I have hesitated to write about this for awhile … but now I believe this is a good time to look back on what we’ve been through and to be thankful for where we are today.
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever
Almost 5 months ago today, my beautiful bride was hit by a car while we were vacationing in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Almost every autumn, we stay at Topsail Hill State Park and RV camp for a week, enjoying the beach, the area and the 20 mile bike path along 30A.
Imagine riding along a dedicated bike path, separated from traffic. No worries about impeding traffic, or being hit from behind.
You arrive at an intersection, like any other. You’re on the way back to the campground, almost at the local bakery for a quick “goodie” stop. Looks clear:
Not knowing that a driver is about to pull into your path.
I wasn’t there to see the crash occur, but from witnesses and the police report the circumstances were clear – the driver pulled into her path. Both she and her bike hit the car, her head hit the windshield, and she tumbled over to the other side of the vehicle.
The front fork sheared off and, along with the wheel, remained in front of the car, and the force of the impact rebounded the rest of the bike back in the opposite direction.
An ambulance ride to the ER followed.
I am so very thankful to so many people …
- The first responders from South Walton Fire and Rescue who arrived quickly and stabilized my wife. They were fantastic to her, got me calmed down and explained her injuries and status
- Bell Helmets for safety gear that did it’s job
- To the driver for doing the honorable thing by staying at the scene and admitting the facts to the FL State Trooper. Far too many hit and runs happen these days.
- The wonderful doctors, nurses and staff at Sacred Heart Emerald Coast Hospital for their excellent care of her while she was in the ER. She sustained multiple injuries, including a broken wrist, sprains, countless bruises, road rash, cuts …
- Because we were traveling back so soon, wrist surgery had to wait until we arrived home. We were so thankful for our family practitioner Dr Stafford seeing us immediately and Dr Palmer at The Hand Center fitting us into his schedule quickly for surgery.
- Our family chiropractor Matt Eiken and physical therapists Kristi Maguire (IMC) and Sheryl Massey (The Hand Center) for the many months of (continuing) treatment
- Peter Wilborn and Timmy Finch of BikeLaw South Carolina for representation in the insurance mess that has followed.
- All of our beloved church family and friends for the prayers and lots and lots of meals while she endured the initial and worst part of the recovery
- For the grace and mercy of Jesus. This could have been far, far worse.
I can say all of this now, because now I can say: after 5 months we’ve reached a major milestone – first ride on the bike since the crash! After being accustomed to chasing Strava segments, seeking out long climbs and long rides – a simple tour of the Swamp Rabbit Trail meant more than it ever has before. For today, flat is where it’s at and we so much enjoyed two-wheel freedom together again!
The recovery continues, physical therapy continues … her cyclocross bike is still trashed leaving the next CX season up in the air, and I have no idea when a cross race or mountain bike ride will be possible for her. Yet, Spring is here and her road bike beckons for her next goal: Assault on Marion. If all goes well, in a few weeks she’ll be making her way to Marion as I “attack” Mitchell. Strong recovery!
I’ve learned many lessons through this experience and plan to publish an extensive journal in the future – with the hope that we can help others who have to go through this. For now, I’d like to share a few key thoughts:
- Wear your helmet. Always. Look at that smashed windshield again and think about it.
- If you are involved in a bike vs. anything incident (I don’t call these things accidents!) – strongly consider representation. Give the folks at BikeLaw a call and think it over. I could write pages and pages about this (and probably will later), but in a nutshell: When you are hurt, it’s you and your broken self against multiple insurance companies (sometimes including your own!), hospital billing departments, different laws between states (FL is a no-fault state!)…. Fight your own fight of recovery and lean on someone else qualified to do the rest of the work.
- Be thankful for today!
Thank you to BikeLaw South Carolina for coming through with our claim for a replacement bike! We replaced her Bianchi Axis with a Bianchi Zurigo Tiagra – in classic matte celeste (is there any other color to put on a Bianchi?)
Thank you to Robin and Allen at Pedal Chic for the bike fit and the fun day today of setting up the new bike.
Recovery continues, and one more piece of our “bike riding life” has been put back together. Hopefully we’ll be ready for cyclocross season in a few months!