4 broken ribs and collapsed lung... fighting fear now

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by TwinCitiesRider, May 25, 2019.

  1. ToothDocJay

    ToothDocJay Been here awhile

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    A friend of mine got nailed by a car in downtown traffic a year or so back. His injuries were less than you have but the bike was a write-off. He lost his nerve after that.

    He got a new bike, and I did a 4 hour ride with him shortly after and he drove over cautiously and was a danger to himself. Soon after he sold the bike and hasn't ridden again.

    Age wise I think that this was his first encounter with mortality, and he has young children to think of as well. Point being that all those factors add up to making a personal decision about whether to ride again or not. Same goes for you.

    No doubt getting back on the bike and working your nerve back up is part of the answer. I like the suggestion about taking a course.
    #21
  2. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

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    If you live in the same Twin Cities that i do, consider riding primarily out of the metro area. Several of us that are fairly avid riders just don't ride around town here, we bee-line it out of here even for day rides, and stay off the interstates as well.

    Yeah, you can still find trouble well away from the metro, but my experience has been the last ten years is that i experience more close calls while riding in my car the 18 miles north to where i store my bike, vs the 150-200 miles i might tour for the day on two wheels well away from the metro and likely not see any thing that is as threatening.

    Just what works for a couple of us. I don't / won't commute on my bike either.

    Be safe in all regards.
    #22
  3. motokeith

    motokeith Been here awhile

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    Fear after an event like that is natural and healthy. It's just your mind reconciling the event and your lizard brain being a little more on the lookout. Embrace it and listen to it, but let it run its course before making rushed decisions about hanging up the helmet.
    #23
  4. A1R250 bob

    A1R250 bob n00b

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    I believe that when I am riding, I am invisible and never assume anyone else on the road sees me. That being stated, last evening I noticed my right side mirror needed adjustment and just as I was moving it a freaking deer ran in front which I narrowly missed. Now when I ride I must assume that every animal is suicidal.
    #24
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  5. CanadianX

    CanadianX Don’t leave a steaming pile for others.

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    Had a few crashes where it took time to come back to being confident on the bike again. Most recently, 4 weeks ago a crash and bar end to the chest and maybe cracked my sternum. Like a broken toe and ribs there isn't anything the docs can do about so I never bothered to go in and get checked out. First big dirt ride about 3 weeks after the crash and most of my morning I was holding back but over the course of the day I felt better as far as confident. Still had to be mindful of hitting dips and banging around on rough terrain as my chest is still aching but exposure gave me back mastery of my emotions. I knew this would be the case so was purposeful and mindful to think through any trepidations, the slip of the front wheel, not target fixating on a rock or tree etc... It was the same post combat tour where certain things triggered anxiety and fight reactions. Not good when you're walking down the aisle of Home Depot. Breath through it, understand why you're having the reaction and think through the moment until you're in control. And give yourself time it isn't a one and done inoculation.
    #25
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  6. inbred

    inbred Sweeter than Yoo-hoo

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    #26
  7. Lee R

    Lee R Man in a Box

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    One of the closest call's I've had was a car that ignored a stop sign and pulled right out into my lane then stopped. I bled off some speed and made a sharp turn around the front of the car when I saw the spokes were not moving (I always look at wheels) I don't think I would have been able to make it to a stop in time, this is with a ABS equipped bike with good brakes but it happened quickly and on a pretty steep hill, I was traveling at the close to the speed limit of 50mph.

    I'm in aviation for work and for me personally digesting and learning from accidents is the best way to get past what happened. Arm yourself with knowledge and adjust your habits by proactively doing as much as you can to prepare for upcoming situations. I personally always bleed off a lot of speed into intersections and have the brakes covered if anyone's setting up for a left turn, and if their wheels move forward I'll slow below the speed limit just incase.
    #27
  8. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    Dude - two weeks is way too soon after broken ribs and a punctured lung!!

    You need to stay off the bike a couple months!!
    #28
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  9. ts01

    ts01 Adventurer

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    No personal experience in a motorcycle crash yet, but I've had bad crashes and car impacts on bicycles (including collapsed lung with broken ribs and other bones) and a few injuries and orthopedic surgeries from other sports.

    The first was the worst. I was stressing soon after the incident about when I'd get back. Even when I got back, it took another year or two to go hard without awareness - conscious or otherwise - of the injury. I've found myself much happier after injuries thinking about what I want to be doing three or five years down the line. Taking the baby steps first I got there.

    You might read about pro athletes back on course after serious injuries in unrealistically short times. Don't expect similar results unless you really have similar raw material. They are extraordinary athletes. Even with the same great medical care and full time attention on the recovery ordinary mortals can't compare.

    So don't compare. Don't compare with the pros, and don't compare with your former self. Just ride when you feel ready, or find something new. Bicycles are an obvious alternative, and you live in a great cycling town.

    Bottom line though is your body will heal first and your mind will catch up.

    Edited to add - just noticed in the original post you are 27 years old. If it's not obvious from the musings above I'm lots older, and have used fear from incidents like yours to recalibrate and set objectives - one of which is to continue getting older! It sucks but it beats the alternative.
    #29
  10. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    Ok, again. Broken ribs and punctured lung--- stay off bicycles.
    #30
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  11. ts01

    ts01 Adventurer

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    Fair point, Captain. I'm not talking about when - that's up to the OP and his docs. Just thinking about how and what might address the fear question when he is ready.

    Another analogy came to mind on my morning commute. Motorcycling taught me to look much further down the road than before. And that's what I'd suggest to the OP in thinking about feeling calm on the bike again - look way down the road in terms of your physical and mental recovery after a crash; chances are you'll be ready to relax when the time comes.
    #31
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  12. TwinCitiesRider

    TwinCitiesRider Adventurer

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    Luckily my lung wasn't punctured just collapsed from the pressure applied from the hit. No chest tubes needed they gave me oxygen and had me try lung reoccurement with a spirometer. Doing the deep breathing, my lung showed no signs of pnuemothorax after the first night. I was fortunate to have a very quick recovery, only remaining issue is some loss of range of motion in my left shoulder. Should regain that with some more time and light exercise. I do agree I shouldn't have been riding before the ribs were healed at a minimum.
    #32
  13. TwinCitiesRider

    TwinCitiesRider Adventurer

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    Thanks for all the comments everyone. Glad to report my ribs are looking good in the x-ray. Left shoulder is a little sore with certain movements, but otherwise I'm mostly healed. Took an advanced riding course and a few small trips on my dualsport on slow roads the past week. I'm feeling comfortable and having fun again on the bike. I've mostly avoided high traffic situations and will continue to until I feel 100%, but the times I've been in contact with busier roads the past week I've felt more aware of possible hazards in a good way. The drills from the course I took I plan to frequently practice to prepare for the next time a driver presents a hazard to me. Thinking I'll take the expert course when it's next offered. The only issue now is deciding between a versys 650, or vstrom 650 for my next on road bike:)
    #33
  14. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    Good luck and thanks for the update. I am glad you are healing up. The crash changes you, but some of the extra caution and knowledge is good. I am 9 months out from my crash and seeing myself get more confident but I also feel like I will never be the smooth fast rider I used to be. And that might be okay.
    #34
  15. TwinCitiesRider

    TwinCitiesRider Adventurer

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    I'm right with you on the fast part, id say thats a good thing. Speed on the streets means less time to react. I was ok with that in some situations before, now I'm happier keeping it at the limit and trying to find my excitement from cornering in twisties and off road. Im not going to help cages or wildlife ruin my riding with speed.
    #35
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  16. Frank smith

    Frank smith R1200GSA, WR250R Supporter

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    My wife was in a bad accident back in the summer of '11. Crushed her right foot. Bike was very damaged but rebuildable, to totaled. Still disabled to this day, wears ortho shoes but gets around ok. She used to wear high heels before the accident and hasn't been able to put one on her right foot since her accident. She swore off riding, said that was the end of that. She would get PTSD when she rode on the back of mine or even during certain situations in a cage. Fast forward to summer of '18, out of the blue, she got the itch. Bought her a Burgmann scooter and now she's back in the saddle. And I never thought she would ride again for physical and mental reasons. Once they're involved in an accident, each person makes their mind up on when and if they'll ever ride again. I wouldn't do it until I was ready, and never if I feared it. That would be no fun at all.
    #36
  17. bimmergib

    bimmergib Adventurer

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    A couple of years ago I wrecked with my teenage daughter on the back. When she got on the back I noticed she was wearing her Keds. I should have made her change into her boots I know; just one of those times when one inexplicably makes a bad decision. When we went down we were on a narrow, tar and gravel, back road, where the gravel that hadn't been packed into the tar had migrated to the edge of the pavement. We met a pickup in a left hand turn so I went wide and as we got closer to the loose stuff all I could picture in my mind was her Keds clad left foot. I decided to stand it up and cross the ditch into a yard. The ditch was a little more than I counted on and enough to throw the bike on its left side. I landed against the driveway and I think my daughter landed on top of me, breaking her impact. Thankfully she walked away with minor bruises. I on the other hand went to the ER, then on to the ICU for a couple of days and a total of 6 days in the hospital. 4 broken ribs, punctured lung(chest tube), lacerated spleen, and bruised kidney. Had to take 6 weeks off work. When I got home, I tried to move the bike( one of the responders from the FD had riden it home for me) and was terrified that I couldn't even hold it up. Several people asked me during my recovery if I was going to keep riding and I always answered that I would have to wait and see; that I intended to but if it was no longer enjoyable I'd give it up. And that is what I did. I didn't ride during my prescribed recovery. I made the minor repairs to the bike during that time. After the 6 weeks( ribs still sore), I went for a short ride, then another, etc. I eased back into it, staying within my comfort zone. In Feb. I flew out to Los Angeles and rode an R1100gs 2000 miles back home through LA traffic, rain, snow, strong cross winds, frigid temps. I loved it! I no longer, however ride with a passenger. I miss riding my daughters on the back, but just am unwilling to take that risk anymore. First let your body heal. That's big part of it. Don't force it. Good luck
    #37
  18. anotherbmw

    anotherbmw Been here awhile Supporter

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    When I was your age which was a looooong time ago I killed a deer with my KZ 650. No injuries to me, just some damage to the bike. I found this so shocking, didn't ride at all for a couple weeks, then sold the bike (I needed money as well so did not necessarily sell because of the accident). A couple months later I went for a 3-month stint (work/fun) in Australia. Part of the fun was riding the Suzuki DR 800 thumper that I sw there for rentt.....So what I am saying is, the desire to get on the bike again just came back. I didn't force it. The following 27 years I have not been without a bike except for 2 years or so when my first son was born.
    #38
  19. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son? Supporter

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    For the folks reading this before ever having a significant get-off I would submit that the best way to combat this kind of fear is to be honest with yourself now. People who ride motorcycles are likely to crash at some point. Crashing a motorcycle sucks. Sometimes, serious injuries or worse are the result.

    If you fully internalize these ideas, and accept them now, then there is no reason that you'd be more afraid after a crash than you were before it. I've been saying for 30+ years that my biggest fear by far was hitting animals in the dark. I made it all this time without a significant street riding crash, and without hitting an animal. Then, in spring of 2018 I hit a cow at speed, in the dark. Totalled the bike, and I spent the whole summer in and out of the hospital fighting serious infections and a bad de-gloving leg injury. I wasn't really able to ride again until this past spring. I find that my fear of hitting animals isn't any different than it was before; I already knew it would suck if it happened, and well, it happened, and my fears were confirmed as legit.

    If you're a 'just don't think about it' or 'I just don't let it enter my mind' person, then you might not be prepared when you have that get-off, and I think maybe this is what is happening here with the OP. It's much easier to process the idea that riding might be dangerous in the abstract, than it is when you're bed-ridden with broken ribs. My only point is that I wouldn't sweat it. All you're experiencing is the forced coming-to-terms with inevitability. Such things are easier when unforced.

    You'll get over it. And hey, if you ride some % more carefully as a result, it's a win. I definitely am more careful re: over-driving my lights and slowing down on tight country roads at night. I don't see it as fear, I see it as healthy respect for physics.

    Just my thoughts...I hope you're feeling better physically and emotionally.
    #39
  20. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    Yeah, all true. I got over the fear after my crash gradually but it didn't take long. 1000 miles or so. I am not the same smooth fast bold confident rider I was. That is actually very hard for me to accept but I have worked on that internally. I think I had some real pride in being a fast rider. As fast or usually faster than anyone and everyone I rode with, groups form NYC, local riders. I reveled in being fast and smooth and fearless and for a decade or so I was quite good. Now that is over.

    Now I'm just a fairly decent rider, not as fast as I was. The risks are too great not to slow down and get smarter. And that has been a struggle to accept, but accept it I must. I still have those skills but they are like old knives in a drawer gradually going dull and that is the way it should be.
    #40
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