By Paul Thompson
It’s early June and on the basis of my first five months 2013 is in pole position to be my annus horribilis. Sciatica wreaked havoc on my spring marathon plans. And then I got knocked over during the early part of my comeback trail.
I was hit by a bicycle (phew!) on the Manhattan Bridge that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn at around 6:45pm on Thursday, May 16. I was running from my office at the corner of 5th Avenue and East 44th street with a fellow Warren Street runner Fabio Casadio.
Fabio was hoping to collect his number for the Brooklyn Half Marathon from DUMBO, a part of Brooklyn that faces Lower Manhattan. The plan was to run out there and, if time and energy permitted, run back. As it was I got an ambulance back for $500 (thanks United Healthcare).
So what actually happened? Here is what I have pieced together thanks to Sham, Fabio, Endomondo and a few lucid moments.
We were clipping along at 6:30 minutes per mile (mpm) down the East River Park and then got onto the north side cycle path of the Manhattan Bridge. The Endomondo app continues to tell the story. At 6 miles, just shy of the Brooklyn side, I was stationary for 35 minutes. I then shot across the Brooklyn Bridge and up FDR Drive at 1:30 mpm, ending at Bellevue Hospital Center. The iPhone’s battery, true to form, then died a few hours after arriving at Bellevue. Maybe like me it was concussed.
As we approached the Brooklyn side of the bridge a cyclist clipped me from behind. I was thrown to the ground face and shoulder first. Not sure what the hands were doing though my right one was presumably carrying my iPhone. Fabio, who had been running right behind me, shouted after the offending cyclist but he kept riding and did not look back.
On impact my lights went out for a few minutes but apparently I soon got up to restart running. Fabio and other cyclists (thanks whoever you are) ‘coached’ me into staying down and waiting for an ambulance. I have absolutely no memory of this. (Or of being asked who the President of the United States was and not knowing the answer.) The next thing I remember is seeing Sham in the hospital on Friday. Thursday night is a black hole. It’s left me wondering how many embarrassing things I did during this ‘offline’ period.
Ambulance and Hospital
The ambulance deposited me at the Emergency Ward of the trauma centre at Bellevue. Fabio was on board and called Sham. Sham was still in the city and got to the hospital about the same time as the ambulance. From 7pm through 4am, I was inspected by doctors for eye, head/facial and upper body injuries.
I got to spend a second night there and eventually was released around 6pm Saturday. Much of it was a blur thanks to the combination of concussion, one eye closed and morphine. Sham was however relieved (!) that I remembered who she was. Glad she did not test me what anniversary we’d be celebrating in June. Things started to crystalize on Saturday when a nurse asked me to pee in a flask.
On the basis of what my discharge sheet said plus other tidbits gained from trips to the plastic surgery, orthopedics and opthalmology clinics at Bellevue since being released it turns out I had a broken shoulder blade, heavily bruised upper right arm and chest, several small fractures on right side of face (plus a few stitches and big scrapes), and an eye that was not keen to reopen.
Today, three weeks post discharge, I am almost mended, looking 47 and complaining that I cannot run. The latter means I am getting better.
Recovery and Work
I am now back at work, slowly getting into the swing of things. I sleep more than ever, regularly falling asleep by 9 pm. Unfortunately I cannot yet sleep on my favorite right side as my shoulder blade is not cooperating.
Friends have been amazing. Fabio got me to Bellevue and last week made me tiramisu! I have been overwhelmed with goodwill messages – Facebook, text, phone and even hardcopy cards – and visits while at the hospital, home and office. I’ve also been showered with goodies including, from colleagues, an iPad Mini. It’s been a great toy while recuperating.
My shoulder blade is the only thing standing in the way of running. To help limit the shock my body will feel when I start back I have taken up walking and cycling on a stationary bike. This comeback will be a long, slow one. And for a few weeks I might be like my iPhone; short on battery life and prone to shutting down.