Sunday, April 18, 2010
I was ecstatic. On the spur of the moment we decided that we would take four days and head out on our Harleys. Jeff was on his Road King and I was on my brand new Heritage Softtail.
First we would ride to Crescent City from Happy Valley and rest up to do the Redwoods. Next we would be on to Santa Rosa and ride the sweeping country roads of the beautiful Napa Valley and Wine Country. Everything was packed. The bikes were washed and ready.
Our first stop was the Harley dealership. Jeff wanted to get some new road glasses and of course I found a shirt that I had to have. We were there a while chatting with everyone before we rolled out. The day was beautiful. The sun was warm and bright. We were ready for a wonderful mini vacation on the road.
As we entered the highway I glanced at Jeff. He was looking at me. We were both smiling and enjoying thoughts of the days to come. We made the turn on I-205. Traffic was backed up and slowing. Crap. We were anxious to get on our way. We slowed; it was stop and go for about 5 miles. That stretch of 205 is beautiful. The Willamette River is to the south and a there is bluff to the north. The trees are tall and dense. It wasn't so bad being stopped there.
We had just passed the 10th street exit. Again traffic came to a standstill. I was watching the car in front of me when suddenly my bike jolted forward. I saw pieces of my back signal light fly past my left eye. I was thrown forward. I hit the highway. I remember trying to hit in a way to minimize injury. I remember trying not to hit my helmet. I loved my helmet. I didn’t want it scratched. It seemed like forever, it seemed like seconds.
I was on the ground and unable to move. I knew not to move my head so I couldn't see what I was looking for. Where are my husband and my bike? I remember thinking that if traffic had been going faster I would have been run over. I saw Jeff and another man. They were talking to me. Even though I could think I don't remember understanding them. It was surreal. People were moving and speaking. Nothing was in sync. Voices were swirling. People were hovering. I wasn't sure what was happening. There were so many faces. I didn't recognize any of them.
I can remember asking Jeff to call 911. I told him my leg was broken. I asked him to call the kids and call my father. There was a woman. She was an ICU nurse. She came from nowhere and she was standing at my head. A silver convertible stopped and a man came toward us. He was a doctor. God was with me. Still I heard no sirens. Where were they? I was lying in the middle of the highway, was anyone stopping traffic? Suddenly people were everywhere. They were all asking if I had been wearing a helmet. I thought that was funny. "It’s Oregon law and I'm not that stupid" is what I was thinking. I didn't remember that my helmet had already been removed.
The asphalt was searing my shoulder and arm. I was crying uncontrollably. Where was my bike? Was it ok? Where's my husband? I want my dad. Who the hell hit me and where were they? Why weren't they there? Were they hurt? Did they even care? My foot was really hurting from my ankle up to my hip. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t understand.
A shadow fell across my face. There was a man with Smith and Wesson glasses standing above me blocking the sun. He had great hair. Where did that thought come from? I think he was an EMT maybe. Then I saw a State Trooper. His shirt said K-9 unit. Where was his dog? Is someone stopping traffic? I want my mom. I want my dad. Please don't let a car hit me. Someone please block traffic!
A man appeared with a collar and put it around my neck. I was now on my back and I was so sleepy. I wanted to drift off. I closed my eyes. I just wanted to sleep. Please, just let me sleep. Someone kissed me, someone with a moustache. I opened my eyes and looked at the three men above me. I was trying to figure out who kissed me. They must have seen the confusion in my eyes. One of them said "It was your husband. We don't offer that service". I remember thinking that was too bad because these guys were hot. They got me situated on a board and I was put in the ambulance. My mom had been in an ambulance the morning she had died. I couldn't breathe. I don’t want to be in an ambulance. Memories of my mom being killed were flashing through my head. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to forget.
I heard Jeff’s voice. “Don’t cut those chaps, they have snaps. The boots have zippers.”
Why was someone trying to cut my chaps and boots?
Someone gave me oxygen. I can remember looking at the eyes of the EMT above me. They were beautiful and golden. I told him how amazing his eyes were. I don't think I'd ever seen eyes that color. Why did I say that? Where’s my mom? Where’s my dad? Why wasn’t my husband with me? Reality had been suspended. Mom couldn’t be there. The hospital killed her. Would they kill me? I couldn’t control the thoughts. They were assaulting me. I wanted them to end.
I could hear a woman’s voice traveling with the breeze but I couldn't see her. I only wanted to sleep, they wouldn't let me. My eyes were heavy. I couldn’t keep them open. Someone was grabbing my face. A voice was telling me to wake up. Where was I? What was happening?
My sense of time was off. I felt that I had been in the ambulance for hours, at the same time it seemed only seconds. We were at the hospital and I was in a room. How did I get there? What was wrong? My mom had died in the ED. Mom can’t be here. She’s dead. I couldn't breathe. The room was spinning, it was closing in. Blackness was taking over. I began try cry uncontrollably. I want my mom, I want my Dad and where is my husband? A nurse gave me Ativan and I eventually calmed.
Questions were coming at me from every direction. The lights were bright. My arm hurt. My leg was throbbing. More medicine was put in my IV. Where did the IV come from? The pain eased. A man named Won came and took me for x-rays. He was a very nice older gentleman, very sweet. Two ladies took my x-rays and I was back in my room. I don't remember how I got back, but I was back. I wanted to sleep.
The doctor came in. I remember thinking that he looked like he was a liberal. What the hell does that even mean? He was about my age, nice looking with salt and pepper hair and rushed. I knew that he didn’t want to be there. Nothing was broken, only sprained. "Yeah right" I thought, dude needs to look again. It hurts so bad, I can't move my toes. But the x-rays showed no broken bones.
I had been so worried about having surgery. Not because of surgery, but because just before I was hit Jeff and I had McDonalds. I never eat that crap but it was close and we had a long ride ahead of us so I ate a Quarter Pounder. I didn't want to see that Quarter pounder again. Thank Goodness there would be no surgery.
My husband walked through the opening of the curtain. Where did he come from? I thought he was with me. He said that he took his bike home and brought the Jaguar to take me home. How in the freaking hell can I get into the Jaguar? Where was the Land Rover? It would have been much easier to get into.
“Where’s my bike?”
Jeff drew in a lung filing breath before answering. “It had to be towed. It’s totaled.”
Those words seemed to bounce within my skull. Totaled? Why didn’t they let me see it? I felt a new wave of tears filling my eyes. What even happened?
“Please, take me home; please get me out of here.”
Finally I could sleep.
There would be no Napa.
That was three and a half years ago. A subsequent MRI showed that I had a crushed heel bone. I couldn’t walk for four months. The woman that hit me had been on her cell phone. She never got out of the car. She didn’t render aid. She didn’t call 911. She called her attorney. A state trooper had to beat on her window and threaten to arrest her to get her to open her door.
Thoughts of that day rushed back to me as I was on my bike on that highway this morning and again this afternoon. It will be with me always.