“Why were you in my lane and why were you going so fast in my lane?” He had no answer.
I turned to a young woman on a cruiser nearby and mouthed, “Call 911.”
In the meantime, bystanders tried to offer words of comfort. “It’s probably just a sprain.”
I knew it was far more. Because my wrist felt broken and I couldn’t support it, the other cyclist held it for me. I couldn’t look him in the face because I was bowed over in pain and resting my head on my bike’s handlebars. Our bikes were stuck together.
After a few minutes, I managed to call my boyfriend. I was at the intersection of the Braude and Ballona bike paths in Marina Del Rey and he would be coming from Manhattan Beach.
It was Monday, September 22nd, the beginning of my third week on my new job in Santa Monica. It was my third time commuting by bike to Manhattan Beach. Just seconds before the crash, I was happy, ecstatic even. I was thinking how I wanted to ride my bike to work at least three times a week. The other two days would entail a three-hour commute – taking my 6-year-old son Jude to school in Seal Beach and then driving back up to Santa Monica.
The sun was setting. It was a beautiful night and I had just finished the portion of my ride that runs through the busy streets of Santa Monica and Venice. I was safe, or so I thought.
Up until now, I had feared cars and helmet-less, amateur riders on fixies and wearing headphones. not this guy who had all the trappings of an experienced cyclist. I never imagined another cyclist would create so much upheaval in my life.
When the paramedics arrived, they placed my arm in a temporary, inflatable sling. The pain was unbearable and it consumed me. As I was being wheeled into the ambulance, I heard the other rider say, “Good luck." I scolded him one last time from inside the ambulance. I never got his name or information. I never told him that I did not have health insurance.
In the ambulance, it dawned on me that without my dominant right hand, I would not be able to drive my car with its manual transmission. I would not be able to write, and I was at a brand-new job that entailed writing pitches to reporters and press releases. After five hours in the ER and two shots of morphine, which seemingly made no effect in lessening the agony, the results of the X-Rays showed that I had a fractured radius and ulna. The ER doctor recommended that I see an orthopedic surgeon right away.
Minutes later, I was handed a bill for $1,100 and, since then, the costs keep coming. Another $75 for the radiologist. $250 for the consultation with the orthopedic surgeon. $400 for the CT scan. $3,000 for the surgery. $6,000 for the hospital and I’m still warily awaiting the ambulance bill and other medical costs and lost wages.
I did not sleep well that first night after the accident. I kept re-playing the traumatic accident and I could not find the pause button in my head. Nonetheless, I showed up to my job the next morning, bright and cheery, wounded but not broken. And I worked the entire day then and since.
My health insurance at my new job doesn’t start until November, as does open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. The medical costs are daunting, but the worst part of this entire ordeal – worse than the indignities of me not being able to put on my own bra or button up my own pants, or write legibly, or wash my own hair, or drive, which means I spend four hours on crowded buses to and from work, is how it’s impacted my ability to take care of Jude. I share 50-50 custody of him with his father. Now I can’t drive at all and I'm trying not to let it impact how much I can see him. To me, this is the biggest tragedy to come out of this.
People keep asking me, “Why don’t you sue this guy? Go after him!” but I never got his information. In retrospect I should have done so, but I was in agonizing pain and could barely breathe, much less speak, after the crash.
In a few hours, my orthopedic surgeon will install one, and possibly two, metal plates into my wrist. He says the break is serious and I have bone fragments floating around inside my arm. I'm nervous I'll never fully recover my strength. That I won't be able to pick up Jude, lift weights or open tight jars.
I’d like to focus on recovery and getting back on my bike but the financial burden is weighing heavily on my mind. I’m usually too proud to solicit on my own behalf, having raised money for other charities but never for myself, but I need help and any assistance would be sincerely appreciated.
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