Before I go on, I have to say something about the condition of Market Street on the south side, the side I was on. For some reason, the city decided sometime back in the 80's or maybe early 90's, I think, that it was a good idea to use a cement mixture to "extend" the sidewalk about 6 feet into the street between 13h and 6th Streets. So, you have the sidewalk, curb, and one lane of "sidewalk" in the street. No one walks on it, it's just another lane for vehicular traffic. Now, after a number of years and all sorts of street work, the cement lane is pretty rough to ride on. It's very uneven and there are areas where asphalt has been used to patch up previous road works.
It's about 12:45pm and traffic on Market Street is light. So, I'm riding and as I approach 8th Street, the red light changes to green and I accelerate and then...nothing. The world around me disappears and I have the strangest feeling that I'm suddenly dreaming. In my mind, I'm even thinking that I'm dreaming and about to wake up in bed. Well, I did wake up slowly, and only after having crashed somehow just after passing 8th Street. I wasn't hit by another vehicle. What I remember is a vague feeling of my rear wheel going sideways out from under me as I rode, which means I possibly crossed an uneven line in the cement and went down. The thing is, I don't remember hitting the ground at all-I simply blacked out.
What I recall after crashing is in bits and pieces: people around me, helping me lock my bike to a near-by bike rack then I was being loaded onto a stretcher and into an ambulance. Here is where I started regaining full consciousness. I ran through a mental checklist of things, like where I was, what day it was, what I was doing, etc... and then the EMT personnel started asking me a similar series of questions to determine how mentally fit I was. They took me to Jefferson Hospital where I found out that I hadn't broken anything and only had a few patches of skin ripped from my hands. That's it. I was wearing a helmet which probably saved my life. There is an area on the side of it that absorbed the impact. I still had an abrasion over my right eye, which was swollen until today. I also didn't have any headaches, blurry vision, nor double vision, so my brain was working well. Thankfully, I didn't need stitches; they used a skin glue to close the eyebrow wound. In the meantime, one of the nurses lent me a phone to make some calls. One of which was to my wife, who was at work and my best friend, also at work. They arrived at almost the same time.
I was extremely lucky to not have had any more injuries than I did. I mean, as a painter, the use of my hands are pretty necessary, and even though they were hurt, I won't have any problems doing what I need to do in the studio. Besides my hands, I've had no other soreness nor aches, and thankfully, no road rash. They kept me in the ER for about three or four hours. After the x-rays and cat scans came back clear, they gave me the go-ahead to leave.
I'm still not over those minutes I lost on the street being unconscious. I keep wondering how exactly I fell and how it was that I wasn't hurt as much as I could have been. I don't think I'll ever know, but I am thankful for whoever saw what happened and called for medical assistance. I'm also thankful for my body's defense mechanisms.