Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Swan Song of the Scooter

I survived my last scooter crash last week, on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012. As much as I hate to have to admit it, that may have been my last scooter ride ever, at least, on the freeway.

I am comfortable splitting lanes, going in between lanes of cars on the freeway, passing everyone and beating traffic. It's legal, here, in California. But my scooter is small, freeway-legal though it may be. I know I'm practically invisible to other motorists.

The guy driving the huge pick-up truck saw me. He was in the carpool lane and he inched over to his left. I felt safe enough to pass him on his right as I accelerated. The vehicle in front of him did not see me. The woman driving that vehicle was crossing the double yellow line to jump out of the carpool lane into the lane on our right. I was too close to her. I couldn't brake and/or swerve in time to avoid colliding with her.

My candy-orange scooter bounced off of her car, and then hit the bumper of a second car in front of hers. I was aware of flying off of my bike, clearing the windshield (thank goodness!), and doing what felt like a rather spectacular single flip before hitting the pavement. The driver of the second car that I had hit stopped in front of me and got out. He asked if I was okay and told me to sit up. He was wearing a sheriff's uniform and he was speaking into his phone.

In less than five minutes I was surrounded by other police cars and fire department vehicles. I couldn't help noticing that I was also surrounded by several young and attractive officers and fire fighters. Using shears, they sliced through my work slacks and dress shirt sleeves to see if any other external injuries could be located. I was glad I had chosen an outfit that I didn't care about losing.

Before the other vehicles arrived I could feel the sprain in my right ankle. I rotated it gently. There wasn't much pain but it was already swollen. I removed my helmet and propped my right foot up on it. Sitting there on the 10 freeway, cars going around our collision site (some of them honking, even), I was thinking to myself that I was going to have to get my ankle checked out at the hospital. I could still probably make it to my friend's play that night, "Prelude to a Kiss," I thought, even though I might have to miss work that day. I could still be back on stage the next night for "Miss Saigon," I had thought, even though I would probably have to stay out of the dance numbers.

X-rays at the first hospital confirmed both a dislocation and a fracture. The need for surgery was also confirmed. I heard the words 'fibula' and 'femur.' I wasn't going to be able to finish the remaining three weeks of "Miss Saigon" performances. I wasn't even going to be able to go to work for a while. I was acutely aware of how lucky I was to come away alive and in one piece, that nothing else was seriously injured besides my ankle, other than a few bruises and scrapes.

I felt both humbled and extremely fortunate.

I was later transferred to a second hospital, one a mile away from my home, which made me much happier. After a comfortable night, surgery was performed the next day.

I'm on crutches now, but even luckier - I haven't been taking the painkillers at all. I haven't even filled the prescription, which includes a narcotic, so I am not anxious to take it. The pain is minimal. I've only been taking Tylenol once a day.

I am anxious to get back to work, to get back to my regular routine and regular pay. But I may have to wait a couple of weeks or more. I have been instructed to rest and keep the foot elevated so that the bones can heal properly, along with a couple of pins or screws that have been placed inside.

I could be sad about not dancing for the rest of the show this month. But I am optimistic about auditioning for shows next year, the year that I will be turning forty-seven. Anxious as I am to get into my car and drive to work using only my left foot, my biggest motivator to stay put is the possibility of dancing again in 2013.

I will miss my scooter-riding days. I'm not sure if that was my last scooter ride ever, but it was the last time I'll commute to work on the freeway on one. I have been pushing my luck for too long, and drivers in L.A. are crazy. Riding a scooter and passing other cars has shown me a number of people texting while sitting in traffic.

I'll miss you, scooter. Thanks for the feel-good days of driving in sunshine and good weather. Thanks for the feeling of freedom I had felt while driving at safe and leisurely speed rates. Thanks for the adrenaline and euphoria during the faster speed rates. Thanks for the me time and all of the songs I had playing in my head while I rode. Thanks for quiet time and meditation I accomplished while riding.

I'll miss you. But I am very thankful to be alive, to have the chance to start over and rebuild from only a fractured ankle.

The photo above is courtesy of the BFF Kathy files.


contrarymary said...

Oh my goodness, Peter! I had no idea you were in an accident. I saw something about "getting well" on your Facebook but didn't know exactly what it was about.
I'm so sad to hear you were injured but happy to know that you made it through a scooter accident on the freeway alive.
Take care of yourself my friend.

Peter Varvel said...

Thanks, Denise - my forever-rockin'-to-the-80's friend! :-)