Saturday morning, and I set out from my parents (Cambridgeshire) towards London, with the idea of riding to somewhere like Stevenage and getting the train from there into town. Within 5 miles, the headwind, rain and cold had ruined this resolution and I decided to ride to Cambridge and get the train from there instead. So, 20 grim miles, and I’m thinking about the cup of tea I’m going to have at Cambridge station, and all the things I’m going to do when I get back to London… and then I slip.
I don’t really know why it happened. It was wet, there was a lot of standing water on the roundabout I was on, there were painted lines (double yellows, a red bike lane type thing and a white line) which seemed liberally applied, but nothing extraordinary. I had my carradice on, fully loaded, so about 15kg weight behind me, which didn’t help. Once I slipped I just couldn’t wrestle it back.
I hit the ground face first, smashing a tooth and hard on to my chin. Next down came a leg, the bike, another leg onto the bike, and my arm onto the ground with a thud.
A man ran over, and I managed to unclip and get out of the road. I tried to pat myself down but couldn’t move my arm. “Are you ok? Can I call someone for you? Are you alright?” I had no fucking clue. My face hurt. My hand… it didn’t even feel like a hand. I told him that I didn’t know, I was ok in that I could stand but I didn’t think I was actually ok. We propped my bike against a fence and I sheltered from the rain under a tree. What had he said? Call someone? Maybe that was a good idea. I called my parents. My dad sounded frantic and said he’d come straight away. I stood by the road for an hour while blood dripped from my face and my hand and my leg, staring at the spot of road where I’d come off, occasionally having epiphanies like WHATABOUTTHECAT OMGWHOWILLFEEDTHECAT.
Eventually my dad came, we put the bike in the car and drove to hospital. I finally went into shock and lost the vision in one eye and started shaking uncontrollably. The nurses spent some time trying to remove my rings from my massive swollen hand and amazingly managed to get my gloves off without cutting them (brand new gloves! I was so relieved, even if the pain of this made me cry).
I saw a whole load of doctors and nurses and had lots of xrays, before specialists from plastic surgery were called to come and have a look at my “acute claw”. My hand was amusing me by now, it really did look like a claw and I seemed to have no knuckles. All the xrays showed no broken bones and after testing loads of things it was decided that I have neurapraxia, or nerve damage. My ulnar nerve has taken such a hit that it’s shut down. My 3rd and 4th fingers won’t move, are numb and can’t stay out of a claw position. I had a bit of a debate with a doctor who was keen for me to stay in overnight (not a chance – what about the cat?!) and after about 6 hours I was finally allowed to leave, with my arm in plastercast and a referral to see specialists at St Thomas’ on monday. I came back to london, fed the cat, got drunk and went to sleep.
On monday I went to St Thomas’ and had all sorts of people prod my arm and exclaim “I’ve never seen anything like it!” and had more xrays as everyone was convinced I must have broken SOMETHING as my hand is so swollen. “Look how fat you are!” said one nurse, before apologising profusely and assuring me she was talking only about my hand. My hateful cast was cut off and has been replaced by a thermoplastic splint, in which I am completely unable to move. Neurapraxia can take over a year to get better but if there’s improvement by friday, and given that I’m young and healthy etc, it could be weeks/months rather than anything longer. I’ve got strict instructions to keep a positive mental attitude.
And my bike? The handlebars were knocked off centre, but other than that, there doesn’t appear to be a scratch (although I have already arranged for it to have a check up).