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Old 08-15-07, 08:36 PM   #1
NSJ
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My near death experience and 50 days in the hospital

Hello and apologies for the length of this post,
I am very, very thankful to be alive, today. I normally ride to and from work each day, 365 days a year, in Chicago, come rain or come shine. On June 1st, I was riding my road bike up Lincoln Avenue and Montrose at around 3:30 pm, going home from work during my lunch hour, when a moron who had parked "doored" me at the exactly the wrong time; I careened off the door (I was clipped in) and into the side of a truck.

My bike "travelled" with me against the truck, and then I hit the pavement,and it mangled my right leg, just to the right of the knee and then a large gash throughout the thigh; I quickly realized I was bleeding; an ambulance rushed me to the hospital, which was about two miles away.

At the hospital, I was met by the trauma team; I vaguely remember telling someone my story, and then remarked how cold it was getting.

I next remember waking up 4-5 days later. The impact into the truck had created an "open book" pelvis, requiring multiple surgeries, including the initial wearing of what is known as an "extrnal fixator", basically a metallic 2 x 4 attached around my waist, designed to stablize the pelvis. In addition, I had suffered two broken ankles, a hernia, and my mangled right leg had endured what is medically known as "deglovement"; basically a large part of the thigh was black-near gangrenous, and required a large amount of muscle to be removed. It was not a pretty sight.

After six days of wearing the external fixator in the Surgical ICU, where my leg was continually wrapped and re-wraped every six hours and I had begun hallucinating from the pain meds and was literally unable to sleep and would count the seconds down on the digiital clock, I went through a successful pelvic surgery; the external fixator was removed and in its place was an small internal plate and screw. I was then instructed that, for recovery purposes, I could not put any weight on my right leg for 12 weeks.

I then did the most difficult thing, from a physical standpoint, I have ever had to do: to learn to sit up on my bed. It took every ounce of effort to accomplish this elementary task and left me utterly exhausted.

Then, I had two concurrent medical tasks: to undergo intensive inhouse physical therapy (involving getting in and out of a wheel chair, learning to go to the bathroom) and to wrap my leg under a wound vac, whose purpose was to suck up the bad fluids and make the remaining muscles even, in preparation for an eventual skin graft.

Some time later, on July 5th, the skin graft was successful; three strips from my left leg were transferred to the right. But it's success created a setback to my physical rehabilitation, particularly given that the left leg wraps were physically stapled to my skin.

Finally, the staples, along with the wraps, were removed. I was eventually told that it will take two full years for the skin graft to heal, to transform the feel of it from a lizard-like quality to actual skin-like feel.

On July 19th, I was finally discharged, allowing me to go home and continue in-house physical therapy. Just this week, the orthopedic surgeon said that I can now put 25% of my body weight on my right leg, and in two weeks, that figure will be increased to 50%. Also: the broken ankles have also healed. This means that I can exchange my wheel chair to crutches.

I have a long road back to full recovery; it will literally take months of time in the gym to revert back to relative normality. A good friend of mine noted that I was the luckiest unlucky person he had known: I had suffered many traumas, but no head injuries, no upper body injuries, no neurological injuries.

Irony: my years of bike riding, contributing substantially to my relatively healthy disposition and constitution, contributed to saving my iife in the precious first few days, when I was intubated and in a ventilator and experiencing ridiculous blood loss that had to be continually replenished.

I will someday return to riding my bike, again. The moron who created the accident will not deny me this, which is one of the great pleasures of life.

Last edited by NSJ; 08-15-07 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:53 PM   #2
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Wow.

I'm sorry to hear all that. But I'm glad you're alive, and I'm glad you'll heal. Best of luck to you in your continued recovery.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:09 PM   #3
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I'm so sorry you had to endure that. I'm healing from a similar accident — turning onto a one-way street* to hit TWO wrong-way cyclists in the bike lane — but luckily, the car passing beside me stopped, and I did not suffer any further trauma beyond going over the handlebars. My knee is killing me, the bruise on my lower back (which I didn't even notice at first) is alarmingly huge. And yet — I didn't undergo multiple surgeries or endure skin grafts.
Your story gives me hope and it makes me furious. I want to know that the moron who doored you accounted for his actions. But I also think I'll explode if I find out that he didn't stick around after almost killing you.
Heal well. We need people like you, I think.


*I was going the right way.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:26 PM   #4
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Glad to have you on the mend. That must have been hell to go through.

3 years ago, I fractured my L2 when I hit a curb on my motorcycle, and, if I had tried to stand up, I would have been paralyzed below the waist. My L2 was "exploded", according to the orthopedic surgeon. I was in critical care for a week post surgery, and at a rehab hospital for a month. Had to learn to sit up, roll over in bed, stand, and walk all over again. I went from having absolutely zero strength to riding 100-150 miles a week almost year round. I have a bit less flexibility due to the spinal fusion, but all in all, I'll take my lot.

Having gone through a long-term rehab myself - hang in there - you'll have good days and bad days, but if you keep pushing at it (SLOWLY), you'll get better.

Keep that goal in front of you - I'm definitely pulling for you. Hang tough, and get well.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:26 PM   #5
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Man, oh man! I'm so sorry you have to go through this. You sound like a very strong person. I'll be praying for a speedy full recovery.

Take care...
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Old 08-15-07, 09:29 PM   #6
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I just HATE reading stories like this. I am so sorry this happened to you. It just makes me furious.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:35 PM   #7
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I'm really sorry to hear about all of this, but I'm glad that you are on the path to recovery. My girlfriend lives in the South Loop of Chicago and I have been thinking about riding for recreation around there, but frankly, the traffic scares me! So the fact that you were commuting daily in it is amazing in itself. Like someone else mentioned though, I hope that the person who doored you at least got some form of justice. Do you know what happened to him/her?

Regardless, I hope you have a speedy and full recovery!
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Old 08-15-07, 09:35 PM   #8
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welcome back and congrats for being on the road to recovery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 08-15-07, 09:42 PM   #9
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I'm a fan of those doorless Jeeps for that same reason.

I'm glad to hear you're on the road to recovery!
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Old 08-15-07, 09:42 PM   #10
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I hope your healing goes well.
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Originally Posted by solveg View Post
I just HATE reading stories like this. I am so sorry this happened to you. It just makes me furious.
I hate reading stories like this also, but why be furious? Are you angry at the door opener or the biker that was not riding in an area that he would be safer?
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Old 08-15-07, 09:47 PM   #11
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Man, I'm real sorry to read about your injuries. I'll be certain to keep your recovery in my prayers. Thank God you're still alive & with your family. My accident this past April resulted in some injuries that required surgery but no where near the scope of yours. Take care & do update us about your recovery.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:56 PM   #12
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I really feel for you and am glad that you're coming back. I hope the dude had insurance. I've been hit twice and neither one had insurance.

Keep your eye on your goal: Getting back on your bike. You said yourself that your biking was a major factor in your survival. I don't think anybody but another rider can understand, but you'll push yourself to be back in the saddle harder than any physical therapist, doctor, or even your spouse. Hang in there, man. You'll be riding again before you know it.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:58 PM   #13
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I hope your healing goes well.


I hate reading stories like this also, but why be furious? Are you angry at the door opener or the biker that was not riding in an area that he would be safer?
It scares me, and that's my reaction to being scared. It's just sad, and I hate that it happens.
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Old 08-15-07, 10:02 PM   #14
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wow dude. its guys like you who endure hell that make me realize that my life is better than i see it sometimes. God speed on your recovery dude!
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Old 08-15-07, 10:11 PM   #15
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Wow, I didn't realize I would get responses so quickly. Thanks for all the kind words. It means a lot, and I appreciate it.

I am also very thankful for the wonders of modern medicine. I wound up losing 28 units of blood (the normal body has between 6-9 units); if it didn't get replenished rapidly, I would have been a goner. 50 years ago, that may not have been possible to replenish such a large amount so soon.

So, hurray for modern medicine in general and, in particular, not enough can be said for efforts of the trauma team and their proactive efforts to pump the blood back in! I'm happy to report that my blood pressure reverted to normal, again.
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Old 08-15-07, 10:18 PM   #16
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I'm happy to report that my blood pressure reverted to normal, again.
I have some extra blood pressure if you need it.
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Old 08-15-07, 10:46 PM   #17
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I'm so glad you're alive.

I just went through an accident 2 weeks ago - I was going west into an intersection and forgot that the sun was directly behind me. A lady pulled out of her parking spot, on the street right by the intersection, and turned left right in front of me because she couldn't see anything due to the sun. I had no time to do anything except try and protect my head while I went into her windshield with my elbow.

After an ambulance ride, picking out huge pieces of glass out of my arm, a severe case of whiplash and some brutal pains in my shoulder which I still have all I can think is: I'm so glad to be alive with me wife and 2 kids. Cuts and pains heal, but the loss of someone only dulls.

Best of luck in your recovery and I hope you can get back on your bike.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:25 PM   #18
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Live strong, man.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:31 PM   #19
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I'll ride two feet farther out in the lane on my next ride because of this story.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by NSJ View Post
Irony: my years of bike riding, contributing substantially to my relatively healthy disposition and constitution, contributed to saving my iife in the precious first few days, when I was intubated and in a ventilator and experiencing ridiculous blood loss that had to be continually replenished.

I will someday return to riding my bike, again. The moron who created the accident will not deny me this, which is one of the great pleasures of life.
You have an amazingly upbeat perspective, given the horrible accident you've experienced! If something like this ever happens to me, I can only hope that I'll maintain such a positive outlook.

By the way, I would not consider your healthy constitution to be ironic at all... it's all part of the virtuous cycle of riding a bike. Riding makes you healthier, and being healthier makes you ride more, and... I'm just sorry that a thoughtless motorist had to come along and interrupt it for you

Good luck with your recovery! Hope you get a SWEET new bike when it's time
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Old 08-15-07, 11:40 PM   #21
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It scares me, and that's my reaction to being scared. It's just sad, and I hate that it happens.
I think a lot of us are the same way. We get scared by careless/rude/aggressive drivers on the road, and we react with anger. It's hard but possible to overcome... and I think that commuting by bike makes you a stronger and more disciplined person.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:44 PM   #22
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I bet you'll stay out of the door-zone from now on!


Heal well.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:45 PM   #23
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Thanks for sharing, cars are lethal!
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Old 08-16-07, 03:49 AM   #24
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Sorry to hear about your ordeal - and happy to hear you are on the mend.
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Old 08-16-07, 06:50 AM   #25
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What a story of courage. That's an incredible amount of blood lost. You are an inspiration!

I don't see anger here, I see you calling a guy a moron who did a moronic and illegal thing (opening his door into you). Big deal.

I pray your cycling routine not only comes back for you, but is central to your recovery.
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