Three years ago I was in a car accident.
I was the last car in a line of cars trying to merge from one freeway to another when a guy in Ford Econoline E350 work van was driving along, texting on his cell phone and not paying attention to where he was going.
I was at a dead stop.
He was going 55 miles per hour (that was the CHP estimate, he was probably going faster…) and not looking in front of him.
I saw him coming at me in the rear view mirror.
I saw the back window buckle first. It sort of got pushed up from the bottom and then it popped.
It’s kind of amazing how your perception of time changes in a moment like that…
I felt the shards of glass hit the back of my neck at about the same time I was aware of being pushed into the car in front of me and then the back of my seat collapsed, fell back, and was pushed up again by the hybrid system battery pack being forced through the seat behind me and pushing the car seat (empty – thank whatever gods there may be) into the back of my seat.
Then I became aware of the noise.
Somehow, the van careened off of the back corner of my vehicle and struck or was struck by a car in the lane to the left of me. It was that car that t-boned me on the driver’s door.
I was flung forward against my seat belt at an angle and then bounced back to hit the post between the front and back seat with my head.
I don’t remember anything after that for what I’m told was about 35 minutes.
I regained consciousness with paramedics asking me if I could move my arms and legs and whether or not my neck and back hurt.
“Yes,” was my answer to all of the above.
I was proud of my succinctness, and amused but the whole situation.
The next thing I remember is one firefighter talking to another,
“Be careful there, this thing has side airbags.”
“Yeah, I don’t know why they didn’t go off, but you don’t want it breaking your arm if it decides to go off now.”
They decided the only course of action available to them was to cut the doors off and take out the post between the front and back seat.
I didn’t much care, I was just sort of floating there in space and time, aware of most of what was happening, but not really involved.
They tore the car apart, cut the seat belt off of me, cut my shirt off as well (it was wedged in something, I think..) and secured me to a board to carry to the ambulance.
The ride in the ambulance to the trauma center was interesting, but not really worth relating. You imagine it being a smooth ride at high speed, but it was really mostly stop and very little go.
I had no idea how badly I was injured. I am lucky to be alive. I am grateful, every day, that my kids were not in the car with me at the time. I had recurring nightmares about that for over a year. I still occasionally do.
I have constant pain from my injuries. I have not had a day completely free of pain since then, but most of the time it’s pretty manageable.
I broke my collarbone, cracked one of the vertebrae in my neck, broke three ribs, cracked my skull, got knocked unconscious for about half an hour, and suffered tremendous intra-muscular scarring as a result of tensing up right before the impact.
The bones have all healed by now, the soft-tissue and psychological damage remains though.
My car was totaled. I was out of work for four months. When I finally did go back, I had to take a different job that was closer to home because I couldn’t handle the commute. I wasn’t able to pick my kids up for a year.
I’m a different person now.
I have some physical tics. My back feels like it’s always tense, and that my spine needs to pop. This causes me to lurch my shoulders and twist my back and neck several times an hour, and much of the time I’m not even aware that I’m doing it.
I get grumpy a lot. I snap at people for things that don’t merit it sometimes. Constant pain, even if it’s low-grade and manageable, wears on you like nothing I’ve experienced before.
I was addicted to opiates.
I kicked them, but I’ll always be dependent on over the counter drugs, TENS treatments, physical therapy, or something else in that vein.
I exist in a constant state of conscious suppression of my pain and the emotions that fall in its wake.
Usually, I can ignore it. I can push past it. I can act and appear as if it’s not bothering me, but it’s always there.
Patience is one of my super-powers, and without it, I’m certain that I’d be an angry and useless person. I manage to live mostly in grace and love, and I am grateful for whatever it is within me that makes that possible.
I am stronger than I ever believed I could be, and I’m getting stronger every day.
Today isn’t a good day. I have a lot of pain, and I’ve retreated into my own mind more than I normally have to, but I am still here, and I’m going to be here tomorrow.
There are people who love me.
There is one who is Devoted to me, and she made me dinner and sits here beside me, wanting to take my pain for me, and though I’m not a Sadist, sometimes I wish I could lend it to her for awhile.
I am fortunate. I am strong. I am alive. I am Adored.
I am Rant.