Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thoughts and some photos

Some serious thinking over the past three days, after a cycling accident Monday morning (the second in ten months) that has turned out, after a certain amount of worry, to be okay. What am I thinking about? Let's see.

First, when we do something that we know causes others concern, where does one draw the line? I haven't even told a few of the people closest to me about the accident. Embarrassment isn't the only reason. No one wants to hurt others, least of all because of selfish actions. On the other hand, cycling is the most convenient way for me to get around, and get around I must. I admit that I enjoy it, I admit that I value it for the stimulation and exercise that becomes part of my daily routine, I admit that I'm a little afraid to get back on the bike, and I admit that I'm fully aware a lot of people believe I should put that bike away forever. So, what to do? I suspect I'll be back on it as soon as my sprained left ankle and right wrist are stronger, and once the good fellows at Ride on Again (link takes you to a post with lots of info about my favourite bike shop) have repaired it. Is it okay for me to do that? I honestly don't know. I guess time will tell.

Second, I am full of appreciation for the miraculous powers of the human body to repair itself. Ten months ago, after some blackberry bushes ensnared me as I coasted downhill on the causeway, a craniotomy was necessary to relieve the pressure of a subdural hematoma. I thought then that another accident would be the end of me. In fact, CT scans on Monday and again on Tuesday confirmed that my brain is okay. My black eye looks serious, but the vision in both eyes hasn't changed and the bruise will fade. The right wrist, so painful on Monday that I thought the night would never end, is in fact only sprained, and now dramatically improved. The left ankle is already beginning to be able to bear weight. At 62, I am so grateful to my body for its efforts to get going again.

Third, the accident itself. Our society is big on placing blame, but sometimes, it feels as though things just happen, and though we learn from them, and will possibly change our actions in the future, they are just that - accidents. On Monday, I cycled along the bicycle lane on Tatlow Street in North Vancouver and through a small park at the end of the street. The cycling lane comes out at a T intersection. I stopped, in preparation to go straight across the intersection. The lady in the car at my left stopped too. I saw her stop, the people on my right were stopped, and I believed it was my turn to go. I looked but didn't actually see her face through the windshield, as it was early morning and raining. In fact, she had looked to her left to check for people coming from that road, but didn't check to her right where I was, since that is a cycling lane coming out of a park. My lights didn't help. There was a front one and there were two back ones (one on the helmet), but none to the side. I did have a cycling jacket with reflective strips on the sleeve, but I guess they didn't show up either. She never saw me. As I stepped down on my right pedal, I saw her coming toward my left side and couldn't believe she wasn't stopping. She just didn't see me. End of story. And, I could neither back up, nor get out of the way quickly enough to avoid the hit. The good thing? Someone else got out of his car and helped her load my bike, and she was off to the hospital with me in the blink of an eye. Another good thing. She waited around, and came to see me in the examination room after my x-rays. A kind, and very upset lady. Just an accident that made us both wish we had done things differently. After a stop sign, I will never move again without making eye contact, and she will look to the right and to the left, whether or not there is a road on both sides.

Fourth is Bill. Beautiful, kind, patient Bill, who understands friendship as I am only beginning to comprehend. To name the things he has done for me over the past two days would require several paragraphs. I'll keep it to a few highlights: he packed a (happily unneeded) bag for the hospital, looked after Black Jack and brought her to the hospital where the staff graciously welcomed her and allowed her to see me, picked up my bike and belongings (can you believe my camera and laptop were undamaged??), talked with doctors, got crutches (soon to be unneeded), wheeled me to various appointments, shopped, prepared food, did dishes, and through it all, smiled, comforted and encouraged. Thank you seems insufficient, but... Thank you, Bill!

Fifth, some other thank-you's: the staff at my school, many of whom were burdened with extra work due to my absence but had only words of comfort and concern for me, my principal who braved the hospital emergency room to check on and reassure me, and the hospital staff, most of whom carried out their duties in a caring and very competent manner.

I wasn't going to post about the accident but have changed my mind. Bikesbirdsnbeasts records my thoughts about significant events in my life, and to skip this post would make everything afterwards feel a bit dishonest.

Finally, some photos. Between appointments yesterday, Bill took me to the waterside, where I tried out my new lens. I'm not fully satisfied, but overall, given that my right hand was barely working, and the camera is made much heavier with the new lens, perhaps they aren't so bad.

I thought the brown heads indicated that these are Common Mergansers, but now I'm thinking they are three female Barrow's Goldeneyes with a male at the centre. I've done just a bit of reading, and came across some articles saying mergansers and goldeneyes have been known to mate, so lots more to check out. I'll leave the positive identification for now.
Barrow's Goldeneye
Poor picture and unsure identification, but just love the intense expression when they stand up and "wave" as they dry out their wings.
Another bad photo of this cormorant, but I like the sun sparkles and outstretched form.
Three shots of Canadian Geese. This first one makes me laugh. It seems like a new four-headed and many-winged species.

Bill ran up and down the path, keeping Black Jack entertained, and checking on me, while I at times sat, and at other times, balanced on crutches to take pictures.
The sky was a brilliant blue, and the seagulls majestic in flight.
A Spotted Towhee inspecting a fallen leaf.
Bill and Black Jack with sun in their eyes.
And, a final one of Black Jack because I love her face and body expression.
Thanks for reading and not to worry please. I am doing well!


  1. So sorry to hear about your mishap! So glad to hear that you are so quickly on the mend!

    Al works with the elders of our town, and we each have our own elderly mothers to think about, if not care for directly.

    My own mother, since my father passed 16 years ago, has always been very independent, often driving herself around the state of California to see friends, and up here to Washington to see us--even at age 82!

    But her confidence started to wane after a minor fender bender a few years ago. We've talked, and as much as she treasures the independence that driving give her, she agrees that she would rather give up her car keys months or even years too early as one day "too late."

    I appreciate that your quandry is as much based on those who care about you as on your own preferences.

    Whateve you decide to do about your future on the bike, I know you will choose to do it safely, and in doing that, be considerate of those who love you.

  2. Oh my, thank goodness you are all right. You are the one who has to decide what to do... but perhaps avoiding riding at dusk or dawn is wise at this time of year. As a driver, I feel very apprehensive about cyclists because they are often not visible enough and because we do not have proper bike lanes in Winnipeg, we all share the same dark roads which will soon be snow covered and slippery. I am in Vancouver so will see you soon.
    Fondly, Phyllis

  3. Carol, first let me say that I am so glad you are okay, albeit a bit the worse for wear. Second, I'm delighted you are okay enough to continue taking and posting photos!

    Funny coincidence - I thought about you the other day when I was driving home in the dark and rain. On the road ahead were a bunch of flashing, moving lights that had me confused - until I saw it was a cyclist wearing a backpack lined with flashing lights on the sides, top and back -plus flashing helmet, lights front and back of bike, lights on either the pedals or sneakers - there was no way a motorist could miss him! Lit up like a Christmas tree, and visible from every side.

    Regardless of whether you decide to continue to bike to work in the dark, rainy days ahead, I trust you WILL get back on your bike as soon as possible.

  4. Hi Carol
    I'm so glad you are OK. Hard to believe we saw you on Sunday and could have so easily lost you on Monday! Life can change so fast.... We love you. Kitty & Jock

  5. Carol, I'm so glad that you are ok and trust that you will do what is right in terms of riding again. I admire your tenacity to continue on in the face of biker adversity and often think of you when I wimp out and drive. You truly are an inspiration to many people who know you and I can only hope to be as active as you are when I reach your age. Choosing to not ride in certain conditions would not change that opinion of you, I guarantee, and neither would continuing make you any less of a good person.

  6. Hey Carol...missing you! I was actually worried about you Monday morn on my way to work as it was so was hard to see that morning for some reason!?! When I got to work and heard what happened I felt so connected to you because I am sure I was thinking of you and your visabilty as it all happened!! Get well! xoxox B

  7. I'm so glad to hear you're well - I've had positive updates from a few at the school.

    There aren't many people who, two days after a rather serious accident, get onto their blog to write an eloquent 3-point contemplation on the significance of the accident! Very cool.

    I've wondered about side-lights - I also don't have any. Have you seen those lights that go into the spokes of a wheel? They also have a helmet-mounted front light, so that when you look in a certain direction the light beams into the eyes of whoever you see. I'll keep an eye out for them.

    It is the season of dangerous biking... last night I walked to a friends' place and back - rather than brave the already-icy roads, even just for a few blocks.

    When and if we do meet for tea, it'll have to be sans bike - talking with me seems to lead to bad luck on the road for you?!

    Highest regards to you and Bill - and Blackjack :)

  8. Very sorry to hear about the accident, Carol. Thankfully, you were not injurred more seriously.

    I thought of you and the bicycle often during the recent rains, and now the ice rimes, and am aware of the dangers, riding my own bike on occasions.

    I know the decision you make will be the right one for you, just as are all of our decisions. Accidents are out there waiting to happen all the time - that being their only purpose in life - and they will happen on the best of days, in the best of weather, and in the most unlikely place. Even if just walking, we have to watch for them.

    My best to you for a quick recovery. Shiprock

  9. Oh Carol. I hate reading blogs where you end up hurt. Im glad you are ok though. Drivers out here are the worst Ive ever dealt with and so many of them run red lights. Theyre all in such a rush and Cooper and I have nearly been hit 4 times since living here. Now, when I see a car being nice and waving me through, stopping for me or waiting to turn a corner, I will usually in most cases look at them in the eye and shake my head no and wave them through to go first and I will refuse to move till they are gone. Its bad out here sometimes. Anyways glad you are ok and I love the fact you got a huge lens! Thats great for shooting wild life. It will take time to get use to it but your gonna get some great snaps with it. Have fun!

  10. Sorry to hear that you had another accident, but glad to hear that you are mostly OK. You know that I gave up cycling in Vancouver out of fear for my safety, but I respect that you are keen to soldier on. I very much second the addition of a light to your helmet...I always used one. You can use zip ties to attach a cheap Petzl, and then a beam of light swings around with your head. I had flashers on the back of my helmet too...same idea.

  11. i love your "commentary" on the duck waving in the water. that picture is really cute, they do take their bathing seriously!!! and do you see how his little cheeks are all puffed out? adorable

  12. and of course glad to hear that you are ok! black jack would be upset without his mom

  13. Wow, what a story! I'm glad you weren't hurt worse and that you're going to be completely okay again soon.

  14. Thank you all so much for your good thoughts and suggestions!

    EvenSong, I also worried about my mother, who was still determined to drive at 92.

    Phyllis and Jean, your thoughts about visibility really make sense. I plan to be "lit up like a Christmas tree" in the future.

    Kitty and Jock, you are so right that close calls remind us just how precious friends are. I never stop appreciating how lucky I was to run into the two of you on one of my first walks with Scott. Jock, thanks for the call about helmet and side lights. Glad to hear you will be making yourself more visible as well. A fellow Christmas Tree! Good!

    Cristina, "wimp out" are not words I would ever apply to you! Thanks for those much appreciated kind words. Have to admit I'm feeling pretty old right now, but getting back on the bike should help that:)

    Esiah, funny how thoughts go sometimes. I've always felt you have fine-tuned your sensitivity to connect with others. Part of what makes you special!

    Mali, get those sidelights! I want you safe. And, talking with you was good. Sometimes, coincidences can shake our confidence, but my hope is that when we meet for tea on a non-slippery day, both of us will be traveling by bike:)

    Good point, Shiprock! Thanks for the reminder that sometimes, accidents just happen. The words, "that being there only purpose in life," made me smile.

    Nev, I plan to "shake my head no" a lot more often from now on. Four times! Oh my goodness, glad to know you are so careful. As for the lens,you are so right that it's going to take some time, but yes, it's very exciting to bring wildlife closer than the 300mm allowed.

    dp, helmet idea is a for sure now. Thanks:)

    dirtyduck, glad you liked my little puffy-cheeked fellow.

    And, Carole, good to hear from you. I'm thinking you are in the middle of a bit of a deep freeze right now. Hope all is well on the farm!

  15. Whoops! Sorry for misquoting you, Shiprock. I do know the correct spelling of "their" - just a senior moment, I guess:)