Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A rat isn't racing anymore...

Well, I'm a bit disturbed, I guess. Went riding around a bit in the evening and was cruising through downtown when I rolled to a stop just behind a dying rat at an intersection (I think it was Broadway and 10th). It had just been hit by a car and was laying there, twitching and looking mightily uncomfortable.
No, I did not take any photo of the rat dying on the street...
I never quite realized how expressive rats can be. This one had a broken back and probably a few broken ribs that had collapsed his lung. He couldn't breathe very well and kept lifting his head up trying to get more comfortable and also looking mighty horrified at his situation. He was hit rather than ran over, so his body was all in one piece. Both he and I knew that that wouldn't last very long after the light turned green at the intersection, though. I would almost swear that he was very aware of how awful his last moment looked destined to be.

Don't mistake me for any saint, though. I think the scene disturbed me much because I had a bad crash while riding down Catalina Blvd earlier in the year.  I was riding with a track group and when a rider ahead of me hit road debris and went down, it started an icky chain reaction, so to speak. Luckily I didn't break any bone, though it took the ER surgeon much suturing to make me look presentable again. I was wearing a helmet, of course, and so only had a mild concussion and was able to quickly get off the ground after impact, and got safely off the road. I had a much milder crash back in 1993 when my hand slipped off my mountain bike's handlebar when I hit a speed bump while traveling at less than walking speed. I didn't have my helmet on that time, though, and had a much nastier concussion that practically pinned my head to the ground after impact. My eyes rolled back toward the back of my head, so I couldn't see anything. That was one of my most terrifying experiences - laying on the pavement downhill from a blind curve, conscious and aware but couldn't see anything (I couldn't tell which way I should roll to get off the road). It probably only lasted less than a couple of minutes, but it felt like forever. So... I could sort of feel what that rat must have been experiencing...

I wished he had been knocked out or had died on impact. I couldn't fix him, nor did I have any syringe of anesthetic hiding in my jacket pocket that could offer him some respite... I guess the best thing I could have done would have been to stomp on his head to end his suffering as quickly as possible... but I hadn't the stomach for such brutality just then. No matter how merciful it would have been. So, I copped out, in a way. I had some Kleenex on hand and managed to use that as glove to lift the poor rat off the pavement, deposited him on the dirt under the nearest tree on the sidewalk before getting back on my bike just a few seconds before the light turned green.

He never made any noise, though he was definitely still (barely) alive when I took off. He even looked at me. I don't know what the look said. Maybe it didn't say anything and he was spacing out by then. After all, there's a really good reason why you shouldn't move a trauma patient before stabilizing his head, neck and torso unless you absolutely have to. I hope that didn't hurt him too much.


earwormopera said...

The poor critter. I wouldn't have had the stomach to step on him either, even if it would have ended his misery.

But I shuddered far more when I read about your accidents - those sound utterly terrifying, especially the one where you couldn't see. Did people nearby come to help you?

Smorg said...

Hiya C!
Yup. I don't know if I did him any favor transporting him to the sidewalk. He probably died not long after that. I guess I was hoping that 'fading out into the dark' was less terrifying for him than watching huge wheels rolling his way.

Oh, that 1993 crash was utterly stupid on my part, I'm afraid. It was on Labor Day on school campus (I was staying over while most people went home). Had hopped on the bike to go get the newspaper and forgot to put my helmet on. There was just nobody around to see the crash and to help afterward. I was rather grateful for it, tho (it was embarrassing), but it could have gone really bad had my skull not been so thick indeed. :o) I was terrified because I knew that I was in a bad spot on the road (cars would really be all over me before they saw me) so I needed to move to the shoulder, but I couldn't tell where the thing was.

I was still very lucky there, tho. No broken bone and no big cuts, but I walked like a drunk for a few days after that. That definitely was the last time I ever rode a bicycle without wearing a helmet.

Thanks a bunch for stopping by! Hope your November is going well! :o)

Anonymous said...

I think you are very brave picking up Mr Rat - I know he should be the same as a squirrel or bunny but there is that thing about the tail that makes me, and several others, a little squeamish. I'm sure he was very grateful to be placed gently in a more quiet place by a Goood Samaritan.
And go carefully young Smorgy - that's obviously a very dangerous place you ride around in!

Smorg said...

Hiya Eyes,
Ugh! I didn't think it would be different either... that was until I actually started pulling him off the ground with his tail. There was something unpleasantly elastic about that thing that reminded me of snakes. If he wasn't injured I probably would have dropped him right back on the ground, but I figured I was probably hurting the poor rat more than he already was when I pulled him up that I might as well get him to the sidewalk so he didn't suffer for nothing. :oP I sure don't look forward to picking up another rat... at least not by the tail!

But I will be careful indeed. Thanks! :o)