My Bike accident, injury & recovery experience! - eNidhi India Travel Blog

My Bike accident, injury & recovery experience!

I was out of action for most of September 2020. 19 years after getting my driving license, traveling to 40 countries and driving 100s of different cars n bikes and over a thousand road trips, recently I faced my first road accident, injured both my arms and currently healing slowly. This post is being typed with my recovering hands, to tell you what happened, recovery process, experience I went through as well as precautions we all should take.

Some context information before I begin:

I hadn't considered myself as hardcore biker. I was not a part of any biker gangs and didn't go on too many group rides. I was a car person Never bought a car but I used to rent self drive cars in different cities for my trips. I have rented 100s of cars ranging from small cars to sedans to SUVs to super luxurious Audi, BMW, Merc C class, E Class, GLA and Maserati. Cars are safer, more comfortable and fun. I keep interest in all kinds of vehicles including Jetski, tractor and microlight planes. Have done several bike rides including 2000 kms in 7 days in Thailand on Versus 750 and CB400X, 800+ kms in Bali, long rides between Chennai-BLR, Chennai-Yelagiri, Chennai-Pondy, BLR-Wayanad, Hyd-Bidar, BLR-Shimoga etc using Harley Davidson Street 750, bullets and various other bikes. I used to ride a moped TVS sport during engineering days, Bajaj Discover 110 for 8 years during job and TVS Apache RTR 160 since 2014, which is my current bike. This year June I rode to my native place Udupi from Chennai on the TVS Apache and after initial quarantine I rode in and around Udupi district on the bike during July and August. Did 810 kms/3 days trip to Sirsi during August last week. I have driven vehicles in India, Australia, New Zealand, USA, UAE, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Maldives and Indonesia. Thus I have my share of two wheeler riding experience and have fair understanding of vehicle mechanics, road safety and travel risks.

September was supposed to be similar but god had different plans. On 5th of September I rode to Sagara from Udupi along with my cousin sister. It was about 150-170 kms ride as we visited Sriramachandrapura Matha, Hulikal Falls, Nagara fort, Savehaklu dam etc on the way and reached my relative's home near Sagara by 11.45 AM. All was fine on this ride. 

I had lunch and slept for 2 hours. By 3.15 PM I woke up and decided to ride and explore Honnemaradu and Jog Falls. The ride would take about 100 kms total and was expected to end by sunset time. About 250 kms ride per day is fairly standard in biking community. I had 2 hours sleep and good food, so fatigue, tiredness or hunger was not a factor.

I went to Honnemaradu, then visited Jog Falls, Raja Stone and headed back towards my relative's home. I tried locating a stone bridge 5 kms from Jog falls, but couldn't locate it. As it was getting dark I decided to keep it for some other day and head home. My aunt called me to check where I am and I told I am some 30 kms from home and will arrive within an hour. But everything changed soon after.

What exactly happened next I don't remember. Something happened, my bike crashed, I fell off and lost consciousness. Worst accident I ever faced in my life has happened. When I woke up I was in a Govt hospital in Talaguppa. My uncle had come to receive me and take me home. Apparently I had some consciousness to tell hospital staff whom to call. I had scratches all over the body and pains around head and arms. Hospital staff provided first aid, applied some bandage and treated me as best as possible. But it was a small local govt hospital and didn't have equipment to do x-ray or scanning or expert Ortho doctors. So they couldn't figure out my bones are broken. Even I was not in a position to identify the same. My uncle came to hospital, spoke to staff and took me home. At that point it was assessed that I only have some external injuries that will heal in a few days.

I am eternally thankful to people of Talaguppa. When my uncle spoke to few people to find out what happened, we learnt that some bulls abruptly intercepted my path and I fell off the bike while trying to avoid them. I do not know what speed I was at, but given the location and time my guess is I should be riding at about 30-50 kmph and not faster. It happened near Talaguppa town at about 7 PM. Few people saw this happening and rushed me to nearest hospital. No one stole my mobile, wallet or bike. Even broken parts were brought to hospital along with bike by locals. If people had stolen my stuff and left me by the roadside I would have suffered more or even be dead. I am so thankful to people of Talaguppa for the kindness shown. I plan to visit the hospital and thank the staff once I recover.

Below is what happened to my bike: TVS Apache RTR 160. Front headlamp and both indicators broken, multiple footpegs gone, front wheel cover cracked, one mirror broken and one side tank add-on broken. I am expecting all these will cost about 5000 Rs to replace. However the core parts are fine. Engine, suspension, fuel tank, battery, gears, tyres and brakes are all working fine. My uncle's staff could ride it home from hospital (some 30 kms) without requiring any help. Apache is a 6 year old bike which has been very reliable. But compared to bikes available in 2020, this older model doesn't have some vital features like ABS, Smart connect with crash alert system, powerful LED/halogen headlamp, mono shock suspension, BS6 engine etc. But bikes cost almost 2x more now compared to 2014. 

Next day, whole of 6th September I rested at home hoping pain will reduce. But there was no sign. I had multiple vomits, pain won't reduce and head was aching too. Couldn't eat normal food and memory was weak. At this point my uncle n family realized it might be more serious. They spoke to my family and it was decided that I will be transported to a hospital near Kundapura. (Our options were to go to Shivamogga, Udupi/Manipal or Kundapura/Koteshwara) as Sagara city doesn't have high tech hospitals.)

On 7th September morning I was brought to NR Acharya memorial hospital in Koteshwara. Upon arrival they did CT Scan. As the result showed some internal bleeding, I was immediately admitted and brain damage was treated. Hands were X-rayed and it was found that right hand shoulder has two fractures. Appropriate bandage and hand position holder was applied to keep the arm unmovable so that bone can heal. Next day I reported pain on left arm palm also which had some broken bones and plaster was applied on left hand as well. With this both my hands were out of action and I was fully dependent on family members for everything.

I was wearing a helmet and knee guard on the day of accident. Mostly because of knee guard, my legs didn't face any damage and are 100% perfect. But I was careless not to wear a shoulder guard or safety jacket. This cost me heavily. If I had put them on, I could have saved this massive hospitalization. Despite wearing helmet I lost consciousness- possibly because I had not strapped it on or not tight enough, so as I fell down it might have slipped off or passed part of the shock to my head. At least whatever happened is better than more severe damages and deaths that happen during road accidents but as an experience rider if I had used more safety features, I could have avoided the crisis. If I had a goPro camera on the helmet I could have got footage of the accident but action camera batteries don't last whole day so I wasn't using them a lot.

3-4 days later my head started feeling better and memory was restored. I was sent for an MRI scanning and report said brain injury is recovering and there is nothing serious. With this, doctors felt that I can be discharged from hospital as only things left are two hands that are expected to heal slowly over time naturally, without requiring surgery or hospital stay. On 13th September, 6th day of admission into the hospital, I was discharged and sent home. Lots of medicines were written for me, to support bone recovery, blood sugar control, brain maintenance and pain control. As both hands were held up, I was dependent on my family for everything. With few fingers open I could use mobile a bit to send simple messages or watch videos.

Above: My situation for 3 weeks. Both hands held up, few fingers working a bit.

I was personally disappointed that I was not careful enough, hurt both my hands and am troubling family. However everyone who came to see me told I am lucky the accident ended with only this. It could have been lot worse such as:
  • Legs are fine. Legs being load bearing parts, any injury to legs would have taken more time to heal or might need surgery. Both my legs are 100% fine, mostly because of knee guard. It is more painful to live on a wheelchair than having live with two hurt hands.
  • Hand bone damage is mild and will recover naturally within few weeks, not requiring surgery and not causing any long term damage/handicap
  • No corona. Me and my family have been lucky so far not to get affected by Corona. A few days in private hospital for corona treatment can drain your lifetime savings.
  • Accident happened in a village where people were helpful, there was a hospital nearby and I had relatives to assist. Same incident abroad or some remote area could have been more complicated to treat.
  • Head is fine. Head, eyes, neck, mouth- all these vital parts didn't face damage. Wearing helmet helps. I still had some pain but that was mild and got recovered within few days. If these organs are hurt, daily life will be very miserable.
  • I didn't have any pillion rider. A pillion rider faces more risk as they can't control the bike, usually don't wear as many safety gear as main rider and may not be focusing on road to see a problem in time. If I had a pillion I would have injured another family member causing even more distress to everyone.

I went for couple of follow up visits and recovery is assessed to be happening normally. On 27th September, left arm plaster was removed. Now I could use one of my hands while right hand shoulder was expected to take another two weeks to recover. So far hospital bill, medicine etc have costed my family close to 50k INR. I am expecting a spend of another 15-20k in October to repair the bike, follow up visits and medicines.

Above: My current situation: Left hand recovered, right hand recovery in progress.

Facebook Spy: I never posted about the accident on facebook, but have told few friends on messengers and whatsapp. Facebook has caught this and is showing me news of various accidents and deaths around my area. You may feel this FB is spying on our private messages, but I think FB is trying to motivate me saying "see you're lucky to be alive and recover, so many others are dying"

FB unsolicited ads showing accident news near my area (Kannada)

Male advantage: One relative told me I am lucky being a male. Most of September I lived on wearing shorts and nothing to cover upper body. No one at home, hospital or on the street cared about me not wearing a shirt. But for any females some kind of special dress would be needed to cover their upper body when both hands are injured. 

Would having a car been more safer?

Yes. A car is lot safer than a bike on any given day. However consider the following:

  • On a bike, my running cost is 2 Rs per km (fuel cost) and 3-4 Rs per km if I factor depreciation, maintenance, insurance etc. With a car, it is about 6-7 Rs per km for fuel, 3-5 Rs per km on toll fees, another 4-7 rs per km if you factor depreciation, insurance, loan interest, maintenance etc, taking total running cost to 15+ rs per km. If you can afford this, get your family a good car. Most middle class family find car ownership very expensive so they either go for cheap/second hand car without much safety features or a motorbike- lot cheaper but less safer.
  • Most entry level cars have basic safety features- good for city commute but may not save occupants in case of a major crash on a highway. We should spend at least around 10 lakhs+ on a high quality, well built premium hatch/sedan or compact SUV with good safety features.
  • Just having a car won't work. We need to use it responsibly. Many people drink and drive, we often don't wear seatbelts (mostly 2nd row people), we switch off passenger airbag, we use phone while driving, we don't maintain car's tyre pressure, engine and braking system conditions. All these can worsen the situation during an accident.
  • Cars need more space. Lack of space or lack of judgment of space often causes accidents. Cars hit divider, topple over, get crushed by trucks- so accident risk is still there even if you have a car.

What next?

I am waiting for my right arm to heal. I will take another week max. With some extra rest most of October I may be out of action. However I will bounce back as soon as I can.

  • I will not repeat my mistakes again. Will use good quality jacket, shoulder guard and other safety equipment so that if I fall again, I can get up and walk away. Next time if this happens, it is the animal that has to go to hospital, not me.
  • I will continue to travel. Saying "I won't go anywhere because of accident risk" is not viable. Accidents happen all the time all the places. You have risk even when you walk to nearby store to buy a packet of milk. God has given me a lesson with a mild accident that didn't cause any serious/permanent injury, just only recoverable damage. Will stay more vigilant from now.
  • So far I used to travel in night as well. For Sirsi I left at 3.15 AM. This helps me optimize the day's plans and explore more. But riding in dark means less visibility, no one to help and higher risk of facing other fatigued/drunk/dangerous drivers. So I will try to avoid night travel as much as possible from now.
  • Next year I will upgrade to a new bike with more safety features like dual channel ABS, smart connect etc. An ABS could have possibly saved me in this case.

I am thankful to all my family members, relatives and friends for extensive support shown. Also thanks to doctors and medical staff of NR Acharya Memorial hospital and Talaguppa Govt hospital for treating me well. As I never faced this kind of accident and hospitalization so far, it was a unique experience for me- lot to learn from. Without their active support it would have been a lot difficult. Some of you asked if I need any help. Don't need any help as of now. Just waiting for my body to recover naturally. If possible let me know where this blanket can be bought (with motorbike on it instead of cycle!)

Thanks a ton to 100s of friends who wished me speedy recovery, shared their own experiences and offered support.

Some safety tips for road users:

  • Just helmet is not enough. Better to use some protection so that other body parts also can handle a crash. Even if you are going to a nearby shop and not a long ride, take precaution because accident can happen anywhere, any time.
  • Don't delay your wishlist forever. Fulfil them when you can. We don't know how situation will be few years from now. If you think "I will work hard, support my company, build wealth for family and follow my passion after retirement" it could be too late.
  • Never ignore safety thinking of your experience, expertise, how good the vehicle is etc. Always be prepared.
  • Information is key. Keep your family members about your plans, share live location etc. Use smart connect apps that can alert emergency contacts. Right help can reduce half the problem after an accident and keep you safe.
  • Avoid taking elderly people on two wheeler. Due to their age, even a simple fall could harm them a lot and recovery will be complicated. Use auto or taxi. As such due to covid risk they are supposed to stay indoor as much as possible.
October 12 Update: Both hands have recovered now.

43 comments:

  1. OMG! Shocked to hear about your accident. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Take care Shrinidhi.. Wishing you a speedy recovery

    ReplyDelete
  3. Take care. Hope you are feeling much better now. Speedy recovery on your way. Vomiting is never a good sign after an accident and so glad to know there was no damage in your head.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, lot better than early days. Lucky everything is under control and recovering fully.

      Delete
  4. Nice to see you writing again after a month. You will recover soon . All the best

    ReplyDelete
  5. You have recovered quite a bit, My prayers to Almighty for your complete recovery..

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great to know you are recovering well! Thank god it was only this much! Drive safe and hoe to see more of your travel stories in the future

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sad to read about your incident. Prayers for your speedy recovery. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its Ok. We all have to face some problem or other in our life. I will be fine soon

      Delete
  8. Sorry to hear about the accident. Take Care and Get Well Soon

    ReplyDelete
  9. Never thought knee guard n arm guard is necessary while on 2 wheelers. I used to drive in 2 wheeler with my family sitting kid in between us around 70-80 kms speed. Ur details blog is really eye opening for me. Will consider all safety measures u listed above when I ride next time... I too believe if we think we will accumulate wealth, let life settle then I will travel. It never happens that way... u take care n safe drive next time...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wishing you a good recovery. Take care. Kallu sanka (stone bridge) is little difficult to locate as it is inside from main raod. There was a small board which could be missed easily.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I didn't realise it was so bad. You looked in good spirits despite the damage. Get well soon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I think it isn't that bad. I should feel lucky.

      Delete
  12. Oh!! I was wondering why you went silent and now I see this article. Good to hear that you are recovering well.

    Waiting to see you back in action.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Tough luck but part of being on the road. Great to read that you are on the way to good health. Godspeed recovery and do take utmost care of riding gear next time you ride. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks sir. Will use all possible safety gears from now.

      Delete
  14. Take care. September hasn't been a kind month for many. Hoping you recover completely soon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Whole of 2020 hasn't been good in general.

      Delete
  15. Thank god you had a providential escape.You should avoid travel during early mornings & nights.As most drivers are careless,we have to be extra careful.
    Take care get well soon.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh my god! Take rest and good food, hope you will recover completely soon. And its good nothing happened to the knees, any type of knee injury sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Loved your post. Best wishes from my side.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Take care Shrinidhi. Looking forward to see you back in action.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Shocked to hear this. Wish you speedy recovery!

    ReplyDelete

Appreciate your efforts and interests to comment. Comments may be moderated due to increased spam. Will ideally respond to comments within few days.Use Anonymous option if you don't wish to leave your name/ID behind- Shrinidhi

Powered by Blogger.