Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The Hovering Anvil
I have long held the theory that each of us has a 2000 pound anvil hovering just over our heads, suspended by Wile E. Coyote-esque sense of disbelief. This anvil hovers precariously, threatening to come crashing down when we least expect it. This cherished, well-honed construct of life proved itself to be true three weeks ago today, as I was riding my bicycle home from Mountain Equipment Co-op, having just purchased the last few things for our trip to Burning Man. My backpack was filled with an assortment of fake orchids, butterflies, birds, etc. for Ian's Tree God costume, so my MEC purchases - a pair of shorts and an new pezl headlamp - were in a cloth bag hanging from my handle bars.
Well, that anvil should have been in my peripheral vision by now, and indeed, I had only recently purchased and then returned a basket for my handlebars because it didn't fit. The issue of insufficient stowage space on my bike was evident. Yet I had accomplished many trips with a cloth bag hanging from my right handle bar, safely balanced by the principles of volume, mass and density of its contents.
Then, at the intersection of Skeena and Turner, brakes gently applied, no other traffic in sight, the anvil dropped. In a flash, the double A battery of the pezl lamp was sucked into the spokes of my front wheel. Inertia took command. I flipped, in a way that was later described by a witness as "spectacular" over my handle bars and hit the pavement in one smooth motion The sound was pretty much what you'd think bone connecting with pavement would be - a grey grinding crunch.
Blood filled my mouth and nose and my first thought was "I'm really fucked." I could wiggle fingers and toes and so stayed exactly where I was. No Movement Happening Here. Voices arrived and faces hovered, a comforting hand stroked my hip,calls were made - one to my husband, the only word I could manage was "Bad". Pain filled every crevice of my body and the space around it. Fire and EMT duly arrived. Suddenly I was being crushed from above. I could barely manage "You're hurting me" - the overly enthusastic EMT guy had apparently decided I needed stabilizing. After hundreds of the same questions being repeated over and over I became unable to speak and could only groan. Neck brace and back board applied, I was loaded into the ambulance.
I guess they keep asking questions to see if you're conscious, but it was so painful even to speak I couldn't verbalize. I just started groaning, to which the compassionate EMT guy said "Shut up!". And so it went, me groaning, him telling me to shut up. Then, finally "Oh fuck, I went to Burnaby." After a flurry of ungentlemanly language over whether I had been delivered to the right hospital, the process of being admitted began.
By now the pain was so great I would willingly die. My husband appeared and I told him I wanted to die. The EMT, having figured out that telling me to shut up wasn't working, gave me some oxygen, which gave me a thread to hang on to. A few more moments of eternity, and I was admitted, given a great whacking shot of morphine, slid onto a gurney, X-rayed and scanned.