FRI 24 MAY, 2002 - SEATTLE, WA USA
LAT: N47.71617 LON: W122.37346
GPS TRACK SINCE LAST UPDATE
[My medical evacuation route, from Beijing, China to Seattle, WA via Narita, Japan.]
GLOBERIDERS TOUR DAY NO: 17
DAYS SINCE LAST UPDATE: 8
TOTAL DRIVEN MILEAGE TO DATE: 740.7
TOTAL GASOLINE USED TO DATE: 20
TOTAL NO. OF AA BATTERIES USED TO DATE: 16
TOTAL AIRLINE MILEAGE TO DATE: 13,451
BIG MACS CONSUMED: 0
BMW R1150GS' CONSUMED: 1
Among the many sayings attributed to the brilliant Chinese Taoist scholar, Lao Tszu, is the following: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Unfortunately, I have added a corollary: "The adventure of a lifetime can be terminated by instantaneous deceleration."
On THU, 16 MAY, the Globeriders departed from our hotel in Jinan in good order. The agenda for the day was a 490 kilometer ride from Jinan to Beijing. Coming into Dezhou city, our guide car once again missed a turn (all the riders had GPS systems, but, for some reason, our guides hadn't yet grokked the beneficial capabilities of this technology). We needed to re-group and get people turned around. The rest of the group set out, and waiting for traffic to clear, I fell behind. Finding my opening, I entered the traffic flow. In catching up with the rest of the team, I began to maneuver around a small taxi. We were on a wide street, no cross-traffic, light misty rain, a wet, but newly-paved road surface. I felt a hard jolt as something hit me from the rear. The next thing I knew, I was down, hard, and sliding towards a taxi ahead of me.
Long story short, I was involved in an accident. The GPS track of the last few hundred feet looked like this:
[The GPS data shows I was going 33.5 MPH prior to impact, and you see the track the bike followed afterwards. I think the direction reversed after sliding into the car ahead of me. The "sliding speed" was about 17MPH, and 171 feet long altogether. The final data point shows "0 MPH". For some reason, the police were interested in none of this data. Apparently, there were no witnesses.]
I spent the first three days after the accident in a horribly primitive hospital in Dezhou. Although the equipment and conditions boarded on the nightmarish, the people, staff, and police officers were all unwaveringly polite, truly helpful, and greatly concerned for my well-being. It turns out I had a broken collarbone, multiple fractures of ribs 4, 5 and 6, and of greatest concern, a swollen pneumo thorax with internal bleeding and fluids collecting in my left lung. Three long and pain-wracked days later, I was stable enough for transport to a better hospital in Beijing. After an additional three days in Beijing, I was deemed stable enough for air evacuation back to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA, in the company of my wife Aillene (who had flown in from Japan), and a air transport trauma nurse provided by the company that I had procured medical evacuation insurance from, MEDJET Assistance - without doubt, the best insurance coverage I have ever purchased in my life. A small plug here - these people were remarkable, and I hope to provide some further information about them in a future update. If there was ever a better case for "...don't leave home without it.", MEDJET Assistance is at the top of my checklist, no matter where I travel (and I hope to do a LOT more).
After I've healed and rested up a bit, I'd like to do a few more updates filling in some more detail on my experiences, medical insurance and procedures for future travellers, and what worked, and didn't, regarding the equipment and services I had access to. Of course, I'm thankful that I'll have no long-term injuries. My greatest disappointment is that I won't be able to complete the trip with the great riders I was with. My bike is on its way back via that proverbial "slow boat from China". I most feverently hope that I'll be able to complete this amazing journey at some time in the future. But at the moment, I'm thankful to be home, and have nothing but kind and warm memories of all the beautiful people in China who did their very best to help a traveller in need, refused payment or compensation of any kind, and wished me nothing other than a safe trip home and speedy recovery.
To my fellow Globeriders, I wish you a safe journey, and hope you'll send a few updates along the way. You embarrassed me with your kindness and generosity, and I hope to share the road with you again some day. I'll send a few more updates myself as I get back into the swing of things.Posted by Mike Paull at May 23, 2002 10:50 PM GMT
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