Saturday, December 14, 2013

My winter bike accident

Official diagnosis at the hospital yesterday morning:  "blunt chest trauma."

Yep, as you might have heard, I had a big bike accident, falling straight into a ditch, at 6:10 am yesterday (Friday, December 13th).   It was cold and dark outside, where I was rendered momentarily incapacitated under a bridge/freeway overpass.  

Today, I feel like I've been in a 12-round boxing match.  And lost.  Down for the count, and pounded to the core of my being.  I’m tender, sore, and very stiff everywhere.   Arms, legs, ankle, neck, ribs, back, and very much in the chest.    It could have been much worse, so I count myself as lucky, though getting the wind knocked out of you is not fun.

And, yes, I was wearing my bike helmet.  And, yes, I did have a light illuminating the eerie pre-dawn paved streets and bike/hike trail I was on.  And, definitely, yes, I was proceeding carefully, deliberately, and slower than usual because I hadn’t traversed this area since before Icemaggedon 2014 had hit Fort Worth.  The Trinity Bike/Hike Trail along the river, just north of Rosedale (where Ole South is located) and the I-30 overpass has seen its share of detours and reroutings over the past year because of the ongoing construction (of a new overpass).  I’ve been aware of this because this area is part of my weekly route to/from my workplace in the Museum District.

Yesterday, however, proper signage and warning apparatus (e.g., bright orange plastic fencing, caution barrels, and the like) were not in place to prevent what happened to me.  And even with all the personal cyclist precautions that I had in place, I wasn’t able to keep myself from injury and accident.  I was pissed, frustrated, and upset about this--as I lay in the cold muddy hole in which I inadvertently pitched myself.  You see the hole was just big and deep enough for my front bike tire to get wedged, when--with headlamp on the high setting and at a slow speed--I began to notice that the pavement abruptly ended and led to a dirt section at a drop-off that seemed shallow enough to maneuver through.  Wrong.  I fell pell-mell with the front end of my bike, toppling directly onto the handlebars, chest first.  I immediately felt the cessation of breath, as my lungs likely imploded with the impact, and a panic overtook me.  Shallow breathing and immediate pain in my shoulders, ribs, and back alarmed me, as I stiffly reached for the phone deep in my right pocket.  Thankfully, I had a full charge on the device and the cognitive capacity to report my status and geographic location to the 911 dispatch operator, who directed me to stay on the line to help navigate the emergency responders through the park in order to find me in the semi-darkness.

After a quick check of my vitals, and a huddle with the firemen and EMTs at my side, it was decided that I should be carried to the hospital for x-rays--in case I’d actually broken something or suffered a lung perforation or the like.  Me and my bike had a speedy ride to JPS (John Peter Smith) hospital, where a very nice doctor eventually conveyed the good news that my chest/lung x-ray showed nothing that warranted treatment beyond 800 mg. Ibuprofen and an anti-inflammatory medication.  And the nurse reminded me of what I already knew; the inflammation, pain, and discomfort are generally worse on the second (and even third) day after the initial body trauma.

I’m really feeling that to be true today.