On April 24, 2012, at approximately 10:30 am, I was involved in an accident on the 405 freeway that threw me about 30 feet, at somewhere I’d say between 40 and 60 MPH. Somehow I survived. I attribute this to my suit.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy with how the last/current one performed. But I’d really like to have one with inertial dampers, or impact resistance fluid to avoid the incredible muscle pain and lack of mobility that followed.
Tuesday, April 24 – 10:30 AM.
Location: 405 South somewhere near Sherman Oaks ramp.
While riding into work in the diamond lane, a pickup truck approximately 75 yards in front of me, hit his brakes. I also hit my brakes and downshifted. (from 6th to 5th, 6th is actually Overdrive, so the downshift doesn’t slow you like a downshift between the other gears) The truck then let off his brakes, and began accelerating away.
I kept at my same speed, but was shocked when within seconds, the truck hit his brakes and skidded, turning slightly sideways to a stop. I hit the brakes, it wasn’t enough, so I hit them harder. The back tire locked and the Bike skidded out to the right. I let off, hoping to get the bike straight again, then hit them again. this time the bike slid to the left. As the left side swayed out, I could see the primer grey pickup trucks tail gate plainly.
It said “Chevrolet” in Dull primer color, and below it, an after market Steel, universal bumper, with a trailer hitch, that had been spray painted with shiny silver. I had that momentary glimpse locked in my mind, as I realized I’d be smashed between the bike and the truck, with probably a broken leg, if not more, then the blackness would come.
What happened next, happened fast, and left my mind wondering why I wasn’t feeling the impact. The bike, it’s back tire becoming even with it’s front, could slide no further, and since I wasn’t leaned down, but more upright, the bike flipped. Sending me flying. I was aware of the loud crash sound as the bike flipped and smashed into the pavement. Then another Loud Jolt, as my helmet hit the back left corner of the trucks tailgate. (and apparently my right shoulder also grazed it, since I later would have massive bruising on the entire right shoulder and arm) It was at this time I realized I wasn’t smashed between the bike and the truck, and was wondering exactly what happened or what was happening. I was then sailing through the air, face up, with my left arm behind my back. When I hit the pavement, on my back, left arm under me, sliding head first, my left arm was ripped out of the socket. Then I rolled over on to my stomach, the left side of my head smashing hard into the pavement.
All I could think was “Oh Jesus, I’m in the Lane, I gotta move or I’m going to get run over” I pushed myself up with both arms, struggling to get to my feet, but there was blackness on the edges of my vision. I then realized I couldn’t breathe. I could see drivers jumping from their vehicles running towards me. The man in the pickup truck was yelling “Don’t Move! I’m a medic, you could have neck injuries, you need to be stabilized, don’t move!” I stayed pushed up at arms length, pushing to breathe out, straining to breathe in, and yet, nothing. I finally raspily whispered “I can’t breathe” The man reached me, and pushed me over onto my back, again saying, “don’t move! lie on your back, DO NOT MOVE YOUR HEAD!” as he held my helmet so I was looking straight up at the clouds whisping by. It was at this point that my breath came back, and with that wonderful inhalation of life giving air, came invisible grey elephants, standing on my shoulders and chest.
At first I wondered if I had landed on something that had speared through me, but I was breathing, and it wasn’t labored, but full breaths. The pain was incredible. More and more people gathered around me. I could hear drivers on their cell phones calling into 911. People were asking me my name, where I was, what day it was, where I was going, who the president was. Realizing these questions would establish that I was coherent, I ignored the irritation at being asked such questions in the midst of agonizing pain, and I answered each one of them. Fire trucks arrived, more men began gathering, examining, asking questions. Then the ambulance arrived, and again, more examining and questions. It was just like a scene from a movie or TV show. There were faces from left to right, each looking me over, each asking questions.
I finally said, Listens guys, One at a time, I can’t answer you all at once. Then answered each of their questions again correctly and accurately.
“OK, he seems coherent and stable, Where does it hurt?”
“My left arm and shoulder, it feels like it’s not there anymore, like it was ripped out, or like there are elephants standing on it”
“Can you move it? ”
“Can you move your fingers, toes, feet, legs?”
“yes” as I moved each without issue.
OK, we’re going to cut your jacket off.
“WHAT?” “No you’re not!”
“Sir, you could have fatal neck, or back injuries”
“I don’t. I guarantee it”
“Sir, you don’t know that”
“I can move my fingers, legs, and toes can’t I?”
“Sir, we have to cut the jacket off”
“YOU’RE NOT CUTTING THIS JACKET”
EMT to Fireman: “Oh my God, he won’t let us cut the jacket off!”
“Take it off of him slowly” “Sir, we’re going to take it off slowly, tell us if this causes any pain at all”
as it slid out from my arms and underneath of me “are you feeling any pain from this?”
“NOPE” Told you, I’m OK, it’s this damned shoulder!” ….well, and my right thumb. It hurts pretty bad, like it’s completely broken off. I held up my hand to show them, looking myself, expecting to see blood trickling out of the bottom of the glove toward my wrist. There was none.
“We’ll have to cut the gloves off…”
I was shocked to see an intact thumb. swollen from mid nail, to knuckle, purple, with the nail, obviously jammed downward into the flesh, cuts at either side of the cuticle, with blood that had dripped out, then dried.
“Looks like it’s broken. Sir, we’ll have to cut your shirt off to check for wounds and chest injuries.”
“OH! seriously? I just bought this shirt, and this is the first time I’ve worn it”
“No argument on this one sir, the shirt gets cut!”
“Ok, do what you have to do. Guys, I’m incredibly thirsty, could I have some water please?”
“I’m sorry sir, you cannot. you may have to have immediate surgery, so no fluids at all”
“then please give me something for the pain”
“Do you have any allergies, specifically to Morphine?”
“Fine, we’re giving you 4 mg of Morphine”
Dislocated Shoulder vs. 4 Mg Morphine = Winner is Shoulder. Morphine didn’t do jack to ease the pain.
They then said they were going to stabilize my neck, and remove the helmet. suddenly there were multiple sets of hands grabbing the helmet.
“whoa, Whoa WHOA! wait a minute here guys just STOP! This is a modular helmet, there’s an easier way to take it off. Press this release button right here under the chin!”
Fireman: AH!!!! I have this same helmet, I can get this from here. as he triggered the release and they pulled the helmet off.
Now I could really see the clear blue sky. The thin whisps of clouds that periodically went by, and a jet with a trail way up high. I could also plainly smell gasoline. I mentioned this to them and they said the bike seemed to be leaking gas but there was no danger.
“We may not need the neck brace, he says his neck is ok. do you think you can move your neck sir? slowly now”
As they supported my neck I turned it to the left. I saw the ambulance sitting there past pieces of my bike, shattered and laying all over the road. Beyond I could see the pick up truck about 40 feet away. Hmmm, guess I’m the only thing that hit the truck, not the bike”
Then they turned my head to the right. I could see my bike. Sparkling Burgundy in the sun, with shattered pieces around it, lying no more than a foot from me.
Holy Moly! that thing flipped end over end, right behind me, and stopped a foot away! I’m lucky it didn’t land on me!
“Told you guys, neck and back are fine.”
“Well, let’s put the neck brace on anyway, better to be safe….”
Sir, we have to put your arm down to get you on the gurney, we’re going to slowly push it to your side.
YOWZA! it wouldn’t budge, and sprung back as I screamed and they let go.
“Oh My God, Please do not do that again”
“Sir, we have to get you on the gurney”
“This arm isn’t going to go down, it’s most comfortable where I’m holding it above my head, please find a way to support it, or have someone hold it”
This is what they did, but as they wheeled me into the ambulance, they told me they’d have to push it down again, or I’d have to hold it. I couldn’t do either.
“Please find something to put under it to support it”
As they were wheeling me in, a CHP officer stepped up and said, “Sir, look at these” He held up my Jacket, and my shattered helmet. “I hope you realize that these saved your life!” I couldn’t believe it. The helmet was completely unhinged on the right side where the modular hinge was, and the left side was shattered and scratched. The jacket had rips and gouges across and down the front.
The helmet Model I was wearing:
Looking back, this is how I see the helmet (since it literally saved my life):
“Please try to find the camera that was on the helmet, it has the whole accident filmed”
The officer turned the helmet looking at it, then frowned, holding up 2 wires, and said ” I see no camera, but can we assume this is where it used to be?” I knodded. (they never found it or the SD card in it)
In the ambulance, they stacked med kits and tool boxes with a pillow on top to support my arm.
As the ambulance pulled away, bouncing over bumps in the pavement shoulder, I cursed the engineer who designed the shocks. My arm wildly bouncing, I almost passed out from the pain.
“We’re giving you another 4Mg of Morphine, this should help”
It helped, to make my head more fuzzy, it didn’t phase the pain in my shoulder.
“OMG, how much longer?”
“We’re almost there, about another 2 minutes”
Soon I was being wheeled into the ER where I was given another 8 Mg of Morphine.
super fuzzy head now
Dislocated Shoulder vs. total of 16 mg Morphine = Shoulder wins – pain was still excruciating.
after about 15 min, they gave me another 4 Mg.
Dislocated Shoulder vs. total of 20 mg Morphine = Shoulder wins – pain was still excruciating.
I laid on a gurney waiting for almost 6 hours, while they waited to get cat scan, and xray results.
Thirsty as hell, I begged for water. They would give me none. Finally I got one interns attention, “Listen, I was an LVN for 6 years, I know the reasons and the protocol, but you can at least give me a sip or some ice chips”
“Fine, but don’t say anything” He brought me sips of water every 15 minutes or so. YOU SIR, ARE A GENTLEMAN AND A SCHOLAR. I will never forget this. This got me through the pain, just these little sips of water when my throat was so dry I was choking.
Finally the test results came back. No Head, Back, Neck or Pelvis Injuries. They could now risk jolting me around to get the shoulder back in place, but would have to put me under.
“I’m all for it, when do we start?”
“There could be complications…..”
“No, there will be no complications. I can deal with anything that comes after this, if you get rid of this excruciating pain.”
“OK, let’s do it. we’re administering the anesthesia now, count backwards from 100…”
I awoke to find myself staring at a cieling, that seemed to be moving. I could see I was in X-Ray, and was being moved from an X-Ray table onto a gurney by interns. The second my eyes opened I Realized the Pain was gone.
“Oh, Thank God!”
It was then I realized how lucky I was. No head, neck, spine, back or pelvic injuries. The shoulder was now back in place, I just needed to deal with a broken thumb. A Major Freeway Motorcycle accident at speed, and basically I had a broken thumb and was going to be ok. I mean, who can say that?
It wasn’t quite that simple though, as the next day taught me.
Before Finally being given a Giant pitcher of Ice water, and having my request of a steak with baked potatoe shot down by Dr Roth with a reply of, “Yeah, I bet you do want that, sorry pal, Clear liquids only!”
DOH! I got my first meal at midnight, Strawberry Jello. I gotta tell ya, that was the best damned strawberry Jello I’ve ever had!
Earlier Doc Roth let me know there were some issues. Internal Bleeding. it was my kidney. We could either remove it surgically now, or give it few days to see if it heals on it’s own. It did finally heal on it’s own.
When I awoke the next morning I discovered I could not move. Every Muscle in my body was so sore they screamed out in pain if I moved them a half inch. I was also incredibly weak. It took 2 weeks for this to finally begin to subside.
I was in the hospital for a week, but after going home, still had many troubles just functioning as one normally does. It’s amazing what we take for granted. Like being able to lift an arm to wash under it, or being able to bend and stretch to reach a foot. Showering and dressing was a major fiasco for me, taking an hour and a half, and leaving me tired and exhausted. Many times since, I’ve reviewed exactly what happend, which I stayed completely conscious through and remember in great detail.
1) Had I not been wearing a full face racing helmet, I would now be dead.
2) Had I not had an HD camera mounted on the left side of the helmet I would have sustained head/neck injuries, possibly serious ones. (the camera actually absorbed the impact when my head smashed into the ground)
3) Had I not been wearing the thick leather police jacket, I would have been in much worse shape (lacerations, abrasions and broken ribs were avoided)
4) If I had been wearing leather pants/chaps I wouldn’t have received the full side bruising and many abrasions on my legs
5) Had the bike not reacted the way it did in the last seconds. I would be dead or paralyzed.
I had no head, neck, spine, major bone, joint or pelvic injuries. (amazing considering I was thrown 20 to 30 feet [at about 60 mph])
The full face helmet took a major hit right at about the right temple, (my head hit the back left corner of the trucks tail gate)
had I been wearing a lesser helmet, the corner or the tailgate would have penetrated at the temple, killing me, or breaking my neck.
The bike flipped at the last second, (instead of continuing to slide into or under the trucks tailgate), throwing me past the back drivers side corner of the truck.
I landed on my back with my left arm under me, sliding across the pavement to my left. This pulled my left shoulder completely out of the socket.
The ball joint of my arm could be seen bulging the skin at the arm pit. (this was more painful than any broken bone I’ve ever had)
The momentum of being thrown at 60 mph flipped me over, and the left side of my head smashed into the ground. (the HD camera was smashed into pieces, but took the brunt of the blow, saving me from having head or neck injuries)
My right thumb was jammed downward, shattering the uppermost bone. (and driving the thumbnail into the skin)
the force of hitting the pavement so hard caused bruising on my kidneys, and internal bleeding.
it also caused extreme soreness and weakness of every muscle in my body. I couldn’t move anything more than half an inch without being in pain. This had to be worked against for the simplest things like turning in bed, or getting up.
My shoulder was put back into place, but is still very limited in range of motion. Physical therapy will be fixing this over the next few weeks.
the thumb, was the least of my worries as it was what hurt the least throughout this. it’ll heal in about 4 weeks.
the internal bleeding has stopped and the kidneys appear to be back to normal.
I’m still sore all over, and have whole limb bruising, and abrasions.
If you’re a bike rider, and you don’t currently own a full face helmet, I highly recommend you get one. It’ll be the difference between life and death, or no injuries vs. being paralyzed.
I also recommend the old style thick leather or armored jackets and gloves. these choices saved my life, and kept me from serious injury.
When all is said and done, I walked out of an accident that totalled my bike, (after being thrown at 60 mph) with only a broken thumb and some soreness, bruises and abrasions.
I want to thank everyone for their support through this, and I cherish every letter, email, and phone call received. You helped me get through a very rough time, and kept me hopeful and positive!