The Day My Helmet Cracked

(Warning: Mom, don’t read this.)

Monday was a day like any other.  I taught a class at work, headed home, and cooked a bunch of food so I wouldn’t have to do worry about that in the coming days.  Then, just like almost every other Monday, I headed to taiko.  I was feeling a bit more tired than usual.  I think this winter has been particularly hard on my asthma for some reason, but who knows.  Practice was small, but fun.  The whole class was spent with everyone trying to help me master one of our songs.  Everyone was incredibly nice as always.

We loaded up the truck with our drums and everyone started to head out.  Like every night, I put on my helmet (something I stupidly only wore during night and rain riding) and was the second one out.  For some reason, everyone kept telling me to be careful.  (They normally all say it as I take off on my bike, but they each said it multiple times that night.  They would later claim that this probably jinxed it.)  I was changing gears, maybe I was standing on my pedals (it’s hard to remember), maybe my chain skipped a hook like it sometimes does, but something happened and I lost control.

Next thing I know, my head slammed sideways against the concrete.  My right arm was throbbing, all that pain centering around my elbow.  I was afraid to move and honestly too much in shock to do much more than roll onto my back.

Normally, I try to stay calm and collected so I can take care of myself and figure out my next move, but I knew there were other people close enough that they would be able to help.  (Thank goodness the accident did not happen further along my bike ride.  The night would have gone very differently if it had.)  The three remaining members of my taiko group saw me on the ground and rushed over.  They slowly helped me up and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital.

I said, “I don’t want to, but I should.”  The fact that I still had my Japanese abilities was a good sign.  The fact that it felt like a demon was trying to escape via the left side of my skull was not.  My amazing taiko friends loaded me and my bike into a mini-van and took me to the hospital.

Two of them waited with me in the hospital (once we found one that was open.  Again, if I haven’t mentioned it, I really hate Japanese hospitals) while the doctor called in someone to do a CT scan.  Japanese ERs are weird, to me.  In the US, there would be a few things that doctors would check right off the bat, regardless of what I told them beyond the fact that I hit my head.  They would check my eyes, actually look at my arm (despite me saying that it didn’t feel broken because I could move it) because, believe it or not, I’m not a doctor and probably not completely qualified to be making these claims.  Even if it is my own body.

As stressful as the whole ordeal was, my taiko friends made it a lot better.  They sat with me and helped me out.  Even when I started to get frustrated when the ER doctor was getting visibly annoyed with me because I didn’t understand everything he said.  (I HAD A HEAD INJURY AND WAS STILL A BIT IN SHOCK, DUDE.)  The fact that I could use any of my Japanese should have gotten me an award of some sort.  Him getting angry at me only made me less willing to try and understand once he said my CT scan was clear.

Rie, the female taiko member who was with me, asked me to stay with her that night.  Even though the doctor said my CT scan looked good, she was worried about me spending the night alone.  I thanked her for the offer, but said it would be better if I spent the night in my own bed.  There were a couple of reasons for that.  1) I don’t know if she has cats or something.  The last thing I needed was to add allergies to my list of issues.  2) I really did not want to have to deal with packing up things to bring over to her place.  3)Maybe the most motivating factor: she and her husband, the taiko member who was there for the accident but didn’t go to the hospital with me because he had to go home and take care of the kids, are the parents of one of my students.  And while I am sure he already told the entire baseball team that his parents took me to the hospital, I didn’t need to add more fuel to that fire.

I promised to text everyone first thing in the morning to let them know I didn’t die overnight.  And, of course, this was the one day I did not have plenty of extra cash in my wallet.  The other guy at the hospital with me, Kashi, loaned me 5000 yen to pay for part of the bill.  I still have to go back to the hospital at some point (when one of my English teachers can take me and help me out) and pay the rest of the bill.  (Only about 7000 yen.  I love national healthcare.)

Everyone has been incredibly nice to me since the accident.  (Not that they weren’t nice before, just they have been dialing up the nice level.)  Amelia brought me some food on Tuesday night.  When I went down to open the door, I actually looked at my helmet for the first time after the accident.

Ignore the weird thing my fingers are doing while trying to hold it up. It looks like I have some kind of messed up dino claw.

Seeing my helmet has made me realize how stupid I was for not wearing my helmet most of the time when I ride.  Thankfully, it’ll be another week or so before my new helmet arrives.  That gives me plenty of time to rest and look for a new bike.  (It wasn’t totaled and other than the seat, it doesn’t look damaged, but I am worried that something like this could happen again.  It’s not worth the risk.)

I brought my helmet to school to help illustrate what happened.  It’s been turning into me giving a little PSA about helmet safety every time I describe what happened.  One of the older teachers even said that he realized he should start wearing a helmet more often.  Helmets, for the win.



4 thoughts on “The Day My Helmet Cracked

  1. I’m glad you wore your helmet and that you’re ok! So many people don’t wear helmets, but it really is an important safety device! I haven’t had a bad experience at the ER, but I only had to go once in Japan. He really should have been more understanding of your condition.

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