Thursday, December 27, 2007

Looking Back

As another year draws to a close, it is a time to reflect.

When I posted an account of my accident on this blog, (Dec. 7, 2006.) two days after it happened, there were 20 comments from people wishing me a speedy recovery.

This was a large number when I consider that my blog only got a 100 hits a day back then, and 20 return visitors a day.

Those 20 comments probably came from the entire regular readership at that time. It was this thought that kept me going and helped me tremendously over the months that followed. The thought that people cared, and these were mostly people I had never met.

The bicycle and the love of riding was the common element that connected us. For four months my vision was so bad (From a damaged nerve.) that I couldn’t drive a car or ride my bike; I was pretty much house bound. My computer and this blog was one thing that prevented me from going stir-crazy.

I used a pair of eyeglasses with a piece of black electrician’s tape over one lens, so the computer screen did not appear double. After four months my vision was improving, I could now focus on the computer screen or a book, without the aid of tape on my glasses. It was just my distance vision that was still a problem.

My doctor told me I could drive again if I used an eye patch over my right eye. I tried this, but the eye patch would not fit over, or under my glasses; I went back to the single piece of black tape on the inside of the right lens.

Actually, this worked better than the eye patch, which blocked out all vision to the right. The narrow piece of tape cuts out the double vision, but still allows me to look to the left and right, without any blind spots.

I have a tendency to get arthritis if I am inactive. My joints were stiffening up, and there was some pain. When I ride my bike, the stiffness and pain go away; it was obvious I needed to get back on a bike. I did so in March of 2007.

After a couple of months, my fitness level improved and I discovered, quite by accident, a strange phenomenon with my vision. I had noticed if I worked on the computer for a while, afterwards my distance vision was good for a short while, before returning to double.

One day I decided to ride my bike without the tape on the glasses, and found I could see just fine. I got all excited thinking my vision had suddenly returned to normal. Later that day I drove my car and couldn’t see worth a shit.

I discovered, if I look straight ahead, for example, at the TV screen or a picture on the wall, I see a double image. If I keep my head straight and look up at the light fixture in the ceiling, I am perfectly focused.

Riding my road bike, my head is down and I am looking up all the time, so my vision is fine. All these strange variances in my vision convince my doctors and me that the normal vision will return eventually. The eye itself is fine; it is the nerve that moves the eye to focus that is damaged.

It is appropriate that my insurance claim and settlement came to a close this month; the end of a year being a symbolic time for putting the past to rest and moving forward. My next post will be the last of 2007 and I will write about my plans for the coming year.

Photo by Joshua Curry


Unknown said...

Count me as another person you've never met but who cares. You're an inspiration. I can identify with the stiffness and pain if I don't ride. I too got nailed (by a black Lexus SUV; didn't stop) back in October while commuting home. After 50+ years of riding bikes and motorcycles that was the first time. I've now become excessively sensitive to traffic when I ride. If I don't ride, I feel like hell. If I do ride, I'm afraid I'll get hit again. Gotta sort it all out.

Anyway, I do hope for total recovery of your eye nerve. Please continue to write. I'll be following along.

Anonymous said...

Physical exercise is the one form of training that has been shown to maintain and improve brain health. Exercise causes the release of proteins that (according to doctors/scientists) increases the number of connections between neurons and improve cognitive performance.

More important than writing is to keep riding, but I hope you continue to do both. Stay healthy, we need your insights and enjoy your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Inspiring. Hope you recover fully in the new year!

Ed W said...

Like you, I have a type of arthritis that improves if I exercise. Pain is an excellent motivator!

It's good to know that the double vision will improve in time, too. It's hard to imagine that the brain has to 'learn' how to see, but eventually it reprograms all that visual information.

Tim said...

I started reading your blog only a few months ago, so I learend about your accident in the recent posts. After having a less serious off-road crash that left me with a concussion a couple of weeks ago, I've gained a new perspective on injuries that affect a person's ability to function, so your ordeal and how you have dealt with it has been very interesting.

In person or online, we're all cyclists and we should all care about each other. Solidarity on two wheels!

Ron George said...


1. I agree with Anon. Exercise helps the brain by improving neuron connection. I read this in the NY Times. You might be able to google it out.

2. Another thing I would ask you is , what kind of computer monitor are you using? I would suggest LCD, or atleast a glare protection lens on the CRT.

I'm sure some therapy will help in the Diplopia btw.

Ronald Lau said...

Glad you are doing well. Keep on riding and writing.

Howard said...

Good writing finds an appreciative audience, Dave. I've enjoyed your bike blog for quite a while now and have sent a few new readers your way when I could. I only read five bike blogs on a regular basis and yours is front and center. Keep up the great work! Here's hoping the settlement gives you a few new opportunities to make up for the pain, discomfort, and double-vision you've been through.

Anonymous said...

Back one year your entire readership was at least 21. Didn't leave a comment that day but will today. Happy for you that you are doing better. Frankly I'm amazed that you have been writing so much. I especially enjoy your "back in the day" entries, and the Tour stuff, and the technical stuff, and the .... You get the idea.

Cheers, Gene from Tacoma

Anonymous said...

i just came across your blog (being one of those internet-surfing youngsters you're often writing about) and would like to thank you for exposing me to so much of the rich history of cycling.

I am glad that you are recovering so well from your crash and would also like you to know that you've inspired me to wear my helmet. I've had one for ages and have just been letting it collect dust.

I hope that you continue to recover in the new year and wish you well in 2008.