This personal blog hasn't really been all that personal. It has always been about politics rather than than a collection of random personal events. Well, this post will go where no post has gone before. I am going to write about a recent random personal event.
I have been an avid commuter bicyclist for the better part of 20+ years. I have commuted to work in the rain, sleet and the density of low clouds often referred to as fog. I have had a few near hits with motorists over the years. And sadly I have also had a few close encounters that have not ended at all well.
Back when I was 18, I was responsible for a head-on collision at 30 miles an hour with a AMC Gremlin
. I literally "walked away" with multiple lacerations and broken leg. In my mid 20's I was a victim of a hit and run that taco'd my front wheel, bent the frame/fork and dislocated a thumb. In my 30's I was side-swiped and forced off the road.
And just last week I was in a accident with an SUV. It was a glancing blow. I tried to avoid a completely unavoidable SUV in a local parking garage as he pulled out in front of me. I hit the left front fender of the SUV doing between 10-15 mph and was thrown over the handle bars, over the hood of the vehicle and did a most ungraceful belly-flop upon the concrete floor.
As I lay upon the ground I did a mental assessment of what had just taken place, and was taking a physical inventory: no head injury, my neck was good to go, I could move my fingers, wrists and arms. My toes wiggled, my knees were able to bend, I had no broken bones...but I tell you what, my stomach was bothering me. So maybe, just maybe I could have a broken rib or two.
The best way to describe the pain in my stomach is to have you imagine, or better yet, recall the last time you had the wind knocked out of you and multiply it by 10. And remember, at this point I am still in shock and haven't even begun to feel the pain. The motorist who hit me called 911 and was asking me if I was alright. I told him that I believed that I was but wasn't sure.
When I rolled over and sat upon my backside I noticed that both my knees were swollen, and that I had some blood on my left shin. (I subsequently learned my left brake handle is most effective at removing skin.) The driver of the SUV was still talking to the 911 operator and was asking me if I need an ambulance. I was thinking about being late for a 7 o'clock appointment and wasn't able to process the need for an ambulance. Did I mention the pain in my abdomen?
I was able to move from the middle of the parking garage floor to a safer spot near several vacant parking stalls. As I tried to determine the damage I had sustained to my abdomen the police arrived and so to did the paramedics. After the paramedics took my vital signs and asked me a battery of questions regarding what hurt on a scale from one to ten, I decided to go to the emergency room. (The pain in my abdomen was nearer to 14 than ten.)
So, I am on my way to the hospital emergency room when one paramedic tells me in no uncertain terms that he believes that I have ruptured my spleen. I started thinking about NFL quarterbacks (Lief? and Sims?) who suffered from ruptured spleens, and that means major surgery. And my fears of needing surgery grew when the numbing sensation that is shock started to wear off in the ER. I was unable to catch my breath, and was starting to hyper-ventilate. It is really difficult to stay calm and breathe slowly when you can't catch your breath. (Now recall the last time you had the wind knocked out of you and multiply it by 20.)
After an hour or so, and the drawing of blood, not to mention the well placed probing of fingers I learned that I had injured my spleen and that I might have injured my liver as well. My doctor told me that I was going to be transfered to another hospital near by and that is when I started to get worried. Upon arriving at the second hospital I was admitted to triage where I learned that doctors were anxious to get a series of examinations completed so they could begin aiding me in my recovery.
My worry was compounded by the knowledge that I was facing potential major surgery. My new doctor spoke to me with a calmness that was most unnerving. Before I left the first hospital I was told that if my spleen was bleeding that it was probably minor. At the second hospital the talk of my spleen bleeding started to sound even more dire, more problematic. I was getting really scared. When I inquired as to the options facing me, I was told of the less invasive operation where they repair the spleen by going through the femoral artery in your thigh. (I believe it is referred to as an angiogram.) And the second option, the complete removal of my spleen.
This is when I learned some interesting information about my spleen. Apparently, a ruptured spleen is a serious condition. Without emergency treatment, a ruptured spleen can cause life-threatening bleeding. Your spleen is located just under your rib cage on your left side, a prime spot for injury. With enough force, a blow to your abdomen — during a sporting mishap, a fist fight or a car accident
, for example — might lead to a ruptured spleen.
The spleen helps your body fight infection and filter unwanted material, such as old or damaged blood cells. The spleen also produces red blood cells and certain types of white blood cells. A ruptured spleen may pour a large amount of blood into your abdominal cavity. If the rupture is small, surgical repair may be possible. Typically, however, the entire spleen is removed in emergency surgery.
(And to think, one paramedic referred to the spleen as being as worthless as one's appendix.)
So, armed with all this information, and feeling more worried about my circumstances the doctor informs me that if my spleen has to be removed that I will be left with quite the abdominal scar (5-6 inches long). I told the doctor that I wasn't interested in adding another scar to the sizable collection I have already obtained. She laughed and told me that she would do what she could.
Well to make an already long story short, the doctors were able to repair my spleen by going through my femoral artery in my thigh. (WHEW!) I even got to see some digital video taken during actual procedure. Of course, I was heavily sedated and I am still unable to accurately describe what took place beyond telling you that it was "pretty cool" to watch.
I was ever so lucky to have been taken care of skilled health care professionals who treated me with dignity, respect, and were always wiling to help me and address my concerns. And that includes the couple of times that I complained about the oxygen alarms that went off at all hours of the day.
And for those of you wondering whether or not I have given up riding a bicycle for good, I say "No." I plan on getting back out there, commuting across town as I head off for yet another appointment. Only now I'll have to do it riding a new bike.
Remember, SHARE THE ROAD!
Before I forget, do you know anyone with a Specialized Langster
that they are willing to sell at a reasonable price? If so have them email me with their information.
I was thinking that it was the most unkindest cut that I failed to mention the people who supported my through me ordeal through their personal visits and/or their phone calls. My family and friends did not fall short in wishing me the best with their questions and their positive spirits. I owe you each an apology for my actions and again I want to take this moment to thank you all.
Labels: accident, AMC Gremlin, bicyclist, Specialized Langster, spleen, SUV