December 12, 1989
In 1989 I was a senior in college and the head wrestling coach of Calabasas High School. I owned a 1986 Kawasaki Concours and I rode it rain or shine to school and work. I was a very responsible rider and never raced and almost always obeyed the speed limits, especially on surface streets. This Tuesday morning was no exception.
I was heading north on Woodman and made a left onto Plummer, heading westbound. At this intersection Woodman traffic has the right of way and traffic entering onto Woodman from Plummer must first stop. As I approached the corner, I got into the left turn lane and since there was no oncoming traffic, I proceeded to make my left turn onto Plummer and into the far right lane. I entered the turn at about 30-35 mph and as soon as I entered the lane, I noticed construction cones about 50 feet ahead in the lane I was in. I leaned and countersteered to try to avoid the cones, and I remember the rear tire sliding and tapping the rear brake.
The next think I remember, I was leaning over the bike with my left arm jammed in between the rear tire and fender. The bend of my arm was right at the crown of the tire. My arm was jammed in there pretty good. At first I tried to muscle it out, but it wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t turn the tire either. I started to worry because I couldn’t see me left hand and I was afraid that it got mangled or ripped off. I tried letting air out of the tire, but it was taking too long. I remember thinking that I’m a wrestler and that I’m not going to let it hold me any longer. I grunted and pulled my arm free. Immediately after releasing my arm, I checked to see if my hand was still there. Whew, it was! Then I made sure that I could move it and all of my fingers. They were a little banged up, but functional.
A passerby stopped and identified himself as an ET technician. He told me that an ambulance was on the way and then he handed a rag to compress the wound on my head. I remember waiting for ambulance and being in excruciating pain. My lower back, which was also burned by the rear tire and my left arm, were killing me. I remember trying to stay calm because I didn’t want to panic to onlookers.
When the ambulance came, they loaded me onto the gurney belly down and then into the ambulance. I overheard them say that they were headed for Northridge Hospital. I asked them if they could take me to Kaiser, since that is where I am insured and it is probably a little closer. They didn’t know where Kaiser was, so I remember lying on my stomach and giving the ambulance driver instructions to the hospital.
Upon arrival to the emergency room, I heard 3 nurses walk in and go, “Ooh!” I thought, “Oh, shit is my kidney hanging out or what!” Fortunately, I was mentally stable or I might have freaked out since I couldn’t see my lower back. When the doctor came into the room, he cut off my jeans and shirt. I asked for pain medicine, but he said that since I hit my head he couldn’t give me any. I also asked for water, but I forgot the reason why he wouldn’t give me any.
I was admitted at 9 am and released at 2:30 pm. During that time the doctors scrubbed my wounds, removed a lot of the burned skin, shaved part of my head and gave my 38 stitches in my knoggin, without any medication or water. When the doctor was suturing my head, and cleaning up my arm and back I asked for a wet towel to bite on. I was surprised that he granted my request.
The worst part of the accident was when Mom came to pick me up. I remember walking with her down the hallway and there I was hunched over and only able to take mini-steps. She was fine with that until she looked over and saw where they shaved my head and stitched it up. I remember her saying, “Oh, Brock!” in her worrisome voice. I simply said, "I'm alright Mom."
I received a lot of replacement bandages, burn cream and saline solution from the hospital to clean the wounds. That came in handy because I kept leaking. Between the cream and the puss, I was a real mess and needed frequent changing. Mom would help change them for me, but for the majority of the time my girlfriend took over that chore.
The next day, there was a wrestling meet with Crespi High School. I was going to cancel it, but my best friend was the head coach of that team and we were both looking forward to it. I asked my girlfriend to drive me. She owned a Honda Prelude that sat down low and had a sporty suspension. On the way to the meet, I felt every single bump. I yelled at her that she was hitting them on purpose. Which of course she wasn’t, but it sure did feel like it. As a head coach, you have to carry an emergency kit, which came in use on this occasion. As I was coaching and yelling at my wrestlers, I could feel my arm and hand blowing up like a balloon. I looked down at my hand and it had blown up so big, I thought it was going to explode! I asked one of the parents to look after the wrestlers for me and that I need to take care of myself. I grabbed two bags of ice from the emergency kit and asked my girlfriend to drive me home.
The next day, my arm and hand swelling went down, so I told Mom to go to work and that I’ll be fine. After Mom left for work, I started calling my professors at school to see if I could get out taking the final exams that were taking place the following week. My chemistry professor said that I needed to take the final. The bitch. I had received A’s on all of the other previous tests and the final exam was just a cumulative test. Oh, well.
Then I called my Japanese professor, Dr. Hirota and she said that it wasn’t necessary for me to take the test. She told me to make sure that I rested up and took care of myself. I remember that I started crying and she asked me if I was alright. I said that I was fine and then hung up. I started bawling and I didn’t know why. Then I started getting the chills. I realized that I was probably going into shock, so I grabbed an afghan, lied down on the couch with my feet elevated and placed the phone nearby. As soon as I lied down, I passed out.
I woke up and felt fine, but I realized that if I didn’t slow down, that my body would make me slow down. My body needed time to heal and I kept trying to go as if nothing had happened. Passing out made me realize that this was not just a case of “road rash”, but something much worse.
For the following moths, I made daily visits to the hospital for rehabilitation and they would also try to pull more of the dead skin off. Finally, on February 14, 1990 I had surgery to remove the remaining dead skin. A month later, I had a skin graph done on my forearm, but I didn’t like the results, so I left the remaining scars alone. I was told that the skin form the skin graph would be more pliable than scar tissue and make the scar less visible. It might be more pliable, but it still looks like shit and it gave me another scar on my hip.
Surprisingly, the bike received minimal damage. I had to replace the mirror and footpeg, but not much else. Unfortunately, I had to sell it a year later to finance my study abroad trip to Japan. I still wish that I would have kept her, but the $3,000 I got for her did come in handy.