This is, without a doubt, the best headline of any blog post I’ve ever written. On to the story.
I bike to work and generally put in a significant number of miles in a given week. My office is only 2.6 miles from my house, but I make a point of biking 6-10 miles one way for exercise. Yesterday I was 5.34 miles into a 10 mile bike to work. I was between E and F street on 12th ave downtown and at full speed on my bike, which is about 30 mph. I cut into the trolley path behind a train to cross the street and caught the draft from the train, which propelled me even faster down the road. To understand the configuration of the road you have to realize I was on the road, but between the two southbound tracks of the trolley. It’s very smooth pavement. Also for context, I recently put street tires on my bike for more speed and these are much narrower than what I used previously on my bike and are designed with no tread at all. They’re just slicks. It struck me as soon as I caught the draft on the trolley that my tires could fit quite nicely in the groove of the trolley tracks. This would be bad. Upon realizing this hazard I thought to myself: I better be careful crossing those tracks. No sooner than I finished this thought than a track transition appeared from underneath the trolley. This is where the track crosses diagonally for trolleys to change tracks. “Oh shit” is what I thought; alas, I should have thought “bunny hop” instead. Had I, I would have surely been ok. Sure enough my tire caught the groove of the track and I flew face first into the pavement. I think I caught my right hand first, then my forehead, then somewhere along the way I hit my chin hard. The right side of my face is fairly damaged, but I’m confident there is no permanent damage to my boyish good looks 😉 . In addition to my face the rest of my body is nicely bloodied and bruised: knees, legs, arms, hands….
After smashing my face into the pavement I immediately pulled myself up and drug my bike to the curb. Even through the pain and shock I knew laying in the trolley path was a bad idea and I was motivated to move quickly. A nice French gentleman who was on his way to his first day of class at San Diego City College watched the entire event transpire. He was on the opposite side of the street and asked me: “Are you ok.” I wasn’t sure, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t. I called back: “I’m not sure, can you come take a look at my face.” Having witnessed the severity of the accident he was very surprised to see my face damaged as little as it was. I was fighting to maintain consciousness and tried to dial my co-workers for help. I didn’t want to call Tara, my wife, because I knew she would be very upset, likely bordering on hysteria, and she had the kids, who I did not want to see me for fear I would scare the crap out of them too. As I struggled to keep conscious I had a very difficult time operating my iPhone. I finally managed to dial Mark Fidelman, who happened to be at the top of my recent calls list, but it went straight to his voicemail. Mark is the new VP of Sales and I barely know the guy. I made a couple more unsuccessful attempts to dial co-workers and the office operator before giving up. I could barely see anything, I was literally seeing stars. I handed the French good Samaritan my iPhone, told him I was likely going to lose consciousness and asked him to call anyone on the current screen. He got Rion on the phone.
I did not want the expense of an ambulance ride. Even with my very high quality and very expensive health insurance with Aetna, which I have through work, I knew it was going to cost me hundreds of dollars just for the ambulance. Oh, the joys of health coverage in California. Rion, who was on the phone with the French Samaritan, asked if I needed an ambulance. Realizing I could lose consciousness at any moment and I had sustained a significant head trauma I said yes, but asked that someone from the office also come in their car. I was hoping that I would be well enough to catch a ride to the doctor from the co-worker by the time they got to me and moreover, I wanted to make sure my bike wasn’t left behind. It took me about 10-15 minutes to return to a normal state of consciousness and for the stars in my vision to dissipate. I tentatively stood and within 5 minutes I was able to do so without the aid of a garbage can. A man from an adjacent second floor apartment brought me a glass of water and a bag of ice. He informed me that he had heard the accident from his apartment. His windows were closed. I asked him: “so, you heard my facing hitting the pavement through your second floor apartment walls over the sound of the passing trolley?” He replied with a chuckle and said yes.
The ambulance arrived as well as a police squad car. The paramedics took my vitals. I told them I was declining a ride to the hospital. They reluctantly agreed and had me sign a refusal of service form of some sort on their Palm Treo. I thought it was interesting that they’re patient management application was built on the Palm OS. At this point I was feeling pretty stupid for having such a nasty and yet entirely avoidable bicycle accident. I was bemoaning my stupidity to the police officers when they emphatically informed me accidents of this sort happen all the time. As it turns out, the trolley tracks have claimed countless bicyclists. The officer went on to inform me that every bicycle cop, himself included, had at some point had a similar accident caused by the trolley tracks. I felt a little less clumsy and dumb.
Dominic, a co-worker, picked me up and transported me to my regular doctor in Hillcrest, Dr. Ozy Batista (Dr. Ozzy), who graciously fit me in. His nurse cleaned me up and he confirmed I wasn’t hemorrhaging. Good news. He and I shared skateboarding accident and injury stories and we had a good laugh as we often do when I’m in for a visit. He scheduled a cat-scan for my head for later that day. The cat-scan showed no serious damage from the accident itself, but it did turn up a 5 mm cyst in my brain. I’ll provide more details of this cyst when I get them by fax later today from his office. The short story is: he has no idea what it is and suggested I shouldn’t worry about it. Ok. I’m hoping it will give me super powers. I think I’ll do a little more research though and have the image sent to a neurologist for review.
I’m pretty sure this is the worst I’ve ever been injured. It’s peculiar to have the zenith of personal injury at 33 years old. Well, let’s hope it’s the zenith. It seems to me more likely I would have reached this milestone in my recklessly stupid teens or crazy twenties. Maybe I’m not invulnerable? Naahhh…this clearly is evidence of my invulnerability! 😉 Jokes aside, I’m in surprisingly good shape considering the nature of the accident.