Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanks For The Memories

Thanks go out to my brother for bringing back this wonderful memory. What you see here is the result of a motorcyclist riding at an estimated 85 mph when a VW driver talking on a cell phone pulled out in front of him. The rider of the motorcycle, driver of the car, and passenger in the car were all killed on impact. The force of the impact was great enough that the car rolled over and was found 20 feet from the point of impact.

Now I was not involved in any way in this accident but did have a similar yet less dramatic incident of my own. It was probably close to 15 years ago that I was riding my motorcycle at the time - a much slower Honda CM400T. And I was not sailing along at 85 mph, I was cruising down a residential street at 25. And the driver of the car was not in a VW, rather a Geo Metro. Cell phones were not prevalent at that time, but the driver claimed the sun's glare on his windows prevented him from seeing me. I suspect alcohol may have been involved, but only one guy knows for sure. Anyway, he backed out of his driveway right in front of me and I swerved, but not enough, and ended up hitting the back of his car. As luck would have it, I was not killed so I am now able to relay the story first hand.

The bike knocked off the rear bumper and I ended up shattering the rear window with my right forearm while the remainder of my body put a sizeable dent in the hatch back. I caused enough damage that I nearly totaled the car, which I'm rather proud of. Anyway, I bounced off and slid off to the side of the road and skidded to a stop face down. I took a deep breath and exhaled and got up. A woman came running out of her house across the street and asked if I was hurt and I said I didn't think so, but did a quick pat down just to make sure. That's when I saw some blood dripping off of my fingertips. I didn't feel any pain but pushed up my sleeve and saw a gash down to the bone. A wave of queasiness washed over me and I immediately looked away but still felt no pain.

Fortunately for everyone reading this, this is also the story of my first (and hopefully last) ambulance ride! That's right, it's buy one get one free story day! So it wasn't long before some paramedics showed up. They asked me what hurt and poked me in a variety of places. I told them that the only problems were the gash on the arm and a cut on my toe where something had sliced through my shoe. So they handed me a neck brace and instructed me to put it on and hop up on the gurney. They proceeded to strap me down completely and tape my head to the gurney so that I was completely incapacitated. They loaded me up in the ambulance where I had a lovely view of the roof and nothing else since I couldn't move at all. They decided to stop off somewhere on the way to the hospital, but I'm not sure where since, again, I couldn't see anything but the roof. Legend has it though that they stopped at 7-11 to pick up a few slim jims and a 6 pack for later.

This stop meant that by the time we got to the hospital, my brother was already there waiting for me. This also meant that he got to see them almost drop me while unloading me from the ambulance since there was a problem with the wheels dropping. They wheeled me into a nice quiet room where I waited about an hour before a doctor showed up. That's when I got to have one of the most memorable yet unpleasant experiences in my life. It turns out my arm was broken, but that wasn't the best part ... I had bits of glass, paint chips, dirt, and God knows what else in the wound. Enough paint chips that the doctor said, "that was a green car you hit, right?"

This was when the pain started. If you have never had debris removed from an open wound, don't. I had to lay face down so that the doctor could get a good angle to work with and again was unable to see anything that was going on. And in retrospect, I probably didn't want to see anything. I don't know exactly what he was doing, but he wasn't gentle. He was poking around in there vigorously enough to shake my entire body. Plus he would periodically whip out his scalpel and cut off various bits of skin and other soft tissue, and use a variety of tools to extract all of the extra bits that were in there. I don't remember exactly how long this lasted, maybe my brother does, but it was at least an hour, and seemed a lot longer than that. They kept injecting me with more novocaine, but I couldn't tell that it made any difference. I spent most of the time gritting my teeth while sweat literally dripped off of me. I don't have the words to describe how unpleasant it was.

By the time they finally stitched me up, I was feeling ok though. They couldn't put a cast on me until the laceration healed up, so they made this weird plaster splint and wrapped an ace bandage around it to keep it on. Less than a week later I played a softball game where I'm proud to say that I had 2 hits pretty much swinging one handed. I couldn't really hold the bat with the splint on. It's all back to normal now except for a scar which even that is barely visible anymore. And I didn't experience that degree of pain again until a year and a half ago when I began rehab on my broken finger. Hopefully I'll never have to experience anything like that again.

This story doesn't really have a moral, but in order to wrap it up nicely, I guess I have to come up with something. So, if you're riding a motorcycle, try not to get hit by a car (or hit one). Oh, and wear better protective gear than I had.
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