Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Spring is here... and howl

So, another guy crashes on his bicycle (road bike this time):

In his own words:

We had lovely weather yesterday here in Delaware. As I drove home for lunch I knew I would be riding my bike back to the office. As you might recall, just a day before I took my neighbor on a ride, and he fell and hurt his wrist. I sensed some premonition in the air, yet I put on my good watch and took off.

It was around 6:30 when I left office for a pleasant ride home. The sun was still out there, weather warm, and the ride easy.

The intersection of Rt. 48 and 141 is a busy one. Six lanes in one direction, four across. And right after it there is an inviting stretch of a nice road, where cars start gaining speed.

About quarter mile from that intersection I need to cross the lanes and make left turn. I have done it many times, letting the traffic pass first.

I am riding on the right shoulder, look back and see one car in the right lane, pretty far.

At that point my recollection misses a bit, and recovers - fully and completely, crisply and vividly - just a short second later... when I look back and see the green car approaching me... fast.

Then comes the impact, which I feel with my whole body.

In my life I felt many impacts. Fist. Gloved fist. Boxing gloved fist. Stick. Even one good hit on the head with an empty trash can.

All these have their unique flavor, but the one of a car hitting you at high speed is special. It has that sense of finality to it. You feel like being hit with a huge 2x4, and the overpowering force of it is so overwhelming you immediately feel lonely and... gone?

It hit me like a driver hits a golf ball, and that directness of that simple action leaves no doubt and no room. I become airborne.

As I am flying through the air, about 8 feet above the ground, I can clearly see things around me. The car comes to a full stop. My bicycle, for some strange reason, is flying in the direction orthogonal to mine. I see the bent frame and two wheels, folded in perfect figures 8. It hits the pavement, bounces, then comes to rest on the divider.

I continue my flight, but it is now time to land. Hard.

I hit the pavement with my back and head... I bounce, and tumble a couple of times, before finally ending on my self side... with my legs in some strage position ala the Georgian folk dancer, my left arm pinned under my body and my right one on top... I can see it clearly from the wrist to elbow and it is all covered with bloow. The elbow is one bloody mess. The left glove is torn and from that tear blood rushes. My helmet is still on me, but I do feel that nasty wet stuff on top of my head. My glasses are still here, but there is blood dripping into my right eye.

I try to get up, but only raise myself about a foot before realizing I can't do it. So I gently lower myself back, and start watching the scene around me.

The car stopped full 20 to 30 feet behind me - that was quite a flight! Its windshield is fully destroyed. I can't see its hood, it is too far.

Good people appear and it is obvious they have no idea what to do in such cases. They stand around, someone is already on the phone, others are just asking me silly questions - my name, the year, the day... I remember everything with no problem whatsoever.

I start mentally going over my body - limb by limb. I can feel and move all my digits - that is great news, so I am not paralized. I can see. I can hear. And I can feel pain.

My whole back hurts, it is obvious it is one large road rush area, but that spot to the left from my spine, at the waist line level... it is REALLY calling my attention to itself. The pain there is growing and begins to radiate into my left leg.

Someone brings a pillow and puts under my head, I have enough general knowledge not to move - but I hardly could, anyway. The shock is still there.

I ask someone to pull my cell phone from my saddle bag. I want to call my wife later, when I make it through the emergency room, no need to worry her early, before anything is known... I just want to have the phone with me. I realize I will be put on my back on something hard, and my back hurts from the scrape wounds and that area by the spine, and I know there are the house keys and the facility key fob there in my jersey pocket, they will get under my back hurting even more... but no, someone already found them near me. Good. I ask one guy to take my bike, and dictate my phone number to him.

The ambulance arrives. The good people tell me not to move and bring the board and the collar. The collar is on, now they are strapping me to the board... I am fighting one good but inept guy who keeps trying to put the strap right over my mouth - the hostage style. He does it twice, I moan something, finally he rearranges it. The other straps bound me to the board in what seems like a specally designed torture position - my back is hurting more every minute... the position was designed by a master. But I can't even speak.

They shove me into the ambulance and we take off. This is road of pain. Several people start working on me. One IV in the left arm... one in the right one. They manage to get the veins with the floor under them jumping and tossing us around. This is not a pleasant ride, but the good guys know theis business. They connect me to several sensors, take my EKG and do a few more things while we complete our 20 minutes journey to the Christiana hospital ER.

Someone... somewhere... sometime... will have to design a smooth rolling stretcher... with soft wheels and suspension... every bump hurts like crazy.

Turns out, someone already called my wife, told her I was OK and being taken to the ER. She will arrive shortly. The pain seems over the top now, so I almost don't notice it any longer. They undo the straps. Two female nurses pull off my biking shorts, and what is inside doesn't even acknowledge that fact. They start probing my body, pressing here and there, someone shoves his finger up my ass with some lame sounding excuse... suddently they come over the broken ribs and stars start to fly.

Someone informs me that just yesterday their doctor, a surgeon, was killed in a bike accident. Lovely...

My wife is in the reception area, but they would not tell her anything. They say - doctor will come out and talk to you. She immediately sees the familiar scene with the doctor coming out, saying: "I am sorry!". She finds a nurse willing to go inside and find out whether I am dead or alive...

There should be better way of handling this.

Now - endless X-rays, Cat-Scans, and more probing, bending, pressing... more stars... and finally the preliminary verdict is in. Two broken ribs. Six broken vertebrae transverse processes. Too many scrape wounds to mention... the whole back one giant hematoma with several areas of severe road rush. So when I get up, there is large 10" bloody spot on the bed linen, and more blood on the pillow.

Finally settling in my new room. Bed is comfortable and the pain begins to subside. The IV is dripping and they are rolling out the heavy artillery - the MORPHINE PUMP!!!! 5mL per self-administered shot, 25 ml per two hours, or something like that, I don't pay much attention to details. I am inclined not to use it again. I still recal the last experience, where days on the pump followed by a couple of weeks of Percoset turned me into a junkie.

The accident happened at 7. It is 11 now, and I have not peed through that time. I know the time to do it will come soon, and I know the pain is just too strong for me to get up on my own... I decide to give myself ONE morphine shot... a bathroom shot.

That was my only one. No other painkillers at this point. Such a great opportunity wasted - they removed the morphine bottle shaking their heads.

This is getting long. My wife brought me home an hour ago. I can walk and can even get in bed and out. It hurts like there is no tomorrow doing this, but as there is no danger, just pain, I simply do it the hard way - over the pain. There is no remedy for those broken bones - just time.

The memory of that impact is still fresh, and I find a mazochistic pleasure in reliving it - it has that unique sharp tone to it. Given the distance I flew it is really a miracle that I did not suffer more extensive injuries. The bike is most likely gone for good. I know I would like to ride again, but I just don't know how it all will pen out. My wife is reminding me that so many people depend on me, and I know those are not empty words.

This was a really close call.


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