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Fall Down, Go Boom

I got re-acquainted with my own mortality yesterday.

I’m OK – for some definition of: I have one fractured rib. I also know that I was lucky. Here’s what happened:

66th_212th_01I was headed home about 4.15, proceeding north on 66th Ave W in Mountlake Terrace/Lynnwood (Google Map), approaching the four-way stop at 212th St. SW.

Because traffic was very heavy in the “go straight at the stop sign” lane (12 vehicles or so), I decided to turn left on 212th.

As I approached the stopping point (I stopped before the crosswalk, not in it as this car is pictured), cars were moving N-S through the intersection. Although in this Google image the left-most lane is a “straight” lane, today the left-most lane is a left-turn lane.

Next, cars began moving E-W through the intersection.

Directly across from me, in what used to be the “go straight lane”, I saw a large SVUish vehicle, which had come to a stop after I had. To my left, I watched the big pick-up truck move to the crosswalk and stop. As the vehicle to my right began to move, I made sure that what I thought of as the “oncoming” vehicle stayed put. I did not notice a car to its right.

As I cleared the intersection and straightened in my lane, a small red car materialized to my right, between me and the curb. I wasn’t going fast, but I grabbed the brakes. As the car passed me (it wasn’t slowing down), I got bumped (or I bumped the car).

That bump seems to have scrambled my brain, although it didn’t hurt the bike or me. I was now aiming for the curb, crossing the lane on a diagonal. There were no cars parked as there are in this image, fortunately. However, there was a tow truck. I target fixated.

Splitting the path between the street sign and a tree, I jumped the curb, crossed the sidewalk, went down the tan-bark covered incline and hit one of those concrete “don’t go past this point” barriers for parking places. I’m pretty sure that’s the point where I flew over the handlebars. 66th_212th_04_annotated

As I flew through the air, I distinctly remember thinking, what am I going to break?

I hit hard on my chest and hands. I stopped moving about 30 feet from the bike, which hit the back of the wrecker and fell over; I was now on my back. (How does this happen? Are we like turtles?) Givi topcase popped off its bracket and popped open. Contents spilled, including my new MacBookPro, which doesn’t start. (I hope it’s just the hard drive, which, of course, I have not backed up lately. However, almost all of my work the past few weeks is in the cloud, so the primary thing lost is a bunch of screenshots of stupid ads and stupid UI and such. Genius bar visit in an hour.)

So I’m lying on my back, my head is kinda under the big square bumper of truck. I’m watching the sky and the bumper is swaying back and forth. LOL! Of course, that was the clouds moving and me trying to get reintegrated. One of the wrecker guys ran over, asked me if I was OK. I wasn’t talking yet. He called 9-1-1.

After I got my breath back, I did the head-shoulders-hands-knees-feet routine. All worked. I listened to one-side of the 9-1-1 call – and gave a thumbs-up at an appropriate moment (so he knew I was conscious). The elderly lady who hit me (I didn’t know that at the time), hovered and said she was sorry and asked if there was anything she could do. (“I don’t think so,” I replied.)

Slowly, I took off my gloves. I sat up, took off my glasses and helmet. Stood up. Everything worked, but I was pretty sure I’d broken a rib.

The wrecker guys had picked up the bike. I asked them what they saw; they saw me clearing the curb, etc. Said the bike was upright, which we deduced by looking at tire tracks when we picked it up later. What “got me” was that concrete parking bump.

It seemed like the medic unit was there almost as soon as I got to my feet. (They came from the fire station a few blocks from our house.) Soon it was Grand Central Station. Several cops, including motorcycle cop. I told my story to one; the lady in the little red car (a beater UJC). The medics seemed relieved when I said, “yes, take me to the hospital.” They were GREAT.

The Damage
My wonderful peridot-green Murano glass bead necklace spilled onto the ground when the medics helped me take off my jacket. Hopefully we got most of it and I can restring it. I thought they dumped it in the bottom of the Givi, but it’s not there. Maybe it’s in my briefcase.

Gear did its job. No abrasions. A slight reddening on the lower chin, as that’s where the helmet hit. The helmet is a loss, of course, but jacket and Stich pants are fine. My favorite winter BMW gloves are fine, too, with only a slight tear in the outside wrist area, right glove.

The bike seems fine – won’t know until Mike rides it, I guess. The cowling around the headlight has more cracks; the right plastic side cover broke off where it attaches to the cowling but seems otherwise OK on first inspection. Dent in the tank from bars at full-right torque. My lovely birthday Givi case has a hole in the top. :-/

The Hospital Visit
Called Mike from the aid truck. Called Susan once I was past the first check-in point at Stevens; it was a little after 5 pm I think. Called Monty (ESC) and said, “I know y’all are going to think that I will do anything to get out of a QAV, but …” In the course of this conversation, I realized that I was still in shock because I was babbling. The motorcycle cop brought me the paperwork; told me that I’d have the official report in five days based on both witness statements and “vehicle positions.”

When Mike got there (6.30ish), I was just getting formally checked in to “Fast Track.”

Official diagnosis: rib six fractured, mid-point, right side.

We left about 8.15 pm. There were lots of families with children in the waiting room; there were a lot of iPhones, too.

Percocet is a wonder drug. I was not able to sit up or lift myself on/off either the exam bed or the xRay table at the hospital. After a Percocet and an hour in the hot tub, I was sitting on our sofa, leaning forward and back. LOL!

Slept sitting up in the recliner we call “Katie’s chair” because she looks out the front windows by sitting on the back of the chair. She was in her perch (sometimes on my head) and Rocko was in my lap for much of the night.

Very sore today (doh) and annoyed with the rain that kept me from crawling in the hottub after awakening.

What Happened?
Still replaying the sequence in my head.

(1) How long does it take for a new traffic pattern to imprint?
My brain was processing the oncoming SUV as a vehicle that was moving straight through the intersection. But that’s not the case, because the traffic pattern has recently been changed. Like me, he was in position to make a left-hand turn. (But he did not have on a turn-signal, I did.)

(2) Where was the little red car?
(a) If she was making a right hand turn (southbound on 66th), then I had to have entered the intersection first for us to have “met” where we did. That would explain why the vehicle seemed to materialize to my right.
(b) If she was proceeding east-to-west on 212th, then one of us must have misread the four-way-stop ballet. I will swear on a stack of Bibles that cars had progressed east-and-west, that is was the north-south “turn” to cross the intersection. I believe that the car to my right (in the northbound go-straight lane) had also started moving when I started into the intersection. That said, I can’t tell you the size of the car to my right. Because I was stopped at the legal stop point, and on an uphill grade, it is possible that the car to my right blocked my view of the westbound traffic, specially since this was a small (short) car.

(3) I need to spend more time in the dirt.
I’m pretty sure I target fixated, which is what took me up and over the curb. But I could have planted my left leg and pulled the bars around to the left once I was on dirt, if that were something my brain knew how to do without being directed. Dual purpose bikes really do rock!

(4) Remember to be more careful the closer you get to your home! This is the classic “within three miles” (isn’t that the number) of home crash.

Update: (WP won’t let me comment – huh?)
MacBook Pro now has a bad RAM slot. The RAM slots are part of the logic board, ie, $1240 non-warranty (accident) replacement.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

One reply on “Fall Down, Go Boom”

Definitely sorry to read this, but happy that the outcome is your continued presence in life. Recently had to deal with similar experience when our triathlete daughter in San Luis Obispo took a spill a month ago on her bicycle when she caught a bad patch of gravel going downhill at 30 or so mph – no cars involved here; however, her helmeted head took 95% of the impact resulting in a traumatic brain injury. Fortunately, after rushing down there to the ICU and the uncertainty of whether or not she was at death’s door, the rest of the news has been very good.

She had no other substantive physical injuries – no broken bones nor fractures and only a couple of cuts that required stitching. She is well on her way to a full recovery – but the cognitive skills will be the longest part of the haul – but they continue to improve; at this point, she’s expected to return to college in the fall.

In the meantime, hope I can get to the preso camp – looks interesting!

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