8/15/2004

Buckle Up!


It’s funny how some occurrences in your life, or the lives of people close to you can trigger memories of your own experiences.

This evening, when he was literally down the street from home, Z got in a car accident. He’s ok, except for some nasty whiplash and bad back pain. He was at a full stop, had been for a few minutes actually, with his left hand signal on when a guy cruising along going at least 40-45mph not looking at the road in front of him slammed into the back of Z’s car. Didn’t even break. OUCH.

Z said that he was in such pain; it took him a few minutes to actually be able to get out of the car. I believe it. I’ve been there. Fortunately for him, for ONCE he was wearing the seatbelt that I constantly harp on him to wear. Otherwise, his head would have gone through the windshield at the very least. His car isn’t drivable… neither is the guilty party’s either.

When he finally got home, I checked him over…Doctor Cyn , my alter ego took over, but within about 30 minutes… I started insisting I take him to the ER. He was in a lot of pain and had trouble moving.. I figured he had whiplash, I could see swelling even, but his back was really bothering him too. He didn’t want to go. Big Sissy. I told him, you think the pain is bad now?? HAH! Wait till you wake up tomorrow. Wouldn’t you rather have some “happy pills” to numb the pain now?” He just stared at me. So I changed my clothes, got my car keys, and ordered his ass into the car.

I have been accused of being too descriptive… using too much detail, specifically by him. (Sorry, I’m a detail kind of person! It’s what makes me , ME!) By comparison, he gives the most half-ass answers and explanations you’ve ever heard in your life. Frankly it drives me up the damn wall. So, with that in mind, I followed him into the exam room. Sure enough, he was giving half ass answers to the ER Doc.

So naturally I butted in to the conversation. The doc was satisfied that he didn’t have any internal injuries or anything serious from the seatbelt and just the whiplash. Um, NO. I told him, “Doctor, I was observing him walking from the car to here… he is walking very funny, completely different, and having what looks like bad spasms, cause he will stop mid-step.” Doc to Z: “Is this so?” Z: nods yes and rolls eyes at me. Next thing he knows, doc has him walking down the hallway. Yup, pulled the hell out of some muscles… but had an x-ray just to be sure it wasn’t anything else. Better safe than sorry I say.

He’s just happy he got a 3-day sick leave to be honest.

The doctor kept asking me how I knew the symptoms etc.. of the other typical types of injuries. I finally told him, I could never forget the ones I’ve suffered myself. I then showed him the painful result of the worst one.

I’ve been in too many car accidents; two in particular were pretty bad. The very worst one was when I was 13 and it was one of my injuries from this one that I showed him. My whiplash injury. It was so severe that I had to wear a neck brace for 9 months 24/7 excecpt for when I showered. My initial whiplash injury was bad enough, but it’s what happened in Phyiscal Therapy that really screwed me up. Part of the Physio in the beginning by mistake put me in a type of traction. A traction machine that would stretch my neck by means of a collar placed on me pulling my neck upwards. I would cry and whimper in pain and finally they realized they were screwing me up more than helping me when I started teetering funny.

I’m in the mood to list my injuries from this accident, but first I want to explain how I got so screwed up.

My friends brother was driving a huge GMC truck, she was in the middle seat, and I was in the passenger seat. He was a big dude. (I mean, BIG, about 380lbs) We were driving along, and it was, admittedly late at night. We ran out to get something or other (I was spending the night) and I think I dozed off on the way back home. We were in the far lane next to a curb, a drunk driver was in his far lane ahead of us…. Suddenly, he swerverd across 5 lanes to drive directly towards us in OUR LANE. My friends brother Ron had to make a split second decision which probably saved our lives. He decided to swerve right to avoid a head on collision , so he hopped the truck up onto the sidewalk and slammed on the breaks….the truck continued to skid, bouncing off a telephone pole, snapping head on a street lamp (you know those big silver ones like on a highway?) off and the cement level, went through a pole with a don’t walk sign and a small traffic light on it. The truck took that down too. Finally the truck stopped. I guess. I don’t remember ANY OF THIS HAPPENING. If I was awake, I’ve mentally blocked it out due to the trauma and severe shock I experienced. This is from the police report and reenactment and Ron’s statement to the police.

I don’t know how long we were there… I don’t remember. I remember coming to in the early pre-dawn light. Police cars everywhere and firemen, paramedics and an ambulance. Strangely enough, I was the worst injured, yet, because I didn’t have external bleeding except from the few lacerations under my chin, I wasn’t getting medical attention. I vaguely recall wandering around in a daze looking for Chrissy and Ron, not realizing what had happened then my friend’s father coming and hugging me. It seems I’m a very protective friend even when I’m unconscious. Ron was not injured at all. Hah. Pays to be heavy sometimes, doesn’t it?

My friend Chrissy, at the first impact when I was thrown forward, slid down in the seats (she was shorter than me also) and my body protected her. She did get a CB bracket stuck in her leg (so since she was bloody, she got all the medical attention). My head slammed into the windshield and my chest into the whole dash. Hard apparently. I must have whipped back. Then slammed forward again when we took out the second pole cause my head hit the windshield again in almost the exact same place, but then slammed down into the dash so hard it left an indentation of my chin in the thick plastic-like material with the material all splintered from where it cut my chin and jaw in several places.

Anyway, would you believe the paramedics didn’t take me to the hospital? My friends parents took me home to my mom. I kept wanting to sleep. She wouldn’t let me. I wanted to vomit and was badly nauseous also. SHE took me to ER after one good look at me. I was apparently in a severe state of shock.

After an MRI and countless x-rays where I just remember lots and lots of agonizing pain… this is a couple of hours after the accident now… I’m sure you all have figured I have the mother of all concussions, don’t you? Yeah. By this point, I was seeing everything in triplicate. Lacerations to the chin and jaw. Severe whiplash and a lumbar injury.

Shall I get to the internal injuries now? Cause those are amazing really. Cracked left collarbone. 3 separate cracks in my sternum (bone that holds the ribs together in front and protects your heart) and a hairline crack in 2 ribs. My entire chest from my neck, to just below my navel was completely BLACK and PURPLE. But mostly black from the bruising. One more injury to tell you…. My diaphragm (the muscle that moves in your abdomen when you breathe, low in your abdomen) was, to quote the Doctor, “all shredded to bits”, which, in addition to the other injuries, would explain why every breath was hell for me. All this wrapped up in a very severe case of shock.

I didn’t go to school for 4 months. My vision was blurred for about 3 of the four months. I was in so much agony, and on so many pills for pain that only took the edge off. There started the beginnings of my bouts of insomnia. As I previously mentioned, I had to wear the neck brace for 9 months…. Also, a back brace for almost a year all the time too. The total irony? About 2 weeks after I had the accident, I developed a HORRIBLE case of chickenpox. Then? A month after that I developed Mononucleosis.

I’ve never been the same physically, since. I have also worn my seatbelt every time I step in a car from the day of that accident onwards.

Occasionally, even now, almost 20 years later, like last week, my old injuries act up. My neck will stiffen up and I can’t turn my head. My back will spasm so bad that it hurts to breathe.

In case you were wondering what I showed Z’s doctor tonight? I showed him the hard painful bump on my spine, just below where the neck meets the shoulders…. Where my spine had started to fuse together as a result of the traction I was mistakenly treated with. 3 years with a chiropractor in my mid 20’s and lots and lots of adjustments prevented it from fusing, but the scar tissue is still there under the skin surrounding the spine.

I got sideswiped on the way to a new job here in Bahrain also about 5 years ago. I had just dropped Arianna off at Kindergarten , driven to work, and turned left, there was no car coming. From 4 cars back, a car whipped out and floored the gas, I didn’t hear the screech of breaks, cause he didn’t break….the passenger front door stopped him. I turned my head and saw his face when he hit me. And then I screamed. And the car spun sideways 4 times before stopping even though my foot was all the way down on the brake. The agony was instantaneous. The whole passenger side was caved in, the doors hanging drunkenly in their moorings. I ended up in the hospital for 5 days. Again with the damn neck brace.

Ah, funny how the memories come rushing back.

So now, from this serious post for today…. A serious request to you all. Yes, I’m gonna nag you now.

nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag nag

Please, please wear your seatbelts. Buckle up your children in car seats properly. I would hate for anything to happen to any of you.

3 comments:

Hula Doula said...

HOLY CRAP! I'm glad he is ok.
I'm on Mir's patrol! I don't go anywhere without a seatbelt! We go once every few months to the fire station and have the car seats checked and say hello to the pretty firemen!!
Yep Yep! I'm with you!

Indigo Wolf said...

I totally agree with you. I was in a much less serious accident when I was also 13. I had been wearing a seatbelt but it was only a backseat lapbelt. I ended up tearing ligaments in my back. Thank God for chiropracters huh? I'm glad Z ended up ok. Some people really don't deserve their driver's license.
-Carrie Jo

Katie said...

OMG! I'm so sorry to hear you went through all this! Yikes! And I'm glad your nagging paid off for Z and that he's pretty much okay from his accident.

Seat belt wearing is one of those issues I'm whole heartedly behind. My dad and two of my uncles are volunteer emergency rescue workers and I can't even count the number of times one of the them would come home from a car accident where someone died because they weren't wearing a seat belt.