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True Confessions of a Female Motorcyclist

One motorcyclist and now rower/coxswain's perspectives on life.

Bones Will Heal

  Posted by katecraig , 04 August 2013 · 2,136 views

<div id="attachment_1502" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 310px"><a href="http://trueconfessio...image.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-1502" alt="The guardrail I t-boned." src="http://trueconfessio...300&#038;h=225" width="300" height="225" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">The guardrail I t-boned.</p></div>
<p>Every motorcyclist knows it&#8217;s not a question of if, but when you will have your first accident. Not something anyone likes to think about, but it doesn&#8217;t make it any less of a reality. Friday, July 19th, while I was on my way home after working half day at the office, I experienced mine.</p>
<p>The ride home was going normally, light traffic for an early Friday afternoon, high heat, and no rain. Great conditions. I exited off Washington Blvd. and turned onto Columbia Pike and then moved to the left lane. A white SUV slightly ahead of me in the right lane, slowly began to cross the dotted white line. So I beeped my horn and slowed down. The SUV continued it&#8217;s path without crossing into my lane any further which led me to believe he had heard/seen me so I decided it was safe to pass him. When we were even, the driver turned the SUV hard into my line, as if he was making a left turn from the right lane to get onto I-395.</p>
<p>With nowhere else to go, I hit the front, right side of the car with my bike and went careening across the oncoming traffic lanes. (Thank god there was no traffic.) Then I hit a triangular median that divides those lanes from the two I-395 on ramp lanes. Again, very grateful no one was coming. It ended by t-boning the guardrail and flying over the handlebars into the grass. My bike wedged itself under the guardrail, engine still running and digging its way toward me.</p>
<p>In the grass, I was rolling around in agony, my right foot in so much pain. From the heat and probably shock, I was burning up and wanted to strip down. So I pulled off my rowing polo shirt, leaving on my white t-shirt. A construction worker who ran over helped me unhook my helmet and take off my messenger bag so I could lay on my back. The driver of the other vehicle asked if I wanted an ambulance and I said I did. Ironically, I worried I was overreacting by wanting one, but I couldn&#8217;t get up and I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. I could already see the bruise swelling up on my left hand and my inability to move my right foot. I&#8217;d never been in an accident of this caliber and had no idea what type of wreck constituted an ambulance.</p>
<div id="attachment_1503" class="wp-caption alignright" style="width: 235px"><a href="http://trueconfessio...mage1.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-1503" alt="$6,000 worth of damage to the front of the bike which totaled it. " src="http://trueconfessio...225&#038;h=300" width="225" height="300" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">$6,000 worth of damage to the front of the bike which totaled it.</p></div>
<p>A plain clothed officer who arrived first came over and began taking my statement, digging in my bag (with permission) for my drivers license. Additional construction workers who came over began blocking the sun. One of them even offered me his cellphone so I could call my mom and give her the news of her worst nightmare. (There&#8217;s nothing worse than calling your mother and telling her that her worst fear had been realized.)</p>
<p>Within minutes, the ambulance arrived and one of the paramedics immediately immobilized my neck. Two of them slip a neck brace on and before I knew it I was strapped to a backboard. Four men lifted me and carried me to the stretcher and then loaded me into the back of the truck. Another made sure my helmet and messenger bag came, too.</p>
<p>AJ, the paramedic, informed me that the first step would be to cut off my clothes so they could examine me. My first thought was, &#8220;oh god, what if they think I&#8217;m weird for wearing boxer briefs, but that fear quickly passed as they snipped away, only commenting on my bruises instead. I realized they&#8217;d probably seen worse and all they cared about was my survival than my style changes. He gave me pain medicine through an IV he&#8217;d started and inspected my body for sensitive areas. Immediately, they were afraid I&#8217;d broken my femur, the impact point where my body had hit the guard rail.</p>
<p>In addition to them judging me for my boxers, my biggest fear was about my trip to Europe. My long awaited trip to the OutGames and compete with DC Strokes and then see all of the sights I&#8217;d been dreaming of seeing for decades. In route to the hospital, I asked AJ if he thought I&#8217;d still be able to go. He told me it depended on my breaks so I remained hopeful.</p>
<p>Once in the trauma room at George Washington Hospital, I was swarmed by doctors all performing separate tasks in tandem to identify critical injuries, cut off the rest of my clothes, scan for internal bleeding, place another IV, etc. I swear, they checked everywhere for injuries. There wasn&#8217;t even time to be embarrassed.</p>
<p>After a full round in radiology with cat-scans and x-rays, I learned I had four broken bones in my left foot, one in my right, and a fractured wrist among the bruises. I was lucky to be alive, but Europe was vanishing before my eyes. No coxing at the OutGames, no Neuschwanstein, no Vatican, no Cliffs of Moher, all of it, gone.</p>
<p>I spent the entire weekend in the hospital, another first, with my mom by my side. Doped up on vicodin, morphine, and other types of anti nausea medicine, the time slowly passed. There&#8217;s no sleeping in hospitals, no rest.</p>
<p>I don&#8217;t blame my motorcycle nor do I feel that riding motorcycles are evil. Yes, they&#8217;re dangerous, but so are a lot of things. If I&#8217;d been thrown from a horse, everyone would encourage me to get back up there. I don&#8217;t see riding a motorcycle as any different. With a horse, you don&#8217;t know what it will do or cause it to panic in the same way, I cannot control the traffic around me, but I can try to make smart decisions and be the best defensive driver. Some idiot on the road who decided to make an illegal turn isn&#8217;t going to take that away from me.</p>
<p>So now I&#8217;m home trying to heal with surgery still an option. And it&#8217;s painful to see life going on around me. It&#8217;s painful to miss things I&#8217;ve been looking forward to, such as weddings, trips, rowing practices, work, etc. Healing is a process, both emotional and physical and I&#8217;m working on it. I&#8217;m hanging in.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s never if but when bad things will happen. And it&#8217;s how we recover that defines who we are during these difficult times. It&#8217;s okay to mourn the losses. It&#8217;s okay to feel pain and anger from what was taken. But the important thing is to do it with grace, with your head up, and to know that no matter what, no one can take away who you are.</p>
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