(Bill is the awesome one with the “woooo” pose.)
Bill is an IronMan. He is also a friend and one of my favorite training partners (though not for running… he’s too fast and almost killed me once when I tried to run with him). Bill is one of my absolute favorite cycling buddies. He can push me, he is incredibly encouraging and he is very safe. He also has friends who make great cycling buddies and great breakfasts!
Last Saturday, Bill was riding with a medium-sized group of cyclists here in Norfolk, VA, when he was hit by a truck that failed to stop at an intersection. He is alive and all of his major bits and pieces are intact, thank God, but he is definitely a bit broken at the moment. While Bill was in no way at fault for his accident, there were some lessons learned and from the incident. I wanted to write this blog in order to share those lessons with you, to ask for all of your prayers for thorough healing, and to publicly say that I’m very pleased that he is still alive.
Bill specifically requested that I mention the importance of Road ID or some similar identification marker. While he was riding with his cell phone and his ID card, those were in his back jersey pocket and were not accessible when he was laying on his back in the middle of the road. Having emergency contacts and basic identifying information, as well as information about any existing medical conditions, can be priceless in such situations. Bill urges you all to purchase and wear some type of identification that can be easily accessed in the case of emergencies.
Of note, also, is the importance of wearing a helmet. I did not get a picture of Bill’s helmet but I did hold it in my hands and I must say that it was startling to see the blood stain. Without the helmet, that blood stain would have been much larger and it is unlikely that Bill would have lived. Wear a helmet. Not wearing a helmet means risking your own life. If that’s not enough of a deterrent, you’re also risking the happiness and financial well-being of your family and significant other. Should you sustain a serious head injury but survive, you are likely to suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). While there are some individuals with TBIs who make full recoveries and some who recover the majority of their previous functioning with some cognitive deficiencies, there are many who do not. There are many who become drooling vegetables or poorly behaved adult children. By not protecting your cranium, you are potentially placing your mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister, etc at risk because somebody is going to have to spend the rest of their (or your) life caring for you if you suffer a traumatic brain injury that renders you unable to work, interact within social norms, and otherwise function like a healthy adult. Wear your effing helmet.
I also learned, today, that Bill’s initial injuries were much more severe than he was originally aware. He would have likely lost his leg had it not been for the emergency first aid performed by one of the cyclists with whom he was riding. Bill strongly recommends that athletes acquire basic knowledge in first aid. Personally, I know that I’ve passed people on race courses that I wished I could have helped. I recently did acquire a first aid/CPR certification as a Girls on the Run assistant coach but before that. I wish I had possessed the knowledge sooner.
Bill is an amazing guy with a fantastic attitude. I was blessed to be there the first time he sat up in a wheelchair following the accident. That might not sound like much but it was really quite an accomplishment. He has a long way to go and has undergone multiple surgeries this week, referring to himself as “Humpty Dumpty.” Fortunately, the well-trained hospital staff have had better luck than “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men,” which makes sense because horses don’t even have opposable thumbs. Anywho, I love the smile on his face here and I have definitely had Bill on my mind this week when I didn’t feel like heading out into the cold for a run. I have to appreciate what I have. Even Bill is appreciating how lucky he is.