Sunday, December 21, 2008
My Gazelle at the jetty
The post that was to accompany this picture of my bicycle was supposed to be about my recent cycling trip to the beach, of Dad's to-die-for beef stew and how I had it for lunch by the jetty, complete with fluffy bread rolls.
However, because of certain events that happened yesterday, I shall endeavour to put across an all important cautionary message, one that has to do with me, my bicycle and cycling in general. It is not a light-hearted message. Though what happened wasn't that serious, it was rather frightening experience.
Let me start from the beginning, at 10am in the morning. I had a Christmas party to go to in the evening. It was a pot luck and I intended to bake a tart. As usual, I decided to take my bicycle to the supermarket to get the ingredients.
I was cycling at a slow and steady speed on the walkway. Everything was fine until I came across a zebra crossing. After checking out for incoming cars, and waiting till they had stopped, I started to cycle onto the crossing. The crossing was to my right, so I had to swerve a little. There were some road works going on so the pavement was uneven, with plenty of loosened gravel. As I swerved, the bicycle just slid and I was thrown to the ground. Okay here's where I announce that I was stupidly unprotected - no helmet, nothing. So I hit the ground, landed on my knee, my left hand and my forehead.
Since I was in the middle of the road, I knew better than to just lie there. I got up quickly, picked up my bicycle and moved toward the traffic junction. I was relieved and thought that it was just a silly little accident no different from the ones I always get myself into. I was waiting for the traffic light to turn green before crossing. Then it happened - the scary blackouts.
At first, I felt my head spinning, then I became giddy and everything started to darken. I couldn't see, I couldn't hear. It was like I was being sucked into a black hole. I thought nothing of it, thinking that it was just me reeling from shock. I held on to my bike, trying to keep upright. Then I fainted. I've never ever fainted and I wasn't sure what was going on. My bike must have fallen because when I came to (not sure how long it took, but probably just a few seconds or a minute, I'm not sure, I wasn't aware of the time), everything was on the floor. The basket Dad attached to the back of the bicycle with cable ties had broken off.
Thank God there were helpful passers-by. One dude was concerned and asked if I was all right and if I needed to get to the oppostite void deck to sit. I remember nodding and getting ready to cross the road when another blackout happened. This time, I wasn't even sure what happened. If any of you have done video production, you would know this term 'fade in', and 'fade out'. Well that's what I felt was happening. In between consciousness, I was simply fading in and out. Both my mind and my vision and whole being. This happened about two to three times. When I was conscious, I remember asking the dude what was going on. I would be talking to him and in a few seconds, I would fade out and then when I came back again, I kept asking how come I was still here, and weren't we supposed to cross the road. Eventually I managed to get across the road with the help of another kind gentleman who thought I might be diabetic. He insisted I have a sweet and sat me down at a nearby void deck. He also insisted that I see a doctor (I had originally intended to cycle back home!) and asked me to call my family. No one was at home at the moment and everyone was occupied so the first person I called was my aunt. In the end, I went to the nearby polyclinic. The doctor said the blackouts were probably vasovagal reactions. He said it might have been just the body coping with the shock. I had to take an X-ray for my left ring finger though. It hurt when I tried to move it. The clinic did not have X-ray facilities so I was referred to Changi General Hospital's A&E. The doctor there said the same thing about the vasovagal and insisted that I take an X-ray of my head too.
So $75, two X-rays, and four hours later, the verdict was that I was just a complete klutz and I would be fine. I was given Fastum gel for my sprained finger (yes, it was just a sprain. not a hairline fracture that the first doctor was afraid it was, thus the X-ray!)
In my entire 24 years, I have gotten myself into some pretty nasty mishaps so I'm usually not daunted by a simple fall. But what I went through yesterday was by far one of the most scary yet. Yes, I would say that it was scarier than the time I had to stitch up a hole in my shin, one I had gotten from a bad fall over a drain.
This accident has made me understand how important it is for cyclists to wear helmets. I didn't think of getting a helmet because I thought it would be too uncomfortable. I also admit that I can be quite the maverick at times, pretending to be solid as a rock. I never thought that I would get into an accident on a harmless bicycle. How silly I was to think myself impenetrable. Just because I'm strong doesn't mean I shouldn't take precautions. Then I realised that most of us actually think the same, expecting the worse only when the worse happens, and not actually doing what it takes to prevent the worse from happening. I guess there is a reason why people buy insurance. A helmet is a good enough insurance for cyclists who don't wish to crack their skull. I count myself very blessed to not have sustained any serious injuries. I see this accident as a serious and painful reminder to always take precautions even when feeling confident.
P.S. My Gazelle is all right as well. It's a solid piece. :)