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.