Sunday, June 22, 2008

Crackheads and Broken Fingers

It's weird. I had definite thoughts this morning that it had been a while since I required a hospital visit due to a bicycle injury. I don't let things like that freak me out though, so off we went.

I sold Matt my old bike a month or two back and he seems to be enjoying it. He definitely wants to expand his horizons as far as bike trails are concerned and is riding things a lot more aggressively...which may sound counter-intuitive but aggressive riding = confidence = riding shit without killing yourself.

So I thought today would be a good day to pop his shuttle cherry. I had a nice trail on Seymour picked out (one of my favourites, actually, and one of the only things I like to ride on Seymour) and off we went. Me, Matt and Marty. We got about 30 seconds into the trail, no exaggeration, and Matt rode head on into a tree. I don't even know how he did it. I think he just panicked a bit on a wooden section and steered it right into a tree. I got a really bad feeling about things. His brake lever was twisted in a strange way and I was really surprised that we were able to bend it back (reasonably) straight. He seemed okay so off we went. Nobody did anything all that stupid for a while and we were having a good ride.

I will admit that the trail had some gnarly sections on it. We were doing okay though. I'd stop above them, point it out, tell them what to expect and generally leave it up to them to make a decision on whether to ride it or not. We got down a bit lower and reached a section that was quite loose. As I rolled into it I said "This is pretty gnarly up here. I'd think about it before you ride it."

Sure enough, I dropped in and it was pretty loose and took a bit of finessing to make it down in one piece. I got off my bike and yelled up to them that they should probably walk it. Marty smacked his nuts off his stem even before he got to the section so he hobbled around for a minute and then decided to walk it. I didn't think there'd be a question that Matt would walk it, but there he went...he seemed to be doing okay and then I saw him heading over the bars.

It was a pretty rocky section but I thought he would be okay. He was yelling as soon as he stopped but I thought it was the good kind of yelling. You know, "I'm okay, I'm okay!" But then he kept yelling and we ran up to see what was up. He kept saying "I think I broke my finger I think I broke my finger I think I broke my finger." I didn't take him all that seriously but then when he suggested we should take his glove off to make sure a bone wasn't sticking out I figured there might be more to it.

So he slowly pulled his glove off and...good was gruesome. Nothing poking out but it had a really unnatural kink to it. I'm alright dealing with injuries, I just don't really like thinking about it. I suggested we somehow bind it to his other finger and work from there. We had no tape, no knife, no nothing. We decided that we'd splint his good finger and then wrap the bad finger to his good one. This was an okay plan until I was about to touch his finger. He thought twice about it and actually looked like he might get violent if we tried to touch it. We decided to sling his arm up to his chest so that at least his hand wasn't moving around. Then Marty walked him out with his bike and I took on the job of getting mine and Matt's bike out of the trail. This didn't seem to be all that difficult.

We were at least a half hour hike into this trail. At least. So, I ended up riding my bike 15-20 seconds down the trail, running back up and then leap-frogging my bike with Matt's. I hate hate hate riding other peoples bikes but since his was mine only a few months ago, it seemed like it wouldn't be too difficult. Holy crap. By the time we got to the bottom I was ready to collapse. I didn't really think it would be all that difficult but I guess looking back it was the equivalent of a quick 10 minute rip down a trail, followed by running back to the top of it and riding right back down it again for 10 minutes. It was pretty steep so I was absolutely bagged by the time I got to the bottom. Matt made it out without too much difficulty and we had a quick little 10 minute ride out on a gravel hiking path to the car.

I had a few ideas for what we would do with the bikes but they all seemed to be coming up empty. We decided to ditch the bikes at Matt's boss' place down the street. Then we were going to go to the hospital, drop him off, drive over, get my car, pick up the bikes, go back to the hospital...and on and on.

Well, we took him to the hospital and holy shit was it ever bizarre. As we rolled in they were dealing with a couple that had been in a car accident. We saw their jeep later on (about 10 feet up an embankment leading onto the 2nd Narrow) in the evening and it was all fucked up. Apparently they were both wasted and we could overhear the nurses asking the firemen and paramedics how far they'd been thrown from the vehicle. Yikes.

There was also a 10-year-old kid with blood streaming from the top of his head. He was crying a bit, then he stopped, asked his mom why there were so many police officers there, and then started crying again.

Oh, and then there was the squeegee kid lookin' dude around the corner who had handcuffs on that he was gnawing on them(I didn't actually see the gnawing, but that's what they told me) telling people not to worry because they were his own handcuffs. He was sitting there rather peacefully an hour of so later without them on, so I tend to believe him.

So, we got Matt in there and then ran and got the car. When we got back to the hospital they had him in a different waiting room and he'd befriended one of the paramedics that had been treating the couple in the car accident. Apparently one of them had started freaking out and had somehow pulled his IV out and jabbed it into her arm or hand or something. She said it was worse 6 months ago when a junkie on the downtown east side had pulled on out and stabbed her in the shoulder with it. Nice.

So, Matt was telling us to leave him there and he could take a cab home. We didn't think that was a great idea so we told him we'd run, grab some food, chill out for a bit and bring him back something to eat. Sliced brisket sandwich from Memphis Blues...oh man. I'm still feeling it. We grabbed Matt a pulled pork and got back just as the doctor came over to treat him. Incidentally, I've never seen somebody eat a pulled pork sandwich so quickly.

Honestly....that was pretty funny as when we had it tied to his body the finger poked off at a crazy angle from his hand so it looked like he was flashing a pretty bad-ass "Westside" hand sign. That's how fucked up it was. So, the doctor had frozen it up pretty good before we got there, just kinda marched over and started pulling quite violently on his finger. I couldn't watch. He was telling us that we could have, maybe should have tried to do this while we were out on the trail. We explained that Matt probably would have punched us each in the face if we'd tried to do that on the trail. So, he pulled it back straight, wrapped it to the other finger and then put this fiberglass thing on it, wrapped it and we were good to go. He decided to take another batch of X-rays.

Oh man...those X-rays....the before was gruesome. The bone was completely broken in two and the angle that finger was sticking off at...good lord. The after X-ray was impressive though. The finger was completely straight, just cracked in two. He suggested it might be alright just like that but figured a hand surgeon should take a look at it to make sure. They gave him some Morphine pills and we were drive back over to Seymour to pick up the bikes.

I must say though, all in all, it was a pretty good experience. It was 3 hours at the hospital from check-in to check-out, which doesn't seem all that bad to me. And then, being at the hospital it was pretty nice to look around and think "Man...these people are fucked up. I'm glad we're only dealing with a broken finger." Ladder accidents. Gruesome car accidents. All kinds of shit.

And...I'm really glad that Adrienne (Matt's wife) seemed to take it all in stride as well. I was worried that we'd not only have to worry about the hospital and picking up the bikes and all that, but then we'd have to throw a hysterical wife into the mix, demanding an immediate pick-up to come out to the hospital. Calm and rational is always nice to deal with.

So, I'm definitely throwing some tape and tylenol into my backpack. Maybe some popsicle sticks too. And I've learned a bit of a lesson about riding alone. I mean, we probably would have been in trouble if there had been two of us. Anybody facing that alone would have problems. Three made it manageable.

I'll post the X-rays if I get a copy.

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