Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The big bike accident

If I remember correctly, since I've owned my bike I've been in three accidents. Once I ran into a guy head on who jumped out of line as two lines of bikes were passing each other on a trail. Once I ran into a car who passed me and then turned in front of me, and then on Monday. Monday's was by far the worst.

The Setup
So I ride with the local bike group on Monday's and Thursday's, it's a good group to ride with. I like the people I ride with, and there's plenty of experience and talent to go around so I feel like the group is good at pushing me.

We headed out on a pretty normal ride, nothing too long. I imagine maybe we'd have gone 20 miles or so by the end. It was a route I was familiar with and a group I knew fairly well.

The Wreck
We were coming to the home stretch of the ride. Riding on a large shoulder of a pretty nice stretch of road. We were clipping along pretty well, we had a stiff breeze at our backs and the group was lined up basically single file, we were probably doing 25ish mph.

Then...the guy in front of me slowed down suddenly. I remember thinking, what the heck! I bumped his back wheel, slowed and moved a little to side to get off his wheel, then the guy behind me ran into me. I remember him saying something to the effect of "oh no" and ... that's all she wrote.

I'm pretty sure I didn't pass out. Though I am fuzzy about exactly what happened after that till my wife showed up. Here's what I can piece together.
  • I got up and walked out of the road into the grass, at this point i noticed a large amount of blood coming from my head
  • I remember wondering why my head hurt so much, I thought "what is the point in wearing a helmut if it's not going to protect my head" then I hoped I didn't have a huge crack in my skull.
  • Someone gave me a sock to hold on my head to stop the bleeding
  • Someone else tried a sock to my arm
  • I showed someone how to call my wife
  • I showed someone how to take my picture
On a trail after the crash. A guy said "you'll want a picture of this if you survive" I was very thankful to have been with the group at this point. They handled everything, and I do appreciate humor at times like this
  • I heard the group talking to the other guy who went down. Apparently his shoulder looked pretty messed up. He elected to ride back. I'll note that I'm pretty sure nobody figured I'd be riding back. I don't think anyone hesitated to call for a ride for me.
Also, a woman driving by stopped and offered help. I cannot stress enough how important and good I think it is that people stop when they see something wrong. This time we didn't need help, but the next time we might. I made a point to look straight at her and tell her thank you.

My wife showed up sometime later, they loaded the bike on the back of the van and I hobbled over and got in. At this point the guy who ran into the back of me came over, he looked pretty upset. I said something to the effect of "don't worry about it, this type of thing happens, and we're all going to be ok"

The Hospital
Not surprisingly when you show up looking like this
There's not a lot of waiting around. Also, I was having trouble not shaking. Here's the quick visual overview my wife got while waiting to get to the doctors
Damage to the jersey. Thats my right shoulder

Small scrapes on the heel of my right hand

Right arm

The major source of blood, that new hole in my head. Everything else on there washed off.
So they took me to the ER, a guy came in and put some numbing stuff on all my wounds, the doctor came in and said they'd give me a shot of morphine and then do some extra stuff around the thing on my head and my left thumb
It's hard to see here, but basically what happened is  that entire bloody part is where my thumb got ground down to nothing during the fall. This is by far the most painful injury I got.
The morphine was to help with the pain. The pain is hard to describe, it's basically like a constant burning/buzzing sensation and the pain would ripple through from the left to right in waves. It was to help that, but also to help numb me for the cleaning.

The Cleaning
An EMT came in soon after the morphine shot, she said something like "it's going to hurt no matter what, so I'm just going to get started." She was sort of no nonsense but also had a good sense of humor, so while I LISTENED to her scrub my wounds we had a little bit of laughs. Before she went to clean my thumb the doctor came back in and numbed it with more local pain killer and my forehead in preparation for stitches.

Right leg, just below my knee

Right arm just below my shoulder

Right elbow

Right side - there's quite a bit on the back too

After the extra blood was cleaned up, apparently this started bleeding again. By this point I can feel hardly anything
During the various cleaning stages people would ask me if we were riding in gravel. They'd say something like "I can't tell if this is dried blood or rocks" and my wife would say "I think those are rocks" and they were.

The Treatment
My right leg, elbow, arm and thumb just got bandaged. Anything that wasn't "open" didn't get anything. The hole in my head got 11 stitches. At some point my wife asked if we'd be getting prescribed pain killers when we left, the guy literally laughed and said "you'll get getting the good stuff."

By the point the doctor got to the stitches, I was pretty far gone. I probably would have fallen asleep if he wasn't using my face as a storage location for tools.

The Aftermath
So it's been two days, the pain killers are very effective. The first day I basically just zombied around, slept a ton. Toward the end of the day I figured I could stop taking the pain medication, the lesson there is if you think your painkillers aren't working, stop taking them. Yikes, I was in a world of hurt this morning. We've changed from the original dressings, we got some tagaderm using advice from my wife's uncles.

The good news is that apparently the road rash will heal quickly, and while I'll still have some muscle soreness for a while I'm very thankful that the worst thing to happen was some stitches.

I heard from the other guy who went down, he's got some sort of separation with his clavicle, but he's going to be alright too.

The stitches come out Saturday

Bandaged elbow and arm

Thumb wrapped

Leg wrapped
When I think back to what caused this accident I'm pretty sure there was an abrupt speed change ahead of me. When I think about my style of riding, I don't really like to follow too close, because people sort of weave and there's a natural pace change when you hit hills or grab for water or whatever. I don't feel like I was distracted or trying to push harder than the group was going. I did survive the bump with the guy in front of me, the guy behind me says he had been distracted a little, but honestly had we just been able to hold pace I think everything would have been fine. I've ridden with that guy a lot and I trust his riding style.

So my takeaway will be to try to be a little more vigilant about holding my line and pace. I did pop out of line a little bit when I hit the guy in front of me to avoid going down, who knows if that caused the second part of the crash.

The group of guys I was riding with handled every single thing for me. All I did was get myself out of the road, they fixed my bike, called my wife, found my stuff, fixed my sunglasses, came to my house and closed the garage door, stopped by the next day, sent emails, called. All in all, it was great. It's a great group to ride with, and to my knowledge this is the only crash they've had in the three years I've been riding with them. I will go back out with them (assuming it's not my riding that sucks and the don't want me back.)

Also to my wife who has let me be basically a sleeping zombie the last two days. It's not easy taking care of three little kids on your own and a gimpy husband. She sat for five hours in the hospital with me, she went and got me medicine, new bandages, changed my bandages, even washed my hair. I'm super lucky. She's fantastic!


Amy said...

Totally gruesome ... I'm pretty sure that's misspelled but whatever. Yuck. Your wife must really love you to change those bandages.

Cindie Guevara said...

It looks like you lost a lot of blood after that accident, Jeremy and blood really gave me GOOSEBUMPS! I’m really squeamish, especially if I can see that from an injured person. Anyway, I’m glad that you’ve recovered from the accident and learned your lesson after all that happened. I just hope that you’ll be more careful next time. :)

: Cindie Guevara

Maggie Malone said...

Ouch! You looked totally messed up! But I’m glad that you’re in good shape now. Riding a bike can give us an indescribable thrill. Yet, it pays to be careful with your riding, especially on the rough roads or highways that demand speed. I hope you’re fully recovered now, and that you've learned your lesson well.

Maggie @Mastragelo Law Offices

Allan Blott said...

At least all you got were minor wounds, but those still look painful! I also have to say that I admire your attitude. For someone who got involved in an accident, you sound so positive. You even blamed yourself a bit. Normally, the tendency is to blame the other driver or biker when there is an accident.

Allan Blott @