It was Fate that stilled my hand when I went to upload the new European maps which would overwrite the US maps, onto my new Garmin 2730 GPS. It had to be Fate, surely? What else could it have been?
D-Day. Departure day was here, at long last! Good Friday, April 10. I was off to the mainland for the ride up to Sydney, from where we (bike and I) were booked to fly out to Europe on the 15th April.
My new RTW bike, "Willie Wee" - a 2009 model Suzuki DL650, aka a Wee-Strom - was fully loaded and prepped, travel ready. All the farkles had been bought and fitted over the time since purchase, on 17 November 2008. Everything was ready. I was ready. Time to go!
Pulled away from home earlier than planned, for a change, and had a nice leisurely trip to my friend's place in Burnie, up the northwest end of the island state. Sorted all my paperwork and left final instructions about personal matters with Lorraine. There was a widely publicized police blitz on all roads in the state over this, the Easter long weekend. So, I did the right thing. I left Burnie 15 minutes earlier than I normally would have, so that there was no need to hurry (as I usually do!) therefore no need to attract undue police attention. Just a gentle little 50km toddle in the pleasantly cool coastal breezes of the evening.
Over the bridge at Devonport at exactly 8.00pm, final boarding time being 8.15pm. Hmmm, 15 minutes to cover the last 2 km to the "Spirit of Tasmania" ferry dock. Easy. Until Fate stepped in less than a kilometre from the ferry!!
A well lit, wide open intersection. There's an oncoming car, no problems, but I slow down a bit anyway, just being generally careful. Enter the intersection. Hang on, the bloody car is doing a fast right hand turn across in front of me, and it isn't stopping to give way!! Sheeeeeit! That's actually what I was thinking, as I grabbed the ABS brakes, the clutch, and the seat as my derriere puckered - just a bit! Cruuunchhhhh! Over the bonnet of the car I flew to land in a crumpled heap on the roadway.
"Damn! I won't make the ferry now, will I? Nope, not tonight, that's for sure," I'm thinking, laying there trying to work out what was damaged and what still worked, shades of August 2006 and the damage that one caused me. People came running immediately to assist, as people always do. I heard someone call 000 to get the ambulance and police. Flashing lights everywhere; the ambos arrived, the police arrived, the firies arrived. After a very brief questioning about where it hurt - "it's hurting all through my groin area. No, I haven't broken my back or neck. They're OK" - the female ambo pulled me up to a sitting position. Then made me stand up! OMG! I stood there wobbling precariously, looking around.
"Ahhh, there's the Wee. Oh, the poor little bike, it looks so sad, laying there splattered across the road." But it was facing away from me, so only the back end was visible. Weeks later, it was totally written off by the insurance company. The front end was a mess. The forks were snapped right off. How did I survive?
So then they made me WALK to the ambulance!! Arrrggghhh the agony!! Barely able to control the pain shooting through me with every step, every movement of my torso. More or less collapsing, so a fireman grabbed my right side and basically carried me to the ambulance, where they made me step up through the side door and sit on a seat!! At no time was the gurney mentioned or offered. One can only wonder at the level of basic first aid training these two female ambos had received. Rule #1: "If in doubt - DON'T!" Luckily, I wasn't paralysed, and apparently didn't suffer any significant damage from this inappropriate treatment.
Police questions, and a blood alcohol test, negative of course. The young girl who drove the car appeared at the ambulance door, crying, saying she was sorry, she "didn't see me!" The age old refrain!
"How could you NOT see me?" I asked. Then, sarcastically, "I won't be having a nice holiday - with my bike - in Europe now, will I?" She walked away amid a fresh outburst of tears.
A short ride to the Latrobe Hospital. Got wheelchaired in and deposited into the "Plaster Room", for want of somewhere better to put me. Xrays, eventually, some hours later.
"Where does it hurt?" says the doctor, perusing the xray films.
"Right here" I say, pointing.
"Yes" she says, "that's exactly where the pelvis is fractured".
My European trip was over for this year, that's for sure, before it had even started.
Lorraine came and collected me the next morning, laughing as I wobbled awkwardly on the crutches, sobering as my face went awful shades of grey from the pain. Back to Burnie, where the phone calls began, cancelling whatever I could, most urgently my flight and the bike's freight, both with Qantas. Then the travel insurance people, and the bike insurance company. Then the emails, cancelling the BritButt Rally, the British National Parks Tour and the Welsh Rally in the UK for which I'd been entered, and telling friends in UK that I wouldn't be there this year.
After three weeks, Lorraine brought me home. My cat was ecstatic! Wouldn't leave me alone. It was difficult for a few weeks, not being able to do much for myself, with the cumbersome crutches and the almost constant pain, as I don't take painkillers, unless there's a desperate need. There is an art to carrying a boiling hot cup of tea while using crutches, believe me! But at least driving the car was possible, so getting about for appointments, shopping etc wasn't too much of a problem. Ever walked with crutches while carrying bags of groceries? Not real easy, unfortunately. Once, a young child came racing across the supermarket carpark and offered to carry my shopping bags to the car. Did it really look that awkward, I wonder, although it was appreciated?
A visit to the orthopaedic clinic resulted in being told my painful right knee was because the medial collateral ligament was damaged. It was recommended it be put in a brace, which does actually support the knee rather well.
At about the eight week mark, I gave up using the crutches, bit the bullet, and started walking unaided, albeit slowly. It's now getting a bit easier, although a few hours in town to visit doctors, shopping, the bike dealership, etc etc ends in a fair amount of dull aching pain.
There are those who say "these things are sent to try us". Others just call it - FATE. Tomorrow is another day. The body will heal. A new Wee-Strom is in the offing. Europe will still be there next year. I'LL BE THERE!!
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