Wipeout

My last mem­ory, between rid­ing along nor­mally on my route home and wak­ing up, stum­bling to the side of the road, is a sin­gle, still image. It’s as if, as I fell, my mind only had time to process gen­er­ate one frame in the video record of my con­scious mem­ory. Now, many months later, I can still bring that one frame clearly into my mind: it is an abstract blur of wet, black pave­ment, punc­tu­ated by sharp, white streaks of reflected light.

Accord­ing to wit­nesses, the time between that mem­ory and my next was about 30 sec­onds. Con­text, and the evi­dence left as dam­age to my body and bike, pro­vide enough infor­ma­tion to recon­struct that time: I was rid­ing along at a good clip, around 30km/h, when my front tire came into con­tact with a very wet train track at a very odd angle, and I was spilled off my bike.

Based on the crushed left side of my hel­met, a bruise and scrape the size of my hand on my left hip, and a frac­tured clav­i­cle, my body, not hav­ing enough time to com­mu­ni­cate mean­ing­fully with my brain, decided to body check the pave­ment in an attempt to move the earth out of its path. My brain, frus­trated with my body’s com­pletely irre­spon­si­ble and unchar­ac­ter­is­tic act of inde­pen­dence, ceased all com­mu­ni­ca­tions and closed shop for a good half-minute.

At the end of that blank 30 sec­onds, I was sud­denly on the ground, vaguely aware of being in pain, and impelled with­out any clear plan to pick up my body and drag it off the road and onto the side­walk where I had a lit­tle sit-down. Some nice peo­ple were at my side ask­ing ques­tions, and I think I man­aged to answer most of them, but I was aware in a far-off way of my occa­sional inco­her­ence. Through answer­ing these ques­tions I decided not to wait for an ambu­lance, and instead got a ride home with a Navy Lieu­tenant with room in his station-wagon for my bike.

Two things about that ride home stick out in my mind. One, I almost blacked out, sev­eral times. Look­ing out through the front wind­shield my vision nar­rowed to tiny point at the end of a col­or­ful and abstract tun­nel. Two, I could not, no mat­ter how hard I tired, remem­ber the names of the streets around where I live. Vague direc­tions, and spe­cific instruc­tion to turn left, turn right, left, right, right some­how brought us to the dri­ve­way of my house.

Soon after, the misty feel­ing mud­dling my thoughts started to dis­si­pate, and a trip to a clinic turned into a wait in the ER, which turned into a jour­ney home with some strong painkillers. With the focus on a bruised brain and a sore shoul­der, a nasty patch of road rash on my hip had been for­got­ten and untended too, leav­ing me to clean it up and dress it myself in our bath­room. It hurt like hell.

Wounds dressed, body aching, and arm held awk­wardly as if I was wear­ing an imag­i­nary sling, the day was over and I set­tled into an uneasy sleep.

2 Comments

  • Ouch. Glad you’re (mostly) ok.

  • That acci­dent hap­pened last win­ter, with no long term aches or per­ma­nent dam­age or mem­ory loss (of any­thing impor­tant, any­way). I’m just more para­noid now when cross­ing train tracks, but I’ve rid­den many a mile on my bike since then.

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