Four weeks ago I was riding my normal route to the hospital, a ten minute trip on my bicycle most days. It was cold and windy but there was no snow or ice on the roads. There is one spot along the way where I make a left and then an immediate right turn.
I make the left turn.
Then nothing. Darkness.
The next memories I have are cloudy and dreamlike. I remember handing my school ID and health insurance card to someone at a desk. I vaguely realize I am at the hospital but I don’t know why. My face hurts. A young guy tells me I was in an accident and he brought me to the hospital. He is using my phone to call my wife, I stumble through some expression of gratitude and then he is gone.
That is how I ended up a patient at my own hospital. I was on my surgery rotation, so I had been working with the residents and physicians that were seeing me. It was… a little weird. I remember apologizing to the trauma resident for creating more work for him. I was a little out of it but I legitimately felt bad. Ha.
Overall, the experience has lead to some positive things. Before I get to that, let me just say that I am fine. I was wearing my helmet. I stayed in the hospital one night as they wanted to repeat my head CT the following morning. I have a nice scar from a gash on the right cheek (see below). I had headaches for about a week, but returned to work after a few days off. I still can’t remember exactly what happened. I think my bike just slipped as I made that turn. I seem to have about 15 minutes of memory I’ll never get back. As far as I can tell there are no other residual effects, but if I failed my surgery shelf I am blaming the traumatic brain injury.
My experience with the hospital was very good. I hope I wasn’t treated very differently, but I have no way to know for sure. I did learn how overwhelming it felt to be surrounded by a team of physicians and students. It’s amazing how quickly your mind can go blank when the doctor asks “Do you have any questions?”
This whole thing has lead to a lot of jokes. It’s funny how many people will ask me what happened and before I even respond they’ll say, “I should see the other guy, right?” I wasn’t even going to say that! I also had a few fellow students accuse me of crashing on purpose so I could get out of my surgery rotation. Surgery was rough but it wasn’t that bad!
My favorite so far was a patient I had this week in clinic. She asked about the scar and I told her the story. Later we were talking about her quitting smoking, and she said “Everyone has bad habits. For you, it’s falling.” Touché.
Some other upsides: I have always been a big proponent of helmets and now I have a personal story to use when I implore people to always ride with one. Also, a random stranger helped me out of the street and brought me (and my bike!) to the hospital. Faith in humanity restored!
Today I swapped bike crashing stories with a elderly gentleman. He said that into his fifties he was riding 40-50 miles a day. I was so inspired I had to get back on the bike. He I am four weeks to the day after my accident:
It’s good to be back!