I was just starting my last year of college at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. I was on my way back from class on my bicycle, on my way to drop off my new health insurance at FedEx when my life was altered forever.
I remember every second of getting hit. The driver had her head below the steering wheel, and she blew a curve in the road, over the double yellow center lines, into me head-on at 55mph closure.
She struck me so hard that I bounced off the hood and went around 45 feet up and 45 feet back. The little girl in the car behind me asked her mother, "Why is that man falling out of the trees?"
I can still close my eyes and visualize spinning through the eucalyptus branches, seeing up the road and down the road as I spun. As I whirled through the air, I actually had time to think. I thought, “Damn, this is going to hurt,” and “I will be just fine if I can wiggle my toes when I stop.”
When the world stopped spinning around me, I found myself on my butt (luckily). The front tire of the Land Rover came to rest against my back (again, fortunately). The first thing I did even before I opened my eyes was wiggle my toes, and they moved. Phew, I was “O.K.”
Then the aftermath.
The lady who hit me was only cited for an unsafe lane change and was sent home. She blew a double yellow line with her head below the steering wheel while driving back from a popular noon-time watering hole. Not to mention, had a pharmaceutical DUI two months prior (turns out she was a bi-polar schizophrenic) and the witness at the scene said she didn't "appear right." Also, she babbled something about being sick, and then something about dropping her phone.
Thanks, CHP, good work. The first thing that came out of her mouth when she hit me was, "Oh my God. I am so sorry; I know Lance Armstrong." W.T.F. (he does not know her) and you hit me. With. Your. Car.
I was scooped up off the tarmac and taken to the local hospital. After talking to the paramedics, the ER nurse came over and basically just wanted my insurance info, I had none. “Oh, so your parents will be paying?” she asked.
“Oh, no," I said.
They put me into surgery to patch up my shattered knee and then shoved off to recovery where I woke up in some pretty awful pain, but the nurse would not give me 'the button.'
"Here are some anti-inflammatories and ice. These should do," she says. I ended up screaming after a few hours, and another nurse finally gave me 'the button.' I then got a few hours of sleep.
Late morning the next day I was told I was leaving the hospital and I would need to find a ride home. The physical therapist said to me, “O.K., let's get you up and ambulatory so you can leave.” I put my body weight on my freshly smashed knee and used the bathroom. I grappled the toilet seat with my smashed leg straight out in front of me as I tried to take my squat. THAT was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life.
They rushed me out the door, spared me pain medication immediately after surgery and proper physical therapy, all because I did not have health insurance at the time. This would also come to bite me in the butt during my court case as well. So, you see, the way a jury determines how much to give the injured party is through a semi-standard amount, which tends to be about three times the medical bills. I really should have been in the hospital at least a few more days and gotten proper physical therapy. With no health insurance, I got none of that. To top it all off, the Defense argued that it should be based off the negotiated cost of the medical bills that insurance WOULD have paid (if I had health insurance), not the actual cost.
The lady that hit me fought me every inch of the way through the court system, dodged her deposition nine times. Oh yeah, she had a 20 million dollar trust fund, and more lawyers on retainer than I have bikes, did I mention that? I still have health issues to this day. My back, knee, and hand. I am lucky to get a full night of sleep two nights in a row; To this day, I still can't afford health insurance as an entrepreneur. Almost ten years after the collision I endure body pain management, and deep tissue massage therapy, If I don't keep up with it, it deeply affects me.
It never leaves you, getting hit like that, and I got off pretty easy....