Importance of post-"door" medical treatment
by David Carroll
In the wake of another day of things going wrong with unfinished projects piling on, a bike ride can induce manic euphoria. However that can change in the swing of a car door. No longer speeding along, washing your face in the wind, pavement blurring beneath, you find yourself meshed in the asphalt trying to make sense of what just happened.
I have been "doored" a couple of times, but only once bad enough to leave my bike. The points of impact that stopped my forward momentum were my bike frame and my right hand. I got knocked backwards off my seat like a bag of donuts, cracking the back of my helmet, not my head, on the street. It was a dizzying experience. I thought I didn't see anyone in the driver seat of the small import as I approached from behind, but he was bent over; sometimes you can't trust your senses.
I checked my bike and helmet out. The chro-moly downtube was still straight with a dent in it, so I asked the driver for $20 to cover the cost of my helmet, it had depreciated. The driver obliged. I thought it was over and was about to ride off when I pulled over to let a patrol car, sirens singing, by, but he stopped in front of me. The officers wrote a report, taking down personal as well as incidental information, while a paramedic bus joined the show.
I thought I was ok, but the uniforms said I needed to get in the ambulance; it was funny because across the street was San Francisco General Hospital and I said I could pedal over, but that wasn't in their plans. Once in the back of the bus, the paramedic got out an IV kit and began to open it, he said he needed practice. Needless to say he didn't hit a vein in three attempts as we bounced one block across potholed Potrero to the ambulance bay.
Lesson learned: arriving by ambulance is worth the price of admission because they immediately move you to the front of the line. After being checked out in a trauma room, complaining only of a swollen right hand and errant needlesticks, I became a wallflower in the hall waiting for first a trip to radiology, then an orthopedic doctor to tell me I broke a bone in my hand, and finally her casting it. It all took a little over five hours, a slow drive to Reno, but I went home with a cast and the confidence that I had been checked out. That is worth it as you get older and more brittle with both imaginary and real, aches and pains.
Fortunately I have health insurance and the driver had car insurance, I don't know how rare it is for the two to collide, but probably in most situations, one or both are absent. My health insurance covered my epic ambulance ride, ER treatment, and subsequent appointments. I'm sure they were in touch with the car insurance company as was I. I didn't ask for any money, but I didn't turn it down when it was offered, and I'm sure it would be critical in accidents more complicated then mine.
You can't always trust your senses, so please wear a helmet and get checked out if you do get in an accident.