4 unexpected biking lessons with my girlfriend!

Hi, Girlfriends and Guy friends and Happy New Year!    

Accidents can happen so quickly!

Last Sunday was a beautiful day here in Tucson, Arizona.  John and I had just finished eating lunch and I decided to take a spin on my mountain bike around The Voyager RV resort.  My girlfriend Kathi (who is parked right next to us) was available to ride along so we headed out onto the street together. 

We rode side by side around the resort chatting away about all those things that girlfriends talk about when they have a half hour bike ride ahead of them.  Mind you, the two of us had done this ride at least a dozen times.  We began our usual route taking the streets on the outermost loop of The Voyager.  

Without warning

There we were.  Pedaling along without a care in the world.  About 10 minutes into our ride we made the usual left turn onto 18th Street which is a long straight stretch about 1/3 mile long.  At this point, Kathi slowed a bit and tucked behind me since a car was approaching from the opposite direction nearly 4 blocks in front of us.   

All of a sudden I felt a thunk on my back tire.  Before I knew it, my bike was falling down. 

We were probably only going 8 miles an hour and I easily side hopped off of my bike in order to avoid falling to the ground. 

But here’s the thing.  It’s weird what goes through your mind at a time like this. 

In that split second, I thought it odd that Kathi had not shouted any warning like “Oh crap, I’m falling” or “Watch out, I’m going to run into you”. 

As I’m thinking all this, my peripheral vision saw her on the ground- still straddling her bike. Arm flung over her head.    

Busted, literally!

Bad us.

Kathi and I never wore helmets when biking inside the RV resort.  Ugh.  And now I was staring at my girlfriend lying in the street with a head injury!  

I quickly knelt beside her.  She did not respond when I called her name!  She had hit her head on the asphalt and blood was beginning to pool under her head. 

My years of nursing training kicked into gear.

The longest 30 seconds ever

Again, I called her name.  Again she did not respond to my voice.  I noted her breathing was labored.  Her eyes were rolled back.  Her glasses and hearing aides had flown off and were a couple feet to our left. Her left leg was twisted and caught under her bike.  

I grabbed my phone from my bike basket and called 911.  At the same time, a neighbor stuck her head out her door.  I requested wet washcloths and a towel to place under Kathi’s head.  Two people in a golf cart drove up and asked what they could do.  I told them to call the guard gate and inform security. 

After about 30 seconds, Kathi started moving her arms and moaning. 

I was so relieved! 

Keeping calm

She instinctively reached for the back of her head and attempted to raise it off the ground.  Her hand came away covered in her blood.  

As I wiped her hand I began assessing her neuro status. Her pulse was steady but weak, her breathing was now regular.  I continued with; “What is your name?” “Please squeeze my hand” “Stick out your tongue for me”  “Can you smile for me?” “Wiggle your feet” “What day of the week is it?”  “Where are you?”    

Kathi was able to follow my directions but failed the last two questions.  She had no idea where she was or what day of the week it was.  

Meanwhile, a crowd had gathered around us there in the middle of the street.  Several people told me to move her to the side of the road.  Without taking my eyes off of Kathi, I stated. 

Nope.  She is NOT moving.  She is going to stay right here until EMS arrives.   

“What about Lilac?”

As I shaded Kathi’s face she began to talk and ask questions.  “What happened?” “Do I really need to go to the hospital?” “Lilac needs to go inside my camper”.  “This is so embarrassing!”  I and the crowd reassured her as we waited for EMS.  

I called John my husband.  He put Kathi’s cat inside her coach, grab Kathi’s purse, bringing our blood pressure cuff, and my purse.  

It only took him 5 minutes to arrive in our Jeep.  Kathi’s blood pressure was high.  I felt better having John with me!

6 more men to help 

EMS arrived in about 15 minutes and quickly took over the scene.  The team leader asked me dozens of questions as the other 5 assessed Kathi’s condition.  

The drive to the trauma unit of Banner Health Care took 25 minutes.  I was grateful to ride along in the ambulance.  Sitting shotgun up front with the driver I listened as the paramedics cared for Kathi in the rear.  I was impressed with their focused attention; continually assessing Kathi’s level of consciousness and her vitals. 

Impresssive trauma unit 

I walked behind the paramedics as they wheeled Kathi into trauma room #3.  

There to greet her were 9 trauma team members.   Yes, 9! 

What followed was like watching a choreographed dance team.

Each person had their assigned duties and position.  Within 2 minutes they had Kathi on IV fluids, monitors, all tests ordered and fully assessed. 

From the outside looking in

I stood outside the room watching.  Suddenly I was approached by the trauma unit social worker and chaplain.  They stared into my eyes asking questions with such concern for Kathi that I burst into tears.  Apologizing for my emotional reaction I attempted to describe the relief I felt watching my friend being attended to.  Their response was simply to hug me, which naturally caused me to cry some more!

By 6 p.m. a room was ready for Kathi.  She had sustained a concussion and luckily her CT scan was negative for additional trauma.  We helped her get settled then headed back to The Voyager to check on her cat and close her windows for the night.  

The next day I spoke to Kathi’s nurse on the phone to see when discharge papers would be ready.  John and I drove down to Banner medical center and brought Kathi home around 3 pm.  What a relief she felt!  

It’s a week later and we’ve kept a very close eye on my dear friend.  It is a pleasure to see her feeling better with each passing day.  

Lessons learned

  1.  Helmets.  We will now ALWAYS wear helmets, even if we are simply biking three blocks to check our mailbox.  Remember, your head doesn’t know the difference between a fall at 8 mph or 50 mph.  Please learn from my stupidity!  Begin 2019 by wearing a bike helmet or order one below.  Your head is worth protecting!  
  2. Education.  I’m sharing this story so you won’t experience what Kathi and I went through. Please spread the word
  3. Eat food before biking.  We are still not sure what made Kathi fall off her bike last week.  She cannot remember if she lost her balance after feeling dizzy, or if she got distracted by something causing her to wobble and fall.  What we do know is that she had not eaten yet and that might have been the cause for her lightheadedness. 
  4. Listen to a friend’s knowledgeable advice.  I was grateful Kathi was not alone when she fell.  I’m also thankful she listened to me when I insisted she receive an evaluation at the hospital.  It wasn’t until arriving at the trauma unit that she recognized her symptoms were serious.     
  5. It’s important to replace your bike helmets about every three years. Did you know that there is new helmet technology that addresses “concussion-mitigation”?  Read about it here.  

How about your story?

Now that you’ve heard my biking boo-boo do you have one to share?  

What other advice do you have to share that would be helpful to us all?

Do you wear a helmet when biking?  If not, why not?  Will you order one in the links below?  

Wishing you all a safe and adventurous 2019!

Your unlikely RVer,

Gretty

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