We left last month as my brother lay dauntingly still in the gravel trap at Cadwell Park. The whole sequence played out like a scene from “The Matrix” as the world slowed almost to a stop. The bike and rider lay equally broken next to each other with just the ambling sound of the idling engine still running. To my relief as I sprint to his aid I see him move and then sit up. Relief washes through me and my sprint drops to a jog.
First Aid arrives, and they lay him back down doing the normal spinal checks after a spill. Green light and they remove the helmet. There is a palpable air of relief around all those surrounding my brother and as the First Aid staff relax so do we. I can see the relief and adrenaline still coursing through my brother’s veins. I honestly don’t think he knew whether to laugh or cry at that point. What we didn’t know then was what damage was done.
The bike was saved primarily by the crash bungs on the side. These are rubber blocks on the side for those who don’t know and their presence on the bike is exactly for this reason. If the bike slides, it slides on the rubbers and not on the body work or moving parts. Damage therefore ended up mainly cosmetic. Wings, handle bar, brake lever, front fairing all smashed but critically as it was his way of getting home the bike was mechanically fine. A bit of cable tie mastery later that evening and it was more than capable of the trip back home.
We all thought pride was the thing that took the brunt of the injury that day. What came out in the wash proved us so very wrong.
As it was a week of hard drinking that evening was no different despite the day’s high jinks. We all joked and poured over the photos we managed to get of him mid slide on the race track. Souvenirs for sure! He did seem distracted by his hand though but for that evening the alcohol soon did its magical numbing and we all forgot about it.
The next morning his hand was a mess. Swollen and clearly mis-shaped. Being the Viking he is my brother refused to go to the hospital and partied for us for the rest of the week despite his wounded pride and hand. This proved to be an error, but I loved him for it. As we later learned two of his fingers were badly broken in multiple places and both were dislocated. The time between the crash and a visit to the hospital over a week later meant that healing had begun while the fingers were still out of position resulting in an operation being required to undo the work his body had mistakenly done.
Many more operations later to try and regain movement in the hand were in vein. To explain better he could make a fist but his last two fingers on that hand were permanently curled into his palm so shaking hands for example would be awkward. They were effectively involuntarily curled and paralysed.
In an effort to give him usage back they even performed an operation where they even took a tendon out of his ankle and put is into his wrist! The goal here was to free up movement for the fingers and then with physio they would regain movement. It didn’t work.
Basically, in the end they gave him the choice of fist or open palm and it will be like that forever. As a professional martial artist there was only one choice. Fist. He fought professionally for a year in “Muay Thai” bouts all over Thailand for rent and food money after this coming away undefeated. All this with one semi functional hand. Pretty impressive.
A few more years passed and his annoyance as his now completely curled finger was growing. So, he had it cut off! No joke and this is 100% real. My brother’s hand now resembles a member of the Yakuza who misbehaved! The irony here is a broken bone on the day of the crash would have been drama! Ambulance, hospital, cask would all have been going on but 6 weeks later it would have been old news. As it turned out from the day of the crash to his hand shake returning due to the absence of a digit was over five years!
How wrong we were that day all our shoulders relaxed, we thought it was a lucky escape. He had 4 different operations and countless hours of painful physio not to mention the recuperation after the amputation. For the stronger in constitution there are pictures attached to this blog, which who knows….. might just flash into your mind the next time you approach a corner a bit quickly.
Who knows, this macabre story of adrenaline and assumption could do some good if it saves others a similar fate.
THE AUTO VIP.