Little did I know as I was scootering home from work on Monday, April 2nd, that my plans for that evening – in fact, practically all my plans for the next ten days or so – were about to change.
As I made a turn onto a street I’d travelled down many times before, the back tire of the scooter encountered some un-seen gravel and proceeded to skid straight across it, pulling the scooter down as I went flying forward onto the pavement. It happened so fast, I don’t actually remember it happening: I pieced together what had transpired a few minutes later, as I tried – and finally succeeded – getting up off the roadway. Luckily, the street I had turned onto had less traffic on it than the street I’d turned off of.
Instantly a throng of alarmed passersby slammed the brakes on their vehicles and jumped from their cars, each driver already talking into his/her cellphone. One of these kind strangers gingerly helped me to my feet as we ascertained that apparently no bones were broken, no ribs seemed cracked, no muscles were pulled: the damage was confined to my leaving behind on the roadway a generous portion of my skin. The passersby were mostly noticing two big bleeding places on my face (one of them frighteningly close to my right eye); I was most aware of assorted painful scrapes on my right shoulder, right knee, right hand, and (most extensively and painfully) my right forearm.
In no time an ambulance appeared, and another crew of equally kind (and this time, uniformed) strangers began gently interrogating a still-dazed Calvin. After taking my blood pressure and poking around again to make sure no bones were broken, they asked if I wanted to be taken to a hospital. Having decided against that, everyone except the policeman who had at some point also appeared quickly vanished, and Mr. Nice Policeman lingered to see if I could get the scooter started. Which, miraculously, it did.
I somehow managed to get myself and my scooter to the doorstep of my friend Roger’s house a few blocks away. In the scond of a string of miracles, Roger happened to be at home. After administering some initial first aid, helping me with a futile attempt at a shower, calming me down from an unexpected (by me) bout of post-adreneline-rush shakes, and fortifying me with a cup of tea, Roger drove me home.
I didn’t sleep much that night, as I couldn’t seem to find a way to comfortably position my right arm or knee, neither of which possessed its top layer of skin. The following day, I called my sister Gayle, a nurse who lives in the north Georgia mountains; again, miraculously, she happened to be at home and on spring break (she works part-time for a school system). Gayle drove down the next morning to Atlanta to teach me how to properly bandage myself, and to accompany me on my first of numerous (and astonishingly expensive) forays to local drugstores to re-stock my stash of exotic medical supplies.
A few days later, I drove up to Gayle’s place to spend a suddenly-extended Easter weekend there, being fussed over and cooked for, and for further practice at properly re-bandaging myself after wrapping my wounds with Saran Wrap each day for a very carefully-taken shower. (Note to self: Never run out of Saran Wrap – it might be needed for first-aid purposes.)
Back in Atlanta the following week, I returned to work and, at my sister’s recommendation, saw my doctor to make sure I didn’t need any further treatment (like antibiotics, as I hadn’t been able to initially clean the scrapes very well). I also ordered both a new pair of eyeglasses (the ones I was wearing when the accident had happened had gotten scratched), and a new helmet visor (ditto).
Slowly- very slowly – the skin on my arm, knee, hand, shoulder, etc. grew back. Another miracle.
Finally, the accident that started out my month has now become merely an unpleasant memory. (For some reason, Day 9 seemed to bring the most dramatic change in the mysterious and exquisitely gradual healing process.)
It was all very humbling, this episode. For one thing, it was extremely inconvenient to have my little plans – not to mention several major and minor daily routines – interupted so abruptly and for so long. My early April gardening plans, for example, simply had to be postponed until I could get my (gloved) hands into the dirt again. Even something as simple as being able to put my hands into a sink of soapy water to wash some dirty dishes became something I looked forward to taking for granted again.
Mostly, I repeatedly realized how the accident could have been so much more serious than it was. And I noticed with much gratitude the concern and practical assistance shown by family members, friends, and colleagues (as well as by those strangers at the intersection) who rallied around to help ease and speed my recovery. And then there’s the not insignificant fact that I’m lucky to be employed in a job whose benefits include plenty of sick leave and medical coverage.
Main lesson learned (besides the reminder that Everything Can Change in An Instant): Don’t ride the scooter without gloves and a long-sleeve jacket on, no matter how warm the weather (it was 82 degrees the evening of April 2nd and I was unwisely enjoying a glove-less and sleveless ride). (Note to self: locate, very soon, an affordable second-hand leather jacket at some thrift store somewhere.)
I’ve owned the scooter now for seven years, and look forward to riding it again for many more years – although I’m staying off of it until I get back from an upcoming vacation. (Another lucky thing there: had my accident happened on May 2nd instead of April 2nd, I’d’ve had to cancel those vacation plans!). I’ve crashed the scooter only three times, none of those times involving other drivers or resulting in serious injuries to me or anyone else – or even to the bike. This latest wipe-out also didn’t break the machine (although I’ll need to get one of my side mirrors replaced).
So Calvin is One Lucky Scooter-Owner. And a grateful human with a cautionary tale.
Scooter riders of the world: Beware of gravel in the roadway!