Daniel Eran Dilger
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Caught between the pavement and a Suzuki SV1000s

bike wreck

Daniel Eran Dilger

I spent most of the last three days at San Francisco General Hospital, which even when you’re not being directly treated makes you feel better about yourself in comparison to the miserable people there. The place is like one big giant placebo for your sense of wellbeing as you watch meth users line up to have their rotten teeth extracted.
Yesterday I went to the hand specialist, who scheduled me for “closed reduction percutaneous pinning of left fifth metacarpal fracture with possible open reduction internal fixation,” which means he plans to use pins to align the pinkie bone in my hand without cutting the hand open, but may need to open up my hand and install a plate to hold the bone in place.

I already have one of those plates in my left arm. I also have plates in my chin and both sides of my face holding my jaw together, but they’re not making my face happy so they have to come out. That was scheduled to be done on the day after the hand surgery, but today in my visit to the maxillofacial clinic they worked out a plan to knock me out once and do all of the adding and removing of metal in my partly-bionic body in one convenient visit early next week.

I also exchanged emails with the poor biker who crossed paths with me, who wrote, “I ended up with more than a bloody nose (foot contusion, face/leg/hand abrasions, bruised knee, sprained/hyper extended thumb) but I did walk away. I have a cane with a nice fake wood print to help me get around now. I’m extremely thankful it did not turn out worse for both of us. Physically I’ll be fine, but emotionally has been harder.”

I forgot how emotionally disturbing it is to suffer one’s first few accidents. I’m pretty emotionally seared when it comes to crashes, having been in two serious bicycle accidents involving the ER, three previous motorcycle wrecks big enough to involve an ambulance, and two scooter crashes, one of which nearly sent me under a chicken bus in Chang Mai. How I managed to flip off the bike at an oily slick on the moat road of the old part of the city and not get ground into bits by the impatient, random throngs of drivers behind me is still a bit of a mystery, but I was glad to not get seriously injured.

This time around, it didn’t really even strike me that I’d been in A Motorcycle Accident until I was leaving the hospital. In the three days since, I’ve realized how difficult it is to get around without a motorcycle, and with fragile bones. I felt the first twinge of safety concerns walking away from SFGH and realizing I was in no condition to get jumped or even chased for that matter. Everything from getting dressed to pulling my iPhone out of my pocket to washing my face is a challenging ordeal that gives me greater compassion for those who deal with similar problems all the time, and who can’t expect to heal up again in a month or two.

I spent most of Monday paying nearly $500 to un-tow my bike from Pier 70. I figured it would cost even more, but things worked out in clever ways. Fortunately, it looks like my bike’s damages were mostly cosmetic. The only major functional damage I saw was that one brake fluid reservoir was sheered off. Note that in San Francisco, both holiday lights and bougainvillea blooms are visible in December.

bike wreck
bike wreck

I’m also struggling to get some other things done. Yesterday I found time to meet with people from TomTom and Tele Atlas to discuss the state of the art and the future of GPS navigation on the iPhone and in dedicated standalone devices. Today I did a podcast segment on Gene Steinberg’s MacNight Owl show, where we talked about Android, Chrome OS, and iPhone developments. That airs tomorrow evening.

Thanks for all the comments of support and best wishes, and for the donations several people have graciously contributed! It means a lot and helps a lot now that I’m all bandaged up and gimpy and stuck at home. It’s also great to hear from so many friends offering to run to the store or help out in other ways. The biggest bummer is that my uninsured motorist coverage won’t cover being in an accident with a non-motorized vehicle, and my bike isn’t worth enough to have comprehensive insurance, so I won’t get a new ride from my insurance. I haven’t seen a repair estimate yet. Hoping for the best, or the least worse anyway.

  • bigbadrobbo

    Glad to hear you’re well again. Love the articles, among the best tech stuff I read!

  • Ludor

    It’s darn gracious of you to keep us posted. So thank you, and get all the well-deserved rest you need. Because we will sick Palm on you next time your RSS feed runs dry.

  • http://helios.mine.nu HeliosDoubleSix

    I have an idea… stop riding bikes man! you’re crazy!

    Love your stuff, so stop with the near death experiences, where will I get sensible reasoned articles from with you in hospital all the time… where! ;-)

  • nini

    So your bike’s done been smote huh? Meh, you’ve been through worse crashes so I won’t be seeing you cruising in any four-wheeled vehicles anytime soon I’d like to think.

  • e_arni

    you should try yourself as an author. really. your language reads pleasently.

  • http://www.marketingtactics.com davebarnes

    Fix the bike.
    Sell the bike.
    Buy a small, junk car. Toyota Yaris comes to mind.

  • Rockyd

    Given the number of motorized two wheeled vehicle accidents you have had at your relatively young age, you might want to consider that (the gods / the universe / your karma / or other entity as appropriate to your belief system) is trying to send you a message that you maybe should stop using such vehicles. For your own future well being. Just a thought. We don’t want to loose our star Mac blogger.

  • enzos

    Lost an acquaintance many years back who came off at pace on a slippery surface and would have been OK sliding to a stop in full leathers, helmet etc.. but for an iron rimmed culvert. You can’t help bad luck but you can improve the odds.

    Cheers

  • Per

    I’m glad your bike is okay.. but you should trade it for something safer with, oh, let’s say four wheels? I hope all goes well with all the surgery and whatnot.

  • http://jonnytilney.com Jon T

    Thank you for the update – what a great world it is to be 10,000 miles away feel the same as if I was in the same city!

    Be interested if you posted a street view link of where it happened. Or not, if it would cause you pain to remind yourself!

  • http://www.adviespraktijk.info Berend Schotanus

    Thanks for keeping us informed. I’m glad to hear you’re doing relatively well and up for recovery.

    @Jon T
    It was at Sanchez & Market, San Francisco. Dan mentioned it in his previous article.

  • mark

    don’t drop the bike… just stop dropping the bike. :)

  • airmanchairman

    It may sound like a paradox, a contradiction in terms, but as any commercial or private pilot would tell you, “any crash you can walk away from is a good ‘un”

  • zaph

    I gave up motorbikes after my third accident, it is the only way that works. Understand that you have yet to have your worst accident, you really don’t want it. :-)

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    Glad you are home, and sounding a bit more happy.

    Considering your health, you might want to move to Canada. I don’t know if you’ve seen Michael Moore’s movie SICKO, well everything he says about Canada in that movie is true. I’m amazed that you Americans put up with the crappy lack of a system that you have.

  • ShabbaRanks

    What a lovely picture of San Francisco you paint. Meth addicts with rotten teeth queing round the corner and your first thought out of hospital is that you hope you don’t get jumped.

    I thought living near Moss Side was bad. Christ man, sell that bike and move away.

  • polybius

    Fate plays a role in human affairs. Promising people sometimes die young, while bad ones have many narrow escapes.

    You are unique. I can feel already the bitterness and frustration we would feel if we lost you to a stupid accident. Please give up that motorcycle.

  • MipWrangler

    Great to hear you are on the mend – thanks for the update!  I am impressed that you’re back at it so soon.  I find it excellent that your now iconic phrase “this all happened before” can be so aptly applied to you!  Cheers.

  • tzx4

    Geeze, Dan, comparing how you and the bike emerged from the mishap, one could conclude you did a great job of padding the bike’s fall.

    And Madd Hatter . . .it really is amazing that the general population here is so well and truly brainwashed. Last year on the campaign trail, Mr. McCain disdainfully said (paraphrasing) “we don’t want our health care system to be like Canada’s or Britain’s”. There was no public/media reaction to it at all as best I can tell.
    I on the other hand was instantly screaming at the tv screen “Yes we do, PLEASE!!! now !!!”

  • gus2000

    @MadHatter, if we Amerians can put up with Canadians always telling us what to do, then we can put up with just about anything. (For the record, on healthcare we are NOT putting up with it. Much.)

    The last two RDM articles both have caused the context-sensitive “Bing” ads to link to videos of various embarassing falls, spills and wipeouts. Wow Dan, even Microsoft is pointing and laughing now.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    @ ShabbaRanks – I’m afraid pretty much all of the USA is now satiated in meth, which now accounts for a sizable slice of the non-obese population.

    SF, much like me, is a study in contrast. Rich neighborhoods are often just a few blocks away from squalor, and the middle class is evaporating as two new castes emerge: the wealthy and privileged, and the unfortunate and destitute. This is a harbinger for the nation.

    Were Sarah Palin the VP, America would be pushing toward the fast track in fear and mad ignorance to expand this trend, so that millionaires like the Palins could pretend to be working class while living off the tax payers’ teat, and her party’s (rich) followers either got more trillion dollar taxpayer Bush bailouts or (for the poor Republicans) unwittingly supported this public wealth redistribution at their own expense due to being played under the influence of fundamentalist religion, ignorance, and jingo-propaganda via Fox.

    It’s easy to get overtly fleeced when all you’re thinking about is how terrible it is to have Obama president and how scary it is that the US might fall to 1950’s era Socialism.

    SF’s welfare hospital works pretty incredibly well given its deplorable funding levels, but it is a great shame on America that we now care more about investing in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a delusional religious war than in our own country’s education, health care, infrastructure, space program and other science research.

    More people die in car accidents every month than have been killed by “Islamic terrorists” in the last 40 years. We have become a coddled nation of idiots entertained by populist outrage. Where exactly am I supposed to move to get away from this?

  • Pingback: Caught between the pavement and a Suzuki SV 1000s « Day and Age()

  • Ludor

    Dan: Exactly.

    Moving here (EU) certainly wouldn’t change anything. We’re constantly looking towards you guys for inspiration.

  • harrywolf

    ‘There’s just no place to go’, as William Burroughs said.

    Get well soon Dan.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    tzx4 – And Madd Hatter . . .it really is amazing that the general population here is so well and truly brainwashed. Last year on the campaign trail, Mr. McCain disdainfully said (paraphrasing) “we don’t want our health care system to be like Canada’s or Britain’s”. There was no public/media reaction to it at all as best I can tell.
    I on the other hand was instantly screaming at the tv screen “Yes we do, PLEASE!!! now !!!”

    You know I have never heard of a “pre-existing” condition until the current fuss about health care in the USA. It’s not a term that anyone knows in Canada, because we are covered.

    gus2000

    @MadHatter, if we Amerians can put up with Canadians always telling us what to do, then we can put up with just about anything. (For the record, on healthcare we are NOT putting up with it. Much.)

    You should listen. Your current system is SHIT. No other developed nation has a system that is so expensive, and delivers so little service. I was utterly horrified when I saw the newborn mortality numbers, there are poor countries in Africa who do a better job.

    danieleran

    @ ShabbaRanks – I’m afraid pretty much all of the USA is now satiated in meth, which now accounts for a sizable slice of the non-obese population.

    SF, much like me, is a study in contrast. Rich neighborhoods are often just a few blocks away from squalor, and the middle class is evaporating as two new castes emerge: the wealthy and privileged, and the unfortunate and destitute. This is a harbinger for the nation.

    It’s easy to get overtly fleeced when all you’re thinking about is how terrible it is to have Obama president and how scary it is that the US might fall to 1950’s era Socialism.

    SF’s welfare hospital works pretty incredibly well given its deplorable funding levels, but it is a great shame on America that we now care more about investing in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a delusional religious war than in our own country’s education, health care, infrastructure, space program and other science research.

    More people die in car accidents every month than have been killed by “Islamic terrorists” in the last 40 years. We have become a coddled nation of idiots entertained by populist outrage. Where exactly am I supposed to move to get away from this?

    I’d suggest Toronto. You’d love its international flavor, and while there are a few bad areas, there are a lot less than in any American city I have been in.

    Just think – you can fill up with gas, without having to pay for it first. People still trust each other up here. I don’t know if you saw Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko”, where he started walking into houses at random, and he didn’t get shot? That’s Toronto.

  • OlsonBW

    So what kind of motorcycle gear were you wearing?

    I never ride, even during a hot summer, without a full face helmet and full riding gear (synthetic) from heat to toes.

    So far I’ve had someone pull out in front of me. And someone slam into me from behind.

    I ride a Honda GoldWing.

  • nougat

    Get well and stop crashing!!

  • sirwobin

    Don’t give up the bike! Get advanced rider training and start to treat all road users like the psychopathic maniacs that they are.

    Get well soon. Look forward to a review of speech to text and how tech helps you overcome the difficulties and where tech should improve!

  • http://nonlinearmind.tumblr.com nonlinearmind

    I recommend you give up the bike. I raced bicycles my whole life, even professionally for a time. I had two serious crashes that put me in the hospital in 2002 & 2003. But my pride in “being tough” brought me back to it. I was paralyzed from the chest down in a crash in 2004 and am now a C5C6 quadriplegic. When I was in rehab, about 20% were car accidents, 30% motorcycle, 20% diving and the rest, other. The guys in motorcycle wrecks were the worst – not just broken spines, but broken bodies and nearly always brain damage. You clearly seem unlucky on a bike. I’d ask myself why you ride. If it is for the “thrill” or even just simple enjoyment, rather than pure utility, you’re a fool if you get back on.

    [Thanks for your comment. That’s a lot to think about, and I appreciate being able to benefit from your experience. – Dan]

  • Pingback: Snow Leopard Server Spotted in Switzerland — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • realitychek

    you really, really need to stop riding motorcycles.
    – your accident rate is way, way above the norm
    – you were out riding fast without protective gear
    – your blog post after the accident is full of self-justification not only for this accident, but for your others: “Usually when somebody knocks me off my motorcycle, they come up with a self-defense story almost instantly, and start into hyperbole about how fast I was traveling.”

    you have no idea what defensive driving on a motorcycle means, you don’t wear safety gear at all, and you ride a big sportbike to boot. i’m going to go out on a limb here and say you were actually at fault for at least some of these accidents. please stop riding a motorcycle before you kill someone.

    [I have been riding bikes in SF for well over ten years. What are your sources for reporting that my “accident rate is way, way above the norm?” what is the norm, and why?

    You are right that wearing gloves would have protected my hands from scratches. They would not have prevented me from breaking my hand nor the collarbone. My last accident broke my opposite colLarbone despite having on an armored jacket and gloves.

    And while I appreciate your concern for my safety, it is also dangerous to “go out on limbs” talking about probable blame. It is really just disrespectful and condesending. I am assaulted by bad drivers every day. If I wasn’t a defensive rider I would have been taken out a long time ago. -Dan]