Me, after having my neck brace removed and having been cleared to leave the ER. X-Rays came back clear, as did the sonogram.
Last week I posted on how to avoid an epic bike ride, but what I did not include was how to avoid getting hit by a car. This has been my worst fear since starting to cycle. I often talk about how I feel less safe biking than I do climbing. Well, this past Friday night my fears became reality. I had just spent part of my evening in a coffee shop in downtown Austin and was headed back to my fiancés apartment to finish getting my camera gear ready for a photography assignment the next day. On my way back to her apartment, just a few blocks way, I was hit by a car!
Overall, Austin is a very bike friendly city. Cyclists frequently ride as traffic and motorists seem to be very aware of them most of the time. There are also lots of bike routes to help bikers get around the city safely. I have been heavily relying on my bike for transportation for the past couple of weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed it. During this time I have never felt unsafe. Motorists seem to be very aware of cyclists, I often see them pulling back into parking lots and side streets when they are sticking out to far and notice I am coming towards them.
Friday night was different though. It was my first time since moving here that I have ridden at night. I was traveling south down South Congress (a busy four lane road with turn lanes) in the bike lane with blinking lights on the front and back of my bike. I was also heading down a long gradual downhill, so my speed was faster than normal for bike commuting.
As I was a few blocks away from the turn to my fiancés apartment I began to think about the likelihood of getting hit by a car if I continued to bike commute, but little did I know that would become reality, seconds later. As I neared a dark intersection I saw a car turning left onto a side street. I was already in the intersection. A million thoughts went through my head as the accident unfolded. The first thought was, “crap I don’t even have time to hit my brakes.” Then, CRASH! I was struck from the side and I thought I was going to die. I thought, “this is it, I’m dead.” I can’t remember the exact thoughts after that, but my fiancé, Kristy, went through my mind.
The next thing that happened was, I was flying through the air, doing a flip. It happened so fast, but I remember thinking, “holy crap, I’m flipping in the air.” I felt like a ragdoll. I’m pretty sure my feet were straight up in the air as I did at least one and a half rotations. As quickly as those thoughts went through my head I landed face down, like a pancake on the other side of the intersection along the sidewalk, right next to a utility pole.
The intersection where I was struck by the car. I was thrown off the bike and landed next to the utility pole along the sidewalk on the side closest to the road.
The landing was the best I could have asked for. A foot further right I would have flew into the utility pole and would have likely been knocked down to the ground, head first. A few feet further to the left I would have ended up in oncoming traffic. Even my stride while pedaling was probably a blessing. Had my left let been in a forward stride I probably would have been pinned against the car and forced to the ground rather then being thrown off the bike.
I laid their stunned, not totally realizing I was alive yet, or if anything was broken. I was just in a lot of pain. I might have even blacked out for a brief second. It seems like at the very moment I landed somebody was next to me telling me not to move and that 911 had been called. I heard what was likely the person who hit me asking if I was okay. All I could say was, “no, I’m in pain.” The woman that was telling me not to move began asking me if I could feel her touching my legs and if I could wiggle my toes. After I was successful at wiggling my toes and feeling her touch I was pretty sure I was going to be all right, but still thought I probably shattered my hip or broke something.
The fire department EMT’s were the first on the scene, with the ambulance shortly behind. After being checked out by them I was allowed to sit up. I was asked numerous questions, for what I assume was to make sure I didn’t have a concussion or anything of that nature. But, I was also very blessed in that I never hit my head. After giving me a thorough check-up on the scene the paramedics suggested I go to the ER to be checked out more thoroughly. I decided this would be a good idea just in case I had a neck injury that wasn’t detected through external tests.
The hospital visit wasn’t very pleasant. I was there for about five hours. My fiancé had enough time to drive back to Austin from Dallas before I had been released. I was also thankful to have other friends from Church visit me while I was there. I’m blessed to have so many people that care about me after having only lived here in Austin for a month.
While at the hospital I was giving morphine to help with the pain, was given an ultrasound to make sure I had no internal bleeding and x-rays were taken of my neck and upper back. The morphine actually helped with the pain more than I realized. I hadn’t noticed it until I was on my way out, but my right hip had swollen up to the size of an ostrich egg. It was the most swelling I have ever experienced, or seen.
After about five hours of being in the ER, I was released. I didn’t get to bed until around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. I slept most of Saturday morning and part of the afternoon, but was able to get up and move around a bit and pick up my bike from the fire station down the road from where the accident occurred. The bike, although damaged pretty bad was not as bad as I thought it would have been.
Not sure how it happened, but somehow the seat saddle was knocked off it's frame.
The seat saddle was knocked off, the bike bag on the saddle also detached from the fibers, the frame was dented and the front and rear fork scratched up pretty badly, and the front tire bent badly. I’m actually shocked the frame wasn’t folded in half, but either way I will probably have to replace the bike because of the damaged frame.
The bent, front tire.
Portion of the damaged frame. The front and rear forked also sustained damage.
I am TRULY blessed to be alive though. I don’t feel for one second I was lucky. I see my survival and escape from any extremely serious injury as a gift from God. It was caused me to take a step back a bit too and evaluate how I am living my life. I will likely be spending more time in prayer over the next few days after this near death experience. It’s so crazy to think if certain things happened in a slightly different way I would likely be dead or seriously injured. Praise God though, I am alive. It’s hard to say for sure what the extent of my injuries are though because of the pain killers, but hopefully I will know soon.
I have also realized how blessed I am to have Kristy as my future wife. She has been taken such good care of me; bandaging my wounds, bringing my ice packs, and making sure I take my medication. I have also had an awesome community of support around me from people at Church, friends and even people on Twitter.
Even though I am pretty shook up from the event I will probably ride my bike again after I fully recover and get a replacement. But for now I will enjoy the extra time I have resting to mediate, pray and read scripture. I will also utilize this time to work on my business, Adventure Naturals, and work on getting some more freelance projects. Hopefully I can make up for the income lost in the photography assignments I had to cancel.
I will also be enjoying one of my great recovery smoothies that is great for reducing inflammation later this afternoon. Check it out here.