Saturday, October 22, 2011

The accident - 2011 version

So I guess I have to at least touch on my latest accident, though I really don't feel like re-living it.

On Tuesday I got off work and headed home, picking up my two nieces, Jessica & Kayla, before heading home.  Once home I got my light on the bike and left Kenny and the girls so that I could go out and get in a quick ride around the neighborhood.  I've been trying to get in some sort of exercise every day, and it was nice enough to ride around the quiet suburban streets rather than sit on the stationary bike in the basement and ride.

I made a back & forth across the blocks, barely seeing a car on the road, knocking out some quick miles.  It was mostly dark when I came to the intersection at the top of our block - one of the few streets that I have to cross that actually has traffic.  I came down the sidewalk pretty quick to ride up over the grass strip and then out and across the road.  What I didn't see was that there was a fairly deep hole lurking against the curb on the other side of the grass strip.  So when I popped over the grass strip my front wheel dropped hard into the hole and I went over the bars.

Note:  I was not wearing a helmet.  This was wrong.  I've spent hours and hours and hours and hours wearing a helmet for kayaking and mountain biking.  I was wrong in assuming that just riding around my neighborhood would be safe and I wouldn't need a helmet.  You may roll your eyes with a totally appropriate "duh!" but I never even thought about it.  This was a LARGE mistake and cost me dearly.

It happened really fast.  I can remember heading down the sidewalk, but not the crash.  After that everything is really disjointed in my memory - flashes of images and sounds that don't connect to anything with blank spots in between.  When I went over the bars I landed on the pavement on my right temple and went unconscious.  Then I was laying on the ground and there were people around me, asking if I was okay.  I thought I'd just get up - my house was only a half block away - but I couldn't hardly move.  I remember a woman going back to her car and coming back with a child's sweat shirt to stop the bleeding on my head.  I got out my phone and called Kenny - told him I was in an accident and to get hold of Diana and tell her I was going to have to go the hospital.  Kenny did a good job - he didn't panic and got hold of Diana.  He and the girls heard the ambulance sirens and walked down the street to the accident site.  I don't remember seeing them, but they got my bike and pack and took them home.

Next thing I remember I was in an ambulance.  My head was killing me and I had blood all over.  The took me to St. Joseph's where people swarmed me like ants on sugar.  I don't remember any x-rays but they said they took them.  Next thing I new Diana was there, having taken off from work to find out what happened.  I had a big cut on my right eyebrow, and it turned out the doctor who stitched it up is the father of one of the Cub Scouts in the pack I help lead.  He put in 13 stitches - and I'd hoped that I'd be done and heading home.  But no....

The x-ray showed a fracture in the base of my skull, from all my weight coming down on my head.  So they loaded me in another ambulance and sent me to St. E's hospital in Youngstown.  There was an even bigger swarm of people waiting for me there - scary as hell.  After a more thorough examination they put me in a room for the night.  I'd fractured my skull  - not only across the base but around the orbit of my right eye.

They put me on morphine for the night, and I went out like a light.  The next morning I had an hour long MRI, which apparently showed no further damage.  Then I went back to my room and sat there for another day and a half - without ever seeing a doctor (except one who was interested in my sloppy left knee).  They finally let me out Thursday night and sent me home.  I went back to work the next morning.

And now I have to wear a cervical collar for two months.  That means I won't be doing ANYTHING - no mountain biking or road riding, no trail building, no kayaking, no camping, no hiking.  And that whole time I'm going to be thinking about what I should do when I heal.  This is my third serious injury from bicycling (though this one was pretty much a freak occurrence).  I'll be 49 in two months, and though I'm now in the best shape of my life I CANNOT TAKE THESE INJURIES ANY LONGER.  I'm not sure if that means that I'm going to be hanging up the bike or not, but I have a good long time to think about it while I heal.

Thanks to everyone who has sent sympathies and get-well wishes.  I appreciate it very much.  Though my head pretty much feels like a stomped pumpkin I'm doing okay and seem to have an easy recovery ahead of me.  It's just such a drag that this had to happen to me (again).  I guess that's what can happen when you're active.


  1. Everything happens in threes, even if you aren't superstitious the math of probability shows that you won't ever crash again while not wearing a helmet.

  2. Oh, Stephen... I was so sorry to read about your accident, but glad you will recover. Biking can definitely be a dangerous sport, both mountain and road biking.

    I was involved in a three bike pile up @ 19 mph over a year ago that resulted in terrible road rash. All of my wounds were superficial, but another person had to make a trip to the hospital for a mild concussion and missed a championship race a week later.

    We've had four accidents among my teammates within the past month, three of which resulted in trips to the hospital, and one of those involved a car (and a missed race). It only takes a split second.

    I can't even imagine the prospect of having to give up something you love. I hope you are able to resume a lifestyle that fills your need for adventure.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.


  3. Finally read the ordeal you've been through. Hope you are healed/healing. You have seemed to handle it all with way more grace than I would have. Get well, get riding.