On January 28th, I had a terrible bike crash and ended up in hospital for a week with six broken bones. In a shocking case of inadvertent symmetry, that bike was an Aprilia Mana, the same bike Wes used as a mobility bike last summer when he broke his left arm. My head’s been pretty fucked up on painkillers since, but finally, here’s the story of what happened in the crash, afterwards and how I’m going to heal up. Those with small children or weak stomachs should look away now.
Update: Now with broken bone and bike photos.
Since my head is still a little mushy, Wes helped me tell the story over IM. He's in green, I'm in blue.
ws How you doing?
ss Pretty damn good, just had my first shower in 20 days.
ws Hopping around like a wounded bird?
ss Something like that. Standing up too fast, scaring the shit out of everyone, taking the stairs two at a time. I hope I don’t fall and break my leg again.
ws The first time I saw you stand up, it freaked me the fuck out.
ws It was like hearing an animal talk.
ss It has that effect on just about everyone. People don’t expect a guy with a broken leg to do that. I mean REALLY broken.
ws Did I tell you about the day you crashed, what happened when Ashlee called me?
ws Ashlee: “Sean crashed.”
Me: “Oh fuck, what bike was it, how bad is the damage to it?”
Ashlee: “No, Sean really crashed, they’re taking him to UCLA Trauma center.”
I put the phone down, waited like 5 minutes for it to sink in, called her back and told her I was on the way. I was at Laguna Seca doing a trackday with Skip Barber. Made it back to LA in 4 hours. It was surprising to everyone that you were actually hurt.
ss Yeah, me too. I mean, I’m one of the more serious ATGATTers around.
ws What’s the damage tally again?
ss Femur, fibula, humorous, radius, ulna and my thumb too. The thumb was, by far, the worst break.
ws You broke the thumb in the tank slapper, right?
ss Yeah, so far as I can remember.
ws How’d the tank slapper happen?
ss At the time, I didn’t really understand what was happening. My left hand just felt weird and I couldn’t grip the bar at all. Anyways, this is how the story goes:
Riding down Moomat Ahiko, on the way from Ocean Ave to PCH, I ran across a nasty bump, the bars jerked left first, then slapped side to side violently. I’ve ridden this road before, but always on my GSX-R, which has absolutely dialed forks and a good steering damper. The Aprilia Mana I was riding when I crashed has squishy non-adjustable forks and no damper. It’s the kind of thing you never really think about until you have a violent tank slapper and crash.
So, after this tank slapper starts, me and the bike continue in a straight line towards the left side of the road. The pavement from the right side to center is kinda shitty, but the left side is really bad. The closer you get to the left curb, the more it’s like you’re riding on the surface of the moon. Six-inch potholes, concrete, asphalt, giant ass rocks, gravel. You get the picture, it’s nasty.
At this point, I’m not really panicking, but the adrenaline from the broken thumb has kicked in and time starts to get weird. I also can’t figure out why my left hand doesn’t seem to be working properly. Then, BAM! I hit the left curb and bounce off the wall. For a second, I get excited and think that bouncing off the wall will almost certainly send me back toward the right side of the road, where I have some chance of regaining control. Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out.
I bounced off the wall a few more times before finally being peeled off the bike by a large light pole. I caught my left knee and that sort of spun me up and over. The airtime was brief and, when I landed, it was on my left arm. Radius, Ulna and Humorous all snapped and I slid to a stop. I caught the chin bar of my helmet on something too, but I’m not quite sure what.
After sitting motionless for a few seconds, the adrenaline started to wear off. As that happened, the pain from six broken bones began to set in. It hurt pretty bad.
BRB, gotta run to the bathroom.
ws By run, you mean hop.
ss Something like that.
So, I start to feel the pain. I look down at my crotch, where it feels like my arm should be and, instead, it’s way over to the left at the kind of angle only achievable with three elbows. Instinctively, I move it over to where it feels like it should be. Shattered bones and all, I got it to move. Unfortunately, that led to the second worst pain I’ve ever experienced. At that point, I gave up and resigned myself to the fact that I’m hurt pretty bad.
Cue the dumb bitch screaming, “Oh my god!!!!!” And flailing her arms. Before she can ask if I’m OK, I’m screaming back, “Call 911!!” The next few minutes were pretty weird.
I assumed that pain and adrenaline warped my sense of time, but, after checking with Lucas, I guess stuff did happen really fast.
So, lady calls 911, Lucas pulls up a few seconds later and helps take my helmet off. Then, after only five minutes or so, cops and ambulance show up.
ws Were the cops cool or were they dicks?
ss They were fucking dicks. The worst.
ws What do cops do except hassle normal people?
ss I’m drawing a blank here.
ws I mean, they like street race each other at night and stuff.
ss Yeah, they do do that. Motorcyclists are normal people too.
ws They aren’t there to help are they?
ss Lolz, no way man. They’re there to write me the fattest ticket they can. Reckless driving, 80 in a 30, street racing, all of that is brought up. I was going about 30.
ws Real talk: you were really only going 30?
ss Eh, 30-40, seriously. At that speed, I’m not really looking at the speedo, but it was shit slow.
ws Given the corner and the road, would I have considered that a safe and prudent speed?
ss Yup, Lucas was going faster than I was and he made it through without incident.
ws So Lucas, who was ahead of you, talks some sense into the cops by doing some name dropping.
ss Pretty much. So, 6’ 5”, 215lbs Lucas, who works out every day and used to race downhill MTB professionally, is pretty intimidating. Even the cops shut the fuck up when he talks. And he tells them I was going as fast as I said I was.
ws Do you have a bigger man crush on Adey or Lucas?
ss Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Probably Lucas.
Anyways, he name drops a buddy who’s high up in Internal Affairs at SMPD. The cops suddenly change their tune and disappear. Lucas helps load me into an ambulance and, after cutting off my pants, underwear, shirt and socks, then inserting an IV, we’re off.
They gave me a shot of morphine on the way to UCLA Ronald Reagan, but other than make me sick as hell, it didn’t seem to do much.
They unload me from the ambulance, wheel me into the ER (completely naked of course) and put me in a bed. At this point, maybe 30 minutes has passed since I wrecked.
ws Let’s circle back to the wreck real quick. What were you wearing. I know you had your Nexx XR1R Carbon helmet on.
ss Icon Overlord jacket with D3O in the elbows and a CE Level 2 back protector, Reign boots, Justice Touch Screen gloves. I also had on Alpinestars Axiom jeans, which have Kevlar in the butt and knees and T-Pro knee armor I’d retrofitted. Basically head to toe armor.
ws What do you think would’ve happened if you weren’t wearing all that?
ss Well, let’s say I was just wearing jeans, jacket and gloves; I think I probably would have lost my left leg. If that didn’t happen, I’d definitely have had a really bad broken ankle, a completely destroyed knee and lots of road rash, bleeding and soft tissue damage. That’s some fucking serious shit.
ss People die all the time, bleeding out from broken femurs.
I may have been OK because the ambulance got there so fast, but I bet I’d at least still be in the hospital and walking would be something I’d be lucky to do in a year, not three months.
Now, let’s say I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, no gloves and an open face helmet. Typical gear for about half of motorcyclists. My left arm would have looked like hamburger. My breaks would have been worse and I bet I would have a broken elbow too. I definitely would have broken my jaw and tore my face to shreds. I also would have road rash all over my back and sides. Survivable? Maybe. I’d be fucked up for life though.
ws You’re going to do a crash report on all your gear, once your head works again, right?
ss Ha, of course.
ws I’d like to point out that your dad is a pretty big doctor. So you grew up around healthcare and understand how it’s supposed to work. And, you were at supposedly the number three hospital in the country.
ws And they didn’t exactly do a good job. Or treat you very well.
ss UCLA Ronald Reagan is one of the best hospitals around. That’s true, it really is. Now, the scary part is that, even though it’s one of the best, everyone but the actual doctors is an incompetent hack. Those are some harsh words, but I really do mean it. Fucking incompetent.
I’d say maybe 30 percent of the staff speaks English — important when they’re administering potentially fatal drugs — no one listens, no one’s paying attention to what’s going on, no one’s there to help you. All they’re there for is to go through the motions while following protocol so they don’t get sued, and they even fail at that.
ws So a couple big problems happened. The catheter thing and getting dropped.
ss Ha, I got dropped like 15 times. People grabbed broken bones to pick me up. I got a CT scan of my knee and the lady running the machine said, “If you feel sick, or if something is wrong, just raise your hand, I can see you and I’ll come help.” So, when I felt like I was going to puke, I raised my hand. After two minutes, I yelled that I was about to make a big fucking mess, but she’d left and gone somewhere else. I projectile vomited straight up in the air and it went everywhere.
ws And then you had vomit in your hair for at least a week.
ss Ha, I did the same thing in the elevator too, after X-Rays. Rather than helping, the nurse laughed as I choked on my own vomit. That guy was probably the biggest dick I had to deal with while I was there. And yeah, the vomit stayed in my hair for a week.
ws Dude, you were disgusting. When we eventually brought you home, you left a tactile slime on my hands every time I had to touch you.
ss When the nurses put on gloves before they touch you, it’s not to keep you from catching something, it’s to keep from having to touch you. There is no hygeine at all. No tooth brush, no damp rag to clean yourself with. Fucking nothing.
No matter how bad I stunk and how disgustingly filthy I looked, they didn’t do a think. I’m starting to rant here, but it was a rude awakening. It turns out hospitals are kind of a scam. They only appear to be sparklingly clean places full of only the most competent health care professionals. In reality, most of the nurses and nurse assistants have Internet degrees from colleges that advertise on late night TV. They’re in it fore a better paycheck than they’d get working fast food, not to help sick or hurt people heal.
Why was moving my left arm with three shattered bones only the second worst pain I’ve experienced? because, while waiting in the recovery room after surgery, one of those incompetent hospital staffers managed to get his arm caught on my catheter, then spin around at high speed.
If you’ve never experienced a catheter, it’s pretty goddamn unpleasant. Basically, they shove an 8mm tube up your dick and into your bladder, then inflate a small rubber ball inside your bladder so it doesn’t just fall out. Then, they tape that tube to your leg, leaving about eight inches of tube between dick and tape job. To get your hand caught in there, you’d basically have to be giving me a handy.
Still, this guy somehow found a reason to put a hand down there. You might think that since I’d just woken up from general anesthesia that I’d be kind of high and floaty, especially with all the pain killers. Not true.
Well, maybe a little, but not after dude yanked my catheter out. If I’d been able to move, I’d have broken his jaw. Instead, all I was able to do was scream in horror as I watched the tube (and my dick) stretch about two feet as he turned around.
ss But that’s not even the worst part, right?
Nope. He went a little wide-eyed when he realized what he’d done, then said, “Oh shit, sorry man, I’ll just put it back in.”
I’m not making this up at all. Guy grabs my dick with one hand, tube with the other, then shoves it back in. Like a hard shove. He put his weight into it. Didn’t bother to deflate the ball, check to see if he’d done any damage, nothing. Just a hard shove back in. I pissed blood later and it still hurts to pee now.
ws Jesus Christ.
ws Well, at least the recovery’s going well. You’re getting out of the house. You can go up and down stairs.
ss Once I got out of the hospital, things got a lot better.
ws How long’s it going to be before you walk again?
ss Another five weeks. I’ll cheat though and start walking earlier.
ws And until you can ride?
ss I’ll probably get on a bike in six weeks. Who knows, depending on my knee, it might be quicker.
The plan is to start slow, with the XR100 in a parking lot. Get used to the clutch again while my left arm is weak and just cruise around at low speed, not breaking anything.
Once I can put real weight through my left leg, I’ll start riding again. My balance is good enough that I can always put my right foot down at lights, but I’d rather not find myself in a situation where I need my left leg to support me and the weight of the bike. At least not before it’s ready.
Coming home after being stuck in the hospital for a week was pretty awesome. At home, I can just smoke medical marijuana to dull the pain. It works great and the only side effect is that people think I’m a good-for-nothing hippie.
The 80 Oxycodones they gave me are still in their bottle and probably 70 of the 80 Percosets are there too. In the hospital, they pumped me full of that shit every day. Those are hard drugs, the really nasty shit that people get hooked on and die from.
When you take powerful opiates, your digestive track shuts down, homeostasis is interrupted, your brain basically turns to mush and, when you wake up in a pool of your own cold, filthy sweat, you kind of wish you were dead. They really don’t help much with the pain either, they just fuck you up so much that you don’t care anymore.
ws When are you going to start writing again?
ss I think I just did.
Editor’s note: I’d like to thank everyone that visited Sean in hospital, everyone that sent goodwill messages by email, text, phone or Facebook and everyone that has helped out either Sean or with HFL since. Lucas and Dave deserve special thanks for all their help, but the biggest thank you goes to Ashlee for her continued love, super human patience and support before and after the accident. — Wes
This article represents the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the position of HellForLeatherMagazine.com or any of its parent companies, subsidiaries, or affiliated organizations.