Friday, July 24, 2009

Cars Hit Bikes. What Else is New?

Since I moved to Philadelphia 17 years ago, I've been hit by 3 cars and a bus. I seem to get hit once every 2000 rides, or about every 10,000 miles. I've been being hit by cars on my bike since I was 9-years-old. This is the first time I've gotten worse than a skinned knee. But suddenly everybody (except my wonderful alien husband) is telling me I should give up bike riding. I should get a car or at least take the bus. Why? A broken collar bone, a few skull fractures, and I'm not me any more? I am an exercise junkie. I ride my bike everywhere.

Probably the worst accident was the one when I was 9. I wasn't badly hurt, but my hips got knocked out of alignment and the family doctor didn't bother with x-rays to see if I had broken bones. He had me touch my toes, and then told my parents I had scoliosis. He then referred me to scoliosis experts who x-rayed me and "treated" me for scoliosis for the next 9 years -- until I was old enough to refuse. Twice a year they tried to talk me into surgery to fuse my spine and put a metal rod in my back. I felt like I was fighting for my life. Every time, I continued to refuse. I was on the gymnastics team. I was on the swim team. I was not going to give up my life to a supposed disease. I'm certainly not going to give it up now.

When I was 34, I was introduced to a chiropractor who specialized in scoliosis. He took one look at me and told me I'd never had scoliosis. Pop. Pop. He straightened my spine. But all those years of gymnastics and swimming had made my muscles strong out-of-alignment. So I keep pulling my back out -- and going back to the chiropractor to have it straightened again.

As a result of this accident, I did have to have surgery to put my collar bone back together. That was not a mistaken diagnosis. I saw shattered bone fragments in the x-ray. But I should be on a bike again in a few months. My jock-doc surgeon expects a full recover. I can ride again. After I buy a new bike. The police took my old bike to the police station for safe keeping. It got stolen. Now I have to pay $28 to get a copy of a report of the theft of my bike from the police station. Maybe the insurance of driver who hit me will pay for a new one. If not, I'll get one somehow.

I also have to wait for the bones to knit so they'll be strong enough to let me bike again. But quit riding my bike? Why? That would mean quitting being me. I didn't quit when I was 9. And oddly, nobody told me to then. What's the deal? Gray hairs, and suddenly I'm not supposed to ride? Or do people assume if a car hits a child, it's the car driver's fault, but if a car hits an adult it's the adult's fault, even though both witnesses stated it was entirely the fault of the driver?

Cars hit bikes. I know that. If you don't like it, stop driving your car.

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