Bikers down make me sad…

 

Surgical scar after getting hit...

Surgical scar after getting hit...

Yeah, seeing stories about bikers down makes me sad. Makes me sad because they’re our 2 wheeled brothers, and we all brave riding on the road lots of times, and it could happen to each one of us easily, and it has happened to some of us. Big J for one, me for another.

 

Back in October of 2007, I had left work early, it was an Indian Summer day, about 75 degrees, and it was easy to decide to get a few miles in before heading to a funeral. I’ve got to take the good with the bad over here. As I was about, oh, 2 miles from the house, I came across a set of railroad tracks, where there was a dirt driveway to my right, and opposing traffic coming at me. I saw a car coming approaching the tracks, no turn signal, and as I came across the tracks, the young woman driving her car turned right in front of me. T-bone style I went into the passenger’s side door, taking out the side view mirror, and leaving a “me” sized impression in the door itself. 

As I crashed into the car, and then the ground, I did the “status” check as soon as I got off the ground. You all know what I mean by the status check. Stand up? Good. Left leg? OK. Right leg? OK. Left arm? OK. Right arm? OWW! Mother fucker, that hurts. Try again? Ooh, that really hurts. I’ve crashed plenty of times to know when I’ve really fucked myself up, and this, well, I had never felt this way before. There was something definitely not right going on in the shoulder. 

In the meantime, traffic had stopped, a guy a few cars down who was also a rider, got out, and got my bike and other stuff out of the road for me, the young woman who had been driving the car that turned into me was crying (and not doing much else, she was more concerned with the bright red blood coming from the road rash on my knee than the fact that I couldn’t move my right arm very well, or, make that, at all), and everyone was wondering WTF was going on.

After cussing out the driver, a LOT, and getting her to call the wahmbulance for me, the paramedics came, strapped me down to a background (not comfortable at all), and drove me to the hospital. Sadly, the only thing I could think of was that I was hoping that I had just separated my shoulder, so I could get it set straight, and I could ride some more that weekend. I had planned a couple of 5 hour rides since the weather was supposed to be spectacular that weekend, and I love me some riding in the fall. Leaves changing colors, crisp air, yeah, it’s pretty great shit.

Anyway, they roll me into the hospital, and bear in mind, the only thing I’m wearing is my cycling shoes, and a pair of bibs. They had removed my jersey at the scene to make sure nothing was sticking out. My second concern here was I was freakin’ freezing to death. The pain, fine, not that bad actually (more on this later), but the cold? Get me some blankets please!! 

I finally got some of those nicely warmed blankets, that was pretty nice. The attending in the ER, after they had cleared me to get pain meds, asked me what I wanted? I had a choice. Percocet, or Morphine. Hmm, let’s see. As one who has never really used anything much stronger than say, Advil, and having seen how nice things were for my then fiance in the summer when she had her appendix out and she was on the Morphine, and also since Morphine was offered to be injected into the IV, I got the Morphine.

OK, first of all, I can see how people like to take drugs now. Again, never did anything much more than Advil in my days (never even smoked the weed-no, it’s true), and when that shit hit my bloodstream. Whoo boy, that was nice. And, the best part, they kept giving it to me when I needed it. Even better. Now, it never did make the pain go away, but it did make me not care at all. I was laughing, and joking, and having a good old time, of course, that was until the orthopedic guys came in.

For some reason, I think the ortho guys (and in my case this evening, they were all men) used to be powerlifters, or some other strong guy. Former linebackers, maybe a few offensive linemen, that’s how big these jokers are. When they come in, and there again was a string of them (this is what I get for being brought to a teaching hospital, UNC in Chapel Hill) they each in turn take my arm, lift it, move it around, grind things together, and make things, well, feel a hell of a lot worse, until they put it down. Once down, and in the “sling” position, all is well.

I get MRIs, cat scans, x-rays, and a bunch of other stuff, and what was the end result? Well, they know for sure that my scapula is broken, they’re just not sure how bad. They’re going to call me tomorrow to let me know. Oh, did I mention, that my fiance at the time, was out of town for her bridal shower? Yeah, I didn’t really have anyone to pick me up. I had to call her, at her parent’s house, and she then had to make about a dozen phone calls. Luckily, she got in touch with some of the guys who lived downstairs from us at the time, and one of them came and scooped me up, and brought me home in my drug addled state. They did send me home with some percocets, and some muscle relaxants for sleeping that night. Which again, you drug addicts, you know what you’re talking about. Good stuff. 

Turns out, the scapula was busted up, and not only busted up, but the socket portion had been flipped over inside of me. Surgery was the cure. They cut me open, and according to my surgeon, it looked like kibbles and bits in there when he went in. He had to suck out a bunch of bone fragment, and then threw in a few pins, and a small plate to hold everything together. I think I was in there for about 3-4 hours. After I came out, they gave me a nerve block which essentially made everything from my neck through my arm numb for about, oh, 10 hours. Think of it like this. You look at your hand. Your mind tells it to move. It doesn’t. It’s weird, and I imagine, this is what it’s like to be paralyzed. That would suck, but I digress.

After that, many months of recovery, many months of rehab, and finally, today, all is well. There is no pain any longer in the shoulder, and the range of movement is totally back to what it was before, and the strength is back. I, was lucky. The woman didn’t get charged with anything major, something like, failure to yield I think. I did take a big chunk out of her as far as insurance, and lawsuit settlements go. Let’s just say, it was enough for the wife and I to put a decent down payment on the house we live in now. I got a new bike to replace the trashed one (went from a Giant TCR advanced to a Pinarello Prince, again, not bad). Essentially, it was a long and painful road back, but I got back. Others, like in some of the stories we see on here, aren’t so lucky. 

Make sure that the people you know who drive watch out for us. I hate to see my fellow cyclists get hurt, and even more so now that I’m one of the many who has been run the fuck over. As I said, luckily for me, everything pretty much worked out. I have a new bike, a house, and a kick ass scar on my shoulder. Keep an eye out.

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About giantcu92

Engineer living in the NOVA, and working for "The Man". Cycling and political junky. All things 2 wheeled are good. 4 wheels? Eh, OK, but 2 wheels better. Washinton, DC, USA

12 thoughts on “Bikers down make me sad…

  1. Damn Son. I wont even ride on the road without some sort of paranoid look-back.

    And today I was just riding down a dirt road – fs508 or so – and some rambler came in hot, nearly clipped me off the side with his nasty Ford Ranger.

    There’s something to be said for lbs & velocity.

  2. I have an even better story about a friend of mine who was downhilling, and came up really short, and injured.

  3. Dear Mr. giantcu92–

    A terrifying story. You got good medical care, and it sounds like a fairly excellent outcome for a cyclist mowed down by a car.

    A friend of mine was mowed down by a pickup truck in South Carolina and left laying on the deck to find his own ride home. He has several fused vertebrae and owes a lot of money to surgeons and orthopedic dudes now.

    Mikey

  4. What frightens me is that so many of us have similar stories… The ride to the hospital strapped to the back board. Damn if they didn’t take the fucking bumpy road. Finally getting the morphine. It doesn’t make the pain go away so much as make you not care about it… like really not care (and the fuckers would only leave me on it for three days…) Telling the orthopeds to stop stretching my leg… The surgeries. The months of recovery. Hopefully being able to squeeze some compensation out of the driver (and having to sue my own insurance company…)

    I love road riding, but I have a hard time putting up with the morons at this point.

  5. i commute 1 or 2 days a week to the office here in central phx. most of my time is spent going up & down 12 st.

    while 12st is only a 2 lane w/ a bike lane most of the way… it also becomes a 4 lane at almost every intersection – in lieu of a bike lane. i assume this was intended for right hand turning vehicles (even tho it’s not designated as a turn lane). But let me be the first to tell you – that lane is used by hotheads to see how many cars they can pass on the right before it turns back into a 2 lane road 100 feet past the intersection.

    i can’t tell you how many times some asswipe has laid on their horn behind me while nudging my rear tire because i busted up their plan of passing as many cars as they could before they had to file back into line.

    then of course, right about the point that they have to force their space back into the line of vehicles is where they need to turn right… which is typically just after they pinched me to curb.

    happy commuting out there people.

  6. No shit. There are those occasional days when I just get this bad feeling, like it is the wrong day to go out for a solo ride. Like maybe your shit just isn’t lined up so good in the cosmos at that moment. I am fortunate not to have had the experience some of you have had…so far.

    sometimes it just seems to be one of those things you have to really try not to think about, being a matter of feet, hell, inches from getting a two ton backhand from someone who wasn’t paying attention for a moment. Wondering if someone actually hit you out in the middle of nowhere, would they just drive off?

    It truly sucks that something you can love so much has to also bring such worries, and I am not really one to worry much.
    Think I would rather go back to the days when I wondered what would happen if I went down out in the middle of the desert somewhere.

  7. ” that lane is used by hotheads to see how many cars they can pass on the right before it turns back into a 2 lane road 100 feet past the intersection.”

    Mitch, et al-

    Passing on the right is fucking weak. Dart the dingo, Jim. Dude, you got a dart in your neck. Ha!

  8. I swear that all of the bad drivers of the world save up their credits, and collectively decide on certain days to behave like extra-assholes. I wish I could figure out the formula they are using so I knew just to not bother on those days, but it comes in waves.

    As far as passing on the right, when did that become o.k.? I have a hard time passing on the right on a 4 lane freeway, let alone in town. Apparently, not a lot of people learn that it’s a bad idea anymore.

  9. Many, many people have these war stories, yet the statistical picture is much different. The numbers generally show bikes to be a safe mode of transport.
    Certainly there are serious critiques to be raised about tracking bike\car\truck wrecks.
    Then again, it’s also likely that in bike circles generally and DC in particular, there is an over sampling error of crazy mutherfuckers in the data set.

  10. Well put mate, but its a shame that the people who are in danger are the only ones to ever read these first person accounts. I really have to hand it to you for having the eggs to ride around the Crapple Hill area. Ive lived in NC most my life and my ex used to go to UNC. Took a few weekends to ride from Greensboro to Chapel Hill via Hwy 54, ride was fine until you got into CH, where those snooty bastards drive like maniacs. after 2 times riding the area I gave up, wasn’t worth the risk.

  11. hey i got one of those scars and some pins! but mine was from a Mt Snow downhill run, and anybody reading this in the east knows that going off course there is kinda like getting hit by a car…

    “the 3 biggest hazards in cycling are cops, cars, and pavement.In the hills you eliminate all” -Fred Wolf from the movie klunkerz