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Dodging the Roadkill: Cheating Death, Part 2

 

Dodging the Roadkill - A Biker's JourneyClarksville, TN – Part one of this story is here

This installment documents what happened after the crash and follows me to the emergency room and describes my injuries and the medical attention I received.

After the impact with the deer, I was unconscious and bleeding from a gash to my forehead.  According to one of my riding partners, David Bearden, not only was I completely knocked out, but I was laying in a pool of blood that he estimated had to be at least a pint.

“You could have bled out” he said.  “By the time I got my bike stopped, Jay Christopher was already with you and had you propped up in his lap, trying to stop the bleeding.”

Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle Accident

I remember bits and pieces but I do remember someone holding a towel or something to my forehead and the blood pouring down my face.  I remember I was struggling to breath and I was concerned about my pants having been yanked down. 

Vanity, right?

Two women were the first to arrive on the scene and were able to tell my partners exactly where we were so we could tell 911.  It would take paramedics nearly 40 minutes to arrive. 

Two other men who had been off in the distance “sighting” their rifles had witnessed the accident and rushed to the scene.  They both had training in treating accident victims, and whether or not they were firefighters or paramedics, I don’t know.

Hank after Motorcycle AccidentAs Jay would tell me, “You were not a very good patient.”  “You kept complaining about not being able to breathe and hollered to pull your pants up.”  “You had no idea how serious your injuries were.”

Once the paramedics arrived, they worked to secure me to a back board.  I rejected the neck brace because it was choking me, so they loaded me into the ambulance and I heard them say, “we’re taking him to Tennova.”

Tennova Medical Center is the hospital in Clarksville.  From where we were in Trigg County, it would take at LEAST another 40 minutes to get there.

I remember the ride to the hospital and the paramedic talking to me the entire way.   I was in a lot of pain and the ride was not a smooth one.  I knew something was wrong, but a quick inventory assured me that nothing was broken.  I just couldn’t breathe and was afraid of passing out again.

Hank after Motorcycle AccidentBut at least my pants were on!

A flurry of activity greeted me at the emergency room, as the doctors and nurses worked to stabilize me.  They cut off my shirts, took off my boots and yanked my pants off and covered me in a blanket. 

MY PANTS!  AGAIN?

An IV was inserted and I was given pain medicine and fluids.  They put me through scans and X-rays to determine the extent of my injuries.    They discovered I had cracked eight ribs and had a punctured lung, not to mention a huge gash on my forehead that would require 8 staples.

The doctor informed me that they were going to have to insert a chest tube and that I was going to have to be transported to a Trauma Unit in Nashville.  I thought, “chest tube?”  I’ve never heard anything good about that procedure, and I can tell you, it is one of THE MOST painful things I have EVER been through.

And they had to do it twice! 

The first procedure, the tube didn’t insert properly.  Even with the assistance of some powerful drugs, I truly thought I was dying.  I kept saying to myself, “this is what it feels like to die!” My body was overwhelmed with emotions and all I kept thinking was, “I’m going to die tonight!”

“Your wife and son are in the waiting room” they would tell me.  “Would you like them to come back?”

“No” I would say.  “I don’t want them to see me like this”

When they finally came to see me, I was relieved.   Just touching them both brought a calm over me. 

“How’s the motorcycle?” I would ask them.  (Just like a biker, huh?)

Hank after Motorcycle AccidentI was then transported to Skyline Medical Center, one of TWO trauma facilities in Nashville, where I had to have ANOTHER chest procedure before I was given a room.  The tube was pressing on my trachea and making it difficult to breath.

I spent three days in the hospital before being released.  All in all, a very lucky man.  I suffered NO broken bones, other than the cracked ribs.  No brain damage, no paralysis.

I owe my life to my friend and brother, Jay Christopher and ALL of the amazing medical personel along the way.  To the total strangers who gathered on that day on a back country Kentucky road to help save a life. 

I haven’t made a decision on whether or not to keep riding.  I want to heal and get my bike fixed, but whatever God lays on my heart is what I will do.  I LOVE this journey I’m on and can’t imagine my life without it, but we will see in due time.

We all know the risks and we all know the rewards.  This accident could have happened anywhere and anytime, in a car or a truck, or a motorcycle.  I won’t live my life in fear. 

I’ve heard from so many people along the way who have survived worse accidents than mine and are still riding.

I’ve also heard stories of how an accident has led some people to stop riding.  I respect them all and their decision.

Ride safe my friends!

Oh, and one other thing, WEAR. A. HELMET!


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