Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another Bicycle Booboo

“You are a poor advertisement for alternative transportation!”

A fellow book club member slapped me with this insult at a vulnerable moment. Now,

not only was my body devastated but so was my ego. I already knew that. I didn’t have to be told. After having fallen and broken my left hip only last December, now in July I had fallen again and done something else. I didn’t know what I had done to myself this time, but the rising pain in my right shoulder told me it was not good.

On route to the book club meeting, I had been cruising happily alone in the “sharrow” lane on Beacon Avenue when my right handle bar clipped the rear view mirror of a parked car. A nano-second later I slammed into the concrete. I lay there screaming and moaning for maybe a full minute before I looked up and noticed that a line of cars had stopped and were waiting for me to get out of their way. So, cringing with pain, I raised myself up gingerly and slowly pulled my pack back onto my shoulders, loaded as is was with heavy things like books, bike lock, head lamp, etc. Thus encumbered, I gripped the handle bars and managed somehow to tolerate the excruciating torment for a couple of miles until I reached my friend’s house where the meeting was already in session.

Someone lent me a cell phone to call the Group Health Consulting Nurse.

“On a scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain?” she asked.


“Can you lift your arm?”

I tried but could not lift it forward, only out to the side.

“You’d better go to Urgent Care right away,” she said.

A friend, (not the one who accused me of being a poor advertisement) drove me there in her car. Sian was an angel, insisting upon staying with me through the three hour ordeal. We had to wait more than an hour just to see the doctor, and then the pain medication was not dispensed until after the X-Rays and definitive diagnosis.
I wonder what it would be like if you showed up in Urgent Care all bloody and with a limb hanging off.

The diagnosis was a broken clavical. On the X-Ray my collar bone looked something like an artist’s pain brush all splayed out and frayed at the end.

Prognosis and treatment for a broken collar bone is fairly simple. They just put you in a sling and off you go with a bottle of pain pills. The worst part is that you’re grounded from biking for two months. Still, compared with last December when I broke the ball joint off my femur and it had to be replaced with a metal one, this was not that serious. Never mind that my daughter and I had planned to bike on Cape Cod and around Nantucket Island together the next week. I’m doing everything I had planned to do only a little slower on foot.

My daughter bought me a pedometer and suggested that, for optimum health, I should walk at least 10,000 steps per day. It’s fun to keep score. I have been exceeding that by two or three thousand. This past week I went with my husband and some friends on a six day hiking trip in the Pasayten Wilderness. They carried my stuff.

But the bad part is what people say to me. The Urgent Care Physician put it this way: “Maybe you should research other forms of transportation.’

“It won’t take any research, I said. “ I already know. It’s called Metro.”

People don’t understand what they’re saying to me when they suggest I give up bicycling. They are asking me to give up my joy, my freedom, my independence, the love of my life. They are asking me to surrender my soul. That would be a pretty difficult adjustment. I might have to make it some day, but not yet. It has been nearly a month since my fall. Only one more month to go.


Julie said...

I admire your dedication to bicycling.

May you heal soon!

Julie In San Diego

Kronda said...

Ditto, speedy healing and a pox on that rude book club member!

Char said...

So sorry to hear you fell! :( But at least you don't have to have surgery and hopefully it will heal by itself. I know how it is to NOT bike. It's like a drug addict not having access to drugs. It is our high in life to bike. Hang in there, hopefully soon you can be out biking again.....

Connecting Stories said...

“Passing on your left.”
Don't hit the old lady on the bike and other commuting stories
by Norah Dooley

I love to ride my bike to school, I have ridden the roads of Boston for nearly 40 years now. But my ride is feeling more and more dangerous. I pass over the BU Bridge ( currently under repairs - but crossing the BU Bridge on a bike is whole horror story unto itself ) through Central Square and onto Union Square, heading towards Sullivan Square. It is a bumpy, pockmarked, potholed, truck filled, hazardous and typical Greater Boston bike ride. People in cars flip me the bird and trucks squeeze me out and over. Glass, gravel, sand and yawning potholes as wide as my tires are round cover the road surface. Not pretty sometimes. Lots of hostility. I could also go on about the beauty, the glory of traveling this way, but that is a different story...

This story is about the thing that scares me witless and nearly kills me daily - my fellow cyclists.

A dozen times in a ride, cyclists on busy streets whizz pass me with no warning. They should signal. It should be a no brainer. No new equipment or batteries necessary. Maybe, it is a no brainer? As in brains not engaged? Scary as the cars are I know they are there. I do not listen to head phones and ride. I never talk on my cell and ride. I am listening. But cyclists slide silently by me all the time, right and left, without so much as a "hey! " And then zip in front of me and are gone. Fine. I know you need to pass me. I am an old lady and I do not speed along. And I typically have 30 – 40 pounds of equipment on board.

But I want to sit these cyclists down for a harangue -
" Dude! Check it out - the laws of physics always apply! 24/7. Meaning, two objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time. No matter how cool your bike, or your outfit, or your gear. Physics is fashion blind. Listen. We are sharing the same streets and conditions. We are rolling around on a method of non polluting transport and therefore we are quiet. Very quiet. And we are surrounded by infernal combustion engines and they are noisey. Very noisey. The roads are unpredictably bad. If I swerve to the left to avoid a pot hole or some broken glass and you are behind me, zooming along at top passing speed, slithering up to pass without so much as a hiss- how am I to know you are in my space ? While I do have a rear view mirror, I intentionally keep my eyes front looking for disaster. I will not hear you. I do not hear you. And if I swerve to avoid something ahead and we tangle ? We'd both be in a world of pain. Both of us could never ride again.”

And there is a a very simple solution - When you are one to two bike lengths away say
" Passing on your left." How hard was that? You will be every bit as banged up as I if we collide. A little common sense mixed with common courtesy ? Let's do it. I have to get to school I have a whole bunch of kids waiting for me.

hope you enjoyed this
your "sister" on wheels