Narrative About Jeff’s Bicycling Accident

I have Jeff’s permission to share his article on my blog.

Yesterday (Friday, October 7th), at around 2:40 PM, I had a head-on collision with a car.  I was traveling southwest on Madison street, and the other driver was making a turn from northeast on Madison to north on 14th Ave E.  I didn’t see a way to steer around him, so I hit the brakes, went flying over the handlebars and landed on the street.

I don’t know the make or model of the car, but cars usually weigh about 4000 pounds while I weigh about 200 pounds.

That hurt, really hurt.

As it happened, a young woman whose name begins with “L” came by, told me she was a pediatrician, and offered to help.  I told her I hadn’t seen a pediatrician in 40 years.  She quickly checked me out, and then I don’t know what happened to her.  I’d like to thank her.

Then the Seattle Fire Department showed up, and they cut up my beautiful green, international orange, and silver sweatshirt.  It was a gift from my parents, and they bought it for me so drivers would see me and not hit me.  I loved that sweatshirt.  Of course, cutting up the sweatshirt was the right thing to do, because the firefighters have to check for injuries.  They cut up my 2001 T-shirt as well.

The police showed up.  They must have talked to me, because officer Dickson, 7288, inserted a business card with the case number, 16-363920, in my wallet.  I don’t know if the other driver was cited or not.

The fire fighters put me in a collar to immobilize my head and neck.  Then they put me on a backboard.  That hurt.  An ambulance showed up, and they put me on a gurney.  At that point, all I could think of was “gee, maybe Dr. Deborah Klein was right and I should lose 20 lbs”.

They took me to Harborview, which my father tells me is the best place to go for trauma.  After the fire department poked and prodded at me, a triage nurse poked and prodded at me.  Then a physician whose name I forget poked and prodded at me.  Then a resident named Dr. McCormick poked and prodded at me, but she was much more thorough – she looked in my ears, looked in my eyes (she said there is a lot of gunk in them), up my nose.  She poked and prodded my spleen, liver, stomach, little colon, big colon and semicolon.  She rolled me on my side (that hurt) and poked at each vertebrae, from the foramem magnum down to the sacrum.  She poked at my feet, tested my toes and fingers for sensation, checked out my left knee, carefully looked at the abrasion on my right leg.  I’m going to write her a commendation.

I got my brain CT scanned, my chest CT scanned, my left knee (where the patella meets the femur) X-rayed , my right tibia and fibia X-rayed.

Finally, they gave me 350 mg of Acetaminophen (at my request – I got tired of “toughing it out” and I was no longer afraid that they were going to poke and prod at me some more) and sent me home.

Lessons learned:
1) Carry health insurance.  The other driver could have fled, or he could be uninsured or under insured.
2) Wear a bike helmet at all times when riding.
3) Pay taxes.  The police were there in moments.  The fire department was there in moments.  I don’t know exactly what the police did, but I know what the fire fighters did.  They were superb.  Harborview is also partially supported by King County, the State of Washington, the city of Seattle, and the University of Washington.  Were it not for taxes, it wouldn’t be there when I needed it.
4) Tell your significant other that you love her or him every morning when you walk or ride out the door.  You might not survive the day, and it could be all over – just like that!  I estimate I was moving about 20 miles an hour or 20 feet per second.  I estimate I was about 40 feet away from the other driver when I realized I was in really deep trouble.  So, maybe 2 seconds, maybe less, to Do Something about it.
5) I’m damn lucky, damn lucky, on so many levels.  a) I could have been killed. b) I could have been paralyzed for life c) I could have had major injuries: fractures, concussion, blindness. d) I have a spouse who loves me, who sat beside me for 7 hours, listened to all of the doctor jokes I have told her for 34 years! and still laughed at all the right places. e) I have a father, who is a doctor, who is still alive, and who taught me all of those doctor jokes (well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad). f) I have a mother, who also is still alive, who got me that beautiful green and orange and silver sweatshirt (hopefully, she will get me another one). g) I have children and grandchildren who care about me.
6) Yes, I am unemployed, and unemployment sucks.  Yes, I am in pain, and my range of motion is diminished – for now, anyway.  But I am going to get over this.  In a few days or maybe a few weeks, I’m going to get a new beautiful green and orange and silver sweatshirt, new bright orange gloves, a new helmet, and then I am going to get on that bicycle and ride to where I am going.

Jeff asked me (on October 27) to add the following notes to his account:

It turns out that there is a no left turn sign at that intersection – the driver who caused Jeff’s accident was cited for making an illegal left turn, and Jeff learned a new word: “scofflaw”–a person who flouts the law.

When Jeff passed the police report on to his insurance company, they indicated that the case is pretty open-and-shut and that the driver’s insurance company is going to have much trouble getting out of paying his claim.

Meanwhile Jeff has regained full motion in his left arm and left knee, but he still cannot rest on his left side, nor lie on his stomach.

He concluded, “Still damn lucky at multiple levels.”

This entry was posted in Bicycle Safety, Bicycling, Family, Health, On Aging, On Writing, Seattle Fire Department, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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