About Opus

Hmm, about me…

Well to start off my real name is not Opus the Poet, that’s been my Nom de plume and Internet Handle ever since 1997, before that I was Igor’s Master for those of you who are old enough to remember CitaNet, which was a network of Citadel BBS systems that exchanged e-mails back in the late 80s and very early 90s. My legal first name is John, which is ordinary enough that when people ask for me by that name there’s always at least one other person that sticks his head up and says “Yes?”. If you want to send me money I can give you my last name so the check won’t bounce.

I didn’t start out with the intention of becoming an Internet Journalist, I just kinda stumbled into it. I used to be a help desk operator, until I was hit by a homicidal maniac driving a city pickup truck. That kinda messed me up, enough that I was physically unable to work full time for over 5 months after my wreck, and when I did return to work I discovered that I had been injured such that even though I could sit behind a desk 8 hours a day, I didn’t have the problem solving skills I needed to do my job any more, and that I was no longer as clear and concise a speaker as I was before the wreck. That was in 2002, about 7 months after the wreck when I was laid off. My brain still works, just not the parts I use to change thoughts into speech. I still have some difficulty converting thoughts into writing (or blogging) but I can use a number of online thesari to find the correct word to convey the thoughts I’m forming.

Yes, about that wreck. That wreck did a number on my mind and my body. You already read what it did to my mind, well the story isn’t any better about my body. Starting at the bottom and working up the overpressure of the truck hitting the back of my calf muscle burst open the front of my leg and blew off a large chunk of skin and some muscles and nerves. The bumper then cracked the tibia and broke the fibula. The fibula eventually knit back together with an ugly bump (if it hadn’t knit it would have had to been removed, I’m glad that’s one operation I avoided), and you can still feel the bump on the back of the tibia where the bone bruise calcified. The muscles that remained developed Compartment Syndrome, where swelling is happening but because of the membranes that contain the muscle the muscle can only swell so far before it begins to crush itself to death. One of the operations was to cut open that fascia membrane to prevent as much muscle death as possible. One of the complications that can happen with Compartment Syndrome is when the swelling starts to go down the dead muscle tissue releases myoglobin to the blood that can form crystals in the kidneys and kill the kidneys. Fortunately I had and still have excellent kidneys, both of them. I had to have a skin graft almost 9″ long and 4″ wide to cover the hole left in my leg, which is another experience I would not want to repeat.

Moving up the leg to the knee I tore both cruciate ligaments and the meniscus cartilage in my knee, which nobody knew about until I could start to move my leg again a couple of months after the wreck, by which time it was already too late to repair them, as my incredible healing powers had caused the ligaments to knit back a little “stretched” from OE applications. I have to exercise constantly to keep the muscles that support the knee when this happens in top shape or the knee will go out.

Next stop the femur and hip, this was the one injury I could tell them I had at the wreck. Let me tell you that is one very painful bone to break, it hurt so bad I didn’t even notice any of the other injuries, or even that I had gone temporarily blind from the tumbling after the impact. That evidently happened from hitting either the hood or windshield of the truck after the initial impact was with the bumper on the lower leg. This was the repair that took the most surgery as first they had to put in a “Gamma Nail” that ran the entire length of the femur to hold the hip in place as well as all the bits of the femur and was secured by a screw at the bottom of the bone just above the knee, and had a huge bolt holding the remains of the hip joint together and attached to the femur. After a while we discovered the screw holding the bottom of the Gamma Nail was catching on the bottom of the quadriceps every time I straightened out my leg, causing a scar and limiting the rehab of that muscle, so I had to have another operation to remove that screw after the bone had started to knit making the screw unnecessary. A few months after that I had calcification of the clot area where the Gamma Nail was inserted which made a sharp spur that constantly poked in my leg when I was trying to sleep, plus I was getting tired of the constant cavity searches every time I had to go through a security check because I would set off the metal detector every damn time they checked me, and of course I could strip down to my skivvys and still set off the detector. So to take care of both problems at once they took the device out of my leg. Somewhere along the way I lost 17 mm from the femur which has required me to wear a lifted shoe on my left foot to prevent horrible back pains. And the donation site for my skin graft was on that leg, too. Might as well keep all the pain and discomfort in one place.

Of course I had road rash all over my body where I didn’t have my crash shorts covering things. You can see exactly where the shorts ended, because that’s where the scars start. I have scars on both legs, both arms and I had the front of my face partially detached when I landed on it at the end of the crash. I have to say they did a very good job on putting my face back on as you would have to know exactly where to look to find the scars, but there is a bare spot in my eyebrow where the hairs didn’t come back.

All those operations with general anesthesia also did a number on my voice, as ortho surgeries require that the muscles be paralyzed with the equivalent of curare so that joints can be manipulated and bones set without reflexes throwing the doctor all over the operating room, so I had to have my breathing supported by a respirator connected to an airway. The only operation that didn’t require general and curare was when they took out the screw from the bottom of the femur, which was done with a spinal epidural. The bad thing about the epi was I was numb for almost 8 hours after the operation, and ended up leaking urine all over myself when I got “full” and couldn’t feel it. That was slightly embarassing… as was having to pee into a trash can because nobody thought to have a bedpan or pee bottle on hand after the operation.

After that I started doing some bicycle building. I had built one bike during my recovery from the wreck, mostly as something to do that wasn’t busy work until I could get back on my feet, as I had to go right to bed after I got home from working part time so that my leg could recover from the swelling caused by the poor circulation. I built new wheels from parts I had left over from the wreck of the bike and from new parts I bought at the bike shop next door to the place I was working, and after I could spend more time on my feet I welded up a new frame from an old BMX frame and more salvaged bits from my wrecked bike. I eventually sold that bike for $200.

I built another bike for a car show the next year, using all new parts except the frame which is another used BMX frame that was heavily modified. I used an extreme seating position that was almost completely supine and required a headrest to hold my head up so I could see the road. After I won my class at the car show I took the bike on the road and found out that the bike was almost unridable because of a handlebar geometry issue, and I ended up crashing several times during the first public display at a local paid ride. On the good side I was able to coast and keep up with the peloton on almost any slight downhill as the aerodynamics were so good. Terminal speed on a 1% downhill was almost 30 MPH. I made modifications to the bars and have ridden that bike for a couple of hundred miles since then but I put the bike away as to not damage it too much to take it to another show.

Winning my class at the car show got me a story in the local paper which got me some work building an modifying bikes and trikes for people with disabilities. I kept that up for about a year but since I couldn’t make myself charge enough for my labor I ended up losing money on every project.

I banged around trying to get work for the next 2 years, then I decided to start a blog, but my computer was running Linux and Mozilla so most blog sites crashed the browser while I was setting up the blog, all except an adult dating site. So my first iteration of this blog was surrounded by boobs and penises, and people advertising availability of same. But after updating the browser to Firefox I was able to use MySpace as my blog platform, for a while at least. After about a year of miscellaneous ramblings I was inspired to start posting articles and links to articles about bike wrecks and bicycle issues. My readership went way up, to an average 300 a week and sometimes almost 1000 per week. About that time MySpace started a campaign against phishing by filtering links and sending all links to a phishing warning before the reader could click on another link to the actual news site, and my readership plunged to a high of 250 and an average just under 200 per week. So, I went looking for a new blog home and after Pat O’Grady recommended WordPress’s free hosting service I ended up here.

26 responses to “About Opus

  1. As I always say, they are just another human whereas God knows better what’s best for ALL.My point is, why are people so afraid of marriage? Fine, I understand that marriage is not something you can play about. Or pride, in that we are told we need to side with the minority if we want to be good people- tolerant, helpful, loving, caring, and so on.I’ll look into how this relates to Christians explicitly next. Hawaii: If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you must have the written consent of both of your parents, legal guardian, or the family court. Women you know what I mean. But little by little theses two themes gathered.

  2. I love your site. Keep it up !

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  4. My fear is like winding up like Miss Gulch – or Toto.

    If I’m gonna go, it’ll be like the wizard. I live that more every day…

  5. Been a while since I have seen your name and heard from you. Hope you are well these days?
    Your story is a tough read, to think that anyone should endure what you have…well, as I said, a tough read.
    Be well. An old aquaintance.

  6. Hey Opus,

    I stumbled upon your blog and am wondering if you’d be interested in reviewing my new invention…

    I’m a bike commuter in San Francisco, and I’ve come up with a clever little device to lock my helmet to my bicycle. It’s called theHelmetLock and I’m trying to get the word out. I’d love it if you’d check out my website and let me know what you think. I’ll even send you one free of charge if you’re interested. ;-)

    http://www.thehelmetlock.com

    -Blake

  7. Sweet Jesus I love this site. Keep writing brother. Just stumbled here. Gems like this restore my faith in humanity’s ability to think.

  8. John,

    Keep up the good work. As a hobby, I am doing research on recumbent accidents, particularly fatality information. Your site is a big help, particularly when the word “recumbent” makes it into your write-up and allows me to do a global search on the term using your embedded search feature.

    Again, many thanks for your efforts.

  9. Thanks for the article about the insurance shenanigans in Michigan. My insurance agent is interested in reading it. I’m also planning on ensuring I have a reasonable amount of coverage “in case” since I’m commuting over 100 times a year.
    Fortunately, Nevada is nowhere near as bad as Florida when it comes to bicycle fatalities, but you know what they say, ‘ it only takes one’.

    As for your issues with transporting milk gallons on GiGi. I recently tried to stuff my panniers on my EZ-1. They’re 15″ tall and 11″ long. I easily fit a gallon of Mazola (there was a sale on that day), plus more stuff in a pannier.
    If you find a store that offers insulated carrying bags, you should be in good shape. One of our local grocery chains offers a rectangular cloth bag, with handles and a foil lined zippered closing top for a reasonable price. If not, there’s always the heavy plastic insulated hot/cold snap sacks that would function to keep the milk cold. Depending on the travel time and amount of shopping, you might bring along your own freezer blocks to keep the chill on your refrigerateables on the ride home.

    Just some musin’s….

    Thanks for your work.

    Leo Horishny
    Sun Valley, NV

  10. Kick-ass article, good looking blog, added it to my favs!

  11. As for your issues with transporting milk gallons on GiGi. I recently tried to stuff my panniers on my EZ-1. They’re 15″ tall and 11″ long. I easily fit a gallon of Mazola (there was a sale on that day), plus more stuff in a pannier. If you find a store that offers insulated carrying bags, you should be in good shape. One of our local grocery chains offers a rectangular cloth bag, with handles and a foil lined zippered closing top for a reasonable price. If not, there’s always the heavy plastic insulated hot/cold snap sacks that would function to keep the milk cold. Depending on the travel time and amount of shopping, you might bring along your own freezer blocks to keep the chill on your refrigerateables on the ride home.
    +1

  12. Dear Webmaster,

    I came across your website recently:

    http://opusthepoet.wordpress.com/

    I wanted to ask if you would please consider placing a link to my website called Biking.com?  

    It is a resource for anything and everything bicycling, cycling and trail riding.

    If you think it would be of use to your visitors, would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. We are happy to offer you a 10% discount to our Biking Store if you do so.

    Here is the HTML link you could add: Biking.com – the complete biking resource.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Thanks!

    Harry Roger
    Biking.com
    http://www.biking.com

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  16. Good info. I reached on your website by accident, so thanks.

  17. Hi Opus (John), do you ever write op-ed type columns? Your idea of separate-grade bike lanes maybe is the only thing that will really work. I’m sorry to hear about your accident. It sounds horrifying, but luckily, you’re alive.

    Lincoln Anderson
    The Villager newspaper
    lincoln@thevillager.com
    646-452-2464

    • Opus the Poet

      Well I used to work for Examiner.com for a while but their pay structure just didn’t work for me. I made $26 for about 200 hours of work over the course of a year. But I would be interested in doing an occasional op-ed. BTW Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of my death, are you close enough to Dallas to attend the party?

  18. Your story is almost enough to make me want to stop biking. What an ordeal – glad you survived.

  19. Seal Beach Rag Doll

    Opus,
    I was the bicyclist who was hit by the Long Beach Fire Captain in Seal Beach on 4/1/2011. I hope you are doing well and I’m happy I found someone who has survived such a horrible accident.
    Take Care,
    Jeff

    • Great to hear from you! Just remember, it’s the days above ground you’re looking for now. Enjoy every one as much as you can, because now you know how easy it is to run out of days. Drop in and talk to us some times and let us know how you’re coming along. Another thing to remember is that rehab pain now saves continuing pain later.

    • Opus the Poet

      I heard about this but didn’t get any links until now. I would have killed him just for the hit-and-run, but beheading for killing two people and then leaving seems… appropriate.

  20. Pingback: A little light bike reading to start your week « BikingInLA

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