Friday, April 28, 2006


april 19.

ok, so the quest for baltic-herring poisoning has been delayed.

somewhat predictably, i crashed my motorcycle on the SFRC ( season opener ride, two days before a big trip i'd planned. it figures. at least the crash wasn't scary. but the complicated business of being injured has made me realize that it's not enough to say you accept the idea of getting hurt while riding motorcycles. that's an easy assertion to make – that you ride despite knowing you'll probably crash – but it's too abstract. crashing and getting hurt is the easy part; being hurt, at least in my case, turns out to be a long, drawn-out hassle that is much more complicated and time-consuming than merely scary or painful.

but still – it's totally worth it. no question.

ok, so i broke my ring finger (you'll never get anything over that now, says patrick) and got what they call a "starburst puncture wound" on my left knee. both were very gross, but neither hurt at the time. hooray for shock! the finger was pointing three ways at once, and the knee looked like a creature from Alien had just burst out of it. happily, as i noted on my way down, i missed sliding into a roadside pile of dogshit by about a foot. lucky!

it was freezing out, but even so, three of the guys hung out and shivered with me, donating gloves, hats, vests, water and a granola bar, until one guy who hadn't gone on the ride arrived in his truck to fetch me and the bike. i tried not to bleed all over his girlfriend as we drove up to the ER at OHSU.

(the bike suffered barely any damage. patrick had it fixed and back in my lot the next morning. yeay!)

i tracked mud all through the hospital to my little room. zach arrived with sandwiches and made inappropriate jokes about where all my other bruises had come from ("she walked into a door, huh huh huh"). the nurses cringed. then he demanded that they cut off my clothes, since he'd been excited about that idea for hours now. they obliged.

i got IV'd and x-rayed, and they numbed and cleaned up my knee wound, cutting off the dead bits and flushing out a few pounds of gravel. at one point i looked up (mistake, fyi) and saw that the nurse's index finger was buried two knuckles deep into my knee hole. she was biting her lip, looking skyward and digging for rocks.

they decided not to stitch up the wound yet, for fear of infection. gross.

later, they gave me about fifty tiny shots all around the base of my finger to numb it, then pulled it straight and splinted it. well, not straight, but straighter. one more x-ray and i was outta there. i took a cab to the after-party, which was fun and ended up, like all such nights, at the sandy hut.

a couple days later i went back for more. they renumbed the kneeburger, cut off another few pounds of meat, and put four stitches around the gaping pus-drainage hole in the middle. the grad-student nurse who did the work had to wear a splashguard. at one point, the nurse practitioner asked her, "have you ever done a stitch before?"
"yeah," she said, "we had it in lab..."
i pretended to be elsewhere.

a few days later came the consultation with the hand surgeon. i was hoping she'd say they could just yank it straight, splint it up and send me on my way, but no. you definitely need surgery, she told me. not too surprising when you look at the x-rays and consider that typing is pretty much my only marketable skill.

so, i'd already canceled my plans to ride out to colorado for the grand opening of my dad's cancer center - i was going to fly out instead, but now it looks like i have to abandon the celebrations altogether. plus, there's no way i'll be going to sweden for guidebook research as soon as i'd planned. they squeezed me in for surgery as early as they could - monday - but i still have to reschedule everything. bummer!

on the plus side, one of the girls in the hand-doc's office told me as she was wrapping up my broken finger that she's looking to buy a bike and might want my old one. how cool is that?

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