Accident details...

Bill Hutchison /
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I have had exactly ***one*** accident (touch wood), and I should probably tell the story...

I was riding along years ago when I slowed and rounded a sharp curve at about 20 mph way out in the country. The sun was more and more in my eyes as I took the bend and finally I could not see the road at all. A small dead branch from an overhanging tree had fallen and was apparently lying diagonally across the road as I rounded the end of the turn.

My front wheel rolled over the branch, but the branch itself must have rolled under my wheel at the same time... The bike and I went down on our left sides. My very first thought was that I did not want to be run over by a following car, so I jumped up and ran off the road. There was no car coming, so I picked up my ride.

I easily rode home since the injuries to myself and my machine were not very great. I was not wearing a helmet, and my head was not hurt at all, but more about that below. The worst pain was in my neck (on my right side) which just got worse and worse over the next days.

I went to my GP the next day. He gave me some pain pills and told me keep some frozen peas packed on my neck. I had no idea that he was only addressing my main symptom and not the actual problem.

My neck pain became acute and intolerable. Eventually I could barely breathe, sleep, sit, stand or cough. A few days later I finally went to a chiropractor out of desperation. This guy finally adressed the real problem and "fixed" me by some kind of manual readjustment. In short, I ***crawled*** into his office -- but I was able to ***walk*** out of it. I thought I was "cured".

Unfortunately, I had already contracted pneumonia since I had been unable to cough -- and I developed fever and chills. The same GP admitted me to the hospital, but he also went on vacation later the same day and his instructions to his relief somehow got garbled.

I sat in the hospital for almost three days until the staff figured out that no doctor was attending me. My fever finally rose to a near-fatal 107 deg F. When I finally got some attention, a Dr. Templeton tried every antibotic at his disposal to reduce my fever. According to him, the last one available finally did the trick. (Funny, he smoked cigarettes almost constantly, and he was an EXCELLLENT DOCTOR -- I still smile inside when I think of him). Meanwhile, I had to have a rib severed and a tube installed in my right lung cavity to drain off all the gallons of gross puss and liquid.

I was most of a year getting back on my feet, so to speak. The bike was easily repaired. I wonder if a helmet could have helped to prevent the pinched nerve in my neck????? I also wonder if a full face shaded visor might have helped me to see the danger ahead??? Please advise your thoughts either way.

Erstwhile moral: ADDRESS THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SYMPTOM.

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