“Bill… can you hear me?” a strange voice boomed over me. It was noisy and chaotic, I was freezing and disoriented. The surface I was lying on was incredibly uncomfortable and I attempted to shift my weight. A tsunami of pain washed over me and I cried out. Several sets of hands suddenly were on me forcing me to sit still. Again, the booming voice called out to me. I opened my eyes to see 8-10 faces, all staring at me with anticipation.
“Where am I? ” It was then that I realized that I was wearing an oxygen mask. I tried to reach to take it off when I realized that my arms were strapped to my sides.
“Bill please don’t try to move. You’ve sustained a serious back injury and you are in a prone position until we can determine the severity.”
I think I next asked about my bike. He dodged the question.
A nurse burst into the room. We’ve got his dad on the phone, he says the patient has kidney disease. I heard a quick exchange between them and before I knew it my shorts were at my ankles and I was being catheterized. I have two powerful memories of that moment. The pain of a plastic tube going the wrong way up an exit brought me to full consciousness right away and I realized that I was in the presence of about 10 medical students.
Embarrassing. My second regret is that I didn’t have the mental acuity to make a good joke such as “aren’t you going to buy me dinner first?” I don’t remember much after that. I either blacked out again, was anesthetized or I fell asleep. My next memory is of being in a stuffy hospital room in traction.
My parents were my first visitors. I managed to find the strength to thank my father for the heads up that led to me being “pantsed” in front of a team of medical students. We laughed a little about that one but laughing and fractured vertebrae equaled agony so we kept the joking to a minimum. Soon after, a wave of my friends arrived with thoughtful gifts such as books and dirty magazines. Their visits were helpful but I was in a funk. Then, on the afternoon of my second day, a cute little blond poked her head in my room. It was Cheryl. She had called my house and my father had told her what had happened.
She came into the room with the facial expression of a woman delivering a cancer diagnosis. Despite her dour demeanor, I lit up. I was so happy to see her. She proceeded to profusely apologize for what happened. I assured her that it was in no way her fault, hell I would do it again. As her visit would reveal that would not be necessary. She told me that we can’t see each other anymore because she wanted to “make it work” with her boyfriend. That was exactly the dick-slap I needed at that time. Of course, I didn’t know that the next day I would get another one. I received a call from my employer. Because I had not shown up for work without a call I was terminated. That was the good news. I also learned that the bargain-basement health plan that my company provided did not cover an accident that wasn’t work-related. Believe it or not, health care has improved dramatically. This was a deplorable policy that is now illegal. I would accrue over $27,000 in medical bills from the accident.
I spent 2 1/2 weeks in that hospital. I had a collapsed lung, 4 fractured vertebrae, 3 broken ribs, a broken wrist, a concussion and “road rash” on 70% of my body. A muscle shirt, jean shorts, and sneakers may have been a great choice for fucking in a van, but it was a poor choice to ride in that day. They were picking rocks and pebbles out of my ass for a week. I was in traction for 8 days and the pain was excruciating. As I laid there high on pain-killers, watching TV and wishing I was anywhere else I attempted to piece together the moments after I blacked out. I had so many questions.
I cringed at the memory of the moment when I gasped for air and failed. I really thought I was going to die. Why didn’t I? I asked my Dr. and he explained the medical phenomenon of your body going into “shock”. Incredibly, my body sensed that I was losing control and it “took over” my panic and shut me down. It enabled me to breathe and consequently survive until I was found.
I wanted to know who found me. Remember, this is before cell phones. Was it a good Samaritan driving by that saw my bike and found a nearby house to call 911? I don’t remember a house in the area that I went down. In addition, how long was I lying in a ditch before they saw me and how much time elapsed before the ambulance arrived? I had no memory of the ambulance ride. It was a blank. I still don’t know nor will I ever.
The last question that nagged me, and does to this day was who was the asshole that hit me and why did he leave me there? He had to have seen the crash. To my knowledge, no arrest was ever made. I still harbor an unhealthy bitterness towards that sonofabitch.
I would wear a back brace for 6 months after the accident. I was out of work for a year. I had to deal with many issues during recovery including lower back issues resulting from compensating my posture to ease the pain. I still struggle with it to this day but I don’t dwell on it because my ever walking again was once in question.
I still love motorcycles. I will ride one again. The only reason I don’t have one now is money. I also believe in helmet laws. My father recovered my helmet, it was cracked in half. Despite all of it, when I can afford it I will again enjoy the sensation of driving that only an iron steed can provide. Amazingly, the memories of my riding days are still fun ones. Sun on my skin, wind in my face and bugs in my teeth. Cheryl on the back with her tiny arms wrapped around, sexy-talking me while holding me tight, damn I will never forget my times with her. Whenever I see a bike, which if you recall is what started this story, I smile.
As I do when I see a Nurse’s uniform. Did I mention that I began dating one of the medical students immediately after the crash? She slipped me her number as she wheeled me out of the hospital when I was released. I suppose she liked what she saw when I was “pantsed” and catheterized. She was fun.
But that, my friends. is a story for another day.