The broken hand: The Accident

Oct 24, 2013

Part of The Broken Hand series

The Accident

I happened to be in Luxembourg at the time, and we were biking around with R. If you know me, you know that I am all about safety. Exactly ten seconds before the accident, I told her, “Don’t go crazy when you go down this hill. Hit your brakes. Slow down. It’s dangerous. Stay safe.”

I voiced all this, and off I went myself. I had been on this route before, and I knew the way. There was no way anything could happen.

I started going down the hill that was followed by a blind right curve, and it should all have been fine. I had been there before, and I knew the way. I thought that I was in control. Here we go… slight wind in my face… slight right turn…

There’s a kid on the road with a scooter on the right side. Fuckety fuck. I can still handle this. I have gained momentum from the downhill, and I’m still accelerating, and the kid and the kick bike are on the right side, so let’s steer to the left and just scoot by it…

… which would have been fine, if there hadn’t been a mesh fence on the left side. It caught my left bike handle. So my bike went from “pretty fast” to “caught” in a millisecond, I flipped over the front side, and I knew it was going to be bad.

Maybe it was my snowboarder training that kicked in. When you practice snowboarding, you know that you’ll fall. It’s part of the deal. They tell you to stick your fists under your chin, bend your head down, and roll on your shoulder. Which would have been fine in fresh snow. Except that I was dealing with pavement here.

Still, I followed my training. I fell on my right shoulder and rolled. I think I was lucky and did it right. If I had done it any different, I wouldn’t be writing these words to you today, considering that I wasn’t wearing a helmet. (We were using rented city bikes and it was supposed to be a leisurely afternoon, not sporty and fast.) I could have fallen on my head. I could have put my wrists forward and broken them. I could have done many other things, but I decided to put my right shoulder forward. I hit the pavement, and I rolled.

They tell that you can hear crack when you break a bone. I didn’t hear anything. I guess it was the adrenaline and stress hormones kicking in. I knew something pretty bad had happened, but I didn’t feel the pain. Yet.