Today as I gathered my things, packed my bike and headed to Mt. St. Helens I reflected on the fact that one year ago today I had a little mishap which combined with some business events put off my WorldRider journey by nearly a year. I thought it would be interesting to revist the writing and blog post i did last year for those new readers of the Digital Tavern and The WorldRider blogs….
July 24, 2004
That Sunday morning after blogging about my Airport Express implementation I did what I usually do on Sunday mornings: I stayed in bed. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I eventually sauntered into the kitchen. Grind beans. Boil water. Brew coffee.
By the time I was ready to take on the day I reasoned a quick jaunt down the road to complete a few errands before heading south to Laguna Beach for the wedding reception of my friends Micha and Leanna.
Grabbing my shades, cell phone and car keys from the counter I took several steps toward the front door. That’s when I noticed my helmet. Resting on the hardwood floor near the door upside down. When I opened the door the sunlight reflected off the keys and the D-rings of the chin strap and called to me. A sunny California Sunday. The sun calling me. The wind still but still begging me.
My brain quickly fired its synapses and assessed the pros and cons. For example, the air-conditioned comfort of my car or the interruption of my flow to change into motorcycle jacket, boots and gloves. Then I’d have to open the garage, wheel the bad boy out and head on down the highway. The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).
I decided to give my bike the attention it needed and to give my face a brush with the wind and sun that had called on it that morning.
Just hours later I found myself in the emergency room at the local hospital.
The irony that strikes me most about that day is my thinking when I sat at the traffic light where I’d turn south onto PCH. I’ve ridden motorcycles from more than 20 years. I had one accident about 18 years that left me with a broken collar bone. And had a silly little “drop” last November when I was in Mexico. But as I made that north bound turn onto PCH I thought to myself as followed my line and leaned into the turn. “What would happen if the bike slid out from under me?” I reasoned that it could happen. Gravel. Oil. Leaves. Rain. Any number of things could cause a loss and traction and next thing I’d be sliding along the pavement with my bike.
I’m not sure why I thought this that morning. But in retrospect, I feel I must have been visionary. Because a few hours later when returning from my errands I was feeling good with the wind in my face and the sun beating down on my nose through my full-face helmet I cruised back up the Pacific Coast Highway going north.
The sky nearly cobalt blue save a few fluffy clouds. I responded to the fraternal nod of a motorcyclist heading south with the ubiquitous nod. The leather of my gloves stuck to my palms. I check out the blonde babe that passes me in the BMW. THe visor of my helmet is open. I can feel the breeze. My shades positioned perfectly, I consider the prospect of just carrying on and not stopping. Perhaps appearing at the wedding in my motorcycle garb. And then cruising the coast the remainder of the day. Not I good idea. There’d be good wine at the reception. Never drink while riding. Not even a sip. So my Sunday ride fantasy quickly fades to the reality of getting home, changing clothes and vehicles and heading to laguna for the party.
Soon I was on the bridge that spans Newport’s Back Bay and heading toward the fateful intersection.
Yes. That same intersection. Focus and concentrated, I merged into the right hand turn lane that freed motorists taking that right turn from waiting for a red light to turn to green. So I set my line and going barely 25 miles per hour I leaned into the turn and just as I was coming out of the turn I slowly rolled the throttle. That’s when the rear tire broke loose.
I hit the pavement with a thud landing on my belly. Sliding just behind the bike I came to an abrupt stop nearly on top of my bike. Dazed and certainly confused I jumped up and began walking in circles. I realized my arm or wrist was broken. A woman in a Range Rover was calling to me. I was searching for my cell phone. The man in the Chryslers was yelling “I’m calling 911.” The dude on the Harley asked what happened.
Another voice asked me if i was going to fast. I glanced back at the turn where a few other cars had pulled over. Shimmering in the noontime sun I spotted debris. No. That’s oil.
“I broke my wrist.” I explained to the woman. She had pretty green eyes that expressed the concern of a mother. “Do you want me to take you to the hospital?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want me to move your bike?” The Harley dude with his tatted arms and WWII style motorcycle helmet was in the road with me.
I hopped into the Range Rover when another man told me to put my hand into my jacket between two buttons. “You need the support. Don’t move it.” At this point my right foot started crying for attention.
At the emergency room I joined the body surfer who’s face and nose got slammed into the beach, the girl who was hit by a car while riding her bicycle and the young couple with their 4-month old child who they swore swallowed her wedding ring.
Sunday at the emergency room.
A shot of morphine, x rays under my arm and an arm and a leg in a cast I was the picture perfect example of a gimp and poster boy for why many people find motorcycles so dangerous.
My orthopaedic surgeon a couple days later saw things different. He ripped off the cast on my leg and told me it was only a bad sprain. Actually, he said “very” bad sprain as he pointed to bone fragments suspended in orbit around my ankle on the x ray.
He didn’t look at the x ray too long when he started talking surgery. He said I had a very common break called Barton’s Fracture and that he’d cut a three inch incision on the inside of my wrist and place a plate and a few screws in my arm to hold the bone in place.
“Are you sure?”
He smiled. I’ve known this doctor perhaps too well over the years. “In many cases I question surgery. But in your case, it’s a no brainer.”
He explained that the Swiss (Swiss AO (Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Osteosynthesefragen) had developed this technique and as a result of fixing the bone internally with a plate and screws would mean I would only be in a cast for a week and therefore my post-operative rehabilitation would begin sooner than a traditional cast and therefore I’d have a better chance of restoring my full range of motion.
I hope so.
So I had surgery just over two weeks ago. I’ve been more than a week with simply a wrist brace. Yesterday I picked up my guitar for the first time. Nervous. Sweating and worried I tried to play a few chords. The pain is still there. But the pain stems less from the fracture and more from the fact the doctor must have used a 20V DeWalt electric drill to put three screws into my Ulnar bone. But that’s besides the point.
I worry most about playing guitar again. But I will prevail.
I’m finally weening off the vicadins. Pain tends to creep up in night when I’m sleeping. I don’t like pain killers. Funny feeling. Foggy head. Low motivation. Not something Allan Karl deals with too well.
As for the ankle. A couple weeks in a boot that stabilizes my ankle and now I’m limping around. It’s a time thing. You know. The type that heals all wounds?
As for the motorcycle? Well. It’s doing fine. Back in the garage. Merely a few scratches. That’s it. I took more of the damage this time. Will I ride again? Damn right I will. I’ve got a lot of miles left in me. You just wait and see!
As for the blogging? I’m back. I’ve got somewhat a good command of my keyboard again. Fingers seem to move well. Though a long post like this tests my tolerance for pain. Still funny numbing, pulling of nerves and overall tiring of my hand certainly taxes my patience. Damn. I want to write long posts.
For you who’d rather me not (ha). No worries. I’ll take it easier on the next one — maybe two.
I would like to thank all of my friends here in Orange County who’ve been so helpful and supportive to me as I recuperated from my surgery. It’s such a great feeling to know you have friends who go out of their way even with their busy schedules to bring food, do shopping, check in, visit and offer help in every way. This has been great for me because up until this weekend I have been unable to drive — my car. Probably be a couple weeks before I can ride the motorcycle.
Thanks for joining me again. It’s going to get fun!
July 24, 2005 – Portland, Oregon
So a year later and that wrist is hanging in there and I’m on the WorldRider realizing the dream for me and for those of you who can’t make it. Ride with me and we’ll have the adventure of a lifetime. Stay tuned… It’s still going to get fun!