Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Spring Vacation gone sideways

I accompanied my wife on a vacation these last two weeks. We went to a two-day camp of the California Superbike School (http://www.superbikeschool.com) at Virginia International Raceway (http://www.virclub.com). I got this tuned-up little Kawasaki Ninja 600, setup for my weight and wearing new race tires. I rode that thing as fearlessly as I've ever ridden anything. I got passed by people, and I passed people who are semi-pro racers. I learned so much. My wife learned so much, too, and had a great time. I kid you not, I rode hanging off the side of that bike like a crazy man. I just wanted to go faster and faster, and they taught me the tools to do it safely and efficiently. Fantastic time.

Two days after the camp, we were back up in the GA mountains on our own bikes. I remember being a full day and 90 minutes into the mountain part of our vacation, feeling confident and controlled and full 15mph faster on the same roads I had trained on before going to camp. It was cleansing and free, and I remember the sound of the tires humming instead of groaning like they used to. It was fantastic. Then I remember hearing "Mr Beamon, can you hear me?" and opening my eyes to find a medic, a deputy, and three riding buddies.

I'll be brief as I can on the details, but I've been experiencing
a sort of slowly-developing perspective since the crash (a high-side into a ditch by a rock wall). I remember feeling a lump on my leg and a pain in my back, and I hurt pretty bad. The narcotics veiled all but a few details of the next 24hrs. I remember the traction splint, the ride to the hospital, the catheter, and a group of friends in the pre-op room. A couple days after the surgery, I was basically lame and had a lot of swelling and chest congestion. I was frustrated that I couldn't move my leg on its own or roll over on some of my bruises. Most of my body did not really hurt unless I was straining to use something specific. Nine days post-crash now, I breathe okay and get around on a walker. My only pressing pains are bruises and swellings that prevent me from sleeping on my side or coughing or whatnot.

What has surprised me most has been how my own mind has only gradually ingested this. 38yr old male in one-vehicle motorcycle crash, left the roadway into a rock embankment and ditch. Found unconscious and not breathing. Five breaks to right femur and pelvis.
Significant bruising to groin and thighs due to 3-4 pints of internal blood loss. Four broken ribs in left back with punctured and partially collapsed left lung. 4hr surgery to implant rod in femur was successful, but post-op fever prevented blood transfusion until 3d post-crash. Following the transfusion, patient progressed and was released 6d post-crash to home physical therapy with a walker.

It was four or five days in before I felt "lucky to be alive", before I really understood the tears and expressions of the friends who came to see me. I thought "I broke my leg", but reading that summary about Steve or Dawn or Bob would have made me nauseous. The size of this is only now becoming clear to me. I realize that if I hadn't been riding in a group, I might have never woke up in that ditch. I've got around 6mos of physical therapy to rebuild my leg, and I hope to be grateful for every day of it. That'll come and develop with time, I'm certain. I hope to write more about life and music in the time while I'm not out riding. This summer will afford me some good quiet time.