A bag of bones

On Monday evening I was hit by a motorbike. I headed out on my own small motorbike to pick up my friend after work. We were about the turn into the parking lot of a popular rooftop Bar-Restaurant at the other side of the street, here in Ho Chi Minh City, South of Vietnam, when we were hit by an accelerating motorbike. The other driver came from the other side of the road, went from parking to full throttle, didn’t look out, crashed into my left side.

It’s bewildering how time slows down in such moments. My first reaction was to let go of my motorbike’s handle bar, drop the motorbike and jump off to safe myself. But then something inside of me said, hold it, your friend is sitting in the back, you can’t drop the motorbike. You need to hold it stable.

What a strange thing, sacrificing oneself for the safety of someone else. No regrets, no second thoughts, but indeed very strange to feel this primal connection to the monkey brain so clearly.

I think my sacrifice was very worth it though. My friend said if I had not pulled up and recovered my motorbike from falling, then it would have crushed her lower leg, very likely would have broken it. Also, she would have fallen onto the street. She said we were very lucky because the street was very busy with hundreds of other motorbikes and lorries and cars, but in the very moment of the crash there was no other vehicles passing by. My Vietnamese friend, my neighbour, who has been in an almost deadly motorbike accident merely 5 years ago, where a passing truck almost rolled over her head, missing her head only because she lifted it away in the very last second.

My friend, her legs were so shaky she could hardly stand or walk over to the side-walk, and was awake for most of the night, but she was unharmed, not a scratch. I asked the other driver to move back to the parking on the other side of the street and discuss this over, exchange contacts. That’s where I collapsed. During the accident I didn’t fall and I didn’t hit my head, but the overall hard impact of the motorbike crash must have rattled something inside of me. The world went blurry like the backdrop of a photograph. Everything became muffled, moved into a distance. My legs gave in. I could feel my friend and the other driver trying to hold me up. The color profile switched to a warm cozy brown and red. I felt warm and save. I was thinking, “Is this the end? Is it finally over? It feels nice. It’s so peaceful.”

X-ray showed no bones were broken. My left arm felt painful but there was no visible damage. I felt a big relief. Now, almost a week after the accident the bruises are crusted over, the pain in my left foot, left lower arm, left wrist and left side of my hip is largely gone. My motorbike is fixed as well. And there might be a chance that I get reimbursed for my expenses, by the other driver.

I didn’t tell my brother or my mom any of this. No need to worry them, it all ended well. The reason why I write this blog post is this:

In the night after the accident there’s something strange I’ve noticed in my left arm: when I tried to turn it there was some clicking noise. Some crackling, as if the bones were not connected properly. During the night I worried that my radius bone might be broken, which luckily turned out not to be the case as confirmed by the doctor. But later that day I noticed the same phenomenon in my right shoulder, and then in both feet and both knees. A crackling, a clicking, when I moved. It was as if the tensioning network of my tendons and muscles got loose. As if the strings that held my bones and joints together were loose. I felt my joints became loose like the legs of my IKEA chairs. I took a long rest.

Another day later the clicking of my joints and bones was gone, apart from some tender spots everything was back to normal. The miracle of the human body. I’m not sure what to make of it, but it seems like the tensioning of my bio-tensegrity network that holds my skeleton in place is not genetic and not mechanically fixed, but entirely done and upheld dynamically. Done either by the brain, or by some chemicals or hormones or adrenalin or something.

Interesting. For the duration of one day I had the impression that the human body is just a bag of bones that are held together by soft tissue, best practice and good will. Nothing is set in stone.