Who Am I?
- Bob Barbanes:
- A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?
06 October 2010
After The Fall
This was going to be a nice little story about washing a motorcycle on a gorgeous day and then taking it out on a 30-mile ride to “dry her off.” Didn’t work out that way.
Motorcycling involves risk; I know that. And I’ve always believed that every accident can be avoided with the proper level of defensive riding. ...Until that lady pulled out in front of me yesterday.
It started off innocently enough: Absolutely beautiful day for a ride, and me without a care in the world. Instead of going to the beach as per usual, I just took the “long way” tour around town. I was almost home – 4.3 miles according to Mapquest. I came upon a t-interesection where, just to my right a car had pulled up to the red light and stopped. The woman driving the car looked in my direction and then pulled out in front of me! Damn! I wasn’t going very fast. I grabbed the brakes and started to swerve to go in front of her. But suddenly I could feel the front tire sliding. The bike fell over and spit me off. Just like that, just that quick. What the...?
I felt myself hit the ground and start to roll. I was worried about the cars behind me running over my body. I thought I could feel my helmet hit the ground, and remember thinking I’m damn glad I wore it. However, later inspection inexplicably revealed not a scratch. Which explains why I did not lose consciousness.
I got to my feet. The bike was on its left side, dripping fuel. I didn’t even want to look at what damage might have been caused. About that time, my left arm was hurting, bad. I knew that feeling. A long time ago I fell while jogging and broke my clavicle. At first I thought I had done it again, but the pain was further out the shoulder this time, in my upper forearm. A woman immediately appeared and asked to examine me.
“What are you, a nurse?” I asked, walking around in little circles to try and make the pain go away. I figured she wasn’t a doctor, because a doctor would not have stopped.
“As a matter of fact, yes I am a nurse,” she replied, kind of curtly.
“Stroke of luck then!” I said.
We peeled my dungaree jacket off and were happy (delighted?) to see no jagged bones sticking out anywhere. I couldn’t lift my left arm, and I knew that wasn’t a good sign.
We got the bike up on its stand and I could not believe my luck. When motorcycles fall over, the gas tank always gets dented. The handlebars usually bend and the switch gear or bar itself contacts the (expensive) tank. Not this time! The left bar was bent back a bit, but it had…somehow…not hit the tank. Aside from that there was very little other damage. The rear turn signal kept the back of the bike off the ground, and at the front, my highway peg – which is built waaaay more solidly and heavier than it needs to be (thanks, Harley!) kept the engine from harm. I was literally astounded. I must have really been going slow when the bike hit the ground. With the help of some Samaritans, we popped it into neutral and moved it out of traffic.
People want to immediately start explaining stuff. What happened? everyone asks. Even if I “know,” I do not say. Let’s let the dust settle, okay? The woman I almost hit was rattled. She seemed to think she’d done nothing wrong, but the man with her said to her, “Why’d you run that light and pull out in front of him?” Why indeed!
The nurse, finding nothing obviously wrong, gave me her number and said she knew a guy with a trailer who could get my bike home. She was, as was everyone else, strongly urging me to go to the hospital. I was having none of it. Leave the bike by the side of the road? No way! However, I knew I had to get home before the shock wore off.
With all information exchanged, I hit the starter button and the Sportster fired right up as I knew it would. My left arm was pretty useless. I won’t bore you with the details of how I clutched and shifted, but it wasn’t pretty. Or easy. There are eight traffic lights between me and the house: I hit every red, naturally, for that is my luck.
At home, I took some Extra-Strength Excedrin. The shock began to wear off. The pain in the arm was…let’s say “intense” and it was causing me to be nauseous. I’d lost my cellphone and had no way of calling anyone locally to come help. So I…don’t laugh…got on Facebook and described the situation. Everyone’s response was the same: “GO TO THE HOSPITAL!” But I knew that. And I would. I just needed to get the bike into the garage, which I couldn’t do alone. However, none of my friends were available to come help me. Neighbors weren’t home from work yet.
Pain is a funny thing. Usually I can bear it pretty well. But this pain in the arm was so bad – a pain I’d never felt before. And believe me, I’ve felt some pain (sordid details to come). I don’t usually get nauseous and lightheaded, so I knew this was bad.
Eventually, I just got in the car and drove to the hospital around 6 pm. They asked, as they always do to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Honestly…and I’m no wimp now…it was a 10. Nausea, light-headedness, dry mouth, pulse 140…whew, man! I’ll cut to the chase: I broke my arm right where it comes out of the shoulder socket.
I didn’t want to tell them I’d been in a motorcycle accident, knowing the opinion most hospital workers have of motorcycles. But the story came out nonetheless. “How’d you get home?” they’d ask. And of course I got that disapproving look when I told them I rode. “And how’d you get here this evening?” they’d then ask. And I got the same disapproving look when I told them I drove. Hey look, you do what you gotta do, alright?
The doctor says I’ll be out of commission for eight weeks. (We’ll see about that.) About 10:30 last night he finally gave me a shot of some kick-ass drug that made the pain melt away. (But why did they have to wait so long to administer it? Jeepers!)
“You do have someone to drive you home, don’t you?” they asked.
“Sure do!” I lied.
And so here I sit, 14 hours after the fall. Not much sleep last night. I took my left arm out of the immobilizing sling and gingerly moved it to the keyboard of my laptop. At this point there is no way to position the arm that does not hurt, so what’s the difference if it’s over the keyboard? What else have I got to do? They gave me some prescriptions for drugs (Percoset, I think) but I’m not a big drug guy. Excedrin and Tylenol can handle just about anything. And what they can’t, Rum and Coke can.
Oh, there is one other thing to do: Call the boss? Yeah, that. He’s going to be really pleased (not) when he hears this bit of news. He’s never liked the fact that I ride motorcycles. And I know the three little words he’s going to say. You know them too.
Oh well. Shit happens. That’s just life. To truly appreciate pleasure, you have to experience pain. And it is pain that I will be experiencing for some (hopefully short) time in the future.
posted at or around 6:17 AM