It's over two years since I was cleaned up by a car that failed to give way. The car hit my bike just forward of my knee, catapulting me sideways onto the concrete. I didn't break anything, but I got a pretty bad case of whiplash as I went over.
Until then (actually, until 3 days after the crash), I had always viewed whiplash as a method for con-artists to milk money from insurance companies. It's been given a horribly bad name thanks to people running around in neck braces.
Whiplash refers to the act of tearing all the muscles and ligaments in your neck. Now to someone that might have played a bit of sport, that doesn't sound so bad. People get hamstring tears and knee injuries all the time, and you don't see them running around squealing like stuck pigs. They are usually lying on the ground, rolling around and squealing like stuck pigs, but the injury heals and there are no demands for compo.
The problem with whiplash is that your neck is supporting a great, big, fat melon, and it has to do that 24 hours a day. If you pop your knee, you just elevate it for a while and hobble around on crutches. You can take the weight off it, and allow it to heal.
Necks aren't like that. There is no downtime for the neck, so healing takes forever - up to 18 months. During that time, you can experience an awful lot of pain. I was off work pretty much for 3 months after the crash, and I am a workaholic that would work in an iron lung. It was pretty amazing to be laid out so badly that I was unable to function for that length of time. The killer was the headaches - headaches so bad, no amount of painkillers could blunt them. So doing any work was out of the question, let alone driving, weeding in the garden, lifting the kids - even carrying much in the way of shopping.
To put it bluntly, I was thoroughly fucked. I would lie in bed for days, trying to find that perfect position where the pain eased off enough for me to snatch a bit of sleep. At times, my head would feel like a large multi-faceted crystal, with each point a source of throbbing or needle-sharp pain, and any action that set off the pain would cause it to bounce and rebound around inside my skull. I'd see colours behind my eyelids. I had dreams whilst I was awake. The pain was intense enough at times to make me throw up.
Why recap all of this?
Because every now and then, it recurs. I had another relapse today. I woke up around 3am with a bit of a throb in the head, and by 7am, it had turned into a fullblown riot inside my skull. By 10am, I was reduced to trying to sleep in the bed closest to the bathroom, lest I had to bolt quickly for the toilet to chunder. That turned out to be the Monkey's bed, which is a single bed and about 4 feet long. With a mattress 2 inches thick. I made the best of the vaguely milky-smelling Bob the Builder pillow, and the short doona with penguins in it, but my feet froze and my knees locked up from having them tucked under my chin.
1000mgms of the strongest legally availably anti-inflamatory pills and 12 hours of rest eased it to the point where I could line my stomach with KFC. Funny how at times like this, grease and salt and sugar appear to be the answer to most ills.
This happens every few months. I'll be laid out for 1 or 2 days, utterly unable to function. Which is where the personal injury lawyers come in. I pursued the other guy's insurance company, and got a payout earlier this year. It was not huge, but it will cover me being too sick to work on days like this for about 10 years - ie, loss of income, some medical treatment and an ongoing need to buy anti-inflamattory pills for the rest of my life. The ambulance chaser pocketed 1/3 of the payout, but at least I got some cash out of it.
The lesson from this is that if you do get clocked by a car, take the other bastard to court. Your injuries could follow you around like a bad smell for the rest of your life.