Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Year, minus a day...

(The about photo is not from my wreck, but is a representation of what the other car looked like at 110mph combined impact;...and what, no doubt, my car would have looked like were I in it, and not my truck)

On August 26, 2008, I had a meeting with fate. The day was ordinary enough; I had just finished a 12 hour shift at the hospital. Walking out to the parking lot, I spied our white Ford pick up truck, a F350 4x4 we use as a work truck. You see, my car was in the shop, again. Why couldn’t they just fix that electrical problem so the battery would stay charged? However, instead of grumbling about it, I was actually in a reflective, yet positive mood. It was by luck that we even were able to buy the truck; I had a fond picture in my mind of my husband driving it with his cowboy hat on and a big smile on his face. Yes, I was truly thankful for God’s blessing. Really, to be honest, I felt moved to thank God for that truck.

Little did I know that not 30 minutes later I would cross paths with drunk driver, a man down on his luck, at the bottom rung of desperate and probably suicidal. The sun was setting as I turned the corner to head up the hill. I was maybe a mile from my home. I slowly accelerated as I approached the crest of the hill. Suddenly, up over the top of the hill came a pair of headlights staring right at me in my lane. I moved over to the right, the headlights swerved to my left. I let out a half breath as I thought the driver had corrected to his own lane. I was wrong. He swerved back into my lane, veering straight for me. I veered the truck to the right as far as possible and hit the brakes. The dusky eve made it hard to see, I couldn’t remember if I was near the high berm or near a drop off that went down into the desert. This whole length of time was all of about 3 seconds though it seemed an eternity of slow motion. I hoped that I was far enough over that he might just side swipe me.

A glance over to my slight left told me there would be impact in less than a heartbeat, the head lights were there just in front of me. I remember yelling out, "No!". I heard a load roar, saw the white from the air bag and then all went black. I came aware to the silence of nothing moving, it was all black and grey in the twilight. Somewhere in the distance a horn was blaring. It was my truck’s horn, I realized, going at full blast, but it sounded so far away. I felt all alone; and, I was trapped. I tend to be a bit claustrophobic so this was not good, and there was smoke from the airbag, the engine? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I couldn’t get out of my door. My chest felt like a ton of bricks, with a sharp piercing pain any time I moved. My ankle was folded over onto itself; and the steering wheel was closer to my legs, so it was hard to move. I couldn’t raise the middle seat divider to even crawl out the passenger side. I was trapped. I was alone. It was all I could do not to panic, yet I did to a point as anyone would, even with the training of a first responder. It was all I could do not to give into the spinning dull heaviness in my head. I had to stay awake. I had to call for help. My phone was miraculously still in my pocket, though hands shaking, I was able to dial home knowing my husband was there.

Funny thing the mind, and the emotions. I thought to be the calm cool professional when I called him. After all, my work requires me to stay level headed and rational. Yet as soon as I heard his voice, I lost it and starting crying, my voice raised, yelling into the phone, he sounded so far away. I told him my location. However, what I told him was impossible because the name of the roads which I told him were not even close to each other. I was looking at the nearby hill but gave him the name of a hill road 5 miles away whose name I was more familiar with. Luckily for me, he was able to call the local police station and find out if a wreck had been called in near the route I usually take home.

Meanwhile, I realized that I wasn't alone; I saw some people outside my truck, but no one was coming to help me. Why? Why were they not coming up to my truck to help me? Finally, a woman came and looked in the window. She tried to open the door but it wouldn’t budge. She walked around to the passenger door and tried to open it but it was locked. I was so tired, my head was so heavy. She kept knocking on the window, what did she want? Oh, I need to unlock the door. She crawled into the cab, saw my name badge, and identified herself as a former co-worker, a nurse from the emergency room of my hospital; I told her my name and that I worked NICU and something about calling my husband. She started asking me questions, but I just wanted to go to sleep. She was relentless. She told me I had given my husband the wrong location. I tried to argue; funny, it’s in the blood even then. Finally, I told her, “it’s all right, my husband will find me.”

Soon, everyone and the world showed up. I found out later, no one wanted to approach the truck for fear that they would see a second fatality like the man in the car. I was told that only 1% survive wrecks like mine, with minimal injuries like I sustained. I thank God for that. To think of the events leading up to me Not being in my car that night. Gives me the shivers, really. I think, again, one year later.....to what purpose am I still here? A lot of personal growth, a marriage strengthened, I've met friends for life over a praise song on the internet, as well as other friends since. I have an overall better outlook on life; and that, though we have choice, it is not by our power really that things are. Such is faith.

My days aren't perfect and rosy, nor do I always feel chipper and cheery...I still do my share of whining/whingeing.....but there is a much stronger undercurrent of gratitude, strength, humour, wisdom. I am humbled by those who I know and know of, who were not as fortunate in their outcomes; this seems to bring a greater burden, a more weighted outlook to life.
(if you've made it to the end of my rambling, then I thank you....I still think I have more questions than answers, though, to this thing called life...perhaps you have a story to tell as well...then we can put all the pieces together and maybe make some sense out of it all...! :))

reference post


Anonymous said...

Well your story has certainly given me a better perspective on the expensive damage that my daughter did to my car a week or so ago. Nobody hurt. She wasn't drunk, just a bit careless and unlucky. The car will be repaired by tomorrow and the money is just money. Just a slightly different angle of impact, a heavier car to collide with, and it all could have been very different and much worse. I don't have any Faith, but I do give thanks to the Universe that her shunt was so minor. And thanks to you for putting it in proper context for me.

James Higham said...

I've read this and it was horrendous.

I've been in close to but not this exact situation and one goes right back to first principles after that.

Move on from it as best you can.

CherryPie said...

Thank you for sharing your awful experience with us.

The fact that you are here to tell the tale after what happened is quite amazing and I find your outlook about it quite uplifting.

His Girl Friday said...

thank you all for your kind words. One year later, one year better... :)

James Higham said...

Now it's not minus a day.

Mrs Successful said...

Firstly I'm so glad that you've shared the story of your car crash HGF. It must've been a devastating experience and words can only begin to describe what happened to you. However, it's good that you put it down on paper (so to speak) and helped us all gain strength through your experience and faith. We might never know when we'll need it.

Secondly I know from your blog that music, words, family, friends and a great sense of humour have helped you reach where you are today - so keep in touch with all of them and enjoy every day you've been given. xx