God’s hand of protection
“Help me Jesus!” Those are the last words I remember saying before my motorcycle went off the road. And Jesus was there, protecting me more than I realized at the time.
Father’s Day 2008 was a warm summer day. My husband, Rob, and I left the bed and breakfast where we had spent the night and headed through Thompson Canyon toward Estes Park, Colorado. It was our second day of riding. Our girls, then 13 and 11 years old, were spending the summer with relatives in Ohio, and we were making the most of our free time together. This was the longest trip I had taken riding my own motorcycle. I had faced some challenges the day before because a detour took us on a tightly curving dirt road that tested my concentration and skill. Rob and I made it through it without incident, and I felt good that I was able to keep the 700-pound bike under control. It was a milestone, but little did I know that another test was ahead.
The morning of June 15, Rob and I geared up in full leather and put our helmets on (as usual) and headed down the road. I was enjoying the ride through the scenic canyon as I followed Rob on his bike. We had just passed a line of cars when we came to a left-hand curve. As I went into the corner I realized almost immediately that I was not prepared for it. I was too far to the inside and had no where to go. If I cut into the other lane I could be hit by a car coming from the opposite direction.
Panic rushed through my body. I pushed the handle bar down as hard as I could to lean into the turn. I must have let off the throttle because the bike became very unstable and began to swerve back and forth. I put the breaks on which stood the bike up, and I looked straight forward because that is where the bike was headed. “Help me Jesus!” I said out loud as I realized I was going off the road.
I stayed on the bike as it hit gravel. I could hear the engine rev as the back tire left the road. As I hit the ravine I was thrown and broke the handlebar forward with my left side. When I hit the ground, I rolled head over feet for what seemed like forever and came to rest in the bottom of the ravine. I landed on my back and looked over at the bike, which was obviously totaled and smoking about 50 feet away.
I was keenly aware that the air had been knocked out of me. Although its face mask had been torn away, I yanked off my helmet to get more air. My left knee and right hand hurt a lot. I was trying to crawl out of the ravine when I saw Rob pull up on the other side of the road. He always watched me come through turns and had seen me go off the road in his side mirror. This was his greatest fear ever since I started riding.
By this time I began to have significant pain on my left side. I laid down and tried not to move too much. Rob was at my side, and a few other motorcyclists stopped to see if they could help. We had no cell service in that part of the canyon. Rob had made several attempts but was unable to reach anyone. Finally, one of the people who stopped got a connection to the highway patrol, although the call dropped several times before Rob could tell the dispatcher exactly where we were.
It seemed like forever before the ambulance got to us. I was in a lot of pain by this time, but was happy to see the EMT workers. They managed to get my leather jacket off before strapping me to a back board and loading me in the ambulance. With every movement it felt like a knife was being twisted into my side.
No Surgery Required
When they got me to the hospital in Estes Park, a CAT scan confirmed that my spleen was ruptured. Miraculously, I had no other serious injuries. The doctors attributed it to the fact that I was wearing all of my gear, but I know that it was also the result of God’s protection. The emergency room doctor told me that they would have to airlift me to another hospital where I would probably have surgery to remove my spleen. It was all happening so fast that I wasn’t able to process everything. All I knew was that I was happy to be alive and that it was not my time to die.
Rob arrived at the hospital as the flight nurses were getting ready to take me to the helicopter. He had overheard the doctor tell someone from the medical staff that I was in serious condition. We both broke down when we saw each other, and I kept apologizing for the bike. Obviously, he told me how silly it was to worry about a thing that could be replaced; all he cared about was that I was alive.
They finally gave me some pain medication and loaded me on the helicopter. I was feeling pretty good by this time and remember the gorgeous ride over the mountains. I told the nurses that they had the best job EVER! When I arrived at the hospital in Loveland, they told me that I may not need surgery after all. They put me in intensive care and said they would wait and see if the spleen would heal itself.
There were others in that intensive care unit who had been in bike accidents. They were not doing as well as I was because they were not wearing protective gear. Three days later the spleen was healing, and I was well enough to be moved to the post trauma unit. On day five I was released from the hospital. I was told that I had to take it easy for three months before I could do anything strenuous or get on a motorcycle again. A week and a half later I was back at work, and three months to the day I was back on a motorcycle.
Since the accident, God has shown me the many ways He protected me. The place where I crashed was one of the very few spots on the canyon highway that did not have a guard rail, sheer rock wall, boulders or a cliff that dropped into the river below. Had my spleen injury been any worse, surgeons would have had to remove it. That would have meant a lifetime of antibiotics and other possible health issues since the spleen plays a significant role in the body’s immune system. Even with the significant internal bleeding I remained stable. My blood pressure dropped only once to a level that concerned the nurses.
Hundreds of people all over the world were praying for me. I learned that the night before the accident, God had told my father that I was going to be in an accident. Dad began praying immediately. I am so grateful to God that I am still able to be a mother to my girls and a best friend to my husband. As big as our God is, He is as near as a whisper in our time of need.