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Hoods - by Pamela

Jan 10 is my father's birthday. If I had just stayed in that morning and phoned in a birthday wish. Actually to be fair, I think my guardian angel was still watching out for me. I must say that I never thought I would get up close and personal with the hood of a car and come away as well as I did on January 10, 2008. We wanted to include me in the photos of the bike, because most folks who saw the bike assumed I was is similar condition, but I managed not to break any bones.

It was a lovely sunny January day. It was crisp, but not bitter cold. The roads were dry. The sky was clear. The bike was three weeks old. I'd gotten it just before Christmas. It's inaugural ride was Christmas Day. After my company moved facilities and tripled my commute, adding a few big climbs along the way, I decided to get a geared bike for winter commuting. I was just wearing myself out on fixed, and decided that if I alternated gears and fixed that I might make it through the winter without quitting my job. The Redline was a nice choice because it had enough clearance for a studded tire (my old geared commuter did not) and I could strip it down for D2R2 in the summer. It was also relatively light, although by the time I have it set up for commuting, it's not going to win any weight weenie points.

The company moved in December and naturally it started snowing right away! I'd slowly found the nice way in and out of work, after trying a few alternatives. It turned out the nicest way included Page Hill, my old nemesis from the Chelmsford-Burlington commute. Page isn't so bad, and makes me stronger in the summer, but it does still get my attention. I had just come through Burlington and started along the lovely quiet residential streets that are Hancock, Grove and Page, making my way toward Bedford. The sun was brilliant over my shoulder. The roads were dry and then in a split second, she turned left into my path. With no time to think, I found myself on the hood. And all I could think about was I was going to miss a client meeting.

Lessons learned. Next time...

1. Climb down off the hood. Take off all my clothes and fold them neatly in a pile. This will prevent folks from cutting them off me.

1a. Learn how to tell folks how to undo your very expensive cycling shoes.

2. Pee - don't worry about the audience. No one is going to let me pee again for hours. Do it now.

3. Get a lawyer. Ignore the nice insurance guy who says I don't need one that the driver admitted fault. Get a lawyer.

4. Don't go back to work - no matter how much folks are depending on me - the insurance company will use it against me. I get no credit for working in pain, only for not working

5. Take sick time for every PT and doctor's visit. I get no credit for doing this on my own time.

6. Get a lawyer. My health insurance company and her car insurance company know every possible way to screw me and will do it. Don't ever take their word for anything.

7. Call John BEFORE my boss.

So I'm lying on the hood, and folks came out of the woodwork. I heard the driver say the inevitable, "I didn't see her. The sun was in my eyes." The ambulance came and the paramedics decided they needed to get my shoes off. I have this awesome pair of winter cycling boots. They are warm and I love them, but they have a very tricky buckle and I couldn't explain how to disengage it. I saw the thought bubble appear, as with glee, they contemplated cutting my shoes off. I managed to pull my foot up and undo one shoe, so they could figure out how to do the other.

Then they got me on the back board, in the process doing a bit more damage to Gladys's hood. I looked back and saw the shattered windshield. I was almost proud that at least I broke the windshield.

Some one picked up my bike and carried it to a tree. He said I'd be needing a new one. At some point, someone got my purse out of the pannier, and the police took my drivers license. No one told me this and I drove around for a day without it! Actually I drove back over to retrieve the bike and when I asked for the report, they gave me an envelope that had among other things my license!

Anyway back to the scene, they strapped be down to the board and one buckle was pressing against one of my new bruises on my shin. Then they hit every pothole on the way to Lahey. Once there, it was like TV. 5 Doogie Housers and 14 other people poking and prodding and attaching probes and asking if it hurts. Three people poked and asked at the same time. One pressed a newly attached probe right into my rib while I screamed. I don't think they left any bone un-x-rayed. They did full spine and ribs and hips and knees. I remember a CT scan for something as well. They were also sissor happy and wanted to cut my clothes off. Now I didn't have a gaping chest wound. I was conscious and able to move, and able to put up enough of a fight to save my good cycling stuff. They did asked if I was attached to any of it, and I said quite firmly yes. It's isn't the cost, so much as the fact that over the years, I've found the perfect pants and the perfect jacket, and some of them aren't available any more. So next time, I crawl down off the hood and strip naked, folding my clothes carefully!

At some point, someone phoned John and my office. John works nearby and walked over. Our office manager came too.

I think I started asking to pee, but of course I wasn't allowed until they were certain I hadn't chipped a nail. When they finally let me go I filled the bed pan! I'm sure you all wanted to know that.

Some co-workers came back over later and drove me home. Everyone at work was really great in looking out for me.

In the end I had no broken bones, just a deep bone bruise around the right knee and what turned out to be a torn ligament in my back. It took a few months to sort out the back, and an injection in May finally solved that problem. I got back on the bike right away, because activity and circulation do actually help with healing. I did take a couple of weeks off the bike later and found it made things worse. I tried x-c skiing, but the knee would swell up after an hour, so I didn't ski in some of the best conditions in years. While I did push through to ride the fleche, I passed on other long rides.

I worked from home a lot, but I worked a lot. We had a big project at work and it was pretty high profile.

I sadly learned an awful lot about PIP and how insurance works or doesn't work in this state. I now know that the people paid to process claims don't actually have to do their jobs, or rather they get paid to do as little as possible. I was hit by a driver making an improper turn. She admitted fault. There was no question. I have some outrageous amount of covereage on my own car insurance to cover injury to someone else, but her car insurance only has to pay out $2000.00, and then it falls on my health insurance. Now I was told that the car insurance would reimburse my health insurance, but they did not, despite telling me they had gone through every bill. Now my health insurance is threatening to sue ME.

As much as I hate the whole idea of this type of litigation, and feel it only serves to increase costs for everyone, I now know. next time, get a lawyer - make that call right after I call John!