Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A car collided with my bicycle and me

Everyone I know who commutes by bicycle long term has had some kind of accident. These accidents might be minor, as in breaking one's finger defending oneself against an opening car door, or, major, as in brain swelling resulting from a collision with a motorcycle. I myself avoided getting hit for my seven years until May 26th, hours before the birthday barbecue I had planned for myself.

I was pressured by my boss to attend a "grading-calibration" with other graduate instructors to discuss how best to mark papers and give appropriate feedback. After a pretty big fight with my boyfriend, I rode with an irritated and distracted mind. I flew down the hill toward the parking garage, entered the garage at an uphill angle, slowing me down significantly. I started making my way back to a point at which I would turn left and then head to my office. But my memory is blank but for the brief moment of the collision, where I see the driver's beige Mazda hit me from the side as I collide with the hood of the car, and then another blank space.

I came to sitting on the curb as a police officer attempted to gather information from me. The collision between my head the pavement had split my helmet, and the front fork of my bicycle was badly dented. I was walking and that was a good sign. Nonetheless an ambulance hustled me to the hospital; all the while making phone calls to see if previously-mentioned boyfriend could meet me at the hospital and alerting my boss that I wouldn't make it to the session. At that point I felt, not so much confused--I felt relatively lucid--but caught up in the ridiculousness of the scenario. I persisted in asking the doctors who stitched me up and the care-providers who cleaned off my wounds questions like, "Is it true that human mouths are ten times dirtier than dog mouths?" I think at that point the whole thing seemed so surreal for me.

After some tests and about twenty minutes of CAT scans it was confirmed that I had escaped with only three deep abrasions on my face and a minor concussion. The doctors decided that I should stay overnight so that they might monitor my concussion. Luckily, the trauma clinic room I inhabited for the night I shared with an older gentleman who had recently undergone surgery for his hernia. This man proceeded to spend all night watching Fox News loudly, tossing and turning in bed, complaining, and demanding room temperature ginger-ale for his ailing stomach. My boyfriend was terribly concerned and kept threatening to get the driver, a Chinese national, deported. But after washing off the blood and stank in my morning hospital shower I was free to go (incidentally, the hospital stay, x-rays, ambulance, etc. totally around $33,000 for those of you who want to argue that market mechanisms keep healthcare costs down).

Returning to find my bike I discovered the frame to be fucked (on consultation with a local shop) apparently it buckled from the collision. Because the frame is aluminum it is useless to repair as any hammering back into shape would produce a weaker frame. Moreover, the police report after much bureaucratic hassle indicates that there were no witnesses and the driver claiming he was driving 10 mph (downhill?!) and I on the other hand was going "quite fast." After discussing the matter with a lawyer he suggested that the case didn't look good precisely because it would be my speculations against the driver's word. This was rather disappointing to me precisely because I am now without my central means of transportation. Moreover, how could I have a concussion from colliding with someone driving 10 mphs? That has to be a lie!

More irritating, perhaps, is the fact that the concussion for about 2 weeks made it difficult to concentrate on anything for more than an hour seriously inhibiting my ability to work on my dissertation.

WEAR A DAMN HELMET! I don't give a fuck if it messes up your coiffure!

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