On Father’s day I went for a training ride with my Traansbaviaans training partner, Richard Manser. On the road approaching Modderfontein’s mountain bike park there are a few cattle grids. The organizers put up ‘go slow’ bumps before them. My front wheel hit the bump and sent me flying into the cattle grid. Cattle grids do not make for soft landings.
The result was as follows:
– A shattered helmet with a hard hit to the head.
– A broken nose
– One tooth knocked out and two other loosened. Time will tell if the loose ones get saved.
– Lots of cuts around and in the mouth. The area required 50 stitches.
– Two broken bones, one in the hand and a finger break requiring wiring.
I was fortunate after my unglamorous landing to not lose consciousness and so managed to stand up and walk to the side of the road where I chose a rock to rest my head on. This move would later cause consternation with a woman who thought I had come of the bike and landed with the back of my head on the rock.
My cycling partner went into Chuck mode and phoned my wife and Netcare 911 and gave them my sweat safe emergency number and made sure that I was comfortable. I remember two bystanders covering me with their jackets to keep me warm. I guess that I will never get to thank them for their kindness. The accident happened early morning and it was really cold.
The security staff at the cycle park did not know the name of the road that we were on making it difficult to give accurate directions to the area. This in retrospect is very remiss of the organizers. They have trained one of their staff members in first aid. His attempt at care was to remove my helmet! Rule 1, never remove a patient’s helmet.
The next thing I knew, a fire engine turned up. I remember a distinct sense of embarrassment; the ambulance followed a short while later. Of all the medical professionals that looked after me on the day the two paramedics were the best. I practiced as a paramedic and so was able to appreciate just how well trained, efficient, and kind they were.
Two things come to mind at this point. 1. A number of people stopped to offer assistance, 2. One guy caused a fuss complaining that the ambulance was parked in the road and was slowing him down in his attempt to get to the mountain bike area. My eldest son who had made his way to the scene almost pulled him out of his car to give him a lesson in patience.
I was stretchered into the ambulance and taken to Linksfield hospital for more care. I remember in the ambulance wondering if I had picked up a brain injury and so decided to do some mental maths. The internal conversation went something like this, “Mmmm, so 18 plus 4 = ummmm 39. Oh cool, everything still works.” I really am grateful to the doctors and nursing staff there. A decision was made to get me to theatre for hand and mouth surgery. Being Father’s day the staff was unable to find an anaesthetist willing to come out. So off we went, the Orthopod gave me a nerve block. Their plan was to give me Dormican which both relaxes one and then makes one forget what has happened to you. That plan did not work too well. I remember all the drill sounds, painful moments and theatre conversations. I also remember keeping an eye on my pulse and blood pressure readings and being hacked off that my pulse rate was hovering around 70. It’s never that high when I lie down.
Well, to cut a long story short I have come out with a few observations.
- Try and ride with a friend.
- Never ride without a cell phone.
- Make sure that your riding partner has your next of kin’s number on their cell.
- Don’t skimp when buying a helmet. My helmet saved my life.
- A product like a sweatsafe band is a must; it means that with one phone call your records are available to the medical professionals who are attending to you. Have a look at their website, www.sweatsafe.co.za. No cyclist or runner should be without a product such as this!
- Don’t believe people who say that accidents happened in slow motion. This took a split second.
- The vast majority of people are kind and caring.
- My Felt Carbon fibre bike came out without a scratch. It’s tougher than its owner.
- If you run your own business you need to take out some type of policy that covers you for events like this. I have a product with Momentum. This is about to be tested.
- Your pets know when something is wrong with you. Our Sun Conure has taken the role of sitting on my shoulder and trying to bite anyone who comes close. Our dog the other day hopped onto our bed, shot out his tongue and gave my battered face a big lick. His theory is that all I needed was a bit of dog gob and love. I think he is right.
- My family and friends have been unbelievable. I could not ask for more.
On the spiritual side as a Christian I have yet to get to the point where I find some great purpose behind this. Bad things happen, and until we come to terms with this, life will be a letdown. I have, however, decided to accept this challenge in as positive a mindset as possible. Life continues, I am alive, and this could have been a lot worse. My brain and spinal cord are intact and I am extremely grateful for that.
Will I get back on the bike again? Oh yes, however, if you do see a cyclist dismount, and gingerly push his bike over go slow bumps, that’s probably me.