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.by