Saturday Lori Beth was going to be occupied from early in the morning until late at night. I really don’t enjoy being alone in the house.
Along about midday I went up to the church kitchen where Lori was cooking and spent some time there. Leaving there I went down the street to have some lunch. After lunch I was headed back to the house when I began to think. I was headed home to be alone until after ten PM. I was part way up the road to going to Kansas City, Kansas. I had for some time thought about trying to rediscover the way to Wyandot County Lake, a place I used to go from time to time and a nice connection to route 5, one of the good motorcycle roads in east Kansas. What better day than today, I thought. I turned away from the southern route and toward the flyway for a trip north.
I rode up the flyway observing odd behavior and exited on State Avenue in KCK. A short distance up State Avenue I noticed the cage in front of me was aggressively moving to the right lane, a lane occupied by another similar vehicle. I could see it coming and must have began to reduce my speed although I can retrieve no specific memory of doing so. I was in the left lane. I saw them collide, front fender to front fender, hard. The offender sped on down the road. The struck vehicle was pushed further right. State Avenue at that spot is two lanes west bound with a three foot curbed median blocking access to the east bound lanes.
I thought to myself, I’m going to get by the accident as it stayed in the right lane. I had been concerned about the striking vehicle bouncing back to the left. No such luck. The second vehicle either struck the right curb or the driver strongly over corrected the steering wheel to the left. She came across at an angle first over the right lane and then into mine. She was at a 45 degree angle when the front wheel of the Interstate struck her just to the back of the driver’s door. Angle strike with the front wheel is pretty much determinative. The bike wobbled harshly and went over to the right. As it lay, the bottom of both tires were against the left curb.
I jumped almost immediately to my feet and moved quickly to the median. Cars began to stop and drivers rolled down their windows to ask, “Are you okay?” “I’m fine!” I replied several times. It was then I looked down to see the stream of blood up and down the curb I’d been pacing.
The young lady who had piloted the second vehicle came back expressing her concern and asking what she could do. Several people ran out from the Philips 66 across the street, one with a handful of napkins. One gentleman asked whether anyone had been called. I responded that I didn’t know. He screamed back across the road, “Call 9-1-1.” There followed a time then of pressing multiple napkins against the flowing wound on the right hand and a number of questions. The police arrived, I believe first and then arrived a fire department EMT vehicle (ambulance) on the eastbound side. Two of the gentlemen from the 66 offered to help set the bike up. I was in no condition to do so. They looked at it for a bit and I think they decided they were not so either. I did extend the side stand.
The bike was lying inertly on its right side still facing westbound. I noticed the headlight was shining. “It’s still turned on,” I mentioned.
“Where’s the key?”
It was creating a puddle of gasoline from a mostly full tank. It was completely on its side with both wheels off the ground. The man started feeling under the machine trying not to kneel down into the gasoline. “It’s the opposite side of this,” I told him while pointing to the petcock. He pulled the key and handed it to me. I didn’t think to check whether he had turned it back to the accessory position.
I lifted the napkins briefly and wrapped my handkerchief over the wound tying it with my teeth and leaving a good deal of blood around my mouth. The bike looked good. It was a fairly soft lay-down. There was a chunk of flesh hanging from the corner of the right mirror. I was thinking, if I can just get this bleeding slowed down I can ride to the doctor’s. The EMTs were hearing none of that. After giving my driver’s license to a policeman I was being directed toward the front door of the ambulance. I stopped by the bike. “Can we stand it up so I can see the right side?” I asked. I was told that we needed to leave it where it was until the pictures were taken.
The EMT guided me back to the ambulance door and held his hand on me while I climbed the steps.
“Which hospital do you prefer?”
“You won’t like this but Overland Park Regional.” OPRMC was ten or more miles away.
“We can do that.” They tied me into a gurney in a half sitting position. My helmet had been removed but I was still wearing my do rag and road shades.
We talked quite a bit on the way. We talked about people choosing to drive away from an accident scene. He said it happens all the time. We discussed that my only injury appeared to be the hand. I was concerned the tow company would damage the bike picking it up but comforted to see the arrival of two motorcycle policemen as we pulled away. He told me that most of the firemen were riders and they would look out for it. I tried to guess where we were as we moved down the hiway but it turns out that a limited view out the back window does not relate well to a view through the windshield.
We arrived at the hospital. The driver came around, opened the rear doors and dropped the rear steps with a loud clunk. “Can I get off this thing and walk?”
“No. We have to take you in and transfer you to one of their beds.”
“After the way he dropped those steps I’m not sure I trust him to carry the foot of this thing.”
He laughed. “I’m not sure I trust me either,” as he dropped the wheels to the foot end of the gurney.
Once inside the transfer was fairly quick. I was moved to a hospital reclining device and thanked the EMTs for their care. Two nurses began the prep work.
“Hey, Cutie, Have I seen you before?”
“I think so. You look familiar.” We had some discussion while she did her work and decided she must have been taking care of Lori Beth earlier in the year.
“I hope I didn’t offend you by calling you Cutie.”
“Who could be offended at that?” She smiled nicely. the nurse, Kelsie, worked on preparing and connecting me for the doctor’s examination.
“Can you take off your shirt?”
“You may not want to do that. It’s not a pretty sight.”
“I think we’ll be alright. We just need it out of the way.” Between the two of us we managed to get the tee shirt off. She began sticking those little transmitting patches on my chest.
The doctor came in and began to do doctor things. The nurses put a rather large pad under where my right hand was. The doctor pulled off all the napkins and handkerchief and it began to run like a faucet. The doctor had me move the thumb and all the fingers and reposition my wrist several times. He talked about his concern for an exposed tendon. I had seen a white line with an upside down y. That may have been the tendon but I think it was bone. He recovered the wound with hospital approved bandages.
“Are you in pain? Do you want some pain meds?”
“Yes. No. I don’t like pain medication.”
“Just let us know if you change your mind. Has anyone called your wife?”
“I don’t believe so. May I call her?”
“I can or you can.”
“I have my phone right here.” I turned to the nurse. “My earpiece is in my right pocket but I can’t get it.”
“I can get it for you.” She was amazingly comfortable searching my pants pockets and actually took pretty much everything out placing it all in a plastic bag. My guess is she knew where was everything that mattered but then my age probably had something to do with it also. She did find the earpiece and I put it in my ear.
“You can call her from that?”
“Yes. It responds to voice.” I pressed the button and waited for the signal. “Lori Beth.” There was no answer. I tried four more times in between talking with the nurse while she was obtaining information. The fifth time Lori answered the phone.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m loading the van and getting ready to go to the wedding.”
“Now I want you to do what you need to do and don’t get excited. I had an incident and I’m at the ER but my only injury is to my hand.”
“What!? Did you hit your head?”
“I’ve got to go to the wedding. I need to call Tim.”
“Go to the wedding and do what you need to do. Don’t call Tim.”
A lady with a portable x-ray machine came in. We exchanged information. She had me hold my hand in several positions, some painful, while she took pictures.
“There are no broken bones.”
“You can’t tell that but I can.”
“Well, are there?”
“I have to send them to be read.”
The doctor came back and indicated we’d have to bring in a plastic surgeon to look at the wound. He left again.
I pressed the call button for the nurse. “Yes. May I help you?”
“I need to go to the bathroom.”
“I’ll call your nurse.”
Kelsie came in.
I told her, “An odd thing happened. As I was riding after a lunch and three glasses of tea I was feeling the urge and was calculating where I could stop to take care of it. After the accident the urge went away but now it’s back. I think I’m okay. I don’t think I pissed myself.”
“I will take you down to the restroom.” She began unhooking wires and IV stuff. “Do you want a gown?”
“Oh. I don’t think I can wear a gown. Can I just go like this? Will it be a problem for anyone?”
“It’ll be okay if you’re comfortable. I’ll walk you down.” She walked me down the hall, pointed me into a restroom she said was warmer than some, and waited outside the door. I had not considered how difficult it can be for a right handed man to do certain simple things without using his right hand. It did get done and we went back to the ER room.
My friends and insurance agents Nicole and Tyler arrived and sat with me through the rest of the experience.
The doctor came back in and said the plastic surgeon indicated I was to come see him Monday. He began to prepare the process of roughly stitching the wound enough to control the bleeding. He uncovered the wound. Tyler had to turn around. I didn’t blame him. Nicole wasn’t bothered much. Mothers are like that.
He described what he was going to use. It seemed to begin with an M and he said it took effect more slowly but lasted longer than Lidocaine. He unpackaged a needle that though narrow in diameter appeared to be very, very long.
“This is going to hurt.” He began pushing the needle into various spots around the wound and wiggling it now and then. I held my hand still. Maybe he held my hand still but I raised my body up several inches and used some expressions not normally a part of my vocabulary. After several pokes it started to settle in and I was no longer able to feel the injections.
As he finished and began opening the stitching package I apologized, “I guess it wasn’t so good after telling you that pain doesn’t impress me that I cried like a little girl.”
“I didn’t hear you cry. I told you it was going to hurt.”
He rinsed the wound out with something that seemed to slow down the bleeding. There was still a lot of blood but it wasn’t at the same volume.
He inserted the needle for the first stitch and I flinched. “Did that hurt?”
“Just a little bit.”
He pulled that injection thing out and I immediately regretted my behavior but it wasn’t too bad.
The doctor proceeded to pull the sides of the wound together and stitch them. It really wasn’t a pretty sight at at all. The lines were uneven and there were significant bulges here and there along those uneven lines. “This is only temporary. Monday the surgeon will look at it and decide what needs to be done for a permanent fix.”
“Is he going to take out the stitches?”
“Yes.” I was envisioning a recurrence of that harrowing deadening experience.
“You’ve done such a good job maybe I could just pass on seeing the plastic surgeon.” I was only joking, of course, but he reacted rather strongly.
“Don’t do that. If you let it heal this way the skin will be too tight and you’ll lose all movement of that thumb.”
I promised him I would see the surgeon and Kelsie wrapped the wound properly. She was throwing things away and held up my handkerchief. “You don’t want to keep this, do you?”
“Oh! It’s one of my favorite handkerchiefs. Can’t I just wash it and it’ll be okay?”
“You can wash it but I think it’s going to come out pink.”
“Yeah. Probably every thing else will come out pink.”
She threw the handkerchief in the trash and filled a bag with supplies to let me wrap the wound a couple more times. She gave me instructions indicating we were expecting some seepage but if it got to be too much I should come back to the ER. She gave me the doctor’s prescriptions for three medicines; one antibiotic, one for pain, and one for nausea in case the pain medicine messed with my stomach.
It was 17:15 when we left the hospital, just a little over two and a half hours since the incident. We had 45 minutes before all the pharmacies we knew were closing for the night. Tyler said we had plenty of time. We were halfway down the road to the pharmacy when my phone rang. It was a lady at the ER.
“You’ll have to come back and get another copy of the prescriptions. When they printed them out they forgot to change the name from your ER name. They’re made for Foxtrot Dog.”
“Can they just call them in to the pharmacy?”
“No. Those have to be paper. What does your car look like? I’ll watch for you.”
“It’s a grey Mercedes but it’s my friends’. I don’t drive a Mercedes.”
“I don’t drive a Mercedes either.” She giggled.
Tyler made a U-turn and exceeded the PRV returning to the hospital. Our 45 minutes had been trimmed to a questionable duration. We picked up the replacement scripts and Tyler got us to the pharmacy on time. We actually had a few minutes to spare.
Lori had left strict instructions that when Tyler and Nicole dropped me off I was to go next door and spend the evening with our neighbors, Joe and Kelli. Joe and Kelli have three little girls and were visited that evening by another neighbor, Courtney with her two little girls. Later that evening their friend, Cameron, dropped by with her son, Mason, to spend some time. It was a fun evening.
I’m getting now so the memory of the event doesn’t seem entirely real but I have that right hand to remind me. I’m not looking forward to the visit with the plastic guy.