The tragic accident………
It was a Friday morning, January 18, 2008, when I was riding my road bike to work. I had started a part-time job at Hellen’s Bike Shop, just outside of Los Angeles, CA. I had only worked there two days but enjoyed it. I was riding from Silver Lake, where I lived, heading to Hellen’s…..it was at the intersection of Venice and LaCienega where my life, as I once knew it, changed forever.
I was riding in the bike lane…..the rest of the story is based on facts told to me by family and friends. I was struck by a car, thrown thirty feet (and about ten feet in the air). The driver stopped but she was the only witness. Other drivers stopped after I landed on the pavement. One of the drivers called 911. At first, I was conscious but dazed. The Paramedics said I was screaming about my bike (well, I had about $2500.00 in that bike!), which then resembled a pretzel. I was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and my bike was taken to a nearby fire station. Apparently, the police took my wallet and drove to my house in Silver Lake, trying to find family or friends. They spoke to one of my roommates and a neighbor, who both headed to the hospital. In the meantime, the hospital began treating me and found my cell phone. A Social Worker at the hospital scrolled through my contact list and found “Mom” and called the number.
By this time, it was 2:20 PST (5:20 EST). My mom lived on the East Coast, in Virginia, and she received the call on her cell phone. She said she saw a California number on the screen and was puzzled. She had just been upstairs on the computer, sending me an email asking how I liked my new part-time job. She heard her cell phone ringing downstairs and ran to answer it. That was a call that she said she hopes no one ever has to receive.
The voice on the other end was Lisa, a Social Worker at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. As soon as she identified herself, my mother became hysterical and asked what had happened to me. Lisa began to tell my mom what had happened, and about my severe injuries. She indicated that my one roommate and neighbor were on their way to the hospital. She also indicated that she would have the Neurosurgeon call her to give her more details of the injuries and treatment.
Within ten minutes of the first phone call, the Neurosurgeon contacted my mom. In a nutshell, he explained that the injuries were severe and life-threatening. He advised her that I had suffered severe traumatic brain injury, along with multiple fractures and bruising throughout my body. Severe traumatic brain injury….. my mother used to work with children that had suffered brain injury so, of course, she freaked. The doctor assured her that they were attempting to keep me stabilized, in a medically induced coma, and that the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours were the most critical.
Contacting a friend, my mom realized that she had missed the last flight out of Richmond, VA that night. The next earliest flight out was at 6:00 a.m. EST the next day, arriving in Los Angeles just before 11:00 a.m. PST. In the meantime, she spoke to my friend/neighbor, Matt, and he offered to meet her at the airport the next morning. During the night, and the next morning from the airport, she contacted the hospital staff who were nice enough to provide updates on my condition. She arrived at the hospital around 11:30 a.m., where I was in I.C.U. in the medically induced coma. The doctors informed her that surgery was too risky, so they would treat me clinically.
So much happened over the next hours, days, weeks and months. The doctors kept telling my mother and friends that progress would be measured in “baby steps.” I know that my family and friends were not prepared for the roller coaster ride. As for me, well I was in a coma and had no idea what had happened or what was going on.