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Grrrl, The Crash, The Story, The Pictures... (Long)

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Grrrl, May 7, 2008.

  1. It’s been a long time coming, but here it is!!!

    Mods - I know there are more than three pics in here - see Vic! hehehe...

    Yikes… It’s hard to know where to start with this… I guess I just wanted to tell the story of what happened in the accident… I know I scared A LOT of people, near and far… and nobody knew if they should ask what happened, or how it happened, or what the extent of my injuries were. And at the time, those that did know what was going on weren’t sure how much they should say. I understand that, but I really wasn’t that sensitive about it.

    All I can tell you is that I don’t remember what happened to cause the accident, and nobody saw what happened, so all we can do is speculate.

    But first some happy snaps

    … So to start off, here’s what was my beautiful bike… I loved this machine, it was a thrill to ride the first day, and more every day after that!


    This picture was taken on the day of my first ride.

    Adam and I rode all over the countryside. I was still learning the bike, but I was so comfortable on it… It was so smooth and easy to maneuver compared to the lumpy cruiser I was used to.

    FINALLY!!! A real bike! Oh boy… even little things like over taking, woah!
    I took to it like a duck takes to water…

    We had SUCH a ball that day :)

    I had this picture on my wall in rehab. I looked at it often and I wished I was her… Wished I had her life again.

    I think the only pictures of me and my bike were taken on the day of my first ride. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to taking more, but I really wish I had!
    Take lots of pictures - of your bikes, yourselves, or anything or anyone you love, ok people?!!!

    I think this is the only picture in existence of me actually on the bike. A pity it’s a bit grainy and it's a pity I was all the way through the corner before the camera took the photo. The 'delay factor' is the worst part about digital cameras.


    On the roadside… I think we were swapping camera duties or something… This is the last picture of me with the bike. There are only three.


    … Stewy with my bike… Seems a nice VFR can make anyone look good *wink*
    I love this picture.


    So that was the bike before the accident…

    Not much was said on the forums about what actually happened with the accident, just that it HAD happened. I guess it’s hard for people to know what to say… what is the etiquette around this type of thing, and of course nobody really knows what happened …

    So here’s what we do know

    It was the 4th of November 2006. A Saturday.

    For such a long time I had been looking forward to this road trip… Three solid days of riding with a great bunch of people. It was going to be such fun!
    We left Melbourne in the morning, made a few stops to link up with other riders and to get fuel before continuing on to ride through the Black Spur.

    I was riding at about the middle of the group, I guess. I was behind five or six of the more experienced riders, who disappeared out of sight after about two corners… and I’d say there were three or four riders behind me as well. It was an unfamiliar road, so I wasn’t hooning (at least by my standards!). Sure, my lines weren’t perfect, but there was nothing hair-raising. I guess I was traveling at maybe 70kph through the more open corners, a little faster in-between corners…

    Apparently I’d ridden halfway through the spur, (a little way past the picnic ground) but the last thing I remember is riding along a section that straightened out a little between corners, heading towards a left hand bend.
    I remember increasing speed along the straight, and slowing again and dropping gears for the corner. I was upright, happy and moving forwards.
    Then I woke up dazed and confused in hospital, and very annoyed about the uncomfortable tubes down my throat!!

    The rest is speculation.

    It was quite surreal, and it still is when I think about it… Like as if you’re really getting settled into a good movie, then right in the middle of the best bit, switching tapes to something completely different… it just doesn’t match up… and the new story really isn’t very nice at all. You desperately want to get back to the other story that you were enjoying so much, to see where it goes, see what happens… You come to the realization that you will never know the ending to that story, you just have to try and get to like the new one…

    There was no ‘uh-oh’ moment, no ‘oh shit’ or ‘this is gonna hurt’ moments… I don’t remember any kind of panic, or grabbing the brakes… nothing like that… That’s not to say that those moments didn’t happen either, I just don’t recall them.

    Stewy was the next rider behind me, and as he entered the corner he saw my bike sliding and spinning back down the road towards him, and he saw me sliding towards the left side of the road, and the car pulled over on the opposite side of the road. Unfortunately he didn’t see what caused the accident. He just saw the aftermath.

    I wonder if perhaps I’d gained too much speed on the straight section, and then jumped on the brakes too hard and locked up the front… I assume I would have been in third, so perhaps in preparation for the corner I knocked it down an extra gear (into first) by accident, causing a compression lock-up…??
    Perhaps the car was on the wrong side of the road or even just part of the way over, and caused me to panic… Perhaps there was oil on the road… or some kind of debris…Perhaps there was some kind of mechanical failure, like the chain broke, or the engine ceased… Perhaps I just plain stuffed up… [sings] Perhaps, perhaps, perrrrrhaps!

    For some reason I feel like it was most likely the compression lock up thing … What a silly mistake… PERHAPS it’s not good to ponder on it all too much… I will never know anyhow.

    The driver of the car said that as he came around the bend he saw the bike and I were already on the ground sliding, and he tried to swerve and miss me. I have no reason to doubt that, it makes sense. If I was still up on the bike when he hit me, then I would have done a ‘superman’ and gone flying over the bonnet. Even so, I would still love to know WHY I was already down…

    Apparently he was trained in first aid, and he took control and managed the scene.

    They tell me I was quite twisted… my legs were as if I was lying face down, but torso turned so I was on my side, with my left arm under me and kind of twisted behind…
    Yikes *funny face* is that hard to picture?!!
    I had to get someone to lie on the floor and demonstrate before I really understood!

    They tell me I was conscious and talking the whole time, although I don’t remember anything until about two days later. Funny how you block these things out.
    Apparently I could still move my feet while I was lying there on the ground. Oh yeah, I only had one boot on as well…

    I guess I knew I was in a bad way, and must have been able to tell that I was twisted up. I was asking to be put onto my back, but of course that was out of the question. All I kept saying was that I wanted to be on my back, and while people were trying to keep me quiet and calm, I was yelling at them all… grumpy… demanding to be put on my back…

    I have a very vague memory of Adam talking to me, because he kept calling me ‘sweety’. He was pleading with me to keep still. But he says I was growling at him, saying “help me get onto my back!â€â€¦ “I want to be on my BACK!â€â€¦ “ADAM!!â€â€¦ “MAKE THEM PUT ME ON MY BACK!â€
    I don’t recall any of that.

    Poor Adam. Poor everyone. This must have been incredibly upsetting…
    It was obvious that it was pretty serious, and I guess they must have felt pretty helpless… there wasn’t anything they could do really. We were in a fairly remote place, so it took about 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive… 20 minutes of hearing me begging to be turned onto my back, but what could they do? They had to keep trying to explain why they wouldn’t help me…

    Oh boy, I don’t even remember what it was like for me, I can only imagine what it must have been like for everyone else… just horrible!

    When the ambulance got there, they proceeded to cut my draggin jeans, and leather jacket off *cries*
    It doesn’t bother me so much that I was lying undignified and starkers on the side of the road so much as it bothers me that they chopped wildly into my jacket!
    (And that’s taking into consideration that I had on the kind of knickers that you don’t want to be wearing when you get hit by a bus!) :eek:
    I’m so glad I don’t remember that bit!!! Although if I knew what was going on, I would have asked them to cut the leather jacket more neatly! (There will be more on what became of the Joe Rocket jacket later).

    They tried to give me the ‘green whistle’ - a kind of pain killer/happy-gas… Well apparently I wouldn’t take it properly and kept breathing around it… Bugger, I hear it’s really good stuff! *LOL*

    So anyway, I think the paramedics were a little puzzled about how to straighten me out, but in the end they decided to turn me away from the bad arm, kind so I was face down, then over the good arm onto my back.
    Then I got to go all the way back down the spur in the ambulance to Healesville where a helicopter was waiting. I’ve always wanted to go for a ride in a helicopter… Wish I remembered that part… I think I have another really vague memory of the noise, but that could be my imagination.

    It’s funny, I’ve said quite a few times that I wish I could remember the chopper ride to the hospital, but TWICE I had to explain that, no, it wasn’t Harley - it was a helicopter!! WTF?!??!!!
    Some people have motorcycles on the brain 24/7!!!

    So I was air-lifted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and I guess the rest of the day was spent doing tests, x-rays and scans to assess the full extent of the damage, and to make sure they’d picked up all of the injuries and had everything under control.
    I was transferred to the Austin Hospital later that night, as the Austin specializes in spinal injuries. I had my father and Adam at my bedside all day and night for… I don’t know how long. At least for the first 3 days solid… then they were starting to pong, and were sent home for some rest and a shower! Hehehe…

    Mum had only just touched down in England, and had to come right back, which was a bit sad because it was her first time back there in over 40 years. It was a trip she was making with her sister, they were meant to be reuniting with family and childhood friends… I was sad that she’d missed out on such an important personal journey, but I was glad to have my mum back with me!

    I’m not sure what happened on the Sunday… I know I still had tubes up my nose and down my throat. I was trying to pull them out all the time, so I was restrained. I was on a drip, which is meant to be enough to sustain me… I was not allowed to have anything to drink because it had not yet been confirmed when I would be going in for surgery.
    I have never been so thirsty!
    That’s the one thing I remember of the first few days… being thirsty.
    It wasn’t until Monday that I went in for surgery… All my memories around that time are pretty lucid… But I think after the surgery, once I was awake but still dopey from the anaesthetics I was allowed to have the occasional ice cube… I must have crunched them down so fast. I was given water-soaked swabs too, like giant q-tips… those were sucked dry in a flash!! I badly wanted more water than what they were giving me, and for some reason I was desperately craving orange juice!
    Because of the tubes down my throat I couldn’t speak, so I made the motions of writing, it was a bit like playing charades but eventually someone got me a pen and paper. I still have the paper somewhere, and all over it is written “water?†“O.J?†“one O.J swab?†“please†“more h2o†“just one O.J swabâ€. It was barely legible.
    I distinctly remember my cousin Emma secretly giving me an ice cube that was dipped in cordial.
    Oh boy… Flavour!!!! It was intense!! Amazing!!
    My thirst was still far from quenched.

    So, the extent of my injuries was:

    ~ I had broken five vertebrae, from T6 to T10. Apart from the broken vertebrae, the actual spinal cord was damaged at ‘T6’. So I’m paralysed from that level down. (Just below the bra-line).

    ~ I also had a collapsed lung,

    ~ A rather neat gash from the hip down towards the groin… now it kind of looks like I’ve had a caesarian in the wrong place…

    ~ There was a tear in the aorta (the main artery from the heart) but the tear was just in the very inner layer, creating a little flap that was luckily being pushed back into the right place with the direction of blood flow. This one could have been serious, if the tear had been right through the wall of the aorta, but it was just the inner layer. Lucky!!

    ~ There was some damage to my spleen, but hey, what do we need a spleen for anyway?

    ~ There was damage to one kidney as well, I can’t remember if it was 10% of one kidney that was damaged, or 10% of overall kidney function, or 10% of kidney function in the damaged one… blah blah blah… you get the idea…

    ~ I had a badly broken arm too… The humerus… Not very fcuking funny though!
    Picture the ball and socket joint of your shoulder, the humerus is the bone in the upper arm… Well I managed to snap the ball off the top of the humerus, and shatter the shaft of the bone a little below that too.

    Apparently the surgeons didn’t hold much hope for the use of that arm… and I remember being still in a bit of a morphine haze when the surgeon came to visit me about two weeks later to see how I was doing and to tell me how well the surgery had gone.
    He was grinning from ear to ear when he said that he expects that my arm would be pretty much normal… they had pieced the bone together much better than he first thought would be possible, there might be some gaps but they could be filled in and fixed later on if need be.
    He was very proud of his handy work!
    Well now the broken arm is fast becoming my good arm!
    Even though my left arm was the broken one, my right arm was black and blue from the shoulder to the elbow and actually looked much worse than the broken one.

    On the Monday (day 3) they operated on my spine and arm in one big 8 hour surgery. I was told how many units of blood I required but I can’t remember.
    I really ought to give some back… *puts blood donation on the ‘to do’ list*

    I was in intensive care for nearly a week after the operation, during which time Mum came home from England… I was very happy to see her, but sad that she’d missed out on her trip. For at least the first day or two after the operation I still had tubes down my throat but was slowly allowed to drink a little more, and eventually was allowed some orange juice. That was the most divine orange juice on the planet as far as I was concerned, just incredible!!!

    During that week in intensive care I saw plenty of visitors. The Doctors allowed just two people in at a time, which meant one of my two bouncers (Dad or Adam) plus one other. I don’t know how many people they chaperoned through, but I was determined to see anyone that came, and wouldn’t let them turn anyone away.
    Was I being bossy again? *Gasp*

    Apparently Adam put up a post asking people to stop sending/bringing flowers, because the room was starting look more like a florist, and the nurses said we’d have to start throwing them out as they just couldn’t handle any more!!

    That week was all a bit of a blur.

    It was my birthday one week after the operation, I was only just out of ICU so that day was a bit of a blur too!. There was quite a party thrown, I know because I’ve seen all the photos :wink: :p

    Here are a couple of pic’s.

    My family (except my younger sister couldn’t be there)


    With Adam


    The famous piñata that some of you might recognize from that dreadful you-tube video.


    I think whoever bought it didn’t think about something to bash it with, but luckily someone volunteered a golf club they happened to have in their car!
    Who carries a single golf club in their car? * suspicious look*

    So next it was off to the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre

    I really thought that this place would be full of victims of car/motorcycle accidents… but that was not the case (in the beginning).
    In my 8 months at the Royal Talbot I saw a complete turnover (actually almost two turnovers) of patients come and go. Towards the end of my stay, there were lots of motorcyclists there… 3 Harley’s, a Ducati, one Yamaha R1, a Suzuki GSXR, and of course I scored one point for Honda on my VFR… And a couple of dirt bikes too…All in all the bikers won hands down, but I have met victims of all kinds!

    There have been car and bike accidents, sky diving and horse riding accidents, people who have fallen off chairs and ladders or through roofs, slipped in the shower, several who dived into shallow water, one who fell off his bicycle, a European champion trampolinist who had a nasty landing, and a few crazy things like a guy who got bashed almost to death by a taxi driver, an un-licensed 17 year old kid who had a nasty car crash during a police chase, and a guy who was shot five times!! One bullet went through the spinal cord.

    It’s the standard greeting when you meet each other in rehab. It’s "what's your name?"... "What's your injury level?" and "how did you get injured". And it's usually the name that sticks last… I'd remember people by the injury level and how they got hurt... Conversations would sound like, "the T12 bloke, stacked a Harley... you know the one?" or "the C5 guy who fell of the trampoline"
    It's a little bit like the forum here, you might remember people by the bike they ride, then their forum name... And you might never know their real name sometimes.

    It didn’t take too long to settle in stir up trouble… I mean fun!
    Each bed had a telephone beside it, each with its own line. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the numbers went in sequence… so I worked out everyone’s numbers pretty quickly…
    We could not dial out, but we could receive calls and dial 4 digit extensions. So I started calling some of the other patients and trying to order pizza’s, or ask them what the time was… or just make a stupid noise! Lots of silly little things like that… I told one person and eventually everyone was doing it and it became boring… so then to amuse ourselves a few of us would sit in the dining area where we could see the nurses’ station, and call them from our mobile phones, with more of the same silly antics…

    I started drawing silly faces on all the fruit (with peel) and putting them back in the fruit bowl… and wonder if the person who discovered the ‘bananas in pyjama’s’ or the ‘Halloween oranges’ found it amusing…

    The practical jokes and mischief took off from there… There was lots of racing around and holding on the back of the powered chairs and being towed around the ward at speed… One character, Jeff, would topple out of his chair frequently, much to the amusement of the rest of us… :LOL:

    It wasn’t all fun and games, I clocked up hours of physiotherapy and gym… aches and pains… There were lots of quiet times too.

    I was allowed to make it part of my ‘therapy’ to make something from the leather scraps that were once my jacket… I rearranged the pieces soooo many times until I found just the right way to put it together, and there was a lady who worked out of the gym using an industrial sewing machine, ideal for getting through leather \:D/

    So here’s what became of the Jacket


    Click for --> Slideshow - THE JACKET

    So next is another slideshow. A few people have had a ‘sneak preview’ and said it was sad, maybe a little bit confronting, or that it has very strong impact. It’s not meant to be sad, or to shock, but it might satisfy some of those curious minds…

    Very early on when I was in hospital, I might have even still been in intensive care, or maybe only just out on the ward, I was given a gift from the people here on Netrider - an 80 gig ipod loaded up with thousands of songs, 50 movies and a stack of photos – such a thoughtful gift!! It was perfect for my bedridden situation and it got a lot of use.
    All the photos of the broken bike were on the ipod too, and my family and Adam weren’t sure if it was appropriate for me to see those images… in the end they did give it to me and showed me the pictures. The bike was pretty mashed. Those pictures didn’t really shock me at all. I related to them, it made perfect sense to me that it was all smashed up, and in a way it validated the way I felt - smashed up and broken. It was far worse for me to see the photos of the bike whole, specially the one of me smiling, standing next to it. Quite the opposite reaction to everyone else, apparently ;)

    So those images might be what makes people sad about this slideshow, but the rest is happy, I promise!

    Here goes!

    Click for --> Slideshow - BEFORE & AFTER
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Wow.... thats a very sobering story.

    Thanks for taking the time to write that - as a complete n00b about to jump to 2 wheels for the first time its really good to have a reminder of how f**king scarey it is out there and how vitally important it is to be bloody careful!

    Good to hear you've got lots of support around you - I hope you continue to stay in good spirits.

    I think you've just about topped the "number one scarey story" for me now - I shall try and remember the visceral gut wrenching reaction to reading this every time I jump on a bike.

    Thank you
  3. Thanks so much for sharing that, Grrl. A really inspiring read (and watch). Your own courage and positive attitude shine through, and so does the love and support from your family. You've managed to express it all incredibly powerfully in your writing. Best wishes and good mojo are being radiated down from up north for your on-going recovery and a great life.
  4. Good Karma to you, Grrrl.
    In your story you say that you felt smashed up and broken.
    Reading your words, you appear to me as a strong and beautiful person.
  5. hey gorgeous,

    we didn't know each other well before your accident. we'd met at a few parties, and loz-gigs and perhaps a ride or two. i always felt at ease around you and enjoyed your company but we didn't get to chat in-depth much.

    since the crash it's been my great honour to have spent some more time with you, to learn more about you, to hear about how you're going in your recovery and be witness to your astounding attitude in the process.

    i know i've said it to you before but it can't be repeated or stressed enough just how absolutely phenomenal your approach, your mind-set your strength of spirit and heart are. there's a plethora of literature out there telling us life is not what happens to us but how we choose to live it. we'll i have to tell you, those gurus could learn a thing or two from you!

    thank you for telling us your story, thank you for putting together your beautiful slide show, thanks for being a shining example of how life can be fully lived and loved and thanks for being part of our lives.

    much love to you beautiful, c x
  6. Wow, that is an amazing story and you are amazingly strong.
    It is really good to hear your recovered so well :)
  7. Mate, none of us who were there will ever forget seeing you lying there on the road, twisted to bits, crying out again and again that you wanted to roll over. There was nothing we could do but try to keep you with us until the paras got there. I don't think I even saw the bike. If there's one thing that struck me, it was that there's no dignity in the ugly naked pain, destruction, anguish and delirium of an accident scene.

    Strangely enough, while there was still a question mark over whether you'd walk again, the bigger issue for me was whether you'd still be yourself; I'm sure Stewy knows what I mean - in that bit you blacked out for, you were almost like a child, couldn't understand what was being said to you, overcome by the pain and off in another world, repeating yourself over and over.

    Thankfully the very next time I saw you it was clear you would be back to yourself in no time, and throughout the whole tiresome hospital and rehab process your pragmatism, optimism and sense of good cheer let us all know you were going to be fine, even if you'll be rollin' not strollin' from now on. Like you've been told a bajillion times, you're a living example of how to take a hard hit and keep moving forward, and a reminder to the rest of us lucky pricks that:

    a) We're playing a high stakes game every time we hit the starter button; and
    b) We've got f*ck-all to sook about.

    Much love and respect.
  8. Powerful post Grrrl! Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    The philosopher Nietzsche said that "He who has a 'why', can find a 'how'" and it sounds like you've got lots of 'whys' (-reasons, meaning) carrying you through, something for which you're both very fortunate and also which reflects deeply on who you are. It's a terrible thing that happened, and at the same time it's a wonderful and inspiring thing to see you're response to it and how *you've* shaped what that amounts to, being bigger than it.

    One of my part-time jobs is in disability support at a university (including the overseeing of mobility scooters - which I've had the pleasure of racing!), and I'm fascinated by what's being produced and can be produced in terms of motorcycles in this area. I'm sure we'll see you back on the road (in canary yellow!).

  9. +1 to Loz.

    Seeing you there, in pain and fearing the worst, looking at Stewy and the others, is something I will never forget.

    Catching you in hospital, taking my turn to be allowed to visit and seeing how you were coping was an inspiration. I've known one other person who spent time in the Talbot and he was the same (and the same comments about the range of injuries too).

    BTW, the traffic jam was awesome!
  10. Good to see your still around .
    + heaps to all the people that put you back together too.
    I always get a pain in the guts when i read about or see a bike crash, breaks my heart. :(
  11. I truly do not know what to say; I am humbled by the triumph of your beautiful spirit over odds that would kill most of us.
  12. Oh god yeah, I remember that! I was pillioning a barely functional Stewy back through the spur into Healesville, and the stopped traffic went all the way back into town! There were people out of their cars having picnics on the bonnet. Social event of the year!
  13. Thanks for posting Grrrl.
    I see courage and beauty in your words.
    I don't know You, but feel humbled and in a sence priviledged to have been touched by your post.
    Good Luck in whatever endeavour you wish to peruse.
  14. Grrrl

    You should look these guys up, they specialise in modding motorbikes to allow paralysed people to ride again. The original one for this company was made by Darren Lomman (I read about it when first researching which bike to get)
  15. Thanks for that, Lenna! You made me laugh and cry and be impressed by both you and your supporters (especially the intensive/daily ones) to get you through and back into life. ...Emotional, amazing stuff. Make sure you do those things you plan... AND have a ride in a helicopter :grin:

    PS... I love the hand bag - very cool! :cool:
  16. Thanks for sharing all the details and slideshows. It's been great hearing about your progress and how you've overcome the many challenges put before you.

    You're inspirational to many people, and wish you all the best in chasing your dreams
  17. Grrrl, you are one impressive person.
    That was a moving and inspiring bit of work. Thank you.
  18. That was truly beautiful Lenna - very much like its maker, thanks for sharing :)
  19. It has been really good to see just how well you have been going and to see it presented like this brings back memories of just how well you are going! Even got me a little emotional too! That was a really well set out presentation, i would like to say i am deeply honoured to see a few of my pics in there too
  20. This probably sounds like an echo of all the above posters’ posts, but thanks for sharing your story, Grrl. Like VCM, I don’t know you, but from one girl to another – take heart, take care and best wishes for a speedy recovery!