Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to get on the bicycle and take a trip over to the gas station for a pack of smokes.

Monday night, roughly 9pm, I went on my merry way over to the Conoco located a block away from my apartment complex. A trip I take regularly, as I tend to exhaust a pack of smokes daily. They say smoking has negative effects on the human body, and that if the stuff that happens inside the body were to happen on the outside, no one would ever smoke. That's quite likely true. But the occasional scarification of the body, say once a year, isn't such a terrible price to pay.

On my way back, just after passing one of three speed bumps, I turned my direction to the right. Unfortunately, a patch of gravel and broken glass was in my way, and, rather than completing the turn, my bike took the turn while the tire overcompensated, twisting the wheel to a perpendicular angle to the frame of the bike. The handlebars and my chest were the first things to meet, followed quickly by my hands attempting to cushion the fall (and failing), my chin impacting with a horrifying crunch in the midst of gravel and glass, and the rest of my body sliding on my left arm with my bike on top of me.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to recognize that bemoaning my tragedy there, in the parking lot, was not a great idea. The sheer amount of blood told my rapidly enfogging mind that I had to act, and act quickly. After a very quick check of the bike to ensure road-worthiness, I mounted and went as quickly as my shaken nerves would take me back to my apartment, catching the startling drips of blood from my chin into my cubed steak-looking hands as I rode. Vision blurred. Body temperature slowly dropped.

Taking the elevator up to the third floor of my apartment complex and fishing the keys out of my pocket (in the process pouring a handful of blood into the cloth pockets--why I was catching the blood, I do not know), I reached not first for a Band-Aid or two, nor to the phone to call someone to help me take care of this, but instead to the sink, to clean myself up. God only knows why I did that.

Eventually, my brain cleared enough to encourage my hands to dial my mother, in spite of the relatively late hour (she, like my father, sleeps early, for once you reach age 40, apparently 9pm becomes late). ``Mom, I don't have any Band-Aids. Would you mind coming over to give me some,'' I slurred.

She came over. 5 minutes later, she had me in the car and we were speeding off to the hospital. Apparently, the bone and fatty tissue on my chin was visible through the laceration there. And my hands had wounds that still had glass and/or rocks lodged in them.

She decided that Swedish Medical Center, in Littleton, Colorado was the place to go. I had been born there 25 years ago--and my name was still in their record books. Here's to fastidious records keepers. They gave me heated blankets and sat me in the waiting room for 3 hours.

I listened idly to my mother's conversation with the couple across from us, celebrating their 9th anniversary that evening. He was a post office employee. I kept staring at a male mosquito, those giant, hovering insects that are only bothersome, not blood-sucking. At least I think it was a male mosquito1. I was having a hard enough time trying to stay awake. By this point, I had lost at least a pint and a half of blood.

Eventually, I was taken to an emergency room, where I lay, listening to my mother read a Smithsonian magazine from 1979. A nurse came in, asked a few questions my mother had to field, and returned with a kit for removing the gravel and glass from the palms of my hands. Up to this point in my life, I've never experienced such an excruciating pain as I did at that point. I'm uninsured, like most Americans, so I couldn't justify paying for pain killers, so she poured hydrogen peroxide on the wounds, plucked with tweezers, and scrubbed with gauze. I writhed in agony.

Finally, a doctor came in to do the stitches on my chin. I could hear my mother chatting him up while he injected the numbing agent into my skin--``a small prick and some pressure'' my ass--and then began his stitch work. Only 5 stitches were needed, and he did an exceptional job lining it up and keeping it tight.

My mother finally dropped me back off at home at the ripe hour of 2:30am. I was exhausted. Sadly, the agony of my injuries kept me from sleep until nearly 4am when I somehow convinced my brain to turn off for a few hours.

The tally:

  • Hands: Both deeply damaged. Scars likely. Some pieces of glass and rocks were not recoverable, but my body will eventually reject the items.
  • Left arm: Scraped and bruised. The swelling kept me from wearing a shirt on the following day. An x-ray was taken to ensure no breakage.
  • Right thigh: Heavily bruised, though the bruises did not show until Wednesday.
  • Left calf: The frame of the bike left an imprint that swelled to an impressive egg within an hour of the accident.
  • Ribs: At my count, 5 bruised ribs. Breathing hurts. Laughing is excruciating.
  • Chin: Deep laceration, 5 stitches. I can't smile very well. The skin gets very, very tight under there if I point my face to the sky.

Now I'll just wait for the bill. I'll try to figure out some way to pay it. And I thank God that it wasn't worse.

According to Kit, this is not actually a male mosquito, but in fact a mosquito-eater. If what I saw in that waiting room actually lives off of the vicious, blood-sucking insects we all hate, then I'm going to have to start cultivating them. Mosquitos are dastardly little things.

According to BookReader on 19 March, 2007, the eerie flying thing may not be a carniverous bastard blood-sucker, or even related to them--it's possibly a Crane fly. And I won't show you the photo I was provided--suffice it to say that the crane fly is really, really, realy eerie looking. And now I'm scarred for life, not just from the chin plant, but because I've been shown a crane fly, up close, on a huge monitor.