“It will never happen to me.”
I’ve operated on that theory for awhile, unfortunately; taking risks, not fully paying attention to the rules, making careless decisions, trusting that (most of) the rest of the world has good intentions and follows the law. “What are the chances something horrible will happen to me?”
Well, things and accidents do happen, and I am living, breathing, one-handed typing proof. Because on Thursday afternoon, it DID happen to me when I got hit by a car while riding my bike.
Here’s what went down…
Around 10:30 a.m. or so I headed out for a slow ride. I wasn’t feeling my best, but beautiful Colorado makes it nearly impossible to stay inside–the sun is ALWAYS shining. I gave in and kitted up. My goal was to slow-climb some hills, cruise down the descents, stop at the Rapha Boulder Clubhouse for coffee halfway, and head on home.
Around 27 miles or so, I made it to the clubhouse–and apparently so did the rest of Boulder’s cycling community. But the best part of my pitstop? I saw Taylor Phinney (!!!!!) and then met Fiona and Garry, who are both in town (all the way from Australia) for the US Open this weekend! DAMN I love living here. It’s infested with all the cool kids!
I wish the rest of the day continued on that high.
Around noonish, I hopped back on my bike and headed for home. Downtown Boulder–especially CU’s campus–has an amazing system of bike trails and routes. If there isn’t a bike lane on the road, there is usually space dedicated to us pedalers on divided sidewalks. It’s awesome and safe–most of the time.
There are signs everywhere, too, encouraging drivers to yield, slow down, give pedestrians and bikers the right of way, and to always be attentive when making turns. In such a congested area, all these signs are absolutely necessary.
On my way back I hopped on one of those bike paths since afternoon traffic was picking up. I rolled up to a walkway where pedestrians and cyclists had the right of way, so I let one car go then as I started into the street, a car made a pretty fast right hand turn and I went straight into his left side, flying up over my handlebars and his hood, then down onto the pavement in front of his car.
The impact and my crash took just a few seconds, but I felt everything move half-speed.
My hands jammed the brakes.
I tried to veer left.
My front tire smacked into his.
My butt, feet, and hands left the bike and I was airborne.
My shoulders, hands, forehead, and chest smashed into the ground.
So much pain right away. My legs, knees, hands, wrists.
I turned over on my back; blood had already begun gushing from my right thigh where the shifter gouged my leg then broke off and bounced down the road.
“My leg! My hand! My hand is broken!” I shouted it to no one, but it felt like the only way to process what was happening.
“Oh my gosh! Are you ok??!” A bunch of students came rushing over to help. Bless them; they were amazing.
“MY HAND OMG MY LEG NO I AM NOT OK CALL AN AMBULANCE RIGHT NOW.” All my thoughts came out as one run-on sentence. “CALL 911 NOW!”
The blood kept pouring out of my leg, so I whipped off my gilet and wrapped it around my my right thigh over the puncture. Pretty sure I saw that on a Nat Geo show or something… Then the hyperventilating kicked in, my hands tingled, and my eyes darted from face to unknown face, all staring as if that was actually helping anything. One of the students removed my helmet and helped me get from the middle of the street to the sidewalk.
A few minutes later the paramedics arrived and, like a SWAT team, they rushed to the scene, each one carrying a device or bag of some sort. One of the medics stood behind me and let me lean back on his legs, another woman clipped a pulse oximeter to my pointer finger, another asked the questions.
Between heaving breaths and uncontrollable tears, I tried my best to cough out answers.
Medic: “Where does it hurt? Any pain in your neck or back? Can you move your fingers for me? Can you squeeze my hand? Good. Were you wearing your helmet?” The questions kept coming.
Me: “My leg and my hand. Really bad. No. Yes. Yes.”
The team took my vitals, rolled the gurney over and shifted me from the concrete to the bed, and packed me up into the truck like a casserole going into the oven.
Then? Then I proceeded to FREAK. THE. EFF. OUT. in the ambulance. Everything hurt and I let them know. My hands were cramping and in pain, I couldn’t control my breathing or anything that was coming out of my mouth. Poor, guys. I think I pissed them off so much they started giving me drugs…which honestly didn’t do much because the freakout continued.
About 15 minutes later (or an entire century in my mind) we rolled into Foothills Hospital and I got wheeled down one sterile hallway after another and into a cold, beige room where they re-started the vitals process. Meanwhile, I whined and moaned even more about my poor little finger which was growing in size by the minute.
A doctor who was far too calm came into the room.
Doctor: “So…[looks down at clipboard] Lindsay. Tell me what’s going on.
Me: [between sobs] Well…I was…riding my bike…and a car hit me…and…I…flipped over the front…and MY HAND HURTS AND MY LEG IS BLEEDING REAL BAD.”
Doctor: [still too calm for my liking] “Mmmmk. Well. Let’s just have a look.”
More questions. Same as the medic’s: No neck pain. I know my name and birthday. I was wearing my helmet. I’d really love it if you stopped asking questions and started fixing me. (That last one is between you and me.)
X-rays happened at some point but the drugs were definitely kicking in, so all that is a little fuzzy. I do, however, remember cursing the doctor who was trying to flatten out my broken fingers.
After they got the photos they needed, the first doctor disappeared and another one–a friendlier one who actually showed signs of personality–came in and stitched up my leg. He assured me I’d have an awesome scar, which was exactly the answer I was looking for.
BATTLE WOUNDS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
This doesn’t look so bad, but right now it’s swollen and UGLY.
The wound was also so deep you could see my muscle. The doctor asked me if I wanted to look at it before he closed me up–because it’s rare you get to see your very own muscles. I said absolutely not and almost puked on him.
As the doc sewed me up with 13 stitches, I asked how many bikers they get on a daily basis. He said about 3. THREE BIKE ACCIDENTS PER DAY–just in that hospital. Those are not good stats for an area that has such a robust bike path system. It made me sad, not that I was one of those three but that I bet 99.9% of these accidents can be prevented with more vigilance.
A third (fourth?) doctor came in to take care of my hand. And since I wouldn’t shut up about the pain, they administered more meds (and/or sedatives) along with a tetanus shot just to be safe.
I’m doing a lot of bitching here, but let me be clear and say that this team truly was fantastic. One of them even wished me a belated Happy Birthday after a quick glance at my wrist band.
The next uniform to visit was a police officer. She, very patiently, explained all the legal stuff more than once because who can follow that, especially with narcotics flowing through their veins? She handed over a stack of papers and her business card and told me to call in the morning when English and sentences felt easier.
Throughout this whole process–between doctors and nurses and techs and officers coming in and out–they tried getting in contact with someone who could take my broke ass home. When I finally stopped suggesting an Uber driver I didn’t know as reliable transportation, my cousin came to the rescue and dropped me and my bike at home.
Thursday night I laid in bed, after de-briefing with my parents (who actually did not seem concerned at all…which concerned me a little), and all I kept thinking was: YES, THIS TERRIBLE THING DID HAPPEN TO ME, BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH WORSE.
I am SO so thankful it wasn’t. And I am so thankful for my family who was there for me–and still is while the legal things get taken care of.
TELL ME I AM PRETTY.
Bah. That was a lot, wasn’t it? I wanted to get it out before the memories faded. If you made it through, I hope you’re just a bit more aware of your surroundings when you’re out on the roads. I know I will be.
Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>