Faerie Son: Head Over Heels.
Saturday (31st August) found me kneeling, perhaps as if in prayer, upon the gravelly tarmac of one of our North Norfolk country roads. Had one asked me, prior to this event, whether the old knees were up to it I’d have very much doubted it. But circumstances had other plans afoot, so the choice was no longer mine to make.
Adrenalin had temporarily usurped coffee as the drug of choice.
The ‘life-saver,’ looking surprisingly sprite and sparkly. Kerry and I have attempted, more than once or twice, to recall exactly what transpired to bring about this unlikely eventuality but, alas, we continue to draw just so much of a blankness.
And, with time remorselessly continuing to transport us ever further from the event, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever fully unravel more than the vaguest of recollections. Suffice to write that my most stomach-churning *memory is one of Kerry (*sailing over her handlebars and) thudding, face and shoulder first, into the road, at something in the region of twenty-five miles an hour. I cannot even begin to approximate the ‘sound’ that Kerry emitted, upon impact with such an unforgiving surface; something perhaps occupying a space that is neither entirely sound nor tactile sensation, the pained acknowledgement of unequal contact that might also reach up and grasp one somewhere directly below the heart and wrench downwards with an unforgiving might.
My very next recollection is one of looking down at Kerry’s tightly shut eyes, her hand clamped over her mouth, body- appearing alarmingly smaller and more fragile than usual- static and locked tight in anticipation of imminent pain. That not a single tooth was so much as chipped almost defied belief, no soft skin grated off to hang displaced, from a throbbing and bloody chin. The chances that such luck might have held seemed to fluctuate considerably over the following seventy minute wait for the ambulance.
Eternal thanks must go out to the angelic Karen, her family and friends, without whom I’d have been worse than hopeless. Kerry, ever eager not to trouble the locals, was ‘game’ for cycling home after the briefest of recuperative rests at the side of the road, but Karen was having none of this; within moments she’d wedged Kerry’s head between two towels and covered her soon to be shock-convulsing body under an array of items of clothing. My far less technical role was to one of ensuring that Kerry did not fall asleep, hence the ‘kneeling in the road.’ Despite frequent requests from Kerry at no point did I consider the incident deserving of photos.
A series of urgent spinal checks were undertaken- at the same time both reassuring and unnerving- and an ambulance duly requested. That so many first-aiders slowed to offer assistance would have been heart-warming, were one’s heart not otherwise occupied, pumping endless volumes of adrenalin through one’s system. Cups of tea and blankets swiftly arrived, the offer of a temporary store for two bikes, offers of transportation for the same, much concern and sympathy from a wide array of concerned locals.
So, Karen’s vehicle tucked into the verge, affording ample protection from other might-be-less-observant motorists, our extended party arranged around the immobilised Kerry, we waited, whilst the ever-diligent Karen became evermore insistent that the ambulance hurry. And we waited! Through bouts of shock induced shakes, through teeth-chattering shivers, and- most alarmingly– periods of sudden drowsiness, we waited! The Police road block arrived after perhaps forty minutes and, after a further ten minutes or so of trying, finally managed to extract an estimated time of arrival for the ambulance.
Obviously, this needed to remain strapped firmly to Kerry’s head throughout.
We were eventually able to scale down our levels of concern, once the paramedics had been able to confirm Karen’s initial diagnosis and tentatively remove the above cycling helmet. To be replaced by a neck brace and an elaborate array of immobilising blocks, an aluminium body-board and several metres of heavy strapping. The ambulance had travelled out from Norwich- nothing any closer, thanks JC!– thankfully not at the wrong end of a full twelve hour shift; not really the ideal working day for anyone charged with such vital responsibilities.
Again, thanks JC!12 T’wasn’t really until about six o’clock, emotionally drained, X-rays studied, that we both eventually felt at relative ease, mingling with the lost or confused patients of Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Naturally everything had shut down, various corridors were locked down and no longer accessible.
And, surely, this must also be another cheer for the cycling helmet3; heartily deserved! I’m not of a medical persuasion, but I saw (or conjured up) the impact- conceivable just one of several impacts, as I suspect Kerry may have bounced at least once- and I picked up the pieces of a damaged bike. Consequently, I shudder to think what might otherwise have been…
And it’s bye, from the casualty.
The NHS tag worn entirely in recognition of all NHS staff involved, entirely not in recognition of the Secretary of State for Health4.
“The best thing about dying is when your life flashes before your eyes and you remember all of your passwords.” This did not happen.
* Unsure if this is a half memory or a false memory.
- ^ thanks JC! (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ thanks JC! (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ the cycling helmet (faerieson.blogspot.co.uk)
- ^ Secretary of State for Health (www.theguardian.com)