06 October 2009

The accident (2)

The bicycle accident two weeks ago was amazingly simple (and stupid), and was over in an instant -- but the effects have certainly lingered. All that happened was that I got too close to the fence running along the right-hand side of the bike path, the tip of the handlebar hit the fence, and I went flying off. Unfortunately I was going about my top bicycling speed -- I don't know what that is in miles per hour, but it's certainly closer to car speed than walking speed.

The impact when I hit the ground was like nothing I've ever felt before. And I took the whole impact on the edge of my right hand and the top of my head. The last metacarpal bone (those are the long thin bones extending from the knuckles to the wrist -- in this case, from the little finger to the wrist) snapped in the middle. If I hadn't been wearing a helmet, I'd undoubtedly have had a skull fracture as well, and perhaps worse.

The funny thing is, I didn't realize right away how bad it was. I simply got up, got back on the bike, and rode the rest of the way to work -- almost four miles. The doctor told me the pain from a broken bone often doesn't really start up for several hours. Only later, when I realized how swollen and painful the hand was, did I go to the emergency room and learn that the bone was broken.

As it was, last Wednesday (eight days after the accident), I woke up at 3:00 AM with a severe headache. It later receded enough for me to post in honor of the only religious holiday I could ever recognize, but came back in full force after I got to work. Recalling the blow to the head, I went back to the emergency room, in case there was some damage that hadn't previously been apparent. The doctors did a CT scan (yep, that's me up at the top of this posting) and pronounced me free from any brain or skull damage -- so in a way the headache was a blessing in disguise, since I now know for sure that there is no such injury. They said that the headache was "post-concussion syndrome", which basically means I'm likely to get headaches like that occasionally for the next six months or so. Unpleasant, but not dangerous.

The headache took over a day to go away. Typing is still slow and laborious and often needs to be done with the left hand alone, and you wouldn't believe how many everyday things are maddeningly difficult to do one-handed. They told me it takes six weeks for this type of hand injury to recover completely. Four weeks to go.

But the important thing is, if you ride a bike, wear a helmet. This would have been far, far worse if I'd been without one.


Blogger Sue said...

thank God for the invention of helmets! Left handed typing as to be a bitch, sorry about that! Have you heard of those devices where you speak into a gadget and your page is typed automatically? My husband bought one at a fleamarket, most likely a Japanese thingy, never tried it. Get well soon!
Btw, your picture is very revealing... :-)))

06 October, 2009 03:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks Sue! Yes, I've heard of those devices -- fortunately my right hand should be back on line in four more weeks, otherwise I'd invest in one. Most of my "typing" is computer keyboard stuff at work, unfortunately.

The CT picture attached was supposed to be a "brain scan" -- I can't actually see a brain, but the doctors assured me it's there!:-)

06 October, 2009 05:03  
Anonymous rita said...

WoW! I am so glad you were wearing a helmet! I'd hate to see anything bad happen to that skull of yours!

4 weeks. Well, you've certainly had your share of down time lately.
Thank goodness you've got decent insurance, anyway.

06 October, 2009 08:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pay attention to symptoms: I had a bad head injury that a CAT scan revealed as a bad concussion. Took a year before I got a doctor who understood other symptoms (memory, confusion, etc) were not just concussion. The result: I had physical damage to my brain. Many doctors don't understand concussion - unless you are rich or a football player. My MRI scan shows all the brain and its damage. Not to scare you, but keep alert for other problems.

06 October, 2009 08:24  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thank goodness you've got decent insurance, anyway.

I've often thought that over the two weeks since the accident. Actually, I have very good insurance, but even I'm not complacent about it.

06 October, 2009 08:24  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anonymous -- Good point. I have not noticed any confusion, memory problems, mental peculiarities, etc., but I'm watching out for them.

06 October, 2009 09:02  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

It doesnt suprise me that you got up and just rode to work after it,because that is how that goes,even the swelling and stuff is later...it is damn good though that at least you did go to the doctor ... even though with that broke bone...it would have made you go some time or another. I alway's thought helmut's are a positive...even though I've known alot of folk's that dont like them. But hell...you'll be back to your regular stuff before you know it.

I had an accident once where the bottom of my foot was completely opened from the accident... I was about 19 year's old at the time...I'll never forget it because I was on crutches for a couple month's...I couldnt believe how good I got on them damn crutches as far as getting around...because the first week or so on them was a bitch getting adjusted to it,bagging my leg to shower and all the other crap,but after about a month or so...it got like 2nd nature. :)

But the clear lessen here for any reader ...wear a goddamn helmut!

Later Guy ............

06 October, 2009 10:39  
Blogger TomCat said...

I hope you recover fully and quickly. Rest.

Head injuries can be serious and we wouldn't want you to devolve into becoming a Republican. ;-)

06 October, 2009 11:23  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC -- I've always tended to just shrug off getting banged up, but I'm almost 50 now -- I guess I need to be more diligent about getting to the doctor when something happens (and my employer is paying $600 a month for all this insurance -- might as well use it).

TC -- Gah! If I ever suffer brain damage that severe, maybe I should look into Oregon's Death-with-Dignity law for voluntary euthanasia. It would be a mercy killing.:-)

06 October, 2009 11:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Infidel, I'm glad your brain is still there and intact. Brain injuries are, well, unpleasant. (It's a nice pic, BTW. ;)

06 October, 2009 14:03  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Intact as it ever was, anyway :-) thanks.

Maybe I should use that picture if I ever sign up for one of those internet dating services.

06 October, 2009 14:29  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

I think you should sue. Even though you think you caused the accident, having a fence too close to the path would be like having a trench too close the side of a road.

If you were able to stay on the path and have your handle bar hit the fence, the bike path, in my opinion, is not properly designed.

We can talk about personal responsibility all day long, but it also the responsibility of the designers to understand how bikes work, how fast they go, and that just because the bike is skinny in design does not give the bike path designer the right to make the fence to close to the path.

If you were on the path, and your bike was still able to hit the fence, the fence was too close to the path.

if the fence had to be where it was, then the pathway should have had a slight incline near the fence so the bike and bike rider would have gravity bringing them back to the center of the path.

On the other hand, not knowing how wide the road is, you may have been "speeding".

However, you can only be "speeding" if short portions of the pathway are narrow and designated as slowdown areas.

if the whole bike path is designed for bike riders to only go 10-15 miles an hour, than it is not a properly designed bike path.

Bike speeds can vary from 5 miles an hour all the way up to 20-30 miles an hour, and if bike paths are being designed without this in mind, there needs to be more care and respect being given to the design of the bike paths.

Either way, can you show us how close the fence was to the path?

31 October, 2009 11:28  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

This is follow up response is here only because I just now noticed the email follow-up comments option.

31 October, 2009 11:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The fence was pretty close to the path -- less than a handlebar-length, obviously. The path is fairly wide at that point, but it has to fit in a narrow gap between railway tracks and a riverbank, and I guess they prioritized width of the path over space between the path and the fence.

I think these paths are city or county projects.

Unfortunately I doubt such a lawsuit would prevail. Such accidents are very rare among the numerous cyclists who use the path, so the case would be made that my carelessness was the determining factor.

31 October, 2009 16:41  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

If your handlebars can hit the fence without you leaving the trail, they made the path incorrectly.

If however, the actual pathway rises as it nears the fence, then one could argue that that is a compromise since one would not only be warned they were coming too close to the fence because the path rose, but that would also help one maintain control.

The kind of fence matters as well. One day when you are up to it, check the fence out by walking near it (not in the way of the bicyclists or car traffic of course), you may discover many "interactions" with the fence that other bicyclists have also experienced.

If it is indeed determined that additional safeguards could have been added without much added cost, then you are actually doing everybody a favor if you win your lawsuit.

However, it may not be worth suing since the attorney will probably want a non-refundable retainer no matter what happens.

Ultimately, I can't comprehend having a fence that actually can come in contact with handle bars while the bicycle is technically within the bounds of the bike lane.

31 October, 2009 19:52  

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