One of the things I have missed the most since being diagnosed with cancer is riding my bicycle. I am used to putting in 100+ miles per week, pretty much year round, and this time of year is my favorite. The cooler weather makes it ideal, and I thought today would be a beautiful day to get out and ride. My wife wanted me to go to the mall with her and my daughter, and ride the trainer tonight, but I said no. I wanted to get out and feel the fresh air on my face. And besides, this was my first ride in more than a month, since the orchiectomy, the cancer diagnosis, the recovery, and everything that went with it. I finally felt comfortable enough to ride.
I took off, feeling pretty good. Hills were tougher, and I could feel where my fitness had waned, but all-in-all, I felt really strong, if for no other reason than I was out on my bike. I decided to take a local loop I do, which is a little less than twenty miles and not very hilly, feeling it would be a easy one to complete. Just enough to get out and stretch the legs, really (non-bikers are always amazed at statements like these, but 20 miles really is a “warmup-and-get-your-legs-under-you” type of ride for many riders, especially those that average 40+ miles per ride).
I was riding and starting to feel my rhythm when I felt this surge from behind me, lifting me up and off the bike…there was an intense cracking sound, metal on metal, metal on plastic…I felt a huge pain in my left calf…I was flying through the air…I yelled really loud…then I hit the pavement on my left side…had a split second of clarity and sprung to the grass on my right side…and came to a stop.
I had been hit by a pickup truck. The driver came to a semi-stop, ostensibly realized what he had done, then took off. I lay on the side of the road, afraid to writhe, in considerable pain.
The driver behind the truck stopped and called 9-1-1, and the driver two cars back was an EMT named Mike. He jumped up to me and started asking me questions which allowed him to ascertain my condition and made me think about the questions instead of the situation, both of which were good things. I get the sense he knew what he was doing on both counts.
The ambulance arrived (note: not the Wahmbulance—if you get hit by a car and you’re on a bike, it’s not whining), and Joe and Matt hopped out. They asked me the same questions Mike asked, and presumably compared notes to make sure my knowledge of arcane subjects like my name, date of birth, age and the month of the year all matched up. They put me in one of those neck collars, as a precaution, and put me on a backboard.
They loaded me into the ambulance and asked me what hospital I preferred. I was unsure of the extent of my injuries. I was fairly certain nothing was broken, in spite of considerable pain, but didn’t know about internally. Nothing felt wrong, even when they pressed on my spine, belly and skull. Still, in a moment of clarity, I picked the one closer to home, in case I had to stay overnight and my wife need to make hospital runs.
They got me there quickly enough, but I felt every bump in the highway…and there were a lot. At this point I began doing my own assessment of just how bad it was. I felt a really deep bruise into my left calf, I was sure I had road rash underneath my shorts on my left side. I felt wet on my arm, so I was pretty certain the road rash there was pretty significant, and bleeding. And then I was off to the hospital…
So I’m laying by the side of the road, just been run over by a truck, presumably covered in more than a little blood and one of the EMTs asked me if I had any other present medical conditions.
“Yeah, I have cancer.”
“Are you kidding me?” he asked.