Posted by: TomA | 26 March 2010

Bikes & Breaks

These things happen. Only the other day was I saying I’ve never been in an ambulance and never broken a bone. Wednesday was the day I managed both.

I cycle to work every day – I enjoy the exercise, the fresh air and a bit of physical exertion to wake me up. It’s also nice to be able to arrive at work without having had your face stuck in someone’s sweaty armpit on the tube. I don’t wear a helmet – this has as much to do with not quite having gotten around to buying one more than anything else.

On Wednesday evening I came off my bike just outside the Houses of Parliament. I still don’t exactly remember what happened, I don’t think I was hit by anything/anyone, I do remember braking at a pedestrian crossing, possibly hitting/trying to avoid a pothole. I have one very vivid memory, a visual snapshot of seeing the ground above me, parliament in front of me and my bike at the bottom of my field of vision, as I came over the handlebars. I remember thinking that this is going to hurt. Potentially a lot.

So I was quite relieved when I stood up without having hit my head particularly hard and without any immediate signs of damage.  A couple of passers-by stopped to ask if I was ok. I’m not sure whether my answers of being ok were convincing, incoherent or believed. They insisted I go to the local NHS walk-in clinic for a check up, which seemed a sensible precaution. I wandered off, still slightly in shock and not entirely sure where. I asked the policeman 20 yards away, who was manning the gate for the exit from Parliament for directions, this time listening and understanding. Now knowing where I was going, I set off.

I made it about 5 paces before blacking out as I walked into a lamppost.

A passer-by caught me/my bike and helped me sit down. The policeman came over and called me an ambulance. By now I was in a fair amount of pain in my shoulder, feeling very disoriented and light headed. He pointed out if I’d been 20 yards back up the road I’d now be live on BBC News as they ran through their post-Budget wash-up from Parliament Square. He told me all about his injuries from motorbike accidents over the years. He took my details and asked what happened. I gritted my teeth and waited for the blue lights of the ambulance to come.

It took maybe 20 minutes to arrive, which at the time felt like an age but isn’t too bad really. They went to examine me in the back of the ambulance, suggesting I’d either dislocated something or broken something. The diagnosis was quick – soon as she pulled my t-shirt aside, her face grimaced and she told me I had a large piece of bone sticking up, not yet through the skin but didn’t want to move my arm in case it tore through.

There are some things I’d just rather not know.

Once at the hospital, I’m a little hazy again. I remember being given lots of morphine by several flirty nurses, making some very bad puns and making several incoherent phone calls to friends and family.

So to the now. I’m back on Monday for an appointment with a specialist to discuss the need for an operation. I have a butterfly fracture – which sounds pretty and delicate and cute and is none of these things. It’s a 2cm bit of bone from the middle of my collar-bone that is pushing up at the skin. I can feel the tension between bone and skin increase when I move until I’m half expecting the sound of tearing flesh and a gush of blood as the bone rips through. There’s also an incessant clicking/grinding of these 3 bits of my collar-bone, which makes me feel very uncomfortable.

The most frustrating thing is the level of exertion and planning required to do the simplest of tasks – taking a bath, making tea or getting in and out of bed. I feel helpless and useless and ever so reliant on Andrew, who’s been such a great help the past few days.

Possibly more frustrating is the possibility I won’t make it to Sweden for Easter. I seem to be jinxed – 2 years ago an Easter break to Stockholm was thwarted by a particular sequence of events; I’ll be gutted if I don’t make it this time too. Should have a better idea by Monday.

In the mean time, friends, please pop round for cups of tea and join me in watching a backlog of films and The Wire….


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