CENTRAL POINT — Faced with his second near-death experience in six years, Rogue Creamery co-owner David Gremmels is more perturbed about missing a cycling event to benefit arthritis sufferers than he is about having to sit still long enough to fully recover.
To say that he is impatient about both scenarios would be an understatement. Gremmels didn't even lie on the ground to wait for help after a July 23 bicycle crash that yielded a ruptured spleen and myriad injuries.
The fit 52-year-old hopped right back on his bike after the crash — which occurred at the end of his long, steep driveway when he tried to avoid a ground squirrel and did an involuntary "endo" — and finished the 12-mile trek from his home in the foothills above Phoenix to his office in Central Point.
Oblivious to internal bleeding, he rode his bike home from work that day, to and from work the following day, worked on his farm for a bit, and even stopped at a coffee shop heading into work on the third day.
That's when he "starting to feel uncomfortable," so Gremmels asked his assistant, Paula Rissler, to schedule an appointment with his doctor and give his partner, creamery co-owner Cary Bryant, a heads-up.
"My doctor couldn't see me until the afternoon, and before my appointment I started to feel really uncomfortable with back and chest and shoulder pain, so I asked Paula to call Cary," Gremmels said.
"He did a quick assessment and put me in the car and headed for Medford, and he said, 'Providence or Rogue Valley?' "
Opting for the closer of the two hospitals, and reasoning that Providence Medford Medical Center had saved his life after he was struck by a truck along Pine Street in 2007 in a near-fatal hit-and-run, an extremely uncomfortable Gremmels arrived at the Providence emergency room having nearly bled out.
While hospital staff marveled at Gremmels' productive three days following internal injuries, Rogue Creamery Marketing Director Francis Plowman said Creamery employees didn't bat an eye.
"The fact that he got right back on his bike and rode the rest of the way in to work, I think, was a surprise to doctors," Plowman said. "But to those of us who work here in the office with David, it was not a surprise at all."
After a three-day stay in the hospital and hundreds of emails, texts and cards from around the world, Gremmels is hinting at attending meetings soon, while Bryant and doctors are gently reminding the injured wildlife humanitarian that early November is more realistic.
Gremmels attended a family reunion in Massachusetts two weeks ago and sounds like he's ready to be back at work.
"I'm probably returning part-time in September, and I hope to be back on my bike the first of November."
With a hint of sarcasm, Gremmels, who describes himself as "a big supporter of the National Wildlife Federation," admitted he would probably avoid the squirrel maneuver next time.
Gremmels said his biggest disappointment is that he will miss the 2013 Amgen People's Coast Classic, a 380-mile ride along the Oregon Coast to benefit the Arthritis Foundation that's scheduled for Sept. 8-13.
"It's an important cause and one that has been near and dear to my heart for the past three years, so I'm hoping people will help me support the cause even if I'm unable to ride," Gremmels said.
Gremmels urges fellow cyclists to wear helmets — as he was during his accident — and he is scheduling bike safety classes for participants of the Creamery's bike-to-work program.
He even sees a silver lining in his squirrel encounter.
"My accident has truly been one of those things that give the opportunity to pause and reflect on life," Gremmels said.
"It's important to truly live our lives and take care of ourselves. One of the things medical practitioners kept mentioning was my being in good shape, and I credit cycling. It took me 50 years to find something I could really engage in, and I've enjoyed it so much that I can't wait to ride again on Nov. 1!"
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.