Screech, Crash, Ouch
It’s usually a cliché to say so much has happened since my last post, but in this case I feel it’s actually true!
For the past two weeks, I’ve been laid up recovering from a car accident that occurred on April 30th. I was coming home from work, and exiting the freeway at a busy and dangerous off ramp. There was a semi parked in the right shoulder, and the driver was in the center divider looking to run across the road. Distracted by the truck and driver, I didn’t see cars stopping in front of me (probably someone was turning left – there’s a gas station entrance about 100 yards from the off ramp on the left). I slammed on the brakes, which was not enough to stop a collision but was probably enough to save me from more serious injury, because the impact tore up my right foot pretty badly but the rest of me is unharmed save for some bruises and soreness that disappeared a few days after the accident.
After the impact, I realized that I had been in an accident, and I guess I’ve seen too many TV movies or something because my first thoughts were: I’ve got to get out of the car before it explodes! and I’ve spilled hot coffee on myself! I’ve heard that strange things can go through your mind at times like these, but really! So I jumped out of the car and realized several things at once, including: something is really wrong with my right ankle because I can’t put any weight on it, the rest of me is fine, and I’ve left the car on and in drive and it’s still revving into the car in front of me. I jumped back into the car, put it in park, turned off the engine and grabbed my keys, and what I could find of my purse and its contents, which were scattered all over the front of my car. Then I hobbled out and around the back of the car, yelling for someone to help me.
The truck driver, who had distracted me earlier, turned out to be a stranger in the area who had been asked to stop by his trucking company who, oddly enough, wanted him to check another semi parked on the freeway because they “thought the driver might be dead.” In my state of shock this was really too much to take in (the other semi was vacant, by the way) and I asked to lie down. The trucker was very helpful and helped me lay down, and I propped my tender and extremely swollen right foot on the bumper of his semi truck, using my sweater for a cushion. From this strange position lying on an off-ramp next to my crashed car with my broken foot propped on the bumper of a semi, I called Jason to tell him I’d been in an accident, that I was mostly all right and that someone had called 911. He stayed calm and we agreed that I’d call him when I found out which hospital I was going to, since the accident had happened about 20 miles from work but 50 miles from home.
I was starting to shiver and was in shock but overall I knew that everything was OK. I talked to the truck driver and another semi driver who had stopped to help. They were very sweet and tried hard to make me feel comfortable about lying in the road, which was kind of freaky. I tried to assess the situation from this vantage point. I was pretty sure I’d hit a white van or SUV, but really wasn’t sure until I heard the police report. I couldn’t see it anywhere. My foot was huge, but I really thought it was my ankle that was broken and didn’t even consider that my foot might be messed up. I looked at my car, and saw parts of the engine lying on the ground under it. I figured it was totaled.
Soon firemen arrived, with EMTs not long after. They advised that it would be faster to return to the hospital in the town where I worked, even though it was much further from home. I called Jason and said I’d call again from the ER. I then had to be strapped to the backboard and my neck was put in a brace, which is really unnerving and uncomfortable. When they hoisted me up to go into the ambulance, I couldn’t move or turn my neck and could only see a square of blue sky above, and that’s when it all hit me and I started to cry. I’d been in an accident. I was going to the hospital. I was hurt enough to be going in an ambulance.
My first, and hopefully only, ambulance ride was not fun. It was painful and uncomfortable, and since I am scared of injections and getting blood drawn, I was terrified of getting having to get an IV. I have really small veins which make it hard to find a place to stick. Plus it makes me queasy. The EMT’s were very nice and I have to say that overall I felt safe and taken care of. After a couple of tries, the tech could tell I was freaking out about the IV and said forget it until the hospital.
I was wheeled in on a gurney and left in one of the ER “rooms” -- you know, that curtain on a rail that goes around the bed? Almost immediately, the ER doc came by and checked me so that they could remove the neck brace. He cleared me for neck and back injury, and moved down to my injured extremity. I told him my ankle was injured. He felt from my knee all the way down to my ankle… no pain. He lightly squeezed my foot. I screamed and pulled away in agony. “Oh,” he said, “it’s your foot.”
To be continued…