So, what did happen with one of my less successful bike rides?
In the last week before what would have been my 4th interclub I was training extra hard, with a 30 mile bike ride on the Sunday, 2 hours of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the Monday and a short run on the Tuesday. The plan for the rest of the week was to cycle to the gym in Wednesday and Friday and go for another ride on Thursday, with my fight on the Sunday. On the Wednesday I’d just set off and was at the top of a steep hill when I got distracted looking at someone by the side of the road. The bike veered to the right and I overcompensated steering to the left, then the right again. I was going about 20 mph and wobbling so I slammed on the brakes (don’t ask me why). I must have hit the kerb because the bike went over and I landed hard on my right hand side. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have much time to react but I kept my hands on the handlebars and must have ducked my head behind my shoulder. This was just by a bus stop where there were a few people waiting and they rushed over to see if I was OK. I didn’t notice what happened to my arm at first because I was more interested in the way my fingers had come through my gloves, but then I noticed it hanging off at a strange angle with more than a bit of pain. Someone asked me if I was OK, helped me get my rucksack and jacket off and asked if I needed an ambulance. I told him there was a doctor’s surgery just up the road and asked him to take me there.
By now I was beginning to get the sweats and wobbliness of clinical shock. It wasn’t very far to the surgery but I had to sit down at one point until I realised that a stranger had all my stuff including my wallet, keys, bike and bag, and that it would probably be best to follow him. Got to the doctor’s and told the receptionist who I was and what had happened. This was my own GP and I wanted to go there was because I thought it would be better to go to a building with a doctor where they had all my details including my next of kin rather than just wait by the side of the road. The man who helped me there chained my bike up outside, told reception more about what happened and then poked his head round the door of the waiting room to make sure I was OK before he left. I don’t know who he was but I’m very grateful for what he did and I hope quietly saying “thanks” while I was waiting for the doctor was enough.
The doctor saw me, drafted a letter with his diagnosis and then told me reception would keep an eye on me while I waited for an ambulance. He took my blood pressure (not good at 80/50) and switched a fan on when he noticed I was suddenly very hot. The receptionists asked how I was while I was waiting (very tired, another symptom of shock) and locked my bike in their garage for safekeeping until I was able to collect it. It took about 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive and a bit longer to get A&E (heavy traffic during the rush hour and no sirens). While I was in the back I had a rather stilted conversation with the paramedic but I knew he was asking questions to check for concussion (what did I do for a living, what did I have for lunch and when did the accident happen). I also explained that my heart rate is usually fairly low because I’m pretty fit. He put my arm in a sling and asked me to rate from 1-10 how much pain I was in (6, although it would have been more like 5 without the sling forcing it into a more painful position). Got to the hospital about 6, and finally saw a nurse about half an hour later. I know A&E departments can be subject to delays unless you’re absolutely critical (I was given a triage category of 3 which is serious but stable) so I knew I’d just have to grimace and bear it.
Eventually got taken to a booth where I was told to lie on a trolley and was given painkillers and my own cylinder of Entonox. Went for x ray and was then taken to another area where they told me what the x ray showed (dislocation and fracture) and that they were going to try and put my arm back in place, but it might not work because of the chip of bone. I had to sign a consent form (quite why they decided to put a clip-on probe on my finger while I was writing rather than waiting for me to finish I don’t know) and deal with an orderly who kept asking me if I was allergic to eggs (for the Propofol sedative). They laid me on my back and told me to relax so I did and then they raised my arm. Told me to relax again so I did (by then I was so full of Entonox I didn’t really care about anything much), and then someone said “give him another dose”. Must be a surprise that a boxer has strong arms. I could see them moving my arm around but I couldn’t feel a thing. Back to x ray and then an A&E booth where I was breathing oxygen to let the sedatives wear off. They told me they were going to keep me in overnight for observation because I live on my own and there was no one at home to keep an eye on me.
Over to the clinic decision unit (observation) ward and into the hands of a rather lackadaisical Spanish nurse. My main priority was to ring my mum to let her know what had happened but my bed was somewhere deep in the bowels of the hospital with very poor mobile reception and the battery was about to die so it was just a quick call, then a text to someone at the gym to let him know I wouldn’t be fighting. I’d always seen Patientline as something of a con but I’d have gladly used and paid for one if they had any in that ward. By this time I was absolutely starving (all I’d had to eat all day was a bowl of cereal, a small sandwich and an apple) but I had to make do with a dismal turkey salad sandwich and a cup of cheap instant coffee. I also had to ask the nurse several times for pyjamas and something for my contact lenses but he just seemed more interested in jabbering away on the phone and playing around on Wikipedia.
I knew I was in for a rough night, and I wasn’t disappointed. My bed was opposite someone who had a particularly nasty looking mixture of scars, a rash and some kind of lung problem that meant he was noisily using a sputum cup all night. The top of my bed was tilted and I didn’t want to adjust it myself in case it ended up in an even worse position. A doctor (or some other bloke with a stethoscope and a white coat) came round about midnight to check on me, and I didn’t really get to sleep until 4.30. I was woken up again at 6.30 for a blood pressure check and I never really got back to sleep. Breakfast was served around 9.00 and I thought it was quite mean being given a couple of little pots of jam that were near impossible to open with a sling on. After that there was nothing to do for ages and no one to talk to because apart from the bloke with bubonic plague across from me all the nearby beds were empty. Thankfully I still had my MP3 player so I whiled away the hours with that. Wasn’t too pleased that the first track it picked was an old Kreator one called Bonebreaker. At least it wasn’t the Smashing Pumpkins single Disarm. I was so bored that I even ended up reading the labels on a bed opposite from mine. It was either that or Heat magazine. Hospital lunch was lamb casserole with disgusting mashed swede and potatoes, followed by a small portion of chocolate ice cream in a polystyrene container that made it look like a frozen stool sample.
Just after lunch my mum came to pick me up, and after an appointment with a consultant for whom English seemed to be his third language I was finally allowed home.
It’s still early days but I don’t think this was so much a life changing thing as an affirmation of what I already know about how I cope. At one point I had the beginnings of what could have been PTSD but I managed to shut it down pretty quickly by telling myself that bad things could have happened but they didn’t. I know it’ll take time to get back into things but it’s more a case of when rather than if.