Near Fatal Bicycle Accident Was Actually a Mammoth Gift
My near fatal bicycle accident on July 11th of 2002 changed my life for the better. You read that correctly, that fatal day was actually a mammoth gift in disguise.
All I remember was cresting the hill before descending into the blind curve. There are glimpses of memory in the emergency room with my wife, Lotus.
After that, it was waking up in the hospital, a brace on my neck with a morphine drip in my arm. The car had been going 30 miles per hour. I was doing 20+. I evidently totaled the ‘96 Toyota Corolla with my body. At those speeds, the survival rate is about 10 percent. (Click on the picture to get a true idea just how badly the bike was damaged. This was a HEAVY DUTY steel touring bicycle.)
Most of us need something big to push us out of our comfort zone and make us look for something beyond comfort.
For me, it was the accident that happened when I was 46 years old. I was incredibly fortunate. I spent five days in the trauma center with many broken bones, but no damage to my brain or internal organs. Once I recovered, I realized my being alive was a miracle. I also realized that when I do die, I want to know I’ve made a difference in the world. At the time I was teaching people how to program leading edge telecommunications systems. That made a real impact on the lives of people – NOT. I wanted the work I did to be about something bigger.
After the Accident
I was out of the trauma center and was sent home in less than a week, walking on crutches in 3 days and back on a bicycle in 10 weeks.
You are probably asking yourself
Why would you get back on a bicycle after that?
I had no fear of getting back on the bicycle but I had a lot of fear driving an automobile. I ride my bicycle on low traffic roads but I drive my automobile on busy thoroughfares. It was the traffic that scared me.
This event turned out to be a blessing. My son had just graduated from high school and he was home with me as I recuperated.
We spent the next two months having lots of discussions about what college would be like. For those of you who have raised teenagers, you have no idea what they actually hear and what actually gets to the brain.
Four years later, when he came home after graduation before getting a job I realized he actually listened!! Those two months turned out to be golden and could never be replaced. By hitting the car I was given some special time with my son.
Return to Work
Within 4 months, I was flying to China and then to Korea to run classes in Shenzhen, Nanjing, Shanghai and Seoul. As I went through security at various Chinese airports, the titanium screws in my hip would set off the metal detectors. Boy, was this fun! I even had the joy of being right in the middle of the SARS outbreak. (I did not get sick!) That is when it hit me. WTF. Why am I doing this??
I was 46 years old. My only child was off to college and I had that fully funded. The high-tech startup I worked for had been acquired by Lucent Technologies, which was in the process of imploding but I received enough in retention bonuses to pay off the mortgage on the house. I had no business being alive much less flying around the world teaching people to design telecommunications systems.
I decided to make a Career Pivot.
The following year I would volunteer for a layoff so that I could pursue a high school math teaching certificate, which is another story for another time.
That bicycle accident is what made me what I am today and I look at it as a mammoth gift.
Hanan Moller says
I still remember the day you came back. We couldn’t believe how well you have recovered!!
All the best!
Marc Miller says
The technical term is I was “f***ing lucky”.
Hello Marc, your story is inspirational. After working 30 years at a major consumer goods firm, I left and at age 60 started my second Master’s degree, this time in teaching High School Math. Now at age 62, I have been teaching High School Mathematics at a school for challenged students as a certified Master of Arts in Teaching Teacher and I love it. The children make me younger than 62. Nice story of yours!