I distinctly recall talking with Joe Huth about the possibility of sliding down from up high on the velodrome banking. Joe said it had never happened to him (knock wood), but from what he was told, “you don’t have any warning. It just happens.”
That conversation flashed in my head as I felt my tires let go. It was a shock. I was just turning laps above the stayers line and then I was sliding.
I didn’t hit a pedal. I don’t know what happened really. The best explanation seems to be that the gusty winds that day slowed me up just enough in turn 1 that I went below the ‘safe speed’ and then physics took care of the rest.
When I hit the apron at the bottom I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong. Usually after a wreck you get the bike off you and get up. Only I couldn’t. I looked at my right leg and thought “Marcus Lattimore” (S. Carolina running back injured last year. Video too gruesome to include here).
Next came the cascade of thoughts on all the training and then missing all the upcoming races. Same thing you would think when you realize you broke a collarbone.
But it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a whole lot worse. Screw the bike racing, I just wanted an ambulance, and wanted to get my leg fixed.
One of the things the EMTs and doctors ask (repeatedly) is your pain level on a scale of 0-10. I can say with certainty that I have a new definition of what “10” is. The EMT said I was getting the “Saving Private Ryan dose” of pain killer, and I have to say I would not have known it. He told me, “yeah, it usually doesn’t do much in these cases.”
I count that I was moved 6 times from the infield at the track to when I went down to the OR. Each one of those moves rated a “10”. But the worst was when they tried to put my leg in traction for the night since surgery couldn’t happen until the next day. Pretty sure the entire ER heard it.
The diagnosis was broken femur, and “not a clean break”. I had made a few calls while in the ER, waiting for the X-Ray results, and I had said, “I can tell by the faces on the ER people that this is not good.”
When the doctor said they couldn’t do the surgery until the next morning, I was tempted to ask if they could take me across the street (i.e., the Clinic) but even if that was an option I knew I couldn’t tolerate being moved again.
Perhaps the most surreal part of the day came while laying in the ER waiting for my room to be prepared. For some distraction I flipped on the TV. There was some kind of news report flashing the names of “Amanda Berry” and “Gina DeJesus”. I knew the names, and was thoroughly confused. Were the pain killers making me disoriented? I fell asleep and didn’t learn until the next day what I had been watching.
This was my version of A Sunday in Hell, thankfully not captured on film.
I want to profusely thank Gary Burkholder, the other rider who was at the track, and the firemen from the firehouse down the street, who helped me out in those first minutes after the accident. Not sure I would have held it together without them.
Hat tip to John Lowry for this:
I have exclusive use of “10”
Reading the physician’s report of my ER visit, found this:
“… EMS gave him 4mg of morphine for pain that he stated was the worst in his life when they attempted to move him”