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Cyclist hit by an Inattentive Driver (Graphic Photos) by Paula (Stout) Burke

Updated on May 30, 2015

Sharing the Story

This article was originally my journal/blog of the accident and the healing over the following months. I wanted to share it mostly because I wanted to help raise the awareness of both the importance of drivers being alert to cyclists and the importance of cyclists wearing helmets "just in case" you do everything right but it all goes wrong.

This is my story of how I did everything right and it all still went wrong. I was one of the VERY fortunate ones. I have no real long-term damage; certainly not anything life altering.

There is nothing I would change about how the accident happened that day. I saw the car. I slowed my speed assuming the driver did not see me. I tried to make eye contact with the driver. I believed that because his car was stopped, he was waiting for me to pass. I did everything right; but, he still pushed that accelerator and I still bounced off his windshield into a ditch.

What follows is my story as it was written in the days following the "accident."

I have to include the warning that the photos I share here are very graphic which is why I originally rated this article "R." I have since changed the rating back to "G" because it was not allowing people to view it without a Squidoo account.

Please feel free to leave comments or questions in the Guestbook area.

Awareness Test - Just a minute long. You'll surprise yourself.

I sent this one out to friends and family... one week later, I was hit by a car.

Tulsa Time

The Way I Remember It

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

So just before the Turkey Mountain mountain bike race in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I had warmed up a bit on the bike path, but then decided I'd like to stretch the legs a bit on the hill out on the street.

On my way back from the hill, I was riding South on the street and noticed a grey, primered Trans Am type car coming North. There was a side street I was coming up on on my right. The Trans Am stopped in the road. He didn't have his blinker on, but since he was stopped it looked like he was going to turn onto the side street.

I always assume that drivers do not see me, so I slowed down and tried to make eye contact with the driver. The overcast sky or the shape of the windshield, something made it so I couldn't see the person's face. I was still moving forward so I figured he was treating me like any car and was going to let me continue the way I was heading, and then make the turn behind me. I started to pedal again.

A split second later, I realized he was moving towards me. I tried to think of a way out but all I could think to do was to hit my brakes. In those slow motion moments, I sort of envisioned it all ending with me plopping lightly over onto his hood and sliding down, gently, to the ground. I had slowed, and he had been stopped, I simply couldn't imagine it'd be anything more than an awkward bump. It is amazing the impact that we actually had.

I remember a loud thud and a whack to my head, then I remember landing on the ground. My first thought was to stand up and make sure I was ok. I started to get up but there were voices yelling at me to stay down. That sounded like a good idea too so I just lay there on my stomach with my forehead resting on the back of my hands. I could see and feel the warm, thick blood running down my face and across my nose. I could see it saturating my gloves.

A female voice asked me what my name was. I told her. I'm not sure what else I was asked.I looked to my left and peeked out. I could see the car and the windshield. I asked someone if the window was already broken and they said no, that I had broken it. The whole driver's side of the windshield was crushed, though not broken through.I could see a little bit of my bike in front of the car so I asked how my bike was. Someone said it was not going to make it. :(

I don't know what order everything happened in, but at some point I know a woman was lying on top of me. (Stacy McLeod) Both to probably keep me from getting up as well as to keep me warm. It was a very nice feeling. One, I didn't have to decide whether or not to keep trying to get up.. and two, she was really warm. :)

I remember someone saying "Paula, it's Kim." and telling me the ambulance was coming. I wasn't sure which Kim until later. (It was Kim Rieck) I heard the word "ambulance" and thought "wow, I really don't want this to be bad enough for an ambulance but I guess they always have to be cautious."

While I was laying there peeking out I noticed a guy with a camera stoop down and shoot a photo right at my face. I gave him a thumbs up and said "thank you.. we may need that later!" I know that some people think photographers can be too intrusive. I know as a photographer, I often worry about being intrusive but my thought is that some things you just can't go back and shoot if you need them.. and you can always throw them away if you don't. When in doubt shoot it.

A few minutes later, I heard the car that hit me start up. It had a low rumble to it. Immediately, I heard several voices yelling "no no no.. Do NOT move that car!" Later, someone told me that a group of people had grabbed the guy and his keys and thrown the keys into the crowd. How awesome is that? I tell ya, if you're not in the biking community, you may not understand what a touchy subject cars vs. bikes is. But I can only imagine what would happen to a guy who hit a cyclist and tried to get away.

It seemed like the ambulance was there within five minutes. I remember my helmet being taken off and I remember an attendant taking scissors to my jersey. I said "ohhhh that's a brand new jersey. I just got it this morning.. do you have to?" She told me that the jersey was already trashed. I said "ok."

They asked me if I could stand up. I told them I could if I used only my right side. So they turned me so I could put my weight on my right leg and they steadied me as I got up. As soon as I stood up, there was cheering and clapping from the crowd. What a great group of people!

The ride to the hospital was short and rough. Once there, an attendant asked me if she could take a few photos of my head. She said it was "impressive" and that she "had never seen someone's skull exposed like that before." I told her no problem! By the end of the day the word "Impressive" had been spoken by every single person who came into my room I think.

I think the accident happened at 10:05am.

Humpty Dumpty (Beware - Graphic Photos)

Putting it all Back Together Again

I was in the ambulance at 10:37am.

By 12:30 I had been x-rayed and Kim was keeping me company in ER.

After a bit of a wait, I was taken to get a CT scan then wheeled to room 11 where I waited for the PA (Sabina) to come stitch me up.Kim waited with me for a while. She took a few of the first gory photos; then we were told there were others who wanted to check on me.

Only one person could come into my room at a time, so up next was Bobby Smith. He came in and we talked for a few minutes.. then the gauze fell off my forehead and he kind of winced then he said "Could they not find the rest of it??" LOL That's what he SAID. What I HEARD was "Good God Man, where's the rest of her face?!?" LOL. I already knew it was bad. I'm just teasing.. you didn't freak me out Bobby.

After a bit, Lonnie Cooper came in. It was so funny how fascinated he was with the stitching process. He took several more photos and kept me company while the stitches were being put in.

The stitches to my head were finished up around 5pm. I still needed stitches in my cheek/temple area. A bit later I had a local anesthetic, shots in my face and received 8 stitches to my cheek.

All this time I had been laying on a very hard board and my back was really in pain. The nurse came in and we asked her to get the board out from under me. She also noticed at that time that I had not been given anything for pain. She gave me a dose of Morphine then. That took the edge off of everything.

A few more stitches to my left arm and I was pretty much done for a grand total of 122 stitches.

It took a bit of doing to get up and get dressed. Just sitting up on the edge of the bed had the world spinning and me sweating rivers but when they wheeled me outside the air felt sooo good!

I had carpooled with another rider down to Tulsa, so I had a ride home. We got back to Wichita around 10pm. My son was a bit freaked out. I had called him and told him a little of what happened and told him that I looked a lot worse than I was. He is 17 and has been a big help since I got home.

For the most part, I'm pretty mobile. My whole left side is banged up and my ribs and back are very sore. It's hard to get up and down; but I am TOTALLY blessed that this was not worse than it was. I will probably need plastic surgery on my forehead later; but otherwise I think I'll be healed up in no time.

I will be at Keystone on the 13th to take photos. Not sure when I'll be on a bike again since that's really dependent on when I can put a helmet on.

I want to thank everyone who has sent me so many emails and called me in the last few days. The amount of support has been overwhelming!

I'll write more later.

Cute Cycling Cartoon

Gotta love Herman

*photos* It Ain't Gonna Be Pretty - About 122 Stitches

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11 cm cut from my eyebrow into my hairline, 7 cm cut from my eyebrow to my temple.
11 cm cut from my eyebrow into my hairline, 7 cm cut from my eyebrow to my temple.
11 cm cut from my eyebrow into my hairline, 7 cm cut from my eyebrow to my temple.

More Emergency Room *Photos*

Click thumbnail to view full-size
2 stitches per centimeter, 3 layers of stitches, plus 8 in my cheek and 8 in my arm.
2 stitches per centimeter, 3 layers of stitches, plus 8 in my cheek and 8 in my arm.
2 stitches per centimeter, 3 layers of stitches, plus 8 in my cheek and 8 in my arm.

*Photos* The Accident Scene

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here is the car that hit me.Based on the stories I have been told by the people who saw the accident, and based on how my body feels. I think my head hit at the upper right of the windshield and my shoulder hit more towards the center.. you can see those two points of impact thPoor Cobia.This is the driver.Kim and Stacy helping me stay calm and warm.I remember the moment this one was shot. I thought “very cool”. As I was lying there, I could see the blood running down onto my gloves. It was a river and I kept thinking how I wished it would just be a drip or a trickle. Check out the helmet. It deOne last look at my Gary Fisher 29er.
Here is the car that hit me.
Here is the car that hit me.
Based on the stories I have been told by the people who saw the accident, and based on how my body feels. I think my head hit at the upper right of the windshield and my shoulder hit more towards the center.. you can see those two points of impact th
Based on the stories I have been told by the people who saw the accident, and based on how my body feels. I think my head hit at the upper right of the windshield and my shoulder hit more towards the center.. you can see those two points of impact th
Poor Cobia.
Poor Cobia.
This is the driver.
This is the driver.
Kim and Stacy helping me stay calm and warm.
Kim and Stacy helping me stay calm and warm.
I remember the moment this one was shot. I thought “very cool”. As I was lying there, I could see the blood running down onto my gloves. It was a river and I kept thinking how I wished it would just be a drip or a trickle. Check out the helmet. It de
I remember the moment this one was shot. I thought “very cool”. As I was lying there, I could see the blood running down onto my gloves. It was a river and I kept thinking how I wished it would just be a drip or a trickle. Check out the helmet. It de
One last look at my Gary Fisher 29er.
One last look at my Gary Fisher 29er.

*Photos* RIP My Gary Fisher Cobia

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Evidently, the car hit the bike right at the head tube and snapped it there.
Evidently, the car hit the bike right at the head tube and snapped it there.
Evidently, the car hit the bike right at the head tube and snapped it there.

*Photos* Giro Did Its Job

Click thumbnail to view full-size

This Saved My Life - NEVER EVER Ride Without a Helmet

Never.

Great Helmet Reminder Video - From the Brain Injury Association

You know how it's going to end; but, you still wince anyway...

*Photos* Progression of Face Wounds

Click thumbnail to view full-size
03/30/08 10PM – 12 hours after the accident03/31/08 12PM – 26 hours after the accident03/31/08 10PM – 36 hours after the accident04/01/08 2PM -  2 1/2 days after the accident – finally got to wash my hair!Ironically, I’ve been growing my bangs out and they go to the other side. I have a cowlick on this left side so the scar will be showcased.April 03, 2008 1pm – 4 days after the accidentI put makeup on for the first time since Sunday. I only had to use half of what I normally use. Bonus!  It’s a good thing my favorite color is purple huh?April 08, 2008 1pm – 9 days after the accident. I got the stitches out.April 19, 2008 – 20 days after the accident.The Scar is shaping up. It’s to a point now where it feels worse than it looks. And the word “feel” is a strange way to put it. Basically, my head is numb from the center of my forehead, over to the lower cMay 15, 2008 – Almost 7 weeks after the accident
03/30/08 10PM – 12 hours after the accident
03/30/08 10PM – 12 hours after the accident
03/31/08 12PM – 26 hours after the accident
03/31/08 12PM – 26 hours after the accident
03/31/08 10PM – 36 hours after the accident
03/31/08 10PM – 36 hours after the accident
04/01/08 2PM -  2 1/2 days after the accident – finally got to wash my hair!Ironically, I’ve been growing my bangs out and they go to the other side. I have a cowlick on this left side so the scar will be showcased.
04/01/08 2PM - 2 1/2 days after the accident – finally got to wash my hair! Ironically, I’ve been growing my bangs out and they go to the other side. I have a cowlick on this left side so the scar will be showcased.
April 03, 2008 1pm – 4 days after the accidentI put makeup on for the first time since Sunday. I only had to use half of what I normally use. Bonus!  It’s a good thing my favorite color is purple huh?
April 03, 2008 1pm – 4 days after the accidentI put makeup on for the first time since Sunday. I only had to use half of what I normally use. Bonus! It’s a good thing my favorite color is purple huh?
April 08, 2008 1pm – 9 days after the accident. I got the stitches out.
April 08, 2008 1pm – 9 days after the accident. I got the stitches out.
April 19, 2008 – 20 days after the accident.The Scar is shaping up. It’s to a point now where it feels worse than it looks. And the word “feel” is a strange way to put it. Basically, my head is numb from the center of my forehead, over to the lower c
April 19, 2008 – 20 days after the accident.The Scar is shaping up. It’s to a point now where it feels worse than it looks. And the word “feel” is a strange way to put it. Basically, my head is numb from the center of my forehead, over to the lower c
May 15, 2008 – Almost 7 weeks after the accident
May 15, 2008 – Almost 7 weeks after the accident

Thank Yous

April 2, 2008

I want to thank everyone who was at the scene of the accident for helping out so much. Whether you were a witness and forced to see that horrible accident, or you were cheering for me when I stood up. You mean a lot to me. Thank you SO MUCH to Kim Rieck and Stacy McLeod for helping me when I was on the ground and then Kim for gathering my purse and important information and taking it to the hospital and for staying with me until she needed to go home.

My goodness!!! The amount of support and well wishes has been amazing! Thank you all!

April 4, 2008

What a unique bouquet I got today 04/04/08 from Marilyn Dillon! Strawberries dipped in chocolate. Sooooo yummie! And Purple, too!

Thank you Marilyn!

A great bouquet of flowers came today 04/04/08 from my work. The florist was clearly rattled when I answered the door. He said "Great Googly Moogly! Are you ok??" He was about 70 years old and sweet as can be asking me what happened and trying to reassure me that everything was going to be ok. I think he was really reassuring himself.

That was my first exposure to "the public" since this happened. I am a bit worried about freaking people out.

More Gifts

One of my friends brought me a goody bag and in it she included a lottery ticket. She said that since I was clearly on a lucky streak.

Great Flowers

These flowers are from the race promoter, Jeff Metcalf. They are from my favorite florist in Wichita. I’m sure Jeff didn’t know about that..what a cool coincidence! Thank you Jeff!!

Accident Location

A marker400 W 68th Street South, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States -
400 W 68th Street South, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
get directions

Satellite View of Area - This is where the accident happened.

Out and About

So last night I ventured out into the real world for the first time since the accident. My friends Patty & Kim wanted to go celebrate life. Patty just had a birthday and Kim survived the Greensburg tornado. I just had my bike wreck, so we all had reasons for celebration. I don't think anyone was too freaked out overall. I did get a lot of looks. I had a headband on for a while but it just didn't feel right. Patty and Kim assured me that I wouldn't make anyone lose their appetite in the restaurant, so I took the headband off. It probably helped that it was a dark restaurant.

Yesterday, I did go to my general doctor to ask him about some severe dizziness I have when I lay down or tilt my head back. He said my inner ear/balance stuff might have been thrown out of whack during the accident. Also, I can't really pick anything up with my left arm. When I try to, it feels like my arm is yanked out of the socket at the shoulder. Dr. Phillips thinks maybe my shoulder could have been dislocated during the accident but popped back into place causing some tearing of the ligaments etc.

Anyway, at the Dr. office, there was at least a dozen people in the waiting room. Another friend of mine had driven me there and within a few minutes she said "Boy, you do get their attention, don't you?" In general, people don't want to stare; but, well, my face is a bit of a train wreck right now. :)

*Photos* Stitches Removed - I got the stitches removed today. There were a few places that were not quite ready, so as a precaution, they put steri-strips over

Click thumbnail to view full-size
These steri strips have to stay on for five days.. or until they fall off.
These steri strips have to stay on for five days.. or until they fall off.
These steri strips have to stay on for five days.. or until they fall off.

Back to Work - Wednesday, April 9, 2008

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Today was my first day back at work. I'm starting out working half days.For some reason.. I felt immediately like I fit right back in.Even my desk and everything on it welcomed me. I also got a useful gift basket (bottom right).Not even my IMBA calendar was safe!
Today was my first day back at work. I'm starting out working half days.For some reason.. I felt immediately like I fit right back in.
Today was my first day back at work. I'm starting out working half days. For some reason.. I felt immediately like I fit right back in.
Even my desk and everything on it welcomed me. I also got a useful gift basket (bottom right).
Even my desk and everything on it welcomed me. I also got a useful gift basket (bottom right).
Not even my IMBA calendar was safe!
Not even my IMBA calendar was safe!

Everyday Kindness

Sometimes it's all gravy...

So Wednesday was my first day back at work. I worked from 8 -3 and that just about took all I had. Thursday I was much slower getting to work. I just couldn't pull it together. I showered, then lay down. I put makeup on, they lay down. Little by little, I finally got ready for work and got there. After about an hour, I just couldn't think. I felt wiped out, weak, confused, frustrated.. and the dizziness just kept coming at me. Once I realized I wasn't going to make it through the day, I went home.I cried all the way home. It didn't seem like I was crying for any particular reason.. just really tired and frustrated. I'm not in a lot of pain, but the aches and pains are everywhere and don't seem to be letting up.

I find that I'm not taking deep breaths.. and carrying my purse and laptop is just uncomfortable. Putting on my seat belt in the car requires that I twist my ribs and it always makes me yelp a little. I think I'm just tired of not feeling "normal." Usually, when I'm tired and frustrated, I get on my bike and right now, that's gone too. So yesterday I just went home and went to bed at about 11:30 in the morning. I slept for a few hours, then got up and went to the KSS (bike club) meeting at 7pm. There I found some "normal." Just sitting with friends. Friends who understand the crazy passion that got me into this mess to begin with. My normal, day to day friends and coworkers.. they understand I have this passion, but there's still a difference between them and people who don't even have to ask if you're going to ride a bike again. There were a few new guys at the meeting last night, and after the meeting, one of them came over and gave me a gift card to Panera. That was SO SWEET. I want to thank them here, as I don't know their last names or email addresses.. So Thank you to Geoff, Bruce, Rich and Branden. I hope to get to know you guys better in the coming months.

This morning I had another act of pure sweetness. First, a little background info. At work, we have a cafeteria. In the cafeteria is a cook named Jessie. Jessie knows how to make GOOD sausage gravy for breakfast. The head chef doesn't allow him to do this very often or maybe there are just days that he doesn't have time.

Every morning, I go to the cafeteria and do a gravy check. If it is plain white gravy, I just get a coffee and go back to my desk. If it is the chunky, sausage gravy, usually the assistant, Leroy or maybe Jessie will hold up a ladle full of gravy and say "Hey Paulaaaa.. goood gravy." Very cute. My friend, Holly, and I do "Gravy Alerts" in the morning. If one of us goes down and the gravy is good, we come back and give each other a "Good Gravy Alert" I even made up a song about the gravy and Jessie. We sing it to the tune of "Jessie's Girl" but instead, it's "Jessies Grill."

Jessie is a cook,

Yeah I know he's been a good cook of mine

But lately something's changed

It ain't hard to define

Jessie's got himself a gravy

And I want to make it mine

You know I wish that I had JESSIE'S GRILL

So today, I headed to the cafeteria. There were about 10 people in line, but, as usual, I cut the line and peeked at the gravy. Plain white. I headed to the cappuccino machine and then went back to my desk. About ten minutes later, I was working and a "to go" plate from the cafeteria appeared on my desk. I looked up and there was Jessie. He said "I saw you looking at the gravy this morning. I though you might need this today so I made some just for you." My heart melted. I told him he was so sweet and thanked him. After he left I started crying again. I tell ya, I'm a mess; but the caring and support that people are showing me is just overwhelming me more every day.

I know I know. It's just gravy but really, it isn't.

How I Ride Road / What are the Rules?

There is probably no hotter topic for cyclists than the issue of who has what rights and responsibilities on the road. On any given day, a cyclist will be riding along the road and have motorists yelling and honking at them to get off the road to get on the sidewalk. If we move to the sidewalk, we have pedestrians yelling at us to get on the road. Which is right? Which is the law?

Both.

It depends on what part of what town you are in as to whether or not it is legal to ride on the sidewalk.

I prefer to ride on the road so I can be a little more sure I am seen. If I am on the sidewalk, and I approach a cross road, a car pulling out is going to be looking on the road for traffic, not on the sidewalk. If I ride on the sidewalk, I have to deal with those intersections as well as driveways. Motorists just are not looking for faster moving objects on the sidewalk.. they expect those to be on the street.

At a stop sign or a stop light I will "take the lane." I will move over so no car can scoot up next to me. A car scooting up next to me so we are sharing that stop will hide me from other cars and possibly clip me as they come into the intersection.

If I approach an intersection and I am blocking the turn for a car behind me, I will scoot up and let the car turn if I feel safe doing so.

The way I have always ridden, and will continue to ride, is as if I am driving a car. I will stay on the street and I will obey every signal and law as though I were driving my car. In addition, I will assume no one can see me and I will assume every car is out to get me.

This approach was how I behaved the day of my accident. It didn't keep the accident from happening, but I have absolutely no regrets about my actions that day. I saw the car, I tapped my brakes so I could slow down and make eye contact with the driver, the car stopped as though I were another car to legally let me continue in my current direction. But then the driver did something crazy. He pushed on the gas. I believe he was cutting the corner to get through the turn before me. I can't be sure of this. I only know that the officer told me later that the driver said he saw me.

The bottom line is that when an accident happens the cyclist will always lose. There is no way a two ton vehicle is going to come out on bottom in an accident with a 20-40 pound bicycle. Every cyclist has to decide what they are comfortable with and then ride accordingly.

I will always wave a thank you to those who allow me right of way or work to ensure my safety. Those motorists know that the bottom line is that we are all someone's mom, dad, brother, sister and that the few seconds it takes to allow a slower vehicle to go by is not worth changing lives.

Every cyclist and driver should brush up on "the rules of the road."

Here is the Kansas Statute:

http://www.ksdot.org/burrail/bike/biking/KsBicyGuid.asp

Also, as of July 1, 2011; it is the law that motorists give cyclists three feet of passing room.

Some drivers may not know, but a recent law allows drivers to cross a solid yellow line to allow room for a cyclist if there is no oncoming traffic... so, just because it isn't a passing lane, that doesn't mean you cannot pass a cyclist and give them extra room.

Get Riding / Keep Riding

Products I HIGHLY recommend.

Not Completely OK

I went to the grocery store a few minutes ago. A routine drive of about two miles. I was fine.. singing along to the radio and I got to an intersection, a four way stop. There was a cyclist approaching the intersection directly across from me. There were cars approaching the intersection. Everyone stopped.

I had a funny thought go through my head that I was taking note of whether or not the cyclist had on a helmet. (he did) Everyone proceeded in appropriate fashion, but as the cyclist went through the intersection, my heart started racing, my stomach got tight and by the time I had taken my turn through the intersection I had tears streaming down my face.

I had so many things going through my head. I was terrified for the cyclist, I was feeling like he was in danger. I even had a strange feeling as though I was afraid *I* was going to run over him! I wasn't even going the same direction as him. He turned North I was going South but I had this tiny little panic set in like I just knew something horrible was about to happen.

When I got to the store, I sat in the parking lot for a bit trying to collect myself.

After I came out of the store, I started thinking about it again and realized that the weather today is EXACTLY what it was the day of my accident. I wonder if that had something to do with it. It is a misty, dreary, wet and gray day.

I was fine on the drive home but something about seeing that cyclist really set off my emotions. I swear, I am normally just not that volitile.

On another note, the story of my accident was featured on the Podcast "The Fredcast" (thefredcast.com) today. That was a little surreal to hear my name mentioned "on air" but if the story had been about anyone else I would have very much appreciated how scary it sounded. It made me think back to the night I got home from Tulsa, the night of the accident, when my son first saw me and asked "Mom, what if you had been killed today? What would happen to me?" I'm a single mom of a 17 year old boy. Yeah, he's big enough and old enough to get along, but the thought of my son losing his mom really got to me.

I would like to find a way to make sure drivers understand the consequences of their actions; but am not sure what that method could be yet. I've always thought that when people yell or "buzz" us on the streets that they just don't think about or realize (or, in their arrogance, don't care) that we are someone's mom, sister, brother, father out there just trying to enjoy the world and improve our fitness or maybe just get from point A to point B.

I'm sure there's a reason for my accident for my AMAZING lack of long term injury, and it will be apparent to me in time.

Paula

Interesting Dizziness Cause

A friend of a friend's mother had a head injury a while back and her doc diagnosed her with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. I was amazed when I read the symptoms. They are IDENTICAL to mine.. down to the way I was telling people they were happening. When I lay down in bed, when I'm shopping and I look at the top shelf etc all of those identical things are listed on this page.

http://www.tchain.com/otoneurology/disorders/bppv/bppv.html

Basically, when your head gets hit really hard, it knocks a bunch of calcium crystals loose and they float around in the fluids in your ear.. anyway, read about it, it's cool. I go to my doc tomorrow and am going to see if he will try this procedure on me.

I hope to be back on the bike this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes!

Back in the Saddle

May 5, 2008

This past weekend marked the 5 week anniversary of the accident.

I took the "new" bike out on Saturday, put on a helmet for the first time and pre-rode the course for the Red River Shootout in Ardmore, Ok.

I rode for an hour or so, one loop and I felt great. I was a little extra cautious, both because of the injuries and because of the new bike but I was very surprised at how I physically felt, so the next morning when I still felt pretty good, I decided to sign up for the race. I knew I would just be doing it to finish, but I needed to have that "restart" point.

I think I took about 3 hours to do the two 8 mile laps; but I did stop along the way to talk to a few people who were having mechanicals. I even stopped once to move a snake off the trail. It was a cute, green, grass snake. He was all stretched out in the sun and would not move. I didn't want to run over him so I reached down and "petted" him. He moved slowly out of the way so I just picked him up. That made him really move and he squirmed away off into the leaves.

I came in second, out of two. AKA last place. But I had a very good day and didn't feel bad the next day.

It was also awesome being welcomed back by everyone. I know this was the first race after the Tulsa race; but it felt like I had been "gone" from the scene so I really appreciated all of the well wishes and hugs from everyone!

Cycling Comfort

I HIGHLY recommend riding with gel shorts rather than chamois. It is also important to have good seat padding; but, you don't want a huge seat. I finally found a great one!

7 Weeks Post

Life is pretty much back to normal. I'm riding my mountain bike again. I haven't yet started riding my road bike, but after this weekend I need to bite the bullet and get back out on the streets. I am participating in BAK Biking Across Kansas from June 7 - 14. That is a 500+ mile road ride from the Colorado border to the Missouri border. Last year was my first time participating and it was wonderful. So awesome to spend a solid week with 800 people who love, live, talk, breathe biking as much as I do. Very cool.

My head wounds are still numb. I still cannot feel anything above my left eyebrow. My forehead there is missing some muscle so most of my eyebrow/forehead doesn't move when I make expressions. Sometimes that whole part of my head will start to itch, almost burning and since it has no feeling I can't really scratch the itch. That drives me batty. Sometimes that feeling goes away when I press my palm really hard down on it for a few seconds.

Treated for Vertigo

May 28, 2008

So a while back I posted about "Interesting Dizziness Cause." Today I got treated for it. I'm going to explain this because I think it's really cool.

When the car hit me, it knocked some crystals loose in my ear canal.

Did you know you all have these? I guess there is a river of jelly stuff in your ear, and there are crystals floating around in there.. when you turn, bend, move, etc those crystals drag through the gel and stimulate nerves to send signals to the brain to tell you which way is up etc. There is also a little river of water beneath that gel.

When I got hit, it knocked my crystals out of the gel and into the water.. so when I tilt my head certain ways, I experience vertigo. My eyes start to jiggle around and I'm disoriented and nauseous until the crystals settle somewhere.

To diagnose this, they had me lay down with my head to one side while I worked to keep my eyes open.. they watched my eyes as they started sort of spinning back and forth like if you were jiggling a doorknob. The intensity of the spin and how long it lasts tells them how severe the vertigo is. On my left side I barely had any movement; but on my right side they said it was severe.. which is why I get nauseous etc.

So this morning, an audiologist had me do some moves with my head and body to try to re-position the crystals so they aren't sending the wrong signals. As a result, I have to pretend I have a book on my head for 24 hours.. can't look up or down or lay down. I have to sleep sitting up tonight.Are our bodies interesting or what??

Also interesting is the fact that this very morning, MSNBC posted an article about the exact maneuver, called the Epley Manuever.

BAK A Little Nervous

June 2, 2008

First.. an update on the vertigo. Gone. Totally gone. What a wonderful, freaky thing the body is!! I live with vertigo for two months, someone rolls me around on a table for 20 minutes and viola! Cured.

So, Biking Across Kansas starts this coming Friday. Though I was ready to embark on this 500 mile road ride I had not had any more incidents where I saw cyclists on the road and broke down into tears so I thought I was ok.. but today I had to go to my lawyer's office for the first time since right after the accident.

The insurance for the guy who hit me, they wanted to get a statement from me over the phone and my attorney wanted to be present. So I went in and answered all the interview questions about the accident.

Facts, figures, gory details, pain, injuries etc.. no problem. Then he asked if there was anything else he should know about long term damage. I told him about the "dead zone" between my eyebrow and crown of my head etc.. then I started to tell him about the fact that I am worried about some emotional damage.

I told him about pulling through that intersection that day and seeing a cyclist and having a complete panic attack. I told him my first thought was to make sure the guy was wearing a helmet.. but then that I felt an overwhelming fear take over as I worried about the rider and that even though I turned in the opposite direction, I became panicked that I was going to run over the cyclist.

As I'm telling him about it, I start crying uncontrollably and having a hard time breathing again I could barely finish the story.. after we got off the phone I told my lawyer that I am terrified I'm going to have a panic attack on BAK. I don't see them coming you know.. but all it takes is one tiny trigger and I'm hardly able to function.

Getting a little nervous here.

A good friend recently told me to keep in mind that this BAK is no different than last year. To ride in the same frame of mind as last year, it is no different just because of a freak accident.

That is awesome advice and may be my mantra for that entire week.

Thank you all for listening to me like this when I feel the need to bare my soul a little more.

Paula

BAK 2008 - A Great Time

June 25, 2008

June 6 - 15 I rode 517 miles on my road bike.

I had not been on a road bike this year at all.. and had been only on my mountain bike intermittently. The first day really took it out of me. I wasn't worth much at the end of that ride, but the second day was better and it just kept getting better every day.

I only had two incidents when cars lined up to make a left turn, the same as happened with my accident. The first one freaked me out a little because the car started rolling before I was through the intersection but everything else was great.

I shot 1376 photos and edited them down to about 868 which I put up online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulastout/sets/72157606527863586/

2011 Update

Life and all that Goes with It

Towards the end of 2008 I received my insurance reimbursement/settlement from the driver. With that money, I purchased a new mountain bike and a new road bike. The Orbea Diva that I now ride on the road was my super spoiled gift to myself following the accident. I also replaced my old Gary Fisher Cobia 29er with the Gary Fisher Ferrous 29er. I paid off some bills and made a few other purchases.

I have since added two babies to my family. A daughter in 2010 and a son in 2011. I took two years off to add the two babies am now getting back to biking in its various forms.

As for the scar and my sense of feeling at the wound site, my nerves are all jumbled up. Pressure or touch to the top, left side of my head feels like it is in my eyebrow. Rubbing and scratching my eyebrow makes my head feel better. Weird.. but I've gotten pretty used to it.

Please leave any questions or comments in the Guestbook area or use the "Contact Me" link from this article.

Thanks!!

Paula

Hi! Please leave any comments or questions you have. I will try to respond quickly.

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    • profile image

      Jen 2 years ago

      Ouch! Sorry about your accident but glad you are ok. Does the scar ever affect your self confidence? If so, how do you cope? I was recently in an accident and received an ugly scar on my forehead. I'm devastated, depressed, embarrassed, and never want to leave the house anymore. I feel so ugly. Any advice?

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      olumen73 3 years ago

      Thanks a great deal for discussing this matter. I concur together with your conclusions.The point that the data stated are all very first hand on actual experiences even aid a lot more.

    • PaulaBurke LM profile image
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      PaulaBurke LM 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you so much!

    • PaulaBurke LM profile image
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      PaulaBurke LM 5 years ago

      @anonymous: SO did you go on BAK??

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      PaulaBurke LM 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Yeah. I don't care for the word "Accident." I catch a lot of grief about this; but, I think it is way overused as a way to dismiss responsibility. My thought is that "maybe you didn't intend for it to happen, but you didn't intend for it NOT to happen either." Drivers, especially, could do so much more to not be distracted... but when distracted driving accidents happen, it is so easily called an accident with no fault... crazy.

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      PaulaBurke LM 5 years ago

      @anonymous: First, my apologies, I don't remember receiving an email notification about your post so I only just now saw it.

      Honestly, the scar faded really quickly. Within months. I did tend to keep it softened with Vitamin E and a few over the counter scar creams. I would mostly just put them on before bed and let them soak in. I think the idea is that it just promotes smooth cell growth.

      You're two months out.. how's yours looking now?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi paula. I had an accident 5 weeks ago, I fainted in the shower and cracked my forehead open. I got 15 stitches and the scar looks very similar to yours. A V above my eyebrow. If you don't mind, could you share your recovery and how long it took for the scar to fade. Thanks

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is an amazing story...thank you so much for sharing...I found this while searching for stories about bicycle incidents to have a better understanding of the aftermath..having just been in my first incident (accident denotes no one was to blame)

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I've enjoyed reading about your BAK adventures as well as the story about your accident. I am really considering riding across Kansas next summer as I've always contemplated it and my father has accomplished it several times. He is 66 years old and going again this year and know it would create lifetime, lasting memories if I can get off my backside and join him.

      Congrats to you for overcoming such a tragic accident and driving on. I have served in the Army National Guard for 21 years including service in Iraq and in support of the Greensburg tornado cleanup effort and your stories are very motivating to me. Way to live life to it's fullest.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story! It's given me some in site as I am somewhat of a newbie into the cycling world. You seem like an amazing person. And beautiful....inside and out. Best of luck to you and your family.

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      celeBritys4africA 6 years ago

      Oh, my God! A terrible experience.

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      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Good to see you returning to full powers :)