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Meeting Ms. Deer 

On our way to Madison, Indiana, we made a lot of stops and did some nice sightseeing. This is a beautiful must-see area. But because of our dillydallying, we wound up riding later on in the day than is our custom and it was becoming dusk with a beautiful sunset. The weather was very hot that day in the high 90s. I decided to shed my mesh riding jacket that provided protective body armor, because of the heat. This was a decision I would later regret.

We are now about 20 miles south of our destination, Madison, Indiana. We were on a beautiful two lane, windy, hilly, country road. The speed limit was 55. But because of the twistiness, some of the curves were slowing to 35 miles an hour. I was riding caboose in our little convoy.

Suddenly, coming around the curve, I saw the great big brown eyes of a large doe coming straight towards me. She seemed to be focused on my headlight like she wanted to play chicken with me. Anyone who's been around motorcycles knows that a motorcycle collision with a deer usually doesn't end well. Typically, the motorcyclist tries to avoid hitting the deer, winds up running off the road and crashing into a tree, a car or some other solid obstruction. I'd like to say that I planned my response. That is not true. I really had no time to react except hit the break. The deer mashed the front fender and came right through the windscreen. Fortunately, does lack antlers. Her head butted the right side of my chest and knocked me off of the motorcycle. The collision slowed my forward momentum, which probably helped when I hit the ground.

I landed on my right side and back. Fortunately, my helmet protected my head and prevented more serious injury. The collision rang my bell. I was unconscious for a short period of time. When I came to, I was sitting cross legged . I had taken my helmet off. An off-duty firefighter named Rich, was the first to come to my assistance. He was also riding a motorcycle. Immediately, he began to assess my injuries." Looks like you broke your collar bone". "How did you get your helmet off"? "You hit a deer". "No sign of him". "Bike not hurt to bad". He responded to my injuries and called an ambulance. He kept me in good spirits actually joking about the fact that my motorcycle was in relatively good condition compared to me. Considering what had happened, I was lucky. By this time, my brothers and the rest of the party had come back to look for me. My son, Mark, arriving first.

It was clear immediately that I had broken my collarbone. The ambulance took me to a small hospital in Madison, Indiana where it was determined that I had fractured my collarbone, the first five ribs on the right, the right scapula (shoulder blade) and punctured the right lung. They immediately sent me by ambulance to a trauma center in Louisville, Kentucky. My son Mark rode with me and kept my spirits up with conversation.

I arrived at University Hospital in Louisville Kentucky. By this time, my son had notified my wife Kathryn and she and my oldest son Anton immediately left Lombard for Louisville. By the time they arrived, I was coming out of the surgery where they had put a line in to re-inflate my right lung. The next day, I was to have surgery to pin my right collarbone which was broken in several places. I was to be in Louisville hospital for 11 days.

The orthopedic injuries: collarbone, ribs and the right scapula were a small concern compared to the lung injury. That's what kept me in intensive care for several days. My wife stayed with me the whole time sleeping in the chair next to my bed. She looked after me when I was either too weak or too drugged up to really make any decisions and protected me from incompetent phlebotomists. She made the whole mess tolerable.

It has really been a long time since I've been a patient. It gave me new insight and I think will make me a better healthcare provider in the future. The care I received while in intensive care was in fact excellent. The doctors were competent, the nurses attentive and support staff also attentive. However, once I was released to my room things began to deteriorate quickly. My roommate, also the victim of a motorcycle accident had a crushed pelvis and two broken arms and was virtually helpless. However, he was a very social creature and literally had guests 24 hours a day. Yup, the hospital had no exclusion on visiting hours. Needless to say, this made it difficult to get rest.

I would've been able to come home sooner except for the fact that the drain became disconnected and my lung once again collapsed. This would set me back several days. Once the lung was re-inflated I had to wait for it to stop draining in excess of 200 ML of fluid per day. Fluid was accumulating as a result of the bruising. After 11 days in the hospital pretty much lying flat on my back I was becoming quite weak. I was told to get up and move around as that would be good for me. However, they are understaffed and it wasn't until we began to take matters into our own hands and violate the rules a little bit that I began to get up and go for walks. But it was difficult having to take my IV poll, my lung drain container which looked like a small suitcase and oxygen tank etc. It was a real process. Finally, I was coming in with less than 200 MLs of lung fluid a day and I was released to come home on August 5.

A ride home from Louisville was about four hours. I was weak and very short of breath. We were told to make frequent stops as they were concerned about the possibility of a DVT (blood clot) in the leg. Just walking from the parking lot into McDonald's to use the restroom was like running a marathon. But, at last I was home and home never felt so good.

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