The man with nine lives: Part III

NOTICE to readers from the “Daily Post” from November 25, 2013: this is actually an old post from about a year ago, but (a) it fit the category perfectly and (b) the close call came almost exactly two years ago.

I published the first two parts of this blog post all the way back in December 2011, so I will provide links to them if you want to revisit them:

Part I

Part II

This seems like good timing to write Part 3, as there are two reasons: (1) My journal transcription ongoing project has just landed on November 22, 2011, and (2) the settlement of the crash with insurance is over.

I did a bullet journal of the day, but because it was so significant, I am also going to make it a “Reconstructed Journal” post like I did with June 1, 2007.

Reconstructed journal

The day began like any other, as I woke up at 07:00.  However, I woke up with a hot flash and felt somewhat gassy.  I thought little of it, but it was a little annoying nonetheless.  After getting dressed, I had an orange for breakfast, and also had some candy that I had gotten back in Lincoln a few weeks prior.  Yes, sometimes it is fun to splurge on breakfast.

As seems to be the new normal for me, while eating breakfast, I read some sports forums online while eating: HoopScoop, Husker Hoops Central, and Wildcat Report. Things weren’t very happening on the forums at this point, since it was still early in the season and none of the teams had any very meaningful games happen yet.  I would have read the Chicago Tribune instead, but it doesn’t seem to come until later in the morning.

After a bit more time-wasting, I worked on the homework for Engineering Analysis 4 (better known as differential equations for engineers), so that I would be prepared for office hours.  The problems went swimmingly, but it was still a little bit annoying to work the problems.  The problems involved phase portraits, and analysis of critical points in systems of differential equations.  Of course, I associate that application more with biology than with physics!

While taking a break from the problems (and yes, somehow I managed to be productive working from home!) I checked Facebook, and quite a few of my friends from Lincoln were excited since Southeast High School was playing for the football state championship toKnight (pun intended).  With a little bit of curiosity, since I knew that the Knights took state in 2003, I plugged in November 22, 2003.  Turns out that was a Friday… the same day that LSE took state during my sophomore year (with a 7-6 win over Millard North)!  Is this a good sign?  Obviously, I joined in on the fun by changing my Facebook status to the Southeast fight song!

One of the reasons why I had worked from home this morning was because yesterday, when I was cleaning my room, one of the screws on my Dahon bike came loose, and I have no idea how to fix it.  So, I had to bide time, preferably at home, until Turin opened at 11:00.  That time came, and I walked in the cold and rain.  Although the bike will be unusable for a few days, there were two good things.  One: Schlepping to shop shouldered shome schtrength (yes, I’m too silly for my own good) to the tune of 25-pound resistance for about 1/2 mile, in about 13 minutes.  Also, I can still use the Trek.

After dropping off the Dahon and walking back to Engelhart, I was ready for lunch: having some fried rice and leftover homemade stir-fry tasted great!  There’s something about when you make your own food, and when it’s big enough for multiple meals, the extra prep time is worth it for days that you’re in a pinch.  Afterward, I checked out a vacuum cleaner, as my room has needed one for a little while.  It was only partially effective, though.

I then headed to the office on the Trek, getting a little bit wet, but thank goodness for the rain jacket with which I was equipped!  I picked up the lab assignments that I will need to grade over the holiday weekend, and then headed to the small conference room for office hours.  However, recalling last year, and the Thanksgiving weeks in the Math Resource Center at UNL, I expected it to be dead.  Indeed it was, but at the same time, there were three people that came into office hours.  That must have been a personal record for me!

Matt Tanzy was also there since EA4 office hours frequently required two TAs.  Since we were both bored when there were no students, he suggested a “war” card game that was bridge-based.  Basically, how it works: Both players draw 13 cards from the deck and from those, bid for the contract as in bridge.  Then, the top card of the deck is revealed.  Each player plays a card from the hand to bid for the revealed card (suit is irrelevant, except that trump wins).  The winner gets the face-up card, and the loser takes the face-down card on top of the deck.  This procedure repeats for the rest of the deck.

Then, the hand is played bridge-style.  Tanzy ended up making a 3-heart contract with one overtrick, and on the next hand, a 2-club contract with 3 overtricks.  I didn’t do well since my mindset is usually stuck on partnership bridge rather than one-on-one!  I wonder if he just came up with that game on his own, or whether he found it from some other source?  I had a good time playing it… and there were no other students there so that there was no perception of impropriety (although it probably was improprietous anyway).

It was clear to me that I was going to have no academic productivity the rest of the day, so I didn’t even attempt any after office hours.  So, I returned home, and wasted some time before 16:50, when I packed up a few decks for League and biked toward Skokie, equipped in the blue rain jacket, and with the Brookstone headlamp on my helmet, and a red flashing light on the back.  I was also equipped in a safety vest.  Of course, being that it was November 22 and 17:00, it was already almost night-black.

The ride was going to be an easy itinerary: Emerson to the Channel Trail, to Dempster, and then to Ken’s Diner a few blocks away.  It was a little chilly, but I rather enjoyed it given how I made my own warmth by pedaling.  Stopping at every stop light and sign, I always seem to get poor timing on the lights.  Go figure!  Once on the channel trail, it went smoothly to Dempster.  I then turned right and was in the crosswalk.  The “walk” signal was on, but I was preparing to transfer to the road, as I’ve had my share of debacles on sidewalks.  But, out of nowhere, a northbound car from the turn lane came into my line of vision… approaching so fast that I had no time to react! I got hit!!!

I yelled as I was thrown from my bike, and I could not discern my trajectory from the crash,  other than that I was seemingly instantaneously on the ground, fully conscious.  My glasses had flown off (but somehow didn’t get destroyed), my headlight and tail light were smashed and lost, and the Trek’s handlebars were bashed in.  My helmet absorbed the impact as well: it was cracked and it probably saved me!  I didn’t see the car that hit me, until I looked and saw that it had its hazard lights on.  I was able to stand up, and walk back to the northeast corner of the street, where a few witnesses recommended that I sit down and collect myself.

A nurse was one of the witnesses, so since she saw it from a distance, she came over and administered the “concussion field test” (although I didn’t journal about the questions), with questions such as, “What time is it?” “What’s your name?” “Who is the President of the US?” etc.  She said that I was OK on that metric.  The person who hit me [name withheld for privacy] was there, but I was bombarded by the firefighters and police that were there.  They called for an ambulance, and I called Mom to let her know that I got hit.  Probably best if I head to the ER for precautionary reasons.

I walked to the ambulance without assistance, but as I passed by the car that hit me, I noticed that it was a big impact: the hood was dented and the windshield was spider-webbed!  Yikes!  So, for precautionary reasons, they strapped me down to a board once in the ambulance, and then hooked me up to monitoring machines while they headed to the hospital: Saint Francis.  It was obviously uncomfortable having my motion completely restricted, but it was quite a different experience listening to the radio jabber between the ambulance driver and the hospital staff, or whoever was doing the communication.  Plus, I could hear the siren from the inside.  I remained as calm as possible, and thank goodness my mind didn’t attack my stomach!

Once at the hospital, however, I started displaying non-essential tremors (some of that may have been due to it being chilly outside).  Once in one of the rooms, doctors grilled me with questions related to my demographics, my summary of what happened, and medical history, among others.  I guess that is standard operating procedure.  I was unstrapped from the board after a while, which was fine: they said that I had no broken bones or anything.  They also seemed surprised how lucid I was.  My jacket, bag, and the insurance and court date information of the driver was given to me… or at least put in my bag.

Because there was a head impact, though, they were concerned about internal bleeding, so they ordered a CT scan for me.  It was going to be a few minutes before it would happen, though, so while I was left alone in the room, I called Mom and Dad for an update, and also Alan [last name withheld] to let him know why I didn’t get to League.  Mom implored me to stay strong, which I had no difficulty upholding.  A positive attitude is the best way to get through a traumatic experience, and I must have been minimalizing it as I did at Masada.

They wheeled me into the room where I had a CT scan taken of my head.  This required me to stay still and wait as the machine scanned, while the table went back and forth, back and forth.  I kept my eyes closed during the test, even though I probably could have had them open.  I was then wheeled into the original place (Unit 10), and I requested to have the TV turned on to ESPN, which they allowed me to do.   There was a MAC football game going on, so I watched it while also following some Facebook posts.  I made no post on the crash.  Although I was able to move my arms, I couldn’t leave the hospital board I was on, since I was connected to the monitoring machines.

At about 20:00, Alan came after dropping off the kids at home.  We discussed League, family, and the Thanksgiving holiday, among other things.  Having someone to talk with was critical for my sanity, as if I were left alone, even if I were occupying myself with Facebook and/or TV (which in retrospect, I’m not sure it was a good idea to be using those shortly after a head injury, even though I suffered no ill effects), I would have gone crazy.  (Well, before that, a clergy person who was occasionally walking around the emergency department talked with me for a little bit.)

At about 21:00, one of the doctors and nurses came in and said, “You’re fine.  The CT scan came back negative.”  The nurse recommended that I have someone watch over me tonight, and gave me some documents regarding minor head injuries and acute wound care.  Strangely, I suffered no open wounds and only had a bruise on my left foot.  My accoutrements were not rent, but after I headed out with Alan and the security person led me to the bike, the wheels were in bad shape and the frame was bent too.  Great… that’s two bikes that have gone out of commission in the last 24 hours!

I called Mom and Dad after exiting the hospital, before Alan took me back to Engelhart.  After Mom and Dad upheld the nurse’s recommendation, I asked Alan if he would be able to host me overnight.  He accepted, but first we navigated to Engelhart so that I could drop off my bike and then head over to his house.  From his non-expert opinion, I was going to be fine, but as always, taking precaution is critical.

Once at the house, I had to make sure to be quiet, since the kids were sleeping.  I had a turkey sandwich and water, as I quietly talked with Alan, and he reassured me that I would be fine.  My mind was racing, as if I were “looking” for the symptoms that I have heard people get after grand-mal concussions.  I somehow was NOT suffering from anorexia, although one sandwich and two glasses of water was plenty for me.  I also called Dad with some of those concerns that popped up, and he basically just told me to try and sleep, but also said that I might be muddle-headed the next few days.

Before going to sleep, I used the restroom a few times, and even though I had a minor headache and general soreness, I did not feel nauseated or anything like that.  I journaled up to the end of the day, writing down more details than I generally tend to do in a daily journal.  I think that writing also helped me to abolish some of my concerns, and further prepare me to go to sleep.  Once it was 23:00, I headed to sleep, and throughout the night, I managed to sleep the whole time, although I probably did a little bit of thrashing around.

The next morning, I woke up feeling mostly fine, and Alan told me that I was probably in the clear.  After breakfast, he drove me to Engelhart, and I guess that the timing for such a bad incident was somewhat fortunate, as I was heading to Milwaukee anyway via Amtrak for Thanksgiving.  I sure had a lot to be thankful for this year!

[Though I did get hit, the “close call” is obviously the fact that I avoided suffering grave injuries.]

Original journal entry

Tuesday, November 22 [2011]

* Up at 700h, with a hot flash and somewhat gassy

* Orange and candy for breakfast

* Sports forums while eating

* The EA4 homework went swimmingly to do

* Facebook friends were all excited about LSE going for the football state championship

–> Odd! It was exactly nine years ago that the Knights took state!

* It’s cold and rainy.  Yuck!

* Bad news: The Dahon is under repair, i.e. it is [temporarily] unusable

–> Good news #1: Schlepping it to the shop was 10-15 minutes of 25-pound lifting for about 1/2 mile or so.  Won’t need to go to the gym today!

–> Good news #2: I still have the Trek available!

* Fried rice and leftover stir-fry for lunch

* The Dirt Devil was only partially effective

* To the office on Trek: picked up labs and went to office hours

–> A record on the week of Thanksgiving: three people showed up!

* Tanzy and I played “bridge war” while it was dead.

–> Each person gets a 13-card starting hand.  From that hand, there is a bridge-style auction, although of course a pass after an opening ends the auction and establishes the contract.

–> The top card of the deck is revealed.  Play a card from your hand in order to bid for it.  The suit of the card you play is not important, but trump rules.  The winner of this bid takes the face-up card, and the loser takes the top card of the deck.  Repeat times twelve.

–> Then, one-on-one bridge.  [He made a 2H and a 3C contract]

* Back home, wasting some time before going to League

* At Dempster and McCormick, I turned onto the crosswalk.  A car was turning northbound, didn’t see me, and I GOT HIT!!

–> My [handlebars were bashed in], my helmet was cracked, and I was sore all over, but coherent

–> A nurse saw the crash, and I passed her “immediate concussion field test”

–> They called an ambulance and they recommended that I take it.

* In the ambulance, I was strapped down to a board.  Beforehand, I saw that I did some damage—his windshield was smashed!

* To St. Francis.  Waited for a while as I was grilled with questions (SOP, I guess)

* The docs seemed surprised at how lucid I was

* Called Mom, Dad, and Alan [last name redacted]

* Used Facebook on my phone while awaiting further tests and procedures

* Was wheeled in for a CT scan, and kept my eyes closed as the table moved back and forth

* Back in Unit 10, I was left alone, and requested to have ESPN on the TV in the unit.  A MAC football game was on

* Alan came and kept me company as we discussed League, family, and the Thanksgiving holiday

* I feel all right other than shoulder and leg soreness

* Nurse: Have someone who can watch over you

* The bike frame and wheels are bent.  Great–that’s two bikes out of commission in less than 24 hours!

* Alan drove me over to the ‘hart to drop off the bike

* To Alan’s house: good thing to have a possible vigil

* Turkey sandwich and water.  Whispered, since the rest of the house Z’d

* Quietly called Dad about my concerns.  I may be muddle-headed the next 7 days

* Well… I seemingly am speaking and writing just fine… I journaled to this bullet and crashed before 2300h


25 thoughts on “The man with nine lives: Part III

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