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Monday, June 09, 2008

Almost Another Ghost Bike

Last Monday, my daughter Lydia needed to see her allergist, who was located in Corporate Woods, same area as my office, so I didn't take my bike to work. In small recompense for that, I decided to ride to the local CVS drug store to drop off her prescriptions, then after dinner to ride back and pick them up.

I'm on West Lawrence Street at Madison Avenue, heading south, when I hit a red light. So I opted to turn left into the Mobil station. Suddenly, I see a car bearing down on me; the driver must have gotten his or her license from the Starman* school of automobile operation, as it had crossed Madison actually on the red light. I scream the s-word, one of those times that I think cursing is definitely appropriate. (Another time was getting a nail in my foot in 2000.)

I brake, of course, but I'm already over the center lines, so I also lean to my right and back. Somehow, I end up on the ground. Did the driver stop? No, but then he or she didn't hit me, only almost did so.

When I catch my breath, I realize that I'm really sore on my left side. I drag my bike and myself to the grassy area in front of a theater, #10 Steamer Company, and just sit there for a few minutes. An EMT is stopped at the light, talking on a phone; I almost try to signal him, but choose not to. A couple minutes later, a woman drives by to see if I'm OK. I lie and say I'm fine. Finally, I get up, walk to the CVS, drop off the scripts, and ride home on the sidewalks. (Yes, I know I know I'm not supposed to, but I was feeling a little shaky, and walking was taking too long for the pain I was in.)

I tell the tale to my wife Carol, and she agrees to drive me to the urgent care place on Patroon Creek, parallel to Washington Avenue, after dinner. We figure that this is probably a better choice than the ER of a hospital. Of course, Lydia has to come too.

It is a bit surreal. I walk into the place, and I see a TV showing an episode of Seinfeld, with Jerry, George, and Elayne waiting in a hospital waiting room. This episode also features Jerry, Newman and Kramer waiting at a bedside of someone, George forgoing a trip to the Cayman Islands, and Drake coffee cakes. The next show, some CW soap with Blake Lively and Kelly Rutherford, I was trying to distract the four-year old daughter from watching.

Finally - and it was less than a half hour - I get taken into a room, and have my vitals taken. It was peculiar that I was feeling both hot and cold. Then I was examined by the doctor. Somehow, old Bill Cosby routines came rushing into my head. "Doctors are wonderful people, but they're always touching something. 'Does that hurt?' YEOW! Does that hurt! Does that hurt!'" He asks me where I'm in pain, and I'm trying to use my right hand to show him where on my left side I'm bothered. Then he starts poking around. YEOW! Does that hurt! Does that hurt!

I go to get x-rays. Like Cosby's doctor's stethoscope, the x-ray machine felt as though they stored it in the refrigerator. Diagnosis: broken 6th rib on the left side, under my armpit, possibly from the handlebars, but I don't know for sure. Treatment: rest; they don't tape you up for this anymore. Also, be sure to breathe deeply and cough regularly, lest I develop pneumonia.

My wife takes the daughter and me home, then gets my pain reliever prescription filled at an all-night CVS; the one I dropped the daughter's Rx is closed. Carol's sleeping pattern skews early, so for her to go out at 10:30 pm to take a 15-minute ride to Colonie, wait 30 minutes for it to be filled, then drive the 15 minutes home is quite remarkable.

Unfortunately, my daughter became very wary of me ever since she jumped on me that night, and I screamed, "Lydia, no!" I apologized the next day. She will play Candyland with me, but there was definitely arm's-length tension there until Saturday.

I've been sleeping in the recliner ever since, with a sofa pillow next to my left side because I can't find anywhere else to sleep without tremendous pain. Other things that cause discomfort:
*the recommended deep breathing
*the recommended coughing
*bending over
*reaching with my left arm
*lifting things too heavy, even with my right arm
*walking down stairs (up is not so bad, though for the first couple days, I had to stop ever other step to catch my breath)

Also, the medicine can make one constipated. Gotta love those dried apricots.

The bad news is that I find it difficult to focus on reading or writing, and sleep is intermittent throughout the day, though the reading became easier as the week progressed. The good news is that I've caught up on watching JEOPARDY! Hey, there was a winner from East Greenbush, Pat Roche, a couple weeks ago!

The better news is that I did not end up being commemorated with a ghost bike, as a number of folks in this area have recently. A single broken bone and a couple bruises is a far better outcome than I quite literally feared.

* Jenny allows the alien to drive the car when he peels out. Jenny screams at the Starman that she thought he said he could drive. Starman replies: "I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast."
I figure I'd been watching Jim McKay from the time I was 8 or 9, usually watching ABC's Wide World of Sports with my grandfather, through dozens of different sporting events, including the 1972 Munich Olympics, until I saw him anchor football game coverage only a few seasons back. So we're talking well over 40 years of "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat." CBS News had a nice piece on him here, not that surprising since 1) he started on CBS, and 2) his son, Sean McManus is the head of CBS Sports. Here's an extensive, 2 1/2 hour interview with McKay in six parts. I particularly recommend the last segment, only 10 minutes long, where he talks about others.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6



Scott said...

Hope you are feeling better and healed soon.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sorry to hear of the injury...I hope everything heals up quickly.

Lauren "the Intern" said...

Did you "almost" get hit by a car just to avoid your intern? If so, I am totally writing about that in my report. Get well soon!

Anonymous said...


I’ve had my share of injuries over the years on various and sundry bicycles, and almost all of them include hospital visits, including one where I was taken though the emergency room as a “code blue,” because I had just completed tests with a cardiologist, the week before I became a road pizza. I walked into the emergency room with most of my chest peeled off from catching a tire in a railroad track rut and going over the bar into a five point landing. In any event, the nurse asked me where the pain was; I responded in my chest, and she invoked “code blue” which entail getting me rushed though the emergency room faster than anyone else there.

Remind to tell you about the time I was hit by an eighty-nine year old man, driving his car in the hospital parking lot, wearing nothing but a hospital gown and still wearing a catheter.


Anonymous said...

Roger: You should write a book on your various adventures. Glad you were not hurt worse. Best wishes for a smooth recovery. Bill p.s. do not ride where cars with blind drivers go.

Anonymous said...


Very sorry to read about your problems. I hope that you are now OK, although I suppose that you will unfortunately be sore for a few days.

Suggestion: As a valued member of the SBDC and the Research network, a safe form of transportation should be provided to you. I think Jim King should arrange chauffeured limo service to and from Corporate Woods each day.

Anonymous said...

Hope you're feeling much better today and continue to heal rapidly .
Even though the injury is probably both a pain in the side ( not to mention the rear) remember that things could have been much worse. I'm glad that you didn't get the opportunity to become a hood ornament on the car.
Take it easy, listen to your doctors, and remember that pizza and beer is a great elixir.
Contact me anytime if you need additional quack therapies.

Get back soon,

Anonymous said...

Terrific news that you weren't hit by the car. On the flip side, I was hit by a bike in Albany a few years back, while walking in front of Albany High. Knocked me to the ground and hurt my leg. The rider kept on going, without an apology.

Hope to see you soon!

Anonymous said...

Dear Roger,
Hurry and heal. I miss you. We all miss you. Thank goodness you weren't hurt worse. Love to you and your wonderful women. Peg

Anonymous said...

I hope you're feeling better! And, they have no worries about your vision, etc.? Hmmm...I'd report that! The mind is a terrible thing to...well, you know :-)

ALSO [IAW something in your blog,] in view of it being Black Music Month, here's something for you to look at, that I find very ironic yet heartwarming at the same time, because I thought, it was Just Me who had a problem with being pidgeonholed into musical tastes, due to my age & gender & color! Turns out, not-so-much!

AND [after looking at the Movie Review section of your blog,] my 16 y/o & 9 y/o saw "Kung Fu Panda" this weekend and said it was better than "Shrek." BUT, when I asked them what the message of the movie was, they couldn't tell me. BUT, the 9 y/o remembered the msg. of "Shrek." So much for letting kids do movie reviews, I guess!
I took my sister to see "Iron Man," as she is a mad Downey fan. That makes 4 times I've seen it, and would gladly drop ticket+popcorn money on it AGAIN!!! "Yeh. I can fly."

Anonymous said...

Read your blog this morning; my sympathies! My father used to cite statistics that indicated that, given sufficient
time, EVERY motorcycle rider will be involved in an accident. YOU seem to be out ahead of the curve, without the
advantages of petrol or kinky leathers! A rib, owowow, I can only imagine that it's noticeable with EVERY move you
make. Sorry to hear the news; time for a nice compact car?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hello Roger,

We all hope you are feeling better. Were you wearing a helmet? I am
sure when you are all mended you will be back out there.

I recently dusted off my bicycle to ride around the campground and beyond. I guess I will have to be sure I can still ride and have eyes in the back of my head too. They really zoom on the road by the lake outside camp. The roads in the campground are gravel, but I need the exercise. I better practice my skills first before venturing off.

Have a great day!

Ann and the gang

Anonymous said...

GEEZZ Roger! What a story. Really hope you are feeling better. I can't believe the guy didn't stop to see if you were OK. Did you hear about the 78 year old man who was struck by a driver (I think in Hartford, Conn.?) The man was thrown over the windshield of the car but the driver just kept on going. I can't believe people sometimes. Take care of yourself,

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about that Roger! But thank God that it wasn't worse! Hope you heal quickly; cheers, M&S

Deborah said...

What they say here all the time is: it's not you who's dangerous, it's the other drivers. Thank God you - um - "only" got a broken rib. Count your blessings, and take very good care of yourself.

I have had several close calls, simply because the guy in the car just can't bear the thought of a 50cc scooter potentially getting to its destination any faster than he gets to his.

I also was on the spot when a car whistled down a wet Paris street one Sunday afternoon and therefore was unable to stop in time for the car rightfully pulling into the intersection.

A young man was driving his elderly parents sitting in the back, and none of them were wearing seat belts. When I reached them he was still alive but it didn't look like his brain was, and his mother looked like she simply didn't survive. His father was holding her in his arms, calling to her softly.

The gentleman causing the disaster, however, was meanwhile busy with something much more important than the three lives whose course he had thus changed forever; he was desperately trying to start up his stalled car to get the hell out of there before someone noticed he was responsible...


Linda said...

Dear Roger,
Your old friend Linda Hall from Binghamton Central High. I am sorry about your accident. I offered to buy my son a bike, he is 25. He said that he knows of several friends who died in bike/auto accidents, and doesn't want one. I think bikes are great for the neighborhood, but not for use with autos. Take care.

Anonymous said...


Poor you! Hope you heal quickly! this case it seems laughter might not be the best medicine ;)


Anonymous said...

I was just reading your blog. Ann and I were just saying at lunch yesterday that we hadn't seen you for some time. So sorry to hear about your bike accident. I hope you're feeling better. I'll lift you up in my prayers for healing and a speedy recovery.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

...And Shirley said: FOR PETE'S SAKE!

Dan VanRiper said...


Oh my goodness gracious! That sounds much too close.

The police and the politicians think that bicyclists get in the way of auto drivers. And I have it on good authority (an old friend who is an attorney) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation considers Critical Mass bicyclists to be "domestic terrorists." Why? Because they block transportation corridors.

I say, automobile drivers are "domestic terrorists" because they use deadly force to prevent bicyclists from using transportation corridors. Well, those bozos think that bicyclists are "terrorists," so the bicyclists might as well become open and vocal "radicals." Everyone who rides a bike on City streets should demand that the authorities crack down on inattentive and reckless auto drivers, and hold these auto drivers to the same standards that would be applied to anyone who causes injury and death because of recklessness.

Heal fast Roger, and put some barbecue sauce on that busted rib.


Anonymous said...

Good grief, Rog! What a story. Heal well, guy.

You know, the way some people carry on behind the wheel... I was once crossing the street at Central and Manning, coming out of Earthworld, and this woman came careening round the corner and nearly flattened me. She was talking on her cell phone while driving! And this, with a police station right up the street! Another time, there was some fool at the very same intersection where you nearly got nailed, there where the Steamer 10 Station is, barking into his cell phone at the top of his lungs, with a police station something like 20 feet away. It would have served him right if some cop had come peeling out of the place and arrested his thoughtless behind on the spot.

Anyway, please get better.


Lynne Jackson said...


I am so sorry about your accident!

Please take good care of yourself and get better soon. I was hit a few years ago by a hit and run on my bike. Its most unpleasant.

Bikes are the best form of transit. More needs to be done to teach drivers we belong on the streets.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your accident, Roger. :-(
I must applaud you for getting on that bike in the first place and going green - even though it's sad to see that others are too busy to care!
Hope you feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

A speedy recovery from an SBDC friend. Can't believe Lydia's four already. Hope to see you at the conference.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. I hope you feel better . . .and stay off the bike for awhile.

Anonymous said...


Trying to compete with Mary for broken bones?


Anonymous said...

Darling Roger,
Damn drivers! It's plainly unsafe out there on any pavement. Buck up and keep taking those agonizing deep breathes. People who know say broken ribs are remarkably painful. Yeow indeed.
RIP: Bo Diddley, Jim McKay and Sidney Pollack Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you got away with only a broken rib! However, having experienced a broken rib a few years ago, I know that it doesn't feel like "only" a bone. Ouch! Ribs take a long time to heal, especially if you keep doing that recommended coughing :), but hang tight. They do get better. Sorry you're suffering, but glad the car missed you!


Anonymous said...

Hi Roger,

Sorry you're hurt, but glad you're OK. I am an avid city bike rider, and shit (oops) like that happens all the time. I sometimes wonder if, at my age (50 comes this Friday) I am still agile enough to survive such action. Hope so!

Take care!!!!
and have a great summer - all of you

gentle hug,

Anonymous said...

I wish I could make your boo boo go away but what I can do is send you some chicken soup. Mother told me that cures all!

Anonymous said...

As a bicycle commuter (though less this season due to having to dress up more), I am glad that you are on the road, but I don't want you, well, *on* the road! So sorry that this happened, but glad that you are on the route to healing.

Jennifer J.

Anonymous said...

Hey Roger,

Ouch. Broken rib!

That totally sucks.

If I had the power to heal you with the wave of a wand or anything else, I sure would!

Thank god you weren't hit.

Feel better and stay in touch!

Anonymous said...


Wow! Quite a tale of you and the bike incident. I'm very happy to hear that the outcome was not dire.

Quite some time ago, while still living in NYC, I was crossing 14th St. after a French class and and I got knocked down by a yellow taxi. Bam! It happened in the blink of an eye. The driver stopped but never got out of the cab. I hopped to my feet (it was the adrenaline rush, I'm sure) and started to yell at the guy. He then drove off. I hobbled down to Tower Records, which was my intended destination, but it was soon apparent that I was not in great same. Clearly, my body had a collision with a speeding heavy metal object and lost. I had a doctor look at me the next day. No broken bones, but boy, did I hurt!

My sympathies are with you, my friend!


Anonymous said...

So glad you're (relatively) OK! I get angry thinking of drivers like that. I am feeling a but at sea here in Kansas -- normal situational stuff with my transition, but hopefully I will get back to blogging again eventually.

I write more later -- back to work!


Anonymous said...

Albany drivers are notoriously dangerous when it comes to running lights, stop signs. I'm glad you survived and healed. Be well!

Love & rock 'n roll,

Anonymous said...

Hey Rog, Sorry to hear about your unfortunate accident. I try to subscribe to the theory that yeah this sucks, but maybe your pain saved someone else from an even worse fate. At least you didn't break your funny bone !!!! Recover soon and fully. Later Lois

Anonymous said...

Roger—great to know that you are OK. I’d say a true act of grace intervened at that moment when you could have become the next ghost bike!

Actually you also did me a great favor. For the last several weeks I have been toying with the idea of getting myself a light-weight bike to toddle around town. Good for the exercise, a way to decrease my own carbon foot print, etc. But I realize that you have to weigh the pros and cons, and given traffic congestion and my lack of experience in riding along side cars, I’ve now concluded that it is not worth the risk, especially since I have more than enough pain still left over from the last knee operation.

So I thank you for making me come to my senses.

Heal well, dear friend.


Anonymous said...


I'm sorry to hear about your injury. So glad to hear that you are on the mend, but it doesn't sound like fun.
More people will probably be riding bikes now with driving costs going up. I hope that drivers will be more careful!

Take care,

Anonymous said...

You can’t ride a bike. I remember you trying on the bridge that goes over riverside drive near downtown. Very wobbly. I am so very glad you are ok.
Love you,

Good lord you are a damn good writer.

Anonymous said...


Hope you're healing well. Can't really say anything about the idiocy of drivers without it turning into a long tirade, but you have my sympathies.


Anonymous said...

Just finally read this. Oh my goodness how scary!

And I can identify with the tension between you and Lydia after she jumped on you. I remember something similar with my folks when I was little. I think Dad had stubbed his toe or something.

I hope you're better! I'm a bit out of things at the moment. It's a long story, to be made evident soon enough.



Anonymous said...


I was sorry to learn about your accident but very glad that you didn't end up in the hospital.

How are you feeling? Has the pain lessened?


Anonymous said...

Yikes Roger. Hope you are feeling much better. Madison is notorious for people not bothering to mind red lights.
at home watching for storm clouds, high winds, and enjoying my garden in the heat since I expect it will take a severe blow when the weather does hit