Thursday, October 1, 2009

i've had better days

i'm typing this one-handed as my left arm is in a sling with a compound fracture and dislocation to the ring finger and a fracture and dislocation to the pinkie finger.

while on my morning commute today, a red car side-swiped me and drove off, leaving me sliding to stop in the middle of fresh pond parkway in cambridge, ma.

i was driving in the left lane at about 40 mph with at most two car-lengths between me and the car in front of me, when a red sedan, possibly a compact, in the right lane simultaneously flipped on his turn signal and made a boston-style jump to the left lane. he [assumption; i didn't get a glimpse of the driver] clipped my front tire and down i went on my left side. my head hit the pavement pretty hard, but the helmet did its job. i slid a good long way, but the kevlar jacket, leather gloves and steel toe boots did their job.

i think the injuries to my left hand were due to either me putting out my hand to break my fall, or the handle grip crushed it when the bike hit the pavement. but no road rash except for a bit on my knee where my insulated jeans were torn away. three cheers for wearing the right equipment!

when i came to a stop, i was lying on my stomach with my left foot was trapped under the bike, and traffic was screeching to a stop. luckily enough, there hadn't been any oncoming traffic when i went down, as i ended up over the yellow line. the red car was gone.

'are you okay?' i heard from multiple people.

'no', i replied.

i considered just lying there until help arrived, but i realized that i would cause a horrendous traffic back-up, so gave a great shove against the seat with my right foot and freed my left foot and clambered to my feet.

'you should really stay still until the ambulance gets here', i heard.

'i don't want to cause a traffic jam', i replied as i hauled the bike back up on its wheels. 'this needs to get out of the center of the street.' my left hand complained at this a fair amount, so i knew it wasn't uninjured.

'dude, i ride; i'll take care of it for you,' i heard.

'great; thanks', i said and turned and stumbled to the sidewalk and stretched out on the pavement. the next 15 minutes were the usual chaos of bystanders and first-responders. the emts were excellent and the police took a quick statement. when they realized that it was a hit-and run, i could see in their expressions that the driver of the red car would probably never be found. no one had seen the license plate.

i was strapped to a backboard with my helmet still on. they were asking me what hurt and i indicated my left hand hurt the most, followed by my left knee. the emt was trying to free my left glove from the sleeve to remove it, and wasn't being too gentle about it. i brushed his hands away and did it myself, and so got to see the ring finger first. not pretty, and neither it nor the pinkie finger were pointing in a natural direction.

the ride to mt. auburn was uneventful, aside from learning that the emt and i share birthdays.

the er staff were excellent and very professional. after cutting off my pants and removing most of my clothing, they informed me that they were going to have to cut off my wedding ring because of the swelling. they said it had to be done quickly, but i begged them to give me a local first, as a few bumps to the finger during the removal of my clothing had been quite painful. i think that because i had requested a local and not iv pain meds convinced them that i wasn't a hardcore narcotics seeker who had staged all this to get drugs. they had an iv and 2 mg of dilauded in me in about as many minutes. life was much better after that

the removal of the ring, however, was one of the more excruciating episodes of my life. i'll just leave it at that.

once that was done, i was taken to x-ray and pics were taken of hand, chest and knee. i was returned to the er while the er chair took a look at the films. this was a funny little episode. after scratching their heads for a little bit [the x-rays were being displayed at a computer workstation just outside my room], they came back in and asked if i had ever had any injury to my left hand that had left any foreign matter in the flesh. i hadn't. they were concerned about some shadows on the x-ray, thinking that some dense foreign matter had been ground into the wound, requiring opening up the wound more to get it all out. apparently resigned to doing so, the er chair told my doc to clean up the hand in preparation. he came over to take one last look at the wound before leaving to check on other patients.

'a-ha', he exclaimed. 'mystery solved; come here and take a look at this.' the gold dust from when they had removed my ring had fallen into some of the blood and stuck there. the er chair got a digital camera and took pictures to use as teaching materials.

my doc then gave me some locals to kill the fingers so she could clean the wound, suture it, and reduce the fractures. during all this, fiona showed up. we both felt better for this; she when she saw that i wasn't gravely injured; me for her being there.

the ring finger reduced with a painless pop, but the pinkie finger wouldn't stay reduced. i'll be seeing a hand surgeon tomorrow to discuss options.

once they finished with the hand, and were prepping me for discharge, i asked, 'are you going to put a dressing on the knee?' they had forgotten about it.

they took one look at it and said, 'we're going to have to scrub this to get all the dirt out.' out came the local anesthetics again.

finally they released me and fee brought me home.

i took a nap and got up for dinner and to write this post.

i'll post again after tomorrow's session with the surgeon. if i don't post; it'll probably be because he operated on my hand.

for now, however, it's back to bed.


  1. Dear John: We are glad that you are OK. Could not believe it was you causing all kinds of traffic problems in the AM commute. We saw on Fox news this morning via their helicopter the ambulance stopped on the parkway. The trees were in the way so thank god I did not see you lying at the side of the road. Also we all thank you for not posting a picture on the website of your mangled fingers. We will leave that up to our imaginations!!

    The Rotondi's

  2. only because i was one-handed and strapped to a backboard did i not snap a picture.