Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I have an anniversary coming up

Five p.m. this evening will be one year since I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. It seems like just yesterday only without so much pain. I was on my way to have dinner out with my parents at Pappadeaux. I never made it and we all ended up at Sonic at Ten Thirty that night.

My only thoughts were WTF and Oh Shit...
I was excited to be going to Pappadeaux; we had just been there a couple of weeks earlier to celebrate birthdays for me and my dad. As I was heading North on 19th Avenue, a road with 3 lanes each direction separated by a turn (aka: suicide) lane, this drunk jackass with no insurance pulls out of a gas station to my right. He intends to head south. I am in the innermost lane; next to the turn lane. Instead of turning into either the turn lane or a southbound lane, he turns into my lane.

My only thoughts were; What the F#@& and Oh Shit. There was no time to react and nowhere to go to avoid the collision. There's a car to my right (How far back is he? I'm not sure...) and I can't go left; he may try to adjust. I just remember the site of this silver car accelerating toward me and the screech of my tires as I braked- then nothing but white. I'm not sure if the white is from the hood of my car crumpling up in front of the windshield, from the airbag that just saved my life, or from the powder with which the airbag was packed. It was probably all of them.

What is wrong, I can't breathe, everything looks hazy; I have to get out of here. I unbuckled my seatbelt and tried the door, the window was gone and the door was crumpled to the shape of a lightning bolt... it's not going to open. I crawl over the center consol and open the passenger door. I'm out!

My truck is facing a building to the right on the other side of the road; blocking two lanes. The drunks car is facing the building two doors to the left of the one mine is facing blocking two more lanes. I'm numb my heart is racing. My first thought is where is my cell phone? People are rushing out to see if everyone is ok. A City Park Ranger at the gas station radio's for help and blocks off the traffic. The driver of the other car is resting, hanging on his steering wheel.

He is uninjured; however, his passenger is hurt pretty badly. Someone is asking for paper towels to stop his bleeding. I look down to find I am dripping blood. I have some cuts on my left hand and on my legs where they hit the dashboard. My left hand feels funny… tingly like my ring finger and pinky are asleep. I'm feeling a little dizzy. Where is my cell phone?

Someone suggests I sit down, I think it was the Park Ranger. My phone is buried on the floorboard along with everything else that was loose. I grab it and sit down. I try to call my parents cell… no answer. The driver of the other car is looking out his side window with this glazed look on his face… staring off into space. I hear someone say, "I smell beer in his car."

I'm shaking now… coming down from the adrenalin high. My chest hurts, my wrists hurt, and my back feels funny. Police are arriving; an officer asks me for my license, my registration and my proof of insurance. He says he'll be right back- when I find them.

The front end of my truck has been pushed back to the front wheel on the driver's side and the windshield is broken where my left hand came off the steering wheel and went into it. The steering wheel was pushed upwards. The truck is a total loss.

The officer is back and I give him my documents and tell my story. By then the Paramedics are there. They quiz me, but all they hear is "back". Next thing I know they have me on a backboard with a collar around my neck- the last thing I see other than sky is the other driver still sitting there with that glassy look in his eyes staring off into space. They wheel me to the ambulance; I have my right pocket stuffed with everything I can carry. My left hand isn't working so well.

We're off to hospital. The backboard is starting to bother me. What's that vibration on my leg? My cell phone is ringing. I'm trying to get it out of my pocket but it stops before I get it out. It starts to ring again and I manage to get it out, I answer but can't get it to my head to hear because of the collar. I hand it to the Paramedic and he explains to my mother what has happened and where they are taking me. I find out later that her first words were, "Oh F#@&". From my end of the conversation, I never would have known that.

We arrive at the ER; I've been here before, this is where they took my dad in '99 and 2000. He almost died twice in seven months… it looks very different when you're on the gurney. This backboard is starting to hurt!

It's all about my back in the ER; they don't even pick the glass out of my hand or clean and bandage my cuts. I have broken my left arm at the elbow, as well as my left ring finger on the knuckle (even though it was visible on the X-Ray from my arm, I didn't find out about this until I went to the orthopedist a few days later). I've sprained everything on my left side from my fingers thru my wrist to my back. I also sprained my right wrist (I'll learn later that it's a bitch putting on pants with two sprained wrists). I also have a huge bruise across my chest and waist, and some small burns from the airbag on my legs.

Have you ever had one part of your body hurt so much that you didn't notice other injuries? My broken arm didn't bother me for weeks. Initially most of the pain was in my chest. I go to the Costco a week from the accident; later that day my back hurts so badly I can barely move. It continues for the next week, nothing else matters.

As time progresses I notice pain in my left leg near the ankle and at my hip when the weather changes. Through the year from the accident, the pain progresses from the softest tissue to bone. I would have thought it would have been the reverse.

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