Think. Think.readerlogo

by James Casey

I’ve got to get this article started. Okay, “Readers Ride.” Think. Think. A column where I interview a reader about themselves, their bike and their favorite day trip. I’ve got to get this going, but when I first agreed to do this I didn’t know I would be in this wheelchair for the rest of my life. Okay. Think. Think…

August 21. It is a Minnesota summer night: hot, humid, starlit. The bank clock tells me it’s 9:00. Other than the occasional bug bouncing off my noggin, I’m at peace. We finished sanding the floors today, and I smell of sawdust to prove it. The beers I had at Johnny’s were well earned. I just had that 10,000 mile service done, and the bike roars its golden song, as I slip onto Highway 252. In fifteen minutes I’ll be home…

At least I’ve got to get an outline done and faxed before I go to physical therapy. Maybe I’ll start with some potential interview questions. What do we want to know about the reader? Think. Think…

I’ll wait a minute and then give her some juice to get out of this blind spot. If I jump ahead of the car in front of me, I’m in the clear to get away from this group of cars. There. There’s the opening I’m looking for. A little gas, a smooth shift back into the left lane, and I’m home free. What the hell is that car next to me doing? Jesus Christ, she doesn’t even know I’m here! I ain’t got a shoulder to work with, but I’ve got to get out of her way. Oh Christ, I’m fishtailing like crazy…

How about…”How long have you been involved with motorcycles? What was your fist bike? Do you do a lot of touring, or do you cruise mostly around the city? What is your most memorable ride?”

I know what my most memorable ride was. In fact, it will be my last ride; until I get out of the hospital…

I’ve to get her straightened out and back on the pavement. More gas. More gas will pull her out of this fishtail. There. There. Ease her back up onto the…Sparks? Oh God, I’m airborne. The world’s turning and turning. The old lady’s going to be pissed tonight. I’m face down, and I can’t move.

I want to open my eyes, but I can’t. My mom is here. Cindy’s here and some of my bros. My mom is talking to me. She’s saying that my back has been broken, and I’ll never walk again. I’m so tired. Cindy’s standing over me holding my hand. I love her so much. I want to tell her, but I can’t speak. I don’t have health insurance. I think I’m in trouble. Something about Medical Assistance. I drift off again.

“Mr. Casey, we’re going to put you under and fix your dislocated elbow.” I look at my elbow, and it is surreal and grotesque in it’s swollen state. I would kill, rob and pillage for a 7-Up. My throat is so dry, and I’m so sleepy…

Okay. I’ve got my interview questions ready. Man, this is going to be a great column — every month a new reader and a new one day ride. No more Sundays wondering where to go. Of course, I’ll have to get a new bike, one with a side hack and a place to put my chair. There is the matter of Medical Assistance, Social Security and lawyers destroying my finances. If only I would have known who to turn to for information about how to protect myself and my assets…

“Mr. Casey, we need to take you to x-ray for some more pictures.” I want to cry every time I hear those words. They are the prelude to torture So far they have operated on my broken ankle, my dislocated elbow, grafted a piece of my hip to my spine, encased a portion of my spine in metal rods, re-operated on my spine to prevent infection and been able to do nothing for my broken ribs. They bend me and twist me to take more pictures of my skeleton. One of my first clear memories is of a nurse trying to cram me into an MRI tube ten sizes to small. I’m sure half the hospital heard me screaming for my mother…

Hey, I know what we need for this article. We need a map of the reader’s favorite stop-offs — restaurants, bars, scenic lookouts, service stations, anything of interest. Yeah, a good clear map is the key to trouble free travel. I wish to hell I had some kind of map to guide me through the great abyss of Medical Assistance, Social Security and financial doom…

“The first obligation you’ll have, Mr. Casey, is to liquidate all your assets. You seem to have considerable investments. These are the most liquid, so you’ll probably want to start there. We do allow you to keep one vehicle and also your house. Everything else must be sold for fair market value.” Christ Almighty. If I had done even a moderate amount of financial planning for a disabling event I could have saved my finances. That attorney I hired has done nothing so far but cost me time and money. My caseworker for Medical Assistance seems to want to separate me from my money and then to deny me any medical aid. There must be someone out there who can tell me what my rights are. I believe the worst financial decision I ever made was to save two hundred dollars a month by not getting health insurance…

It’s almost time for my next therapy session. Three hours a day whether I feel like it or not. I’m sure I’ll master turning over soon. From there we’ll work on sitting up, getting in and out of bed and transferring from my chair to a car. I want to finish outlining this article first. I really like the idea about the map. Otherwise everybody would just be blundering along with no clue.

M.M.M.

Author’s note: This is not fiction. I urge each of you to talk to an attorney and financial planner about the possibility of such an event. For those of you who choose not to, maybe I’ll see you at the Courage Center. Ask for Crash Casey.

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