So as a few of you will know, my China trip….didn’t exactly go as I planned.
I’ve recently recorded this article in audio format, so those that can’t be bothered reading… or just want to look at the pictures, can do just that.
I’m leaving these just after the summary notes.
-I had a crash,
-it was bad,
-could have been worse,
-ended up in hospital,
-had 2 surgeries,
-many other things fractured,
-some things close to dislocating,
-on some serious pain killers,
-will take 6 weeks before I can walk properly again,
-am grateful to have such good friends to take care of me and support me.
-Seriously feel their love.
Injuries from the crash:
-broken left thumb (a chip of bone came off)
– displaced collarbone (slight fracture, but not broken),
– 2 fractured ribs on the right side,
– fractured right hip…which apparently came close to dislocating
-& fractured right shoulder.
What was done in surgery:
Left thumb– screw inserted to put chip of bone back in place
– pin put in place to hold a tendon in place
Right collarbone – moved back into place, joint thing in the centre which is supposed to hold it in place had to be cut, collarbone inserted then tied up with non-absorbable string/ wire.
-String/ wire for collarbone + bone screw + pin for tendon will all remain for life.
Time for recovery:
-Thumb = supposedly 2-3 weeks (2 weeks before basic exercises can be done)
-Collarbone + shoulders = 4 weeks (provided physio exercises are done)
-Right hip = 6 weeks (whilst doing physio exercises) to recover full range of motion, & to walk by myself unaided again.
1 of the main reasons to go back to China, was to go back to Ordos. Unfortunately, mainly out of pure procrastination…but also a little bit about wanting to have it perfect I haven’t written an article about my previous time there in 2016, but there are many videos that I’ve made. Check a few of them out here (Blackbridge vs Jamil) , here (hand signals) , & here (4 laps of awesomeness with BBM)
But Ordos is in Inner Mongolia, and the main attraction for me is the Ordos International Racetrack, where Blackbridge organises track weekends with purposefully prepared race bikes. It’s a fairly empty place… as Ordos is also known as ‘China’s ghost city’ so it means you can get great track sessions in.
Drove up with Adrien (Blackbridge) and his girlfriend Wednesday afternoon, spent Thursday day at the track, and around Ordos getting supplies and helping Adrien set up.
Arriving in Ordos late at night, amazing lights
Waiting with Adrien & Cheng en for the others to arrive by plane (planes were delayed due to ‘weather conditions’ which really translates to crappy scheduling organisation. Many internal flights are increasingly delayed in China.
Checking out the track on the 1st day with the electric bikes with Adrien & Yezi
The Friday was the 1st out of a planned 3 days for jumping on a few of the bikes and putting it through its paces.
I’d been watching so many videos of my previous time (2016) with different riders, and knew what I had to improve on, namely leaning & positioning and entrance & exit points to attain maximum speed throughout the course.
Friday, relatively no problems. I chose the Yamaha R6 (600cc fully set-up race-bike with suspension recently tuned just for that track)
The reason being.. that as a ‘lower capacity bike’ (compared to the 1000cc) it’s less forgiving if you don’t get the corners right. (As shown with Louis on it below
And… 1st session with Adrien, I think I did really well. Most things came back to me.. not everything but most.
The next 3 sessions throughout the day I did much better leaning out, and properly getting my bum off the bike etc. (you’re meant to do that to increase cornering speed)
That being said, other than the 1st session, I never completed a session… the bike was just too cramped for my size, and I really had to put effort into hanging off the bike the way you’re meant to.
Therefore on the 2nd day, I decided to go for the Suzuki GSXR 1000 (a 1 litre bike) as it has a bit more space, less cramped.
I missed the 1st 2 sessions, as I was busy getting some drone footage.
But the 3rd session of the day, I managed to get onto the track.. but it was cut short, as one of the riders from another garage crashed on T8. It was a low-side (meaning he slid UNDER the bike, and while the bike gets damaged, the rider …pretty much doesn’t)
So that session was cut short.
Then, the make-up session was made after the track was cleared…and that’s when my crash happened.
Basically I did 3 laps, and then as I was coming down the straight (the fastest part of the track), ready to start lap 4.
You normally do a massive brake at the 150m mark ready to come into Turn 1 which involves changing down gears from 6 to 3rd, using your body as an air brake, and slamming on the front brake all at the same time… for which you’re then meant to ease it out (trail braking), once you’re going a more decent speed for the corner…and take the corner. You can use engine braking a little, but it’s really all about the front brake, and you only really use engine braking once you’ve slowed yourself down enough with the front brake anyway.
(For moto-GP kind of bikes, its all about front braking… that’s why you have 2 brake rotors on the front & only 1 smaller 1 on the rear)
I was going about 200 down the straight, 150m mark I raised my body up, changed down 2 gears down to 4th, starting pulling on the front brake… but I immediately felt something was wrong- the braking feedback I got back was only 25%, I was coming in really fast, so I pressed & pressed, too fast to take the corner, too fast to change into 3rd and engine brake… then I realised I was not going to make the corner… and I was certainly going to crash… but was just going way too fast, and the wall was approaching. That’s when …as anyone who has ever crashed…all you ever think at the time is ‘oh shit’ instincts purely take over, and…that’s it.
I just pressed and pressed, trying to slow the bike down and then suddenly Bamm, 100% braking.
With all the weight change, I was flipped over the front of the bike… I think I must have been going anywhere from 100-160…I’m really not sure… because I sure as hell wasn’t looking at the tacho at that point.
I went 1 way, the bike then flipped over me….and the rest I don’t remember.
Memories are normally in ‘video format’ in the way that you can remember continuous video like format of what happened.
But all I’ve got is picture format.
-1 is me thinking ‘oh shit’
-1 is me already over the handle bars of the bike
-1 is me thinking… but not being able to do anything…. ‘I hope I’m not still laying on the road, I don’t want to get run over’
I ‘woke-up’ with 2 Chinese guys who are responsible for that corner / I’m not sure, maybe for safety on the track asking me in Chinese ‘can you walk?’ and when I mumbled something incoherent, they asked ‘can you use your legs?’ To which I replied ‘no’
They carefully lifted me up, put me in the truck, and drove me to the Blackbridge pit stop.
I was placed on the couch, some friends started asking me questions… but I couldn’t answer because I was in shock.
Then a guy undid, and managed to pull off my helmet, look in my eyes I think, and then either pour water over my head, or give me it to drink… I forgot.
They then pulled my boots off, and carefully removed my gloves.
Note. I was wearing full race-leathers, proper (and new) race gloves, race-boots, and a racing helmet… so I was fully protected.
Which explains why I had no skin abrasions what so ever.
What I did have, was force impact injuries.
Adrien then came in, asked if I was ok, to which I said… ‘I can’t walk properly’ but as I was still in shock, I didn’t actually feel that much pain at that moment.
Adrien straight away told me, ‘right we’re going to the hospital’ and then drove me to the hospital which was conveniently just the other side, but a little way away from the race-track.
I was wearing my skate shoes, and still my race-suit.
He drove to the emergency, dealt with the doctors and nurses, very quickly organised an X-ray, for which I now realised… I couldn’t get onto the table by myself, and then the pain started coming to me.
Adrien and Louis’ girlfriend Akiko managed to carefully remove the race-suit, all without having to cut it off…which was pretty amazing.
They took an X-ray, and amazingly told us that there was nothing wrong that they could see.
Adrien, quite rightly decided that was bullshit for the amount of pain I was in, and the fact that I couldn’t walk by myself.
So he said, ‘right we’re going to have to get you back to Beijing’
I think as well, he made the right call in driving back to Beijing rather than trying to catch a plane. Because 1. Plane flights were being terribly delayed…sometimes not
running as friends who’d come up from Beijing had experienced on the way up.
& 2. Planes in China (domestic flights) are a bit like being on a bus, but in the sky. People are pushy, they’re not spatially aware…and there’s a chance that I would get more injured on the plane.
So car it was.
Adrien gave me half an Oxy-Codone pill which I think he had left-over from some other accident he was involved in.
And I’m really glad he had that on hand.
We said good-bye to our friends at the track, and then we left. Some pictures just before we left the track
I sat in my boxer shorts and t-shirt with a bottle of water in my hands.
I found out just how good a friend Adrien is, and just how much he cares that day/ 2 days.
He drove fast… safe but fast. Listening to the GPS navigation the whole way to make sure he wasn’t getting caught by the cameras, but still fast, and smooth.. sudden jolts made me aware that either some ribs were broken, or something was wrong with my arm.
Managed to take the other half of the pain med after 6 hours of driving.
We stopped twice so that Adrien could sleep, no use him not sleeping for an 8 hour drive and then us having a car crash.
And had a few bathroom stops, for which he basically half carried me/ helped me hobble to the disabled bathroom which is thankfully much closer than the other bathrooms. And at 1 point drove the car right up to the bathroom because I just could walk at all… I could only stand on my left leg.
On one of the stops, we accidentally drained the battery… at a seriously abandoned.. middle of nowhere truck stop, and had to ask some guy to help us… who took advantage of the situation and charged us 300 rmb to charge the battery. Dick.
Adrien also managed to call my Dutch insurance provider to ensure that they were aware of the situation, and that they would at least somewhat cover the hospital costs.
We were told “the Dutch insurance covers 200% of what it would cost in the Netherlands”
Which didn’t give us a whole lot of information, but at least told us that they would cover something.
So Adrien messaged the doctors that he’s got to know at a private hospital, and told them that we’d be coming in.
Public hospitals…while much cheaper… are not the greatest places.
Private hospitals, as I found out is basically the exact opposite.
They are American in their nature for that.
We arrived at United Family Hospital at 6.30 maybe 7 in the morning. We/ Adrien had been driving for 8.5 hours, for which the journey is meant to take about 8-9, even though we stopped twice for naps etc. So you can kind of understand how fast he was driving.
Got admitted to the emergency ward…. But of course had to sign a form.. for which I couldn’t move my hand.. so Adrien filled it in, and then pay a deposit….before they’d even begin to see you.
Then it began.
Gave the X-rays over, they looked at them, they took blood, they asked me to give a pee sample… and then they gave me some pain medication. They took me to do a CT-scan, but of course 1st to pay for it. (12,000 rmb) For which was pretty painful just to get in the little chamber.. I had to be completely lifted in by doctors and nurses…because I just couldn’t move my own weight at that point.
Results came back…:
displaced collarbone (slight fracture, but not broken),
2 fractured ribs on the right side,
fractured right hip…which apparently came close to dislocating (I guess they can see tissue damage around the hip socket)
& fractured right shoulder.
So… wasn’t a good crash.
Earlier on, Adrien managed to grab the track monitoring footage for T1, which actually showed the crash. From what he told me, apparently my body instinctively curled up and rolled onto my shoulder and right side, rather than hands going straight out and breaking arms and injuring my head.
He said that the way I managed to break my fall was way better than what most would have done, but this explained why the impact was largely focused on my right side.
Anyway, I then got transferred to a proper hospital bed, that the doctors/ finance department would be trying to contact my insurance provider… to see how much they were going to pay to see if they could continue with the surgery that need to be done. And then was given proper pain medication…liquid drip form, with a little button that you press if you need more.
Oh and an amazing…(not really) green bottle that you can pee in. Hooray!
Adrien at that point, quite rightly left to go back home and get some much needed rest. But made sure that the doctors that he knew… the top 2 doctors in the hospital Dr Jack Lu, & Dr Masumi, 1 being the actual Chief doctor of the hospital, would both check on me in the morning and see what they could do.
Josh & Xiao stopped by in the afternoon bring me chocolate milk, which was awesome, and great to see them again. They proposed the idea of staying with them afterwards to help me recover. Very nice of them. And really, really good to see some friendly faces.
The 2 chief doctors did come by in the morning with their entourage. But having a team of doctors look over you in the morning is a bit intimidating to be honest.
They told me that the left thumb really should be operated on, as it makes up 50% of movement for the hand…so you don’t want to just leave it by chance.
And that the collarbone needed operating on, because it had been displaced downwards, and could cause problems for the lungs.
If it was displaced upwards….it could …maybe, eventually come back into place. But not downwards.
The hip, they said is the densest bone in the body, and that while it was fractured, it didn’t need surgery.
The 2 fractured ribs, …you can’t do anything about it anyway.
& the right fractured shoulder… didn’t need surgery as well. And would eventually heal by itself with the help of some slow exercises.
I ate lunch the day before + dinner…or as much as I could manage…because I couldn’t really move that much, and then was told not to eat in case it was possible to do surgery the next day.
I was told the insurance had indeed come through, which was a huge relief & that surgery was ready to be done that evening. So good thing I’d already been fasting.
Surgery took about 1.5 hours, and as soon as I was out.. about 9pm, well about 10 mins after, 3 of my colleagues had arrived to wish me well.
Quite funny, just as one of the was inevitably giving me the cliché speech of “you should never ride motorbikes again…did you realise they’re dangerous?” kind of thing… many of my motorbike friends, including 1 of my best friends (Louis) came through the door… many of whom were at the track with me at the day of the crash, plus many of them holding their motorbike helmets and race-gloves in hand.
All smiling, all caring, all happy to see me… even though I was pretty drugged up at that point. With Alex even asking… “so when are you getting back on the track again?”
That managed to shut up that cliché remark of “never ride motorcycles again”
For which I’m really glad.
I think if you don’t ride, you don’t get it. It’s such a fun thing to do, it’s so exhilarating, yes its dangerous…we’re aware of that. It’s mainly dangerous on the road because of other drivers…because THEY drive like shit.. but sometimes… things go wrong.. and it’s dangerous regardless… as I’m testament to.
However, that’s not a reason to stop doing something that you love and brings you so much joy, as well as being responsible for a great social circle, and an amazing group of just really genuine and nice friends.
Oh also Fenny and Meiling managed to stop by, … my Dutch friends who are also my dancing buddies.
So after talking to them for a while sharing some stories and organising how it would work in the coming days, they let me get some sleep.
The next day I broke the news to my Chinese family, …which was difficult to be honest. The mum came by and although not the best of situations…obviously, it was nice to catch up.
Pedy, my teacher came by and offered to bring by a wheelchair.
And then my partner in crime for the joint video channel, Galen came by. Was good to see him too.
The physio came by to give me some exercises, …really basic exercises to get movement back, as well as one of the doctors to tell me how much time should be expected before I can start having full motion back, or start doing complex exercises.
Basically thumb- 2 weeks…(no movement… then start doing simple exercises)
Collarbone & shoulder should take 4 weeks, with the simple exercises
Hip – 6 weeks to get back full motion, and be able to walk normally by myself.
Louis, very fantastically managed to organise a group of people to transfer me to Josh’s house Tuesday evening. (I think)
Cheng En drove, which was very nice of him, especially considering I’d literally just met him at the track 5 days before. He’s a genuinely nice & generous guy.
And then I was delivered with Pedy’s wheelchair at Josh & Xiao’s place.
I had been given a prescription for Oxy-codone (a very strong pain medication) so I basically just took that, and went to sleep. Every 6 hours in fact as prescribed.
I learnt I could shuffle to the bathroom… literally just left foot heel to toe kind of shuffle… and that’s how I moved. I did my physio exercises every 2 hours as per the instructions.
And Josh, spent some time at home working, and watched the Grand Tour with me.. to keep my spirits up.
Josh & Xiao were both great hosts, both cooking for me, and providing the icepacks etc for the tender areas. Plus, Josh has had a few brutal motorbike accidents before.
So it was nice to have someone that has experience this kind of thing before, because he could give me advice etc. Help where needed, and kind of anticipate what needed to be done.
They opened their home for me, plus for close friends who wanted to visit, and I’m very grateful to them for that.
At the time at the hospital I dealt with a young women called Emily from Patient Services, who was instrumental in helping deal with the insurance company, the hospital, the finance department and even the airline for my flight back in making sure that I had the wheelchair service booked and everything.
I am incredibly happy someone like that is employed by the hospital. She really eased the mental anguish…that dealing with an American like hospital, ie. Pay for everything… everything is expensive kind of way…actually brings.
Now knowing that system, I really don’t want to have to deal with the real American system, and feel so sorry for the people that have to live with that crappy system.
So grateful to the Australian system where they don’t turn you away because you can’t pay…
So very thankful to the Dutch system as well, which doesn’t work like that either.
So, I made it back to the Netherlands, Galen came with me in the taxi to the airport to help me out, but also to catch-up a little bit more.
Flight was mostly ok, wheelchair service was great, and completely needed. Seat placement is another story, but seriously…that’s a separate article.
I contacted mum and dad about the accident 1 day after I got out of the hospital.
There was a plan to that. It was basically that I didn’t want them to worry unnecessarily for things that they couldn’t change.
They couldn’t fly out to China on short notice… they require visa’s etc, which takes time, plus… they couldn’t have changed anything anyway.
I contacted them when the surgery had already been done, when everything had already been settled with the insurance and the finances and I was already in safe hands staying at Josh’s place.
They…took it surprisingly well.. But in all honesty, it could just have been shock as well.
I have to say, Josh is a really nice guy, I feel like it’s a loss that I only started to really get to know him due to this accident. But he’s the kind of guy that is really fun to be with, talk to, discuss ideas and has similar hobbies and interests. It’s a shame I didn’t know him so much before.
My housemate, Bob, managed to pick me up at the airport with a wheelchair, and get me back home and even half carry me upstairs to my own bed which is pretty incredible.
Now, being back in the Netherlands for 1 week now, I went to work once for a presentation I had to do on Monday- All went well, (was on some serious pain medication to be able to walk/ hobble) but the actual presentation went well.
But then I’ve had time off to recover. So I haven’t been back to the office since. I’ve been answering a few emails though.
I feel like my hip has been making a quick recovery. Especially as I’ve been following another housemates suggestions (who is in her 4th year of studying medicine) and have been practicing walking with as much pressure as pain will allow… plus doing the physio exercises the doctors gave me when I went to remove the stitches… and I think I’ll be walking properly in about 2 more weeks.
My thumb has got to that itchy phase…. Where I presume its healing properly. I can move it a lot more, but I am only just at the stage of being able to start to do the thumb exercises…
My collarbone is also itchy, but it’s my shoulders that really hurt.
The only reason I can guess is that I’ve been having to use them so much to support myself.. But I’m not sure.
My ribs are the ones that really hurt and hinder movement, every time I sit up.. I have to really concentrate to fight through the pain.
+ I have to sleep on my back because as my shoulders hurt…and feel like they’re going to dislocate.. I can’t sleep on my side.
Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in pain, and have to take some pain medication.
But I’m only taking that when absolutely necessary. Don’t want to waste it.
Each nap that I take seems to do wonders for the recovery of my body. I wake up each day feeling like I’ve made progress.
I’m very happy for the Dutch system which guarantees injury leave, and to have this time at home to really recuperate.
At this stage, having had 2.5 weeks since the injury.. I feel like I probably COULD go back to work. Although, in reality I shouldn’t, I can’t GET to work… because doing that much walking would be damaging, and if I need to sleep… its really advised that I do…as I feel so much better afterwards, but my mind feels with it enough to work.
I’ve been trying to get a doctor’s appointment since being back … but no luck so far. Will try again on Monday.
I managed to listen to quite a few audio books since not being able to do anything, and I managed to talk to my brother a fair bit which really kept my spirits up too.
And since being back in the Netherlands, I’ve watched a shit-load of Mighty Car Mods. With this being my favourite episode so far (incorporating the ‘Wasabi Weave’ where the 2 guys have to brush their teeth with wasabi whilst doing a slalom course in their modified turbo cars.)
This whole accident ‘experience’ had made me aware of quite a few things. I truly know who my friends are, and I’m very grateful to have such caring friends as I do.
I’m very thankful for the Dutch healthcare system.
Good to talk to my brother so much during these days.
And great to have housemates that care as well.
I also left 1 packet of my prescription pain medication (Oxy-Codone) with Josh to give to Adrien, so that if needed, he can give to the next person that ends up in a situation like this.
It was really great that Adrien had that pain medication on hand at the time of my accident, and I wish other people can have that on hand as well.
Note. My friend Louis, participated in a supposedly ‘just for fun’ mini bike race the Friday after my accident, & some douchebag took the racing line away from him and he ended up crashing and breaking HIS collarbone. He ended up having to have surgery as well. His was broken in 4 places though… and had to have a plate put in.
He was taken to a Chiense hospital though, because of HIS insurance situation… for which I heard from Josh…wasn’t the cleanest or most professional of places.. but at least the surgery seems to have been done well. (apparently it’s a relatively common break)
Therefore another thing I learnt, especially from my experience with a great, but expensive private hospital; Louis’ experience with a Chinese hospital; & the stories that Josh told me… it is incredibly important to have good insurance.
Not just this stuff of… “oh the insurance will pay you back later” Like it has to properly cover you upfront. You really have to sort this out at the travel insurance/ national insuring company etc.
If you have national insurance, even if it covers you internationally… like my Dutch one does, you have to be clear on how much it covers you, and if you’re not sure… also take out travel insurance that can pay upfront.
If you’re going to America (USA) know that their health system is really messed up, and if you don’t have insurance… or it is one of these ‘we’ll pay you back later ones’ you’re pretty much screwed.
Make sure you carry your Insurance card with you wherever you go, I carry mine in my license wallet thing, because if you do have an accident… people will be asking for it.
There’s a couple of other things I realised…. But that’s for another article. But for sure it’ll be affecting my future course quite a bit.
I’ll leave you all with some more pictures of this ‘experience’.