My Motorcycle Accident

The Social Acceptability of Motorcycle Accidents

14 August 1999

I had a followup orthopedic appointment where the doctor said everything seems to be healing very well, and that I do not have any evidence of some of the bone problems common to people with similar injuries.

The left leg is still paralyzed and having significant parathesis (the burning pain that sometimes spikes up to intense levels). However, as noted above, the pain is reason for optimism, because it indicates the nerve was not completely severed, and is thus much more likely to eventually heal itself.

My physical therapy has been progressing at a healthy clip. I am now able to use a walker to go distances up to about forty feet or so, but I need help to get standing in it. Since all my balance has to be on the paralyzed and nearly insensate leg, it is a challenge to get my leg under me where it needs to be. I am happy that the leg can now bend up to 40 degrees at the knee, whereas just four days ago it could not even bend 5 degrees. The edema (swelling) is largely, but not entirely, gone, and once the gash closes up I should be able to start some swimming pool therapy.

One of the more interesting things about this injury is the various reactions I hear from people when they are told it is a motorcycling accident. It is extremely common to hear things like, "So, you won't be riding them again, will you?" or other remarks disdainful of motorcycling (especially from most, though notably not all, nurses). It is a socially incorrect way of getting hurt, as evidenced when someone just tonight approached me and asked with an odd smile, "Skiing accident?" When I replied it was a motorcycle accident, her demeanor visibly changed to the negative. I think I may start telling people a variety of different stories in an attempt to measure the scale of socially acceptable versus unacceptable ways of getting hurt. I imagine it would stack up something like this, from most acceptable to least:

  1. pedestrian hit by reckless driver
  2. fell off a ladder painting my house
  3. skiing
  4. auto accident
  5. snowboarding
  6. motorcycle riding
  7. driving drunk

I suspect the gap between #4 and #5 is much greater than the gap between #6 and #7 on my fictitious scale.

My wife is very upset with me for having voiced the opinion that I want to ride again. I'm letting the issue rest for now, because fighting about it would not be helpful to my recovery. Eventually this will have to play itself out, though, and I hope that I can come up with a win-win scenario for both us. At the moment such a solution is escaping me.

Part 3: one month later