Let’s look out for each other.

My faith in humanity was severely shaken on Thursday evening.

You see, my kids were in a bike accident.

But, before you get too worried as you read my words, let me assure you that they are now both completely fine. However, on Thursday night I wasn’t so sure…..

My daughter had a baseball game at a nearby ball diamond, and my husband had another commitment that evening, so the kids and I biked over to enjoy a gorgeous Summer evening outside. After the game, the three of us rode home as a convoy on the sidewalk; me in the front, my five-year-old daughter behind me, and my eight-year-old son bringing up the rear. We were three-quarters of the way home, almost finished our short five-minute ride, when I heard a crash and a scream. I was only a couple of bike lengths ahead, and as I quickly stopped and turned, I saw both kids laying on the ground, bikes twisted, backpacks scattered, both of their mouths open, howling in pain. I ran to them immediately, yanking my folding chair straps off my shoulders, throwing my gear, and scanning the scene as my emotions built and my heart raced.

My daughter was lying at the bottom of the pile, her head turned away from me, crying loudly. As I approached, my son pulled himself off of her and I yanked his bike to the side. His cries, however, were frantic and distraught, and he was writhing and gripping his abdomen. My gut instinct told me that he was more seriously hurt, so I tended to him first. “My ribs, my ribs,” he was screaming, and I knelt on the sidewalk to hold him and try to offer some comfort. I called to my daughter from my crouched position on the ground, and she got up and crawled to me, desperately hanging onto my other shoulder, sobbing.

This entire sequence had taken less than a minute, when a neighbor across the street came to offer his help. “I heard the crash and saw you running,” he said, “is there anything I can do?” By that point, my son was standing, squirming, clutching his stomach, his panicked cries not slowing down. Over the next few seconds, I was able to decipher that the “rib” he was referring to was actually his lower abdomen, and that his bike wheel had turned as he fell, causing him to land belly-first into the blunt end of his handlebar. As my mind raced with right lower quadrant anatomy, the complications of blunt force trauma, and first-aid protocols, I thanked my neighbor, and assured him I could manage. Both kids were still wailing, but we were just around the corner from our house, and my main concern was to get them back home where I could better assess and tend to them.

The neighbor walked away reluctantly, leaving me amidst a 10-metre swath of bikes, lawn chairs, backpacks, and ball gloves. Our things were strewn along the sidewalk and the roadside, and in the middle of it all, I huddled on bare knees, with one kid in each arm, calming them, cuddling them, tears streaming down all of our cheeks.

Two separate cars drove past us, slowly, down our sleepy suburban street, seeing the carnage of the crash. They didn’t stop or offer assistance. Minutes passed and my kids continued to cry. I buried my face in their hair, in their necks, breathing them in, thinking about what should be my next logical step, grateful that the accident hadn’t been worse. When I looked up, two people out for a walk were passing by. They weaved in and out of our mangled bikes, stepped over bags, and continued to walk. They did not look at me. They did not offer to help. They walked right past us.

We got ourselves home, pushing bikes instead of riding them; partly due to pain, partly due to fear, mostly due to bent derailleurs and broken pedals. I phoned my mother-in-law, a retired nurse, to get her opinion as to whether or not a hospital visit was warranted; there was no abdominal rigidity, no vomiting, no blood in his urine, so we decided it wasn’t. I tended to the kids with warm baths and ice packs and tucked them into my bed so that I could keep an eye on them both throughout the night. My husband arrived home later that evening to a shaken wife and an angry rehashing of the accident. My fear and my panic had settled, and had blended together into rage and disbelief about the people that passed us by.

I can only hope that they chose not to stop because they thought I had the situation handled. I can’t let cynicism overtake me, and believe that they chose not to stop simply because they didn’t want to. I believe that people are good, and I believe that bad situations often teach us something. This was no exception. Let’s offer help. Let’s offer kindness. Let’s look out for each other.

Friday morning revealed a scrape on my daughter’s shoulder, an ugly purple circle on my son’s belly, and many recounts about how the accident happened and what we could do differently the next time (i.e. stopping too quickly and following too closely). We talked about the nice man who came from across the street to lend a hand. And we talked about the people who didn’t.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

A word is a word is a word…

Last week I received two of the loveliest emails.  Heartwarming, kind words, written by patients who took time out of their day and sent them to me.  They made me smile and gave me reassurance that my goals with my practice are on track; my intentions have always been sincerity, integrity, and comprehensive care.  I want patients to feel like they know “me” (hence this blog) and that they can trust me completely with their musculoskeletal healthcare.  I’m an open book with my emotions, and that extends into my practice life as well- what you see is what you get, and I’m invested in and fully committed to my work and my patients.  I’ve asked both of the aforementioned patients if I can share their words, and they’ve both agreed:

MG wrote:

“Thank you so much for being awesome at what you do!  I feel so much better now that he is under your care.  I’m sincere in all my thanks, I just think you are the best and have the best interests of your patients always in mind. We are on track!”

MB wrote:

“I can’t tell you how much better my Achilles feels today! It is like night and day. Amazing! Thank you very much!!”

Simple words that made a real difference in my life.  And the fact that I’ve made a difference in their lives too means I’m doing my job.  Connecting with people, the people part, is what I love the most.

These emails and the positive effect they had on me got me thinking about the power of a compliment and therefore the power of words in general, to help or harm.  As a healthcare professional, I am very careful with my wording and phrasing to patients.  As a mother, I am very careful with my wording and phrasing to my children.  But over the years, like we all have, I’ve missed opportunities to compliment people when in fact I’ve thought the words in my head.

Today, I challenge you to hand out a sincere compliment to three different people in your life via phone, text, or email.  Watch what it does to them, and to you.



Mr. M

Sometimes my blog posts reach far and wide.  Sometimes they fall flat.  Sometimes I have thousands of readers per day.  Sometimes I have none.  Sometimes I pour my heart and soul into my words.  Sometimes I lack inspiration and struggle to write.  Sometimes people message me to say how much they loved what they read, how it made them think, how it made them feel, how they can relate.  Those are the best posts, the best days in blog-land.

Another best-day happened the other day, this one in real life.  I was treating a long-time patient.  This patient has been with me from day one, ten years ago when my practice first began and I was new to Burlington.  This patient, let’s call him “Mr. M,” is in his late 60s and we first met when he was a member of the full marathon clinic I instructed at the Running Room.  We ran many miles together, and all the while I yickety-yacked his ear off.  (Note: if you want to get to know me, either read my blog or run with me; I’ll spill my guts.)  He has young grandchildren, similar in ages to my kids, and we often trade stories about the colourful personalities of four-year-old girls.

I’ve mentioned that it’s the “people part” of my job that I love the most, and Mr. M is one of those people that makes me happy to come into work.  Last week we were mid-treatment, when he mentioned that he’d recently been on my website and read my ‘Blizzards and Accomplishments‘ post.  “Ashley,” he said, “Your daughter is very lucky to have you, and I feel very lucky to know you.”  Then, in true gruff Mr. M fashion, he added, “And I’m not sucking up, because I don’t do that.”

Now let me tell you, that comment made my day.  I smiled all afternoon, and it still makes me smile when I recall it.  My challenge now is to pay it forward, to pass along the kindness, to make others feel as good as I did then.  It’s very easy to think positive thoughts, but our thoughts have more power if we let them out, and the most power when we share them.

That’s been my own personal improvement challenge as of late: to say out loud the positive thoughts that I’m thinking inside my head.  To spread the niceness, give some energy, generate some love.  I hope you’ll join me.

And Mr. M, I feel lucky to know you too.


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