BMW K75 vs. Deer
by Tom Maszerowski
This is a good story about the things that go on when you are involved in an accident and why protective gear is so important on a motorcycle.
02 July 2002 Letchworth
Sunday the second of July 2002 was a day of mixed clouds and sunshine. The weather
forecast pointed to rain by the Fourth and I decided that I had to ride that
day or face days of wishing that I had. I decided then to ride my BMW
Since I had no fixed destination in mind, I was free to wander. I headed towards
Mt. Morris for no other reason other than it was relatively well known and a
likely place to have a 7-11 or other convenience store. I ended up stopping
at a convenience store, though it was not a chain, for some Combos
pretzels) and a Diet Dr. Pepper
. I chatted with the guy behind the counter
and he recommended that I visit Letchworth Park
, a NY State park often
referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East. It is built around
a gorge formed by the Genesee river (which flows through the city of Rochester
into Lake Ontario) and is a popular tourist destination.
Taking the convenience store guys advice, I rode to the Mt. Morris entrance
of Letchworth. When I got there, I noticed a sign indicating that it would cost
me $5 to enter the park. Being basically frugal, I at first thought it was more
money than I wanted to spend simply to ride through the park. So instead I sat
down and ate my Combos and drank my Diet Dr. Pepper. There were places to sit
along with bid houses for the wild birds and I took advantage of both. But eventually
I decided that five bucks wasnt unreasonable for a ride through the park,
especially given the increasing cloud cover slowly obscuring the sky. And so
I made the decision to enter the park.
After paying my entrance fee, there was little else to do but ride the well-paved
road through the park. I rolled slowly forward, stopped and stuck the receipt
into my tank bag and pulled onto the main road. It was about 4 in the afternoon
and there was plenty of sunlight left.
While the park road is probably not on any motorcyclists list of great
roads, it does offer some great scenery and I was enjoying it as best as someone
on a motorcycle can. In fact, I was running about five miles per hour under
the posted speed limit. I wasnt doing it on purpose, but it seemed the
I was headed for a place in the park called Devils Bathtub
offered a good view of the gorge as well as a large parking lot. I didnt
originally have a stopping point in mind, but it seemed as good as any. After
all, I had no specific destination in mind.
It didnt take long before I had a bunch of cars behind me; most likely
becoming impatient with the slow-moving motorcycle in front of them. But I didnt
care, I was so into the moment. I should have known better.
It was a relatively straight section of road, with traffic coming towards me,
that my life took a dramatic turn. Without warning, out from the left side of
the road, came a deer
. I can remember seeing the cars in the oncoming lane and
most of all the eye of the deer
. That eye seemed so large, it was so apparent
that this was a wild animal, far beyond its instinctive mode of behavior.
And then, despite me thinking this cannot be happening
, I hit that animal
with a sound of plastic shattering into a million pieces.
What immediately followed that has been lost to me. I absolutely no recollection
and attempts to recall have been fruitless. Perhaps this is just as well, but
I still regret the emptiness. In any case, the next thing I recall is being
on my back on the pavement, looking up at the sky. My first thought was I
am alive! My second thought, or perhaps realization, was that I was seriously
injured. I somehow knew this without feeling anything in particular was wrong;
just a general feeling of bad
I was able to look up the road and see my BMW
was about 30 feet ahead of me,
having slid on its left side and come to a rest still in the driving lane.
A quick glance down by left leg showed that I had also slid on my left side
and worn a large hole in the left knee of my jeans. In fact, all of my left
side was beginning to hurt, though the pain, as before, was not particularly
localized in any way.
I wasnt laying there long before someone came up to look at me and see
how I was doing. As luck would have it, one of the cars that had been in the
group behind me contained a husband and wife who were both EMTs. I had
the added advantage of them also being trained on how to handle motorcyclist
injuries, which require some special care. They examined me and after I was
able to move all my limbs they gently worked my helmet off to make me more comfortable.
Someone, I cant remember who, did me a great favor by blocking the sun
from my face. Someone else called 911 on their cell phone, though it wasnt
easy getting a signal in the area we were in. I recall offering mine, and I
cant remember if mine was used or not.
When the [fill this in] ambulance got to me (I was midway on the park road and
it took a while to reach me) the EMTs who were with me turned my care
over to the arriving crew. Since I did not seem in immediate danger of dying,
they repeated the evaluation but in a more detailed fashion. This required the
removal of my leather jacket and the cutting of my pants to the knee on the
left side. It was clear now that my left shoulder was injured and because I
could not move my arm very well, the EMTs cut my jacket into pieces to
remove it. It had been custom-made for me in 1983 or so and fit like a glove
but it was in the way and that was that. This gave the EMTs easy access
to all the injured areas.
Once the examination was complete and they had an idea of the extent of my injuries,
I was carefully slid onto a back board and prepared for the ride in the ambulance.
It was about this time that the NY State Park Police found the still-alive deer
somewhere near me and put it out of its misery. I never saw the officer
or the deer
, but I remember it took two shots. Someone immediately offered to
take the carcass, seeing as how I was not in a position to do so. I never saw
who, it was just a voice in the crowd. I was fully awake and making jokes though
I felt incredibly bad. I think I gave the police my id, or told them my information,
I cant exactly recall which, because they told me that they would notify
my wife (more about this later). I was loaded into the back of the ambulance
and off we went to the local hospital.
The ride was fairly long, because of where I was, but not too uncomfortable.
The EMT with me kept up a steady conversation (they do that to make sure you
havent gone unconscious) and I think we talked about volunteer fire departments
and such. There wasnt much else for her to do except periodically check
my heart rate and blood pressure, so Im sure it helped keep her from getting
They took me to Warsaw Hospital, a small regional hospital that specializes
in what is called treat and release. Patients requiring more extensive
treatment or overnight stays are sent to larger hospitals in either Buffalo
or Rochester. I was obviously supposed to be one of these, or they might have
taken me somewhere else. In retrospect, I almost wish they had.
Things are a little hazy in my memory but I will try to relate as much as I
can remember, even if the sequencing is a little off. One of the reasons for
this is that I was given morphine, rather early on, and it dulled both the pain
(which had started to make itself known) and my mind. I was taken for X-rays,
from which they determined that I had shattered my left clavicle (collar bone)
and broken some ribs. I was returned to the treatment room, and heres
where things become strange.
As I noted above, the Park Police had said they would alert my family. They
indeed called my house, but there was no one home and they left a message on
the answering machine telling it was the NY State Police calling and that I
had been in a motorcycle accident, no other details or a call back number. When
Mary Ann came home, she played the message and immediately called the NY State
Police. They, of course, had no knowledge of any accident, but since it was
in a state park, perhaps she should call the park police (theres a pecking
order going on here, the park police consider themselves state police, the state
police, obviously, consider themselves above the park police). Mary Ann then
was able to get from the park police that I was alive and that I was in Warsaw
hospital. She called her father, and he came along with her and Liz (Alanna
was at summer camp). They drove down to Warsaw and met me in the treatment room.
I probably looked as bad as I felt. The morphine dulls the pain, but doesnt
eliminate it nor does it do much for broken bones. They were happy to see me,
though very concerned. I know there were some discussions about what to do with
me, and it was somehow decided that I would be released for Mary Ann to take
me home. I think I may have had my arm in a sling by then and I may also have
had a brace around the shoulder. In any case, step one for release is to have
the patient stand up. I had been flat on my back for hours now and when I stood
up, I almost immediately became dizzy and nearly fainted. Mary Ann said I turned
white. My blood pressure was too low to keep the blood flow to my brain going.
Since this is a typical reaction to trauma, they laid me back down and gave
me a liter of intravenous saline solution intended to build up my blood volume
and consequently my blood pressure. When that was complete, they tried standing
me up again. Same result. This time, they not only gave me another liter of
saline, but began to worry that I was bleeding internally.
I was given a large glass of some awful liquid mixed with ginger ale and whisked
away for a CAT scan. They were looking for damage in my abdominal area and the
liquid allows some of the soft tissues to be visible on the scan. Luckily, it
showed that I was not bleeding but it still didnt make any difference
as far as my reaction to standing up. Mary Ann argued, successfully, that since
it was not a guarantee I wouldnt faint in the car on the long ride back,
I needed to either stay overnight, or be taken somewhere else. They reluctantly
agreed, and then the problem of where and how had to be solved.
Warsaw is closer to Buffalo than Rochester, and they had a radio link to Buffalo
General Hospital, where a trauma surgeon had been advising them on my treatment.
Mary Ann didnt want me to go to Buffalo (a 90 minute drive from home)
so that meant going to Strong Memorial, the main Rochester trauma center. Ordinarily,
this would mean a helicopter flight, courtesy of Mercy Flight, but there was
a Batavia ambulance there that had just dropped someone off. They agreed to
take me and Mary Ann to Strong and my father-in-law was free to take Liz home
and watch her while no one else was home.
The ambulance ride was longer than it should have been because the driver didnt
know how to get to Strong directly from Warsaw, and ended up going almost all
the way back to Batavia and coming in from the West. I think it was around 9:00
PM or so, it was dark and had started to rain, just as forecast. Round two of
initial treatment was beginning.
My initial treatment at Strong wasnt much different than at Warsaw, though
they werent as dedicated to getting me to leave. I was given another liter
of saline and more morphine. I was glad for the morphine, and I didnt
feel a thing when one of the ER folks decided to scrub my left knee. I had been
wearing relatively new black jeans and the dye had become embedded in the skin
thanks to the slide. He must have thought it was pavement, and tried to scrub
it out. Mary Ann, a former EMT and fairly used to such things, couldnt
bear to watch.
After that, it was more X-rays, because the faxed ones from Warsaw were unreadable.
And after that
it was more waiting. We did a lot of waiting and were
left alone for hours. Strong is a busy place and I was not in any immediate
danger so I wasnt up there on their list of priorities. I was glad Mary
Ann was there, especially when nature took its course (I had 3 liters
of saline in my bloodstream at that point) and I needed to go. At least I didnt
have to use a bed pan. We eventually got moved out of the ED into a smaller
treatment area and since there was nothing else to do, we slept.
03 July 2000 Strong Memorial Hospital
Sometime in the night, or possibly the morning, Mary Ann had gotten a ride home
to get her car, change and bring me some clothes to wear (mine were all cut
up). She had these in a bag next to her as she slept in the straight-backed
chair they provide for visitors. At some point in the morning, she awoke to
discover someone going through the bag. She was startled and she startled the
man with his hands in the bag. Luckily, security came upon him and took him
away. It seems they were in the process of throwing him out when he simply wandered
away to go shopping among the ED patients.
Eventually, we managed to get a doctor to actually come over and talk with us.
He decided that I didnt need the brace, as it wasnt helping any
and that all I needed was a sling. They also assured me that I would be able
to make the flight to England I had that week for business. I was given a supply
of Vicodin (a narcotic pain reliever) and sent home.
Moving around, especially getting up from a sitting position proved to be very
difficult. Since there was literally no connection between the bone ends of
my left collarbone, my left side would not move with the rest of my body. The
Vicodin did a lot to minimize the pain but didnt eliminate it and couldnt
do a thing to keep things together. It was almost impossible to
sleep, not only could I not get comfortable, I couldnt move without help.
My ribs, which were tolerable when I was vertical, hurt quite a bit when I was
laying down. I was sleeping on Alannas bed, since she was still in summer
camp. We didnt think I could handle the waterbed, given that I had so
much trouble even with a regular bed.
Unknown to me, Mary Ann had called our family doctor, Dr. Daniel Hovey, and
begged him, in tears, to look at me and do something. He agreed, but given the
July 4th holiday, my appointment was set for the Thursday the 6th.
04 July 2000 Home
Mary Ann and Liz went to watch the fireworks at the High School while I stayed
home. Not only did I not care, but I dont think I was physically capable
of sitting on the ground and then getting back up.
It was either this day, or the following day, that Mary Ann went over to her
dads house and borrowed his reclining chair so that might be able to sleep
without having to lie down flat and aggravate my ribs. This chair would end
up being my bed for weeks. I could recline it to get my legs up without having
to lay my torso flat. It made all the difference in my sleeping.
06 July 2000 Dr. Hoveys
To Dr. Hoveys credit, he could tell immediately that I was far more
injured than Strong ED seemed to think and made an appointment for a visit to
the orthopedic surgeon, a Dr. Peter Capicotto. Dr. Capicotto had an office in
the building adjacent to Genesee Hospital (which closed in 2001) and could admit
me if needed without having me travel. It was the beginning of my luck finally
07 July 2000 Dr. Capicottos
Office and Genesee Hospital
We had an early morning appointment, and I was seen by a Orthopædic PA
(Physicians Assistant) whos eyes widened when he examined me. He
called for Dr. Capicotto to also examine me, but was positive that I required
surgery although he could not schedule it himself. Dr. Capicotto agreed with
the need for the surgery and I went from his office right into admitting.
For background, its important to know that casts or surgery are not the
usual treatments for clavicle injuries. At least in the case of simple fractures.
The common approach is to wait a while, to see if the bones fuse, before doing
anything more invasive. Consequently, most people take months to heal, if they
heal at all. The ones that do not heal, eventually get surgery, but its
after months of pain. Two neighbors both went through this, both ended up with
large lumps where the bones fused and one ended up addicted to the Vicodin.
Luck was on my side, at least this time. Dr. Capicotto has done medical research
showing the improvement in healing time and appearance when surgery is done
right away. Not only was my collarbone broken, it was shattered, and highly
unlikely to ever fuse on its own. I was on my way to healing.
Once admitted, I was prepped for surgery. The surgery consisted of an incision
along the line of the collarbone on my chest, where they worked on reassembling
the pieces. Dr. Capicotto warned me that they might have to take a bone graft
out of my hip if they couldnt use the harvested-from-cadaver bone graft
material they usually use. Once they assembled the collarbone, a pin would be
inserted from my back, to hold everything together while it healed. When I woke
up in the recovery room, I could tell immediately that there were no incisions
in my hips, which was a welcome surprise.
Once back in my room, I was hooked up to an interesting machine that provides
you with morphine when you press a button. The intention is that the patient
decides how much and how often the pain reliever gets administered. The catch
is that its designed to prevent overdose so it makes the same sounds when
the button is pushed, whether it actually gives you a dose or not
effect, it uses a clever psychological ploy that works for most people who are
not in horrific pain. Except, of course, when it doesnt work. As it would
happen, mine broke sometime in the night. On top of being awakened regularly
for vital sign checks, I had to endure having some technicians come in and trying
to fix the morphine dispenser. Ultimately, they failed, but I managed.
Despite the lack of sleep, I felt much better now that I was in one piece, and
I got my needed rest when I got home. Mary Ann had to go to the Adirondacks
the next morning to pick up Alanna from camp, so she set up some baby-sitting,
our friends Steve and Gretchen Morith. Alanna was not aware of what happened,
so it would be an unpleasant surprise for her.
08 July 2000 Home
I felt so much better that I was able to get up with Mary Ann and Liz and was
wide awake when Steve and Gretch came over to check on me. I was even able to
make some coffee and I think they were surprised at how well I was doing. I
wanted to make as good an impression as I could, not only on Steve and Gretch,
but on Alanna when she came home.
She was understandably upset when she came in the door, but I think she was
buoyed by my condition and attitude. It wasnt really putting on a brave
face, I really did feel better, Im not sure I could have faked it at that
19 July 2000
I had had my BMW
trailered over to my local dealer and I finally was able to
get over there (I was driving, although perhaps I shouldnt have been).
The estimate was for over $3200 in parts and what not to bring it back to the
condition it was in before the crash. I wanted to continue riding, but the K75s
held too much of an association with the accident and I sold it for $1500 cash
to one of the dealers employees. He would restore it, but not to original
condition so between that and a better cost for parts, he would come out ahead.
I took some Polaroid pictures and said goodbye.
01 August 2000
My first day back to work was exhausting. I was amazed at how little stamina
I had and I barely managed half a day. But it was important to me to be there,
and despite not being very effective, I was back.
06 August 2000
While I was home recuperating, I received an post card in
the mail, apparently in response to the Letter To The Editor I wrote in the
local newspaper. Here it is in it's entirety:
It is fortunate you received the care your letter-to-the-editor
outlines. I trust you continue to heal.
Isn't it sad, sir, that the deer
cannot also receive the Mercy allotted you.
I don't suppose he/she lived to tell the experience to his/her family in their
natural habitat? I sympathize with you both.
The front of the card had a sticker of Bambi and Thumper
from the Walt Disney movie, with the following above it:
Merciful immunocontraception for our wildlife.
My letter had only my name and town of residence but a simple
look in the phone book would had sufficed to get my address.
08 August 2000
This was the day I received the Aerostich Roadcrafter
2-piece motorcycle suit I had ordered back in early May. This is the suit that,
had I been wearing it, would likely have prevented some or most of the injuries
I sustained (it wouldn't have done a damn thing for the K75s or the deer
that matter). I expected to never ride again without wearing it.
The other, less ironic, thing that happened that day was I had an appointment
with my orthopedic Dr. and he had me take off the sling on my arm. In addition,
he gave me a number of exercises to do to increase the strength and range of
motion of my shoulder. The X-Ray's showed evidence of bone growth in the gaps
though I still had a way to go. The next checkup was scheduled for 3 weeks hence,
he was planning to make the call on when to remove the pin then. The pin was
actually screwed in to the bones, it is removed simply by unscrewing it. You
have to have significant bone growth before it can be removed because the pin
isn't straight, and will flex on removal!
Here's an odd and troubling aspect of my accident: my hair was falling out.
Not in big clumps, mind you, but noticeable nonetheless. I'm in no way in love
with my appearance, but I've always had a full head of thick hair, so this was
not something I was used to seeing. It was a likely result of all the trauma
and the narcotics, and it eventually stopped.
22 August 2000
I had been having pains in my shoulder, not surprising after all, but these
seemed worse than before. It turned out that the end of the threaded rod in
my collarbone had poked its way out of the skin on my back and I was bleeding
slightly into my shirt. This made the decision on when to remove the pin simple,
that Friday was the day.
That evening I got a call from my sister-in-law, telling me that my father (age
78) was in the hospital. Seems he fell off the roof
while working to
remove an old TV antenna. He was still in the hospital, with multiple injuries,
including a potentially fractured vertebrae, but his spirits are high. He had
been airlifted to a trauma center in Allentown, PA and was in ICU. It turned
out to just bumps and bruises, though it took a few days to be sure. I was getting
ready to fly down to be with him, which given my condition, would have required
me to bring all my records and X-rays with me in case my shoulder became infected.
25 August 2000
The pin was removed today with no problems whatsoever. The anesthesiologist
gave me a nerve block with caused my entire shoulder to just disappear
at least as far as I could feel. Then my doctor just unscrewed it. The pin itself
was a stainless steel threaded rod without a head on it. In fact, it looked
like something you'd buy in a hardware store, not some sort of high tech medical
gadget. A couple of quick sutures and I was done. I had to be careful for a
while, since the bone was not fully healed, but otherwise, not having the pin
poking me when I move was rather nice. Because I didnt get general anesthesia,
we were able to go out for dinner at Mex, a nuevo
just down the street. It was a fine meal, for many reasons, but perhaps mostly
because it marked an end and a beginning. Injury time was over, recovery time
now officially begins.
My dad was able to come home and was recovering. The suspect vertebrae was due
to his advanced arthritis, not a fracture, so they released him. He was all
bruised and cut up but that was better than what could have been.
Its funny how both my father and I were lucky while being unlucky. Things
could have been worse for the both of us, but it wasnt. He had had a number
of close calls in the Navy in W.W.II, but this was the first time for me.
Important for me, now that I had the pin out, was beginning Physical Therapy.
In my case, the issue was not moving my arm for all that time and the therapy
consisted mostly of moving my arm to further increase the range of motion. It
was surprisingly painful, considering how good my arm felt when it wasnt
moving. My therapist was a fellow motorcyclist and guitarist and our conversations
helped take my mind off the pain a bit. I progressed rapidly and soon was left
to finish my recovery on my own.
September 2000 and Beyond
The months after ending PT werent anything exceptional. Other than
a bit of pain when reaching above my head, my life became fairly normal again.
Eventually, I started taking Tai Chi classes at the local YMCA. I was stiffer
overall than I realized and the fairly gentle bending and movements were just
what I needed. The class was mostly women and most of them were past retirement
age so I stood out in more ways than just height. I did Tai Chi for a little
over a year. Even though Tai Chi looks like fairly gentle movement, it can be
strenuous if you keep moving. In fact, one more than one occasion, new students
would come in once and then never return.
Eventually, though, I started getting the feeling that I wanted more vigorous
exercise, so I enrolled in the same Karate school (Isshin Ryu style) my daughter
Liz attends. And that brings me pretty much to the present, and the end of the
history portion of this tale.
It would be difficult to go through all that I did and not have it change
me in some way. And that is definitely the case. Im going to try a lay
out what those changes are for me, please be patient as this is difficult, on
a number of levels.
First things first. There is no way you endure the kind of injuries that I did
without having some lasting physical effects. In the months immediately following
the accident, I truly felt at least ten years older. For a while, my hair was
falling out, Id wake up with a bunch of it on my pillow. My energy level
was so low, I couldnt get through a day without laying day for naps. But
all that dissipated over time. I still have some minor pain in the area of the
break, probably due to the muscles sliding over a rough spot on the bone. Between
my collarbone and my ribs, I always know when its going to rain.
Yet, despite all that, Im feeling pretty good. Taking Tai Chi and then
Karate was truly the right thing to do. I can bend over and touch my palms to
the floor, which isnt bad for a 45-year-old man. I still have a lot of
strength and flexibility to recover but Im on the right track. Its
somewhat ironic that it took the accident to get me back in a fitness program,
but thats what happened. I dont feel older anymore, if anything,
I feel younger.
Now onto the mental effects. This is difficult to write about and perhaps I
will regret this being in the public arena, but well see. Please be understanding
and open-minded when you read the next paragraphs.
A couple of weeks after I was home, we were watching Third Watch
cops/firefighters/medics show on television when I started feeling funny (I
cant describe it better, bare with me here). It scared me and I started
to hyperventilate (though I didnt realize it as such at the time) which
convinced me I was dying. Now Mary Ann was scared too, and she called the ambulance.
Our neighbors and my friend Steve (yet another instance where he been there
for us) came over as well, but there was nothing much they could do. Luckily,
the ambulance crew recognized it for what it was. They took me to the hospital
but all I really needed was the old breathing into a paper bag trick
to overcome the effects of the hyperventilation. I spent the entire time in
the ED on a cart working on controlling my breathing.
The skills in breath control have come in handy, as Ive experienced the
panic attacks now and again ever since. I still cant point to a specific
thing that triggers them so Im stuck with dealing with symptoms rather
than the root cause. But when I think of those who need medication or more to
deal with panic attacks, Im content.
Finally, there is a spiritual element to all of this that cannot be ignored.
If you dont believe in such things, feel free to skip this section.
Some background is in order. I grew up Roman Catholic and had 12 years of Catholic
education. But I stopped attending church when I got to college and have never
regularly attended since. But I never stopped believing in God or in an afterlife,
and tried to live according to the principles that I was raised with. Then the
The moments between when I hit the deer
and when I realized I wasnt dead
are a complete blank. Nothing. You hear about Near Death Experiences, where
people see a white light or meet deceased relatives. Not me, I saw nothing.
And it made me question my beliefs to the point where agnostic is probably the
best description you could apply to me. When you think about it, theres
nothing worse than someone who kinda, sorta doesnt believe. The truth
is, though, I dont know what to make of all of this, and my past is the
only thing that keeps me from being an atheist.
On top of that, I was brutally confronted with the realization that someday
I would die. Its something that you dont seem to take very seriously
when youre young. It probably comes to most people gradually, over time,
I just wasnt so lucky. Death is frightening enough on its own, but
contemplating it without the hope of existence afterwards, is doubly so. I am
just not ready to accept the idea that the being I am will simply end. Yes,
I realize this is incredibly selfish and inwardly focused. Considering the subject,
how could it be otherwise?
The Last Paragraph
Thanks for reading this far. I hope that this rather lengthy essay has told
you everything youve ever wanted to know about me. It was difficult to
write at times, but now that Ive done it, I wont have to do it again.
[I have to stop now]
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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