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Welcome to Adrian Crook

My Bike Accident
by Adrian (pic)

NOTE: click pictures to enlarge

Finally, the story of my bike accident will be told. I say finally because this accident occurred on June 4th, 2000 - more than 8 months ago as I write this. I'd had my new bike for all of 2 weeks at that point. It was awesome. A 2000 Yamaha R6 - easily the baddest bike of its class. Zero to 60mph in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of over 160mph (approx 260kmh). Absolutely insane. Brad (my cousin) and I had gone for a few spins together (he rides a mid-90s Kawasaki Ninja 900 - big bike) and I had managed to put about 400km on my bike's odometer. The R6's acceleration was amazing... it only weighed about 370lbs with a full tank of gas and put out almost 100hp to the back wheel, so you can imagine how fast it moved me (I weighed 150lbs at the time).

Brad and I had taken a few rides up to the top of local mountains - the switchback roads 2000 Yamaha R6leading up to Grouse and Seymour make for awesome rides - but had yet to go on a long trip. I sit here quoting all these power stats (hp this, mph that), but I'd been riding the bike quite conservatively, for the most part. I had taken a great motorbike course at the B.C. Safety Council and had learned more than a lot of licensed riders ever know. Additionally, the bike wasn't through its break-in period yet (1000km), so it had to be ridden gingerly - revs kept under 7,000 or so when the redline on the R6 is a staggering 15,500! Crazy. Needless to say, I exceeded that limit a couple times because it was just too much fun. Never got up to the redline, but I do remember hitting 13,000rpm going over the Granville bridge once. I backed off quickly, not wanting to damage the engine.

In mid-May, Brad and his friend Shane had taken a long ride up the Sea To Sky highway to Whistler and then back down via the Duffy Lake road. This was a beautiful ride - very long though... over 600 kilometers. The Sea To Sky highway is a very dangerous stretch of seaside road that snakes along more than 100km of pristine B.C. coastline. It's dangerous because it is very twisty and requires constant attention to stay on the road - a good number of people die in accidents on the Sea To Sky every year. The Duffy Lake road portion of the trip would be a relatively remote back road that winds through mountains - beautiful ride again, I was told. I gathered up a few of my "biker" friends (Adam, Peter, and his friend whose name I can't recall) to join Brad, Shane and myself on this trip.

In late May, Brad and I dropped by my Dad's place in North Vancouver after one of our mountain rides (Seymour, I think). My Dad had no idea I'd already bought my bike. Like everyone, he has had bad experiences with bikes, losing at least one friend to a bike accident. He was happy for me, but you could tell he wasn't too thrilled about the whole thing. I tell this story now because the day after, my Dad went into work and joked with his partner that "the next time I hear from Adrian it will be from the emergency room".

June 4th was a Sunday and we had to leave early in the morning as we had a ton of riding ahead of us. I woke up, showered, and put on some warm clothes (sweatshirt, etc.) and my bike gear. I had a leather jacket with armor that my cousin had sold me (although I hadn't yet paid him the $100 for it), my new Arai "Raptor" helmet, Teknic armored gloves, and Sidi boots. Geared right up I was, as I didn't want to take any chances. I think Jen was still in bed when I left, but I kissed her forehead and said goodbye. As I walked out the door, she told me to "be careful" - something we tell each other practically every day. Less than 2 hours later I'd be almost dead.

Rocky cliff facesAdam swung by my place on his bike and I rode up from my underground parking spot to meet him. Brad then came by on his bike and we all set off from my place downtown. We were driving out to the Second Narrows Bridge, meeting the others at a McDonald's on the south side of the bridge (at Hastings and Highway #1). Brad got ahead of Adam and I on the ride out to the McDonald's, but that wasn't a problem as I knew where we were going. I was nervous though. Nervous for a lot of reasons - inexperience and the first time riding with people besides my cousin would be two of the big ones.

It was a beautiful sunny day - no weather concerns at all. When we got to McDonald's, Peter and his friend were already there. Shane, Brad's friend, showed up shortly afterwards. After about 15 minutes of waiting for Peter and his friend to finish eating (they had bought their breakfast at McDonald's) and spending some time checking out each other's bikes, we reviewed the course. Before we set off, we rode 1 block up the street and topped up our gas tanks. I could tell I was nervous at this point. I was overthinking everything. It seemed difficult to even figure out how to park my bike to fill it up. Everything seemed way more complex than it should be. I filled up my bike but I was the last to do so as everyone was quicker than me. I hurriedly put my gear back on and went to start the bike. Without thinking, I dropped the clutch in first gear, causing the bike to lurch forward and stall immediately. This small oversight wouldn't have been a big deal any other day, but the fact that the other guys were already waiting to pull out onto the street made me even more anxious and aware of my inexperience.

As soon as I pulled up behind the pack waiting to turn out onto Hastings (a busy four lane strip), the gang pulled off and out into traffic. I fell behind once again and got caught at a stop light right away. Shane, the rider in front of me, saw this and pulled over after the light to wait for me. I was cursing under my breath at this point because I felt like everything was moving too fast. I wanted to tell everyone to slow down and guide me through this, but I also wanted to not look like a fool. As soon as the light changed I caught up with Shane and we turned onto the bridge. You could see the other four riders about half a mile ahead of us, Brad leading the pack of them.

View point across from accident siteWe made it off the bridge and began the ride along the Upper Levels highway towards Horseshoe Bay, where we would turn onto the Sea To Sky and begin the ride up to Whistler. The Upper Levels highway was a beautiful ride - I had to keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on the road, not the scenery. Additionally, Shane was still the only one I was riding with (the others were almost a mile ahead now) and he had to keep waving me up as I was following him at a distance too large for his liking. This was weird, riding with someone that wasn't Brad. Shane and Brad are part-time riding instructors, so I felt an added pressure to make sure my lane position and every other aspect of my riding were bang on. So when Shane kept waving me up - essentially saying I wasn't going fast enough for him when really I just didn't want to follow too close to someone whose riding style I didn't know - my anxiety went up another notch. As I'm prone to doing when I'm nervous, I was talking to myself.

As I write this I remember another incident a week before when Brad and I were riding up Seymour Mountain. He was leading by a good, safe margin, so I was looking around a bit. Next thing I know, he's 15 feet in front of me, practically stopped. To slow down before I rode right up his back, I almost locked my brakes. He had slowed to point out a black bear rambling up the side of the hill to the right of us. Quite the sight, but that experience put a minor scare into me as I saw what could happen if I took my mind off riding for one second. But I digress...

We made it to Horseshoe Bay and turned onto the Sea To Sky highway. More amazing views. By now, the rest of the pack was out of sight. Occasionally we'd see them off in the distance if we caught a particularly long stretch of road or were able to look down the coast up ahead. They were anywhere from one to two miles in front of us, I figure. I didn't mind so much as I didn't want those guys - who were all more experienced riders than I was - to have to wait for my slow ass all day. I had been told Shane rode conservatively so he seemed like a good riding partner for me to be stuck with. We had been riding for about 45 minutes, maybe an hour at this point. It's hard to tell because I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts - analyzing every inch of roadway, making sure I was in lane position 3 (closest to the shoulder, as Shane was already occupying lane position 1 - closest to the line).

Heading into accident siteOne major thing I couldn't recall was whether or not you were supposed to remain in your lane position when turning corners. This was something we specifically covered at the Safety Council course weeks before, but I didn't absorb it. I remembered some notion of going through corners single file (i.e. in lane position 2 and certainly not lane position 3), but for whatever reason I opted to stay in lane position 3 throughout the corners. I believe I was just hyper aware of what Shane would think if he saw me in his rear view wandering between lane positions in and out of corners when that wasn't what you were supposed to do. Again, this decision to remain close to the edge of the road through every corner would be a big mistake.

We were cruising at about 50mph (80kmh) - which feels like no speed at all on my bike - weaving through corners marked by 90-degree rock faces. It being early Sunday morning, Shane was the only person in sight on a road that would be bumper to bumper with après-ski traffic on most weekend evenings. Brad and the rest of the crew were far ahead now and consequently I hadn't caught a glimpse of them for at least 10 minutes. Shane and I had just Close up of accident siterounded a medium right hand corner, which quickly set up into a shallow left hand turn exiting into an uphill stretch. The ever-present rock wall was on my right and as I came out of the first turn, I could see a deep ditch up ahead that ate up the remainder of the road's already miniscule shoulder. Shane took the left-hander with ease and at speed (still 50mph), so based on Shane's conservative riding style, I assumed I could do the same. Later on I would realize that had I been riding alone or even in front of Shane, I probably would have slowed down to handle the corner.

About a third of the way into the left hand turn, I realized I was looking not towards the road, but towards beginning of the ditch on the right. Panic stricken and with little more than a fraction of a second to react before my bike went from lane position 3 to the shoulder and into the ditch, I had two options: I could look deeper into the turn and pull the bike back into line, or perform an emergency breaking maneuver - jamming front and rear brakes while downshifting. I hadn't been riding long enough for either option to become a reflex, so consequently I did nothing at all. Just before I flew off my bike, I noticed a steel signpost about 30-40 feet ahead, between the ditch and the road.

The next 2-3 seconds is a time I can only remember through sound and feeling. I felt myself leave my bike and fly through the air briefly before my right rib cage slammed into something very hard. I fell a distance and when I opened my eyes the scene was completely different. I was on my stomach, propping myself up with my elbows, on the rocks of a dry creek bed. I couldn't breath at all and the contents of my torso felt as though they had been compressed to a half of their original size. It's not even possible to describe the pain. Based on what I was feeling at that point, I guessed that virtually everything inside my mid-section was crushed.

It was then that I realized that I was lying in the ditch. I looked upwards and saw six vertical feet worth of grass and moss between the road and me. Realizing that there was a good chance no one - not even Shane - had seen my crash and that even my bike was probably in the bushes and out of view, I knew I had to get out of the ditch right away. Running on pure adrenalin, I clawed my way to the top of the ditch. My vision was beginning to tunnel, but I managed to look left and then right to survey my surroundings. When I looked right, I realized just how bad things were. The steel sign that only seconds before had been perfectly upright, now lay at a 45-degree angle. This was the thing that I had hit with the right side of my ribcage. I flew 30 feet through the air at 50 mph to hit this, bounce off it, and land in the ditch. The gravity of the situation struck me then and I knew I wouldn't be continuing the ride.

Steel signpostMy right elbow hurt a bit and I figured it was broken, but that was nothing compared to the pain in my torso and along my right side. I began to get my breath back, which allowed me to curse between gasps and moans as I rolled from side to side trying to find a position that would take some of the pain away. My cursing was directed at my stupidity. I couldn't believe what I had done. This was the type of accident I had feared since the first time I started dreaming of riding. How could I be so retarded? How could I ruin everyone's ride? Why did I have to be the one to screw up? There was no way to call off the troops now - rescue crews will definitely be mobilized on this one. I cast aside my helmet, glasses and gloves as soon as I could laboriously remove them hoping I could escape from at least some of the pain. As I was doing this, I caught a glimpse of Shane returning from up ahead and pulling up in front of me. One bike, two riders - what's wrong with this picture?

He too was swearing, but his was of a different variety. Shane was beside himself. Two weeks later, Brad would tell me that Shane had seen me fly off the road in his mirrors, so when he pulled up and I managed to grunt out what had happened, he instantly knew its severity. I have no idea how I looked to Shane, crumpled up in a ball rolling slowly side to side, swearing, moaning and half crying, but it couldn't have been the most positive scene for him to pull up to. Shane was trying to get me to lay still with my head on his tank bag, but there was no way I could do that. Having never felt a pain like this before (and I've been through some painful, hardcore-surgery-requiring things before), I was very afraid. Eventually, Shane must have waved down a car because I heard an elderly couple around me. I never saw them because I was too focused on the pain to open my eyes, but I heard the woman trying to comfort me - which was nice, but didn't help at all. Fortunately, the couple had a cell phone and I could hear the man calling 911. He described our position as Porteau Cove. It's pretty hard to tell an ambulance where you are when there are no addresses available.

By now I had given up on finding a position that would hurt less. I can't remember how I lay, but I do recall the insane pain. Shortly after the man phoned 911, I was aware of another person on the scene. From the snippets of conversation that penetrated my dense fog of pain, I determined that he was a middle-aged doctor. I don't recall if he asked me anything or not, but I doubt it mattered; the responses I was giving weren't going to be helpful to anyone. One thing I did hear him say was that I had probably sustained "massive internal injuries". Wicked. I'd heard that one before. Watch 10 minutes of ER and you'll hear that. It's never good. I could have done without the roadside diagnosis, but at least there was an ambulance on the way.

Looking back on accident siteI was pleased with how quickly the ambulance arrived. It was probably only a matter of minutes before I heard the soothing sound of the sirens coming from an undetermined direction. When the paramedics leaned over and attempted to question me, I heard Roadside M.D. step in. He gave them a quick rundown on what had happened and advised them to take me to Lions Gate Hospital and not Squamish Hospital. This right here would turn out to be the "TSN Turning Point" and it would easily make up for his earlier diagnostic slip. At the time it didn't mean anything to me though. I had never heard of Lions Gate and I assumed it was further up the road towards Whistler. Any hospital would suffice, thank you.

The paramedics quickly loaded me onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance. I was aware of a U-turn being made, the driver radioing in some info on where we were going, and then we were off, sirens blaring once again. Now it was just the paramedic and I. His first order of business would turn out to be his only one for this trip as he set about attempting to start an IV.

IVs suck. I've had countless IVs in my time and they never get better. At the best of times, they're way worse than needles. At the worst of times, your IV nurse will spend AGES probing for a vein without success. Before we could do the IV, my jacket, sweatshirt, and shirt had to be removed. When the paramedic said he was going to cut them all off, I told him the jacket was my cousin's and I'd remove it myself. He knew I was incapable of doing that but while he was busy with something else, I attempted to undress. Not even close. I could barely move by now and both my elbows were in big time pain (especially my right one), meaning I couldn't prop myself up. I resigned myself to letting the paramedic's scissors remove the jacket I hadn't even paid for yet, resolving to get Brad his hundred bucks ASAP so he wouldn't think I was weaseling out of paying him.

The R6 afterwards...Jacket, sweatshirt and shirt were all removed with three large cuts of the industrial strength scissors. Maybe two or three minutes had elapsed, but it felt like ages. An IV had to be started immediately and the paramedic had already started poking the needle into my arm. And then my other arm. And then my shoulder. And then my arm again... and it went on. Now it was his turn to curse and he was vigorously exercising this privilege. This wasn't making me feel any better about my situation, so I figured I'd ask a question I was sure to get a positive response too.

I had asked these sorts of questions before in my contact with the medical profession. The strategy here is to ask if something extremely bad is going to happen, knowing the doctor will say "Are you crazy? Of course not!", which has the effect of making you feel better. But however bad things had been in my past medical experiences, I had never asked the question I was about to ask.

"Am I going to live?" I weakly posited in between his frustration-laden IV attempts.

The answer I received didn't have the desired effect. In a moment of misguided honesty, my paramedic hastily replied, "I dunno... they're gonna wanna open you up and take a look."

That's it. He didn't know. So much for my strategy. Here was confirmation that indeed my injuries were of the "not sure if he'll live" variety. I still wasn't thinking I was going to die, but he sure didn't make that ride any easier.

Countless times during the drive to the hospital, I would briefly hear a second siren sound come and go. I wondered if they were other emergency units passing us or if we were going through tunnels that were causing our own siren audio to reverberate. I would later find out that my first guess was right. Apparently the accident scene was a busy place after I left, with police cars and more ambulances attending. The paramedic never did manage to start an IV, but I began to notice the ambulance was slowing down. At times it would slow down even more and make different siren noises. I guessed we were going through intersections in a city and a hospital must be nearby.

I was right. We pulled into Lions Gate hospital after going through only three intersections. The back flew open and I expected to be greeted by a TV-quality trauma team, screaming at people to hurry and get out of the way. This wasn't the case. The two paramedics that got me there wheeled me into triage and as I was entering the building I was aware of a few people standing outside on their smoke break (if they were hospital employees, that is). I heard one of them *censored*ing about something and I thought "Why aren't these people helping me?!"

Things really started to happen when I got into triage. Doctors and nurses were at my bedside and one of them asked me if there was anyone they could contact for me. I have no idea how I managed to tell them the names and phone numbers of the three most important people in my life, but that's not the point. What I said next would come as a surprise even to me.

The first person I asked them to call was my girlfriend Jennifer.

JenniferBecause out of all the times I had been in dire medical straits before, I had never had a girlfriend - really at all, let alone one I would actually opt to call before even my mom or dad (they were numbers 2 and 3 on that list, by the way). My reflex response at that moment - that I needed to see Jennifer more than anyone else in the world - made me realize how important she was to me then. In the weeks that ensued, I would think a lot about my choice at that moment.

From what I remember, I was then wheeled off to get a CAT scan done to determine the extent of my injuries. The pain was still massive at this point, so being loaded onto that sliding CAT scan bed was no fun. I returned from the scan to a diagnosis more informed but not more optimistic than the one I'd received from Roadside M.D. My right kidney was destroyed. They used some other word... something as dramatic as "obliterated", but I can't recall exactly what. I had a hole in my right lung and fluid had begun to fill it. My liver was badly chewed up and there was air inside my abdomen, likely meaning that my stomach or intestine had ruptured. A ruptured intestine alone is enough to kill you - I knew this from 10 years before when I was hours away from precisely that fate. Rounding out the list were several broken ribs on my right side and the answer to why the scare-amedic in the ambulance couldn't start an IV: I'd lost over half my blood to internal bleeding.

So now the order of business was two-fold: continue to stabilize the patient, and begin to discuss the plan. Before the CAT scan, they had started an IV and inserted a respirator (basically a big thick tube they cram down your throat and into your lungs to keep you breathing). An important thing to remember is NOT that I'm fully conscious through all of this (because I am), but that all this random tube inserting was not a big deal to me at all. Why is that? Because the pain was that great. I believe a catheter was the only other thing inserted before we hit the operating room. For those of you who are fortunate enough not to know what that is, keep it that way. For those who do, let me add that the catheter was draining nothing but blood. Bags of it.

By now Jennifer had arrived at the hospital. She would be the only one to get there before my surgery and would later tell me that when she first saw me lying there she thought I was dead. Apparently my face, lips and hands were all the same uniform shade of glass white. From my perspective looking up at her, I was puzzled. She didn't seem to be freaking out as much as I thought she should/would be. As I lay there, I pondered what this meant. Were my injuries not as bad as I thought? Or did I overestimate how much she cared about me? The correct answer - that Jennifer is an incredibly strong person and didn't want to react in a way that would upset me - was something that I had to be told a couple weeks later.

So with the patient stabilizing taken care of as best it could be, the doctors moved on to discussing the plan with Jennifer and me. There wasn't much to it. They were going to operate and attempt to stop the bleeding, see what had introduced air into my abdomen, repair my lung, remove my right kidney, and attempt to save my liver. They also explained that there was a very real possibility that my intestine was damaged beyond repair, meaning they would have to install a permanent colostomy. I sure didn't like to hear this. I'd heard this a couple times before with previous surgeries I'd had. In fact, for two months after a surgery when I was 15 years old I wore a colostomy. The two ends of my intestine were eventually reconnected, but those two months were a hell I didn't want to experience again, especially for the rest of my life. Funny though, even though I muttered something when I heard that "c" word mentioned, I didn't waste much time thinking about it. By now I knew that I would be very lucky to make it out of this at all.

Another big moment came when the doctors needed someone to sign the surgery consent form. It was initially presented to me, but I was in no condition to sign anything. I wheezed that it was okay if Jennifer signed for me. Nice of me, eh? You've been this guy's girlfriend for less than a year and now you're being asked to sign a form authorizing a team of doctors to do whatever it takes to save his life. All this in the absence of your boyfriend's parents, one half of which you had only met once before! Jennifer signed the forms, placing my life in good hands. If you're looking for a trust-building exercise you can do as a couple, try that.

KidneyAnother mini-drama that was going on at the same time was the search for blood warming machines. In addition to me having a rare blood type (which would complicate things later on), the hospital was having trouble locating working versions of these machines - delaying my much-needed infusion of new blood. Apparently Jennifer was getting a bit panicky and snappy about the whole thing, but I can recall little of it.

Finally the operating room (OR) was fully prepped and Jennifer hustled along beside me as I was wheeled towards it. It's impossible to describe how much better I felt with Jennifer there holding my hand. As they rounded what would be the final corner before the OR, I could tell this was as far as Jennifer would come. Knowing there was a chance this would be the last time I'd see her, I had only one objective. I said, "I love you" and heard her say it back just before I let go of her hand and entered the room. An odd feeling of content swept over me as I was surrounded by frantic doctors and nurses, poking and prodding. I joked with a couple of nurses as I lay on the operating room table.

Less than a minute later, I was unconscious for the first time that day. I wouldn't regain consciousness until almost three days later.

When I did wake up, family was all around me. Mom, dad, Chaara (my sister) and Jen. The family hadn't been together like this for over 6 years, maybe more, since my parents split up. My dad and mom were crying a lot and I wasn't doing much of anything due largely to the fact that I had more tubes in me now than ever. Inventory: A chest tube the width of a garden hose traveled 10 inches into my right side, several abdominal drain tubes low down on my right side, a couple nose tubes (one for stomach drainage and one for feeding), a respirator, a jugular tube in the side of my neck (in case they needed to get blood to me quickly), a heart monitor needle that entered at the top of my chest and ended just above my heart, the catheter (still), and a couple IVs (for morphine, etc.).

For my parents, the situation was all too similar to when they lost their first son to drowning My left torsoand had to spend months in the hospital by his bedside, waiting for a recovery that never happened. They would later comment to others about how much I reminded them of this horrific past and for that I feel terrible. I know how deeply that affected both of them: Years ago, my mom told me she felt as though she lost my dad forever after that. That was in the '70s. Ugh.

The surgery itself lasted five hours. Everything went fine from what I'm told, although there were a few tense moments where ER nurses would run out of operating room yelling for more blood and stuff like that. Fortunately, there were several specialists on hand to handle the kidney removal and liver repair - two very dicey aspects of the surgery. My chewed up liver finally stopped bleeding and was saved (thankfully, livers are one of the hardiest of organs) and I avoided having to do the colostomy thing again. The air in my abdomen was from my stomach, which had ruptured in the same place as an ulcer of mine that had healed years ago. One of my broken ribs pierced my right lung, which was the cause of the hole and the resulting fluid in my lungs. My right kidney was removed as planned.

My parents arrived at the hospital while I was in surgery and by then the other riders (Brad, Adam, Shane, etc.) were there too. After the ambulance left the accident scene, Shane had continued on the ride to track the others down and bring them back to the hospital. They were all the way up at Whistler when he found them, so it took a while for them to make it back.

On another note, it wasn't until almost week after my accident that I figured out where I was. Lions Gate hospital is in North Vancouver, not Squamish. Remember the decision of Roadside M.D. to send me to Lions Gate? Apparently, he decided that was the best hospital for me because their trauma facilities are more extensive than the hospital in Squamish (not surprising - Squamish is basically logging town). Afterwards, my surgeon told me that this decision was probably one of many that saved my life that day because if I had been taken to Squamish I would have had to be immediately airlifted to Lions Gate. In his opinion, I would have died en route.

If you think you need a humbling, try my type of hospital stay. Like I've said already, I've done it this way a few times so none of this came as a surprise from this point on. You come down off your high horse very quickly when you need two nurses and a bedpan to relieve yourself. There's also that special feeling of helplessness that comes with not being able to do anything for yourself or stop people from doing things that hurt you. There are two types of nurses in these situations: nurses that feel your pain and nurses that don't. In the past, I'd come across plenty of the latter. They work as though you're a robot, wrenching you around without a thought. Luckily most nurses this time were the good kind. On the whole, I was very impressed with the ICU staff - especially since all the painkillers and the trauma had turned me into a cantankerous bastard (even more than normal!).

Morphine is a drug I'm very familiar with. I'd never had any troubles with it before, but for some reason I was having trouble now. For the first week of my stay at Lions Gate hospital, I was plagued by horrendous hallucinations. Awake or asleep, 24 hours a day, it was one bizarre scene after another of murderous, perversity. Consequently, I hardly slept at all, making that first week seem like two or three. It was extremely frightening. I couldn't control what my mind saw. The walls would crawl with huge bugs or devilish bipedal chameleons would drag a shopping cart full of bananas, glaring at me with their huge eyes and snickering through toothy grins. I only remember that chameleon nightmare because I told Jennifer the day after I had it. All the other hallucinations were far more sinister. Very grim and bloody. So much so, that I didn't repeat them to anyone and therefore don't remember them now, which is a shame. At the time I remember thinking that if I could only output an exact, film-quality rendering of what was going on in my head, we'd have the next Jacob's Ladder.

My doctors switched my pain medication from morphine to Demerol, but the hallucinations remained. It was eventually determined that the hallucinations probably were not because of the drugs at all, but instead were "aftershocks" of the massive trauma my body had sustained. I was switched back to self-administered morphine at the beginning of week two and by then the hallucinations had ended, much to my delight.

My right torsoThe second week was mostly filled with recovery-type stuff. Breathing exercises to restore my lung capacity were a big part of this effort and Jennifer would force me to do them every day. Within days, I was back up to 100% blood/oxygen saturation. The bittersweet portion of recovery is the tube removal process. Everything is removed while you're fully conscious. Don't think they cut you any breaks on that, my friend. A lowlight would have to be the removal of the big chest tube. This thing is as big as a garden hose and works its way between your ribs and deep into your chest cavity via a hole in your side under your arm. The doctor makes you take a deep breath, hold it, and exhale as he pulls the tube out slowly, hand over hand. I have a one inch scar on my right side that looks like a bullet wound where this tube used to be.

Removing nose tubes always feels gross, but the more dreadful thing is when they pull out the abdominal drains. I had three of them, each with their own entry hole in the right hand side of my tummy. They're smaller tubes that flare out into a paddle at the end in order to suck up as much stuff (usually fluid from things bleeding during the days after surgery). Unfortunately, their suction means they get "stuck" in a web of this stuff inside you, making their removal a nasty proposition. I've had these drains taken out on three separate occasions in my life and it gets worse every time. Sure enough, this was the worst. To give you a quick idea, it feels as though someone is yanking out your intestines through a straw-sized hole in your stomach. Good fun.

While the doctors believed I would be in the hospital for weeks afterwards, my good health at the time of the accident made for an extra speedy recovery. Jennifer slept in a chair beside my hospital bed for all but one of the 14 nights I spent at Lions Gate, another reason why I recovered so quickly. My parents, sister, grandparents and Brad all visited me in that second week when I was out of ICU and had a nice big room of my own in 6 West. Plenty of cards and flowers poured in and a small dream of mine came true:

The R6, stripped right downWhen I was 20 and in hospital after my third surgery, I remember thinking to myself how if I was ever in the hospital again, I would know I had "made it" if my work couldn't function without me. While that was perhaps an unrealistic expectation, I was elated one day when Jennifer brought in a contract with Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) that needed my signature. Before my accident, I had been working on obtaining a PlayStation 2 developer license for my company and now it was coming to fruition. Phil Harrison's (VP of SCEA at the time) name was on the other side of the contract, awaiting his signature. I signed both copies as a big smile broke across my face.

When I left the hospital, I was still about three pints of blood short of the 12 you're supposed to have. My rare blood type meant they couldn't fill me all the way back up, so I had a few weeks of intermittent blackouts before my body generated the missing pints. Speaking of missing stuff, remember how I said I weighed 150lbs before the accident? Well afterwards I topped the scales at a feather-like 125lbs. If you ever need to lose weight quickly (I don't), I have some tips for you.

It will likely be a long time before I ride again and if and when I do, I will ride much differently. My experience won't make me a better motorcyclist per se, but it did underscore the importance of following my gut instinct - something I've tried to do more often since my accident.

In 2001, a year after my crash, I sold my faring-less R6 to a friend of mine who runs a race team. Since then, the bike has been crashed several more times, at speeds much greater than what I was doing. But it's all been on the track and no one was seriously hurt. I hear the bike has established quite the rep as being "fast beyond its gears".

Over 12,000 riders have read my story since I first published it in February of 2001. A lot of them have taken the time to write to me as well, which I appreciate. If you'd like to get in touch, drop me an email at

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 03 2004|Hits: 39,075 View Printable Version