, and I think my poor immune system is going to have enough to deal with given the dog bite, the tetanus shot and its normal “always fighting Bartonella” issues. It probably doesn’t need extra exercise stress. So I just do the 40kms home instead. Still, it is an absolutely perfect and gorgeous autumn day, and I try to revel in that as much as possible.

What a gorgeous day – our third gap is over there – maybe another time. We’ve done it before. If you recognised this as the Murmungee Basin from a few rides ago, points to you!

I am so thankful for our health care system. I got prompt treatment and there was never a question of “Do you have insurance”? I won’t have to worry about how much the trip will cost me in gap fees. I will not get a bill for treatment or any of the shots. The antibiotic script will probably cost about $15. Thank you, thank you for a healthcare system that works (mostly).

And thank you VIC, as the cops tell me to keep track of any medical costs, and I’ll be able to claim that back under the Victims of Crime funds.

The bottom of the bandage is full of blood by the time I get home and the steri-strips aren’t doing much. I take a shower, tape a paper towel to my leg to catch the drips and wait for the police to come to take my statement. (The hospital staff urged me to make a police report).

Two friends offered to drive to Myrtleford and take me home after I texted that I’d been bitten, but I was determined to get my 80kms, so refused. The steri-strips are no match for 90rpm pressure on the calf muscle for 40kms.

My leg really, really hurts now with that 2 centimetre puncture right in the meat of my calf muscle. It starts to swell and I cannot stand without hobbling around as I can’t bring my foot up to a 90 degree angle to my leg without heaps of pain in the muscle. The bruising is starting, too.

And the bruising has begun. Note the spacing between the two puncture wounds and the size of that jaw.
My right leg looks I have big track cycling calf muscles. The swelling has increased enough now (5 hours after this photo) that the skin is super tight and it hurts to bend my knee. Guess I’ll be filling the antibiotic script tomorrow.

The cops are nice. They take my statement. The one guy says, “Oh, that’s a good one. That one is going to be really ugly tomorrow. Get some ice on it and let it ooze”.

The one guy talks bikes with me and looks over the touring bike and asks how far I’ve ridden it. I tell him at least 40,000 kms and he is impressed. I show him the wall map with all my rides marked off and he thinks that is just the coolest thing. He says, “wow, some of that is really remote. Do you carry a PLB?” I tell him it is on my list once I can go bush again, as I’m rebuilding fitness now after being unwell for quite a while.

And so, because everything happens in threes: this ride should qualify as:

1) a holiday challenge ride, even if no one plans on spending time in the ER on Easter Sunday.

2) It should also qualify as my 5th Cycle Life Challenge purchase – as here is a pic of the chocolate (inspired by Janos) we took with us, purchased from the Germany-owned ALDI.

ALDI does really nice chocolate in their Moser Roth range. This isn’t the good stuff, but I love the saltiness of the pretzels in the sweet choc.
Taylors Gap. It’s 2pm and we haven’t eaten yet today. All the dog stuff interrupted our whole schedule.

3) And here is the monthly music challenge. The first dog song to come to mind is The Stooges song. Of course I love The Stooges, and there are heaps of good covers of this song (there is a great 1989 Mudhoney/Sonic Youth one on youtube). My favourite one, though, has always been by Uncle Tupelo.

And finally, if you haven’t caught Neil Young’s re-release of Shut It Down. Check it out at the bottom. He released it last year as a call to arms about Climate Change, but just released a 2020 COVID-19 version.

Pictures and descriptions of today will come tomorrow when I write up the ride on my website – other than the dog bite, it was a fantastic ride and I managed to do 80 kms, so I’m happy with my body’s performance. There was meant to be another big ride tomorrow, but I doubt my calf muscle is going to agree. I might actually get some coursework done though, so all is not lost.

Now, continue on your merry way knowing you will not be the third dog bite in the “things always comes in threes” superstition.

Nerdy chick in Australia who loves to ride and is accompanied by the crew: 'The Commander' Verne and the 'Mental Health Specialist' Kermit.

22 response to "Because everything happens in 3’s"

  1. By: Scooter Posted: April 12, 2020

    Oh, my god Emily. That is so awful!! That all sounds way scarier and more painful than either of our injuries. And we only had to bike a mile after the attack. I’m really sorry for starting this competition, but let’s end it here. You win. You’re the toughest. I think I need to update that toughness scale I proposed to Greg a week or so back:

    Normal folks < me < Greg < Rocky < The Navigator. Take care of that wound!

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 13, 2020

      Ha! It always has to be a competition with you, Scott, doesn’t it? I had no desire to be in a competition. I was just glad I could be the third victim in the tri-series of dog bites, so no other Americans had to deal with your health care system if they were the unlucky third 😉 So you can be the winner – I’ll give you the age advantage in that you bleed and bruise much easier than someone my age. You also get a neat heart-shaped scar. I’ll just have two dots the size of canine teeth. So I’m happy for you or Rocky or Greg to win.

  2. By: gregblood Posted: April 12, 2020

    Ouch! After seeing what happened to you and Scott and Rocky, it might be a while before I can ride past a dog without freaking out. I hope you heal up quickly and without any complications. A couple years ago I had to make an emergency room visit while on a bike tour (not dog-related.) I don’t know about you, but once the ordeal was over, I felt a strange sense of pride in riding to and from the ER on my bike.

    Anyway, that injury is what Scott and I were talking about when he came up with that toughness scale. I have to agree, that it IS pretty accurate.

    Uncle Tupelo!

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 13, 2020

      I don’t remember what your ER visit was for – sorry I missed that conversation and don’t remember from your journal. I hope you were okay and didn’t have long-lasting injuries. I didn’t really feel a sense of pride for riding to the ER or home, but I can see how you could feel that way. I think I was just fretting the whole time about more bacteria, when I can’t get rid of what is already in me. Plus, I didn’t own a car until I was 30, so I guess, in my mind, it’s not odd to ride anywhere including the ER. I did have my ambulance card on me as usual, though (our gov system doesn’t cover ambulance rides for some reason, so the insurance is about $35 a year). If it were dire enough, I’d have no trouble asking for a lift or ringing 000.

  3. By: Rocky Posted: April 12, 2020

    Scott’s right, you are incredibly tough! Take care of your leg and start your antibiotics as soon as possible. Looks like a terrible bite and very painful! Unbelievable that we all got bit by a dog now!

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 13, 2020

      Thanks, Rocky. I hope your wounds have healed and you don’t have any mental scarring from your ordeal. It would be doubly bad to be hurt yourself and worried about your partner at the same time. They did not offer me glue plugs for my puncture wounds, so mine are just continuing to ooze and bleed. I’m changing out the dressings as directed. The antibiotics are in the penicillin class which are notorious for being very rough on your guts, so I’m not looking forward to that since I’d just got mine okay again in the past 3 weeks!

  4. By: NancyG Posted: April 12, 2020

    OWWWWWWWWWW! Puncture wounds are terrible. I agree you win the tough challenge. Do take care of that, and take the meds!

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 13, 2020

      Thanks, Nancy – I’m following directions and taking the antibiotics even though they make me sooooooo lethargic and icky feeling.

  5. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: April 12, 2020

    1-2 cms is a deep bite wound! Good news is it didn’t rip out a bunch of flesh along with it!

    To paraphrase an old Timex ad: Em takes a biting and keeps on cycling!

    Hope things heal quickly! Totally agree with everyone above, you are one tough lady!!

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 13, 2020

      Thanks, Rich. I am sure you are well acquainted with dog chases and attacks being from Illinois. I don’t think a squirt of water would have done anything to slow this one down. Pepper spray may have been useful, but I’d hate to have carried it for 20 years for the one time I’ve needed it 🙂 Yes, I am lucky he didn’t twist his head or tear the flesh. He was certainly coming back for seconds, though, if I hadn’t managed to get off the bike and get behind it!

  6. By: Suzanne Posted: April 12, 2020

    I was really shocked when I read your post. How terrible! Just hope you heal fast and no complications, Em!

  7. By: Tony Cullimore Posted: April 12, 2020

    Good that the owner wasn’t as aggressive as his dog – but it should have been restrained as it’s obviously a “bad” one. Either he or the cops should deal with the dog properly so it doesn’t bite anyone else.

    What an interesting experience visiting the Hospital during the covid-19 crisis. I do hope the various bacteria and chemicals stuck into your leg don’t fire up other nasties related to the Bartonella.

    I must admit to laughing at your exclamation about Christmas Eye. You must have felt the whole Victorian countryside was against you so you let rip!! Great stress reduction.

    Now we all wait to see just how big your leg grows.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 13, 2020

      I couldn’t believe there was a thing called Christmas Eye and it ONLY is a problem in this tiny region. The poster was right by my head, as if I were meant to be warned about the next insect thing coming my way. So, if you are able to do your tour up here in late spring, keep your sunnies or glasses on while riding!

      My leg swelled more after that photo, but hasn’t got worse today. The skin is tight and my calf is all hard and bruised, but walking is a tad easier today. It’s the action of lengthening the muscle that is really painful. Luckily my job just involves sitting, so I won’t lose work time to it.

  8. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: April 13, 2020

    OMG, that’s a bad bite. Sorry, dogs like that can’t roam the streets. The owners should be sued.
    Christmas eye too, I’ll have to wear a full Ned Kelly suit in that part of Victoria for protection. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 14, 2020

      Thanks, Lednar. I think you should ride in a Ned Kelly suit, just because that would be a sight to see! It would keep the flies away from your face, too, if you are able to do your ride in Oct/Nov/Dec. I’d never heard of Christmas Eye before – it certainly sounds really nasty! Hope you’ve enjoyed that hot weather before the months of cool weather to come.

  9. By: Hopkins Escapades Posted: April 15, 2020

    Golly, Em! I’m playing catch up on reading journal entries lately. So sorry to read you’ve been bit! Guess you, Rocky & Scott had a secret competition going. I’m perfectly fine not being entered in that battle ring. Sure hope you heal up soon and that riding resumes that wonderful joy you had pre-dog attack. Other than your dog incident, it looked & sounded like a perfect day for a bike ride. Hopefully the weather holds until you can get out riding again. Best wishes to rest up, heal up & mount up to ride again!

    • By: The Navigator Posted: April 18, 2020

      Ha! There is no secret competition – and if there is, I bow out! I’ve been diligent about wound care all week and my leg is improving. It may be quite a while before it’s back to normal, but I should be back on the bike next weekend if progress continues as is. Riding will always hold joy for me – no worries about any post-attack mental effects for me, I’m not bothered – it was a random and rare thing to happen.

  10. By: Seasidejanet Posted: April 22, 2020

    I sure hope you’re healing well and on the road to recovery! Yep those silent ones are the worst……..hope the owner got a ticket!! Let us know how you are!!

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