Bouncing back, in more ways than one.
Bounce back number one:
I'm coming out of the cycling doldrums that grabbed me back in August. While my weekly miles went down, do did my attendance at this board, to the point where I haven't joined in the fun for four months. Bummer. But hey, I've made two posts today (not counting this one)!
Bounce back number two:
Last month, conscious of my decreased riding time of late, I decided to ride my bike to a meeting with a business partner. It had rained the day before, and in the morning the roads were still wet. Nothing new to me, having commuted for years in all kinds of weather, and I gave myself enough time to do the route slow and easy.
I live on a ridge, so there is no easy way to get anywhere from my house: 10 - 15% grades in all directions. I chose to go down one road with a middling grade, and took it at a moderate speed because of the conditions. Well, of course, despite my precautions, I managed to get my front tire trapped in a construction seam, the bike went down and I kept going. As I was airborne, I had two thoughts: "I wonder how much this is going to hurt," and "#@@%!! I was going slow!"
The answer to my airborne question was, "a lot." Later, at the hospital, X-rays showed a broken collar bone (natch), a broken rib, collapsed lung, and fractured pelvis. But for the moment, on the road, the main thing keeping my attention was breathing. Which hurt. I was on my back, head downhill, and was happy that I could wiggle all my various extremities. What was less than happy a thought was dragging myself off the road and finding my cell phone. While I was pondering this a face showed up over me and asked how I was doing. My first bit of luck: I had fallen just 20 yards from where a construction crew was working.
"Do you need 911?" he asked.
"Yes, please," I said.
"Do you want to move out of the roadway?" he asked.
"I'd rather not move," I replied non-macho-ly, thinking of ribs puncturing other bits, "if at all possible."
"OK," he said, and some members of the crew put orange traffic cones around me, which made me feel a little silly, but I got over it. He called 911, another crew member picked up my bike and leaned it against a tree, collecting the water bottles that had rolled down the hill. In no time at all, a fire truck arrived and the EMTs started looking me over. I had taken off my helmet earlier to get my head more comfortable, and while one tech held my head steady, we discussed whether or not I had a neck or spinal injury. Once they were satisfied I was OK in that respect, they cut off my jersey--a wonderful wool long-sleeve I had received as a thank-you for babysitting my grandson for a week, dang it--and started checking vitals. The police arrived soon thereafter, and an ambulance just behind them. So, I was fortunate once again, in the response time of the emergency services. In contrast, a fellow club member took a fall last summer on a road in the foothills just south of here, and lay off the edge of the road for three hours before someone noticed her.
The firefighters handed me off to the ambulance folk, who determined that I could sit up, which I was in favor of since it made breathing easier. The police asked if there was anyone that needed to be called, so I gave them my wife's business number. After some discussion we decided on which emergency room to take me to, my normal hospital with my primary care MD just a few miles out of the ambulance's range.
One of the policemen said he was putting my bike in his cruiser and that I could pick it up at the station later. He then put in the call to my wife, which I wish I had asked him for the phone so I could do it. I mean, who likes to hear, "Hello, this is the Hillsborough Police. Your husband has been in a bicycle accident," giving her the split-second opportunity for imagining the worst before he went on to say, "He's OK, would you like to talk to him?" Of course she did, so I was able to tell her that I thought it wasn't too bad, that my ribs were messed up, but I assumed I'd be released later that day. Apparently my normal optimism was at work, because I was still thinking that the pains in shoulder and hip weren't anything serious.
By this time I was loaded into the ambulance, and elected to remain sitting up, since reclining made breathing harder. We drove off, through the twisty foothill roads, while one paramedic attempted to get a needle into an appropriate vein to start a drip. One thing about my physiology is that there are no easy veins to find (lucky for me I'm not a heroin addict). After about three miles she gave up, for which I was thankful.
Thence into the ER, where the rest of my clothing was removed, various electrodes attached here and there, and where a nurse, after four attempts in different spots, got a needle in. Luckily for me my Hind knickers were thick enough not to tear, so all my road rash on hip and leg was free of grit. No scrubbing! Off to radiology, then back to a side room since my original room was needed to hook up a chest pain admittance.
While I was waiting for the Xray results, my wife arrived, having gotten a ride from a coworker (she normally takes the train, so was without wheels). Then we got the word on the injuries, which was more than we expected. Especially because of the lung injury the hospital wanted me to stay overnight to see if it would reinflate on its own. So then I waited until a room was available--which turned out to be in pediatrics. However, my roomate was a fellow my age, 56, who had had a hip replacement that morning. Since we both snored at about the same volume, we figured we lucked out.
An Xray the next morning showed the lung making a comeback, so the doc released me with an order to get a followup Xray two days later to be sure things were progressing in the right direction.
So, that was a month ago. I consider myself very fortunate. I seem to be mending very quickly. One club friend fell last summer and had his first ride just last weekend. The weekend following my accident, my club had a memorial ride for a good friend who died in a similar fall in December; the ride attracted 60 members. When I think of these falls, and of the falls that folks on Bike Forums have taken, I know I am very fortunate.
So far, the most expensive part of this event has been replacing my helmet. My Giro Boreas is crumpled on the right side, with scrapes indicating that I was going directly downhill when I hit. It did its job, and I had no whiplash or neck problems of any sort. It cost $19.97 to fix the bike. Fortunate, again, and again.
Now that I'm more mobile, I need to track down the guys from the construction site and treat them to something.
Anyway. I'm happy to be back on Bike Forums, and champing at the bit to get back on a bike (by the 28th, I hope).