Saturday, July 14, 2007

Perspective

It's hard to decide how to start this blog post. Do I write a narrative, starting with the mundane, building suspense to the point of the crash, then show what happened after as denouement, leaving catharsis for a later post once I acheive such state myself? Do I begin with the terrible crash and the horrific moment of flying forward, smacking into another car? Do I go for humor, talk about how the other driver sure picked the wrong car to demolish, what with being owned by a lawyer engaged to a soon-to-be lawyer?

The important thing is that I walked away. Not unharmed, but I walked away, and so did everyone else in the accident. I know this, and I haven't lost sight of that, but I'm still pissed as hell.

I was stopped at a traffic light, waiting for red to turn green, talking to a coworker with whom I've formed an occasional carpool. She-- the other driver, that is-- claims that she never saw us, never saw the light, doesn't remember the accident at all, she just knows that her airbags went off. I call bullshit. I bet the stupid cow was talking on her cellphone. She never touched her brakes-- not only did I not hear a squeal of brakes in the moment before the crash, we drove past the accident scene the next morning on the way to try and get my personal belongings from what's left of my car, and there is not a single skid mark.

My car, my poor, wonderful, well-cared for car, did its job. It crumpled. There is nothing left of the back end, really, and what's left of it is sitting up in the back seat. In fact, the first thing I thought when I saw the car the next day was, If we'd had children in the back seat of the car, they'd be dead. The first thought I had when I got out of my car in the immediate aftermath, glass everywhere, the smell of smoke in the air (I guess from her airbags), the sound of sirens coming toward us, was I can't believe I'm not dead right now. The front end is crumpled from being forced into the car in front of me.

The accident happened right in front of a police station, just a couple of miles from a hospital, and the police and ambulance were there within minutes. The EMT took one look at the wreckage, identified me as the driver, and strapped me to a backboard. I've never been claustrophobic, but the first few minutes strapped down like that, utterly immobilized, were extremely frightening. I started to gasp for air, feeling panicked. They gave me some oxygen and the feeling of panic lessened as I got over the initial shock of being unable to move even a little. I could feel something scraping at my back, and everything else felt like I'd been kicked by a horse. I heard the EMT call in our ambulance MVA, 31 year old female restrained driver, possible spinal injuries, and the ambulance lurched to a start. No sirens, though, so I pushed back the terrible thought that I might find myself unable to walk or worse. The EMT made a joke with me about how I should make sure to call the local TV Personal Injury Lawyer because the woman in the SUV was so clearly at fault, and I started to laugh, because it popped into my head for the first time that I am, you know, a lawyer.

Ash came to the hospital and met me in the emergency room. I cannot begin to describe how distressing it was to know that people were coming and going, talking to me and about me, but I couldn't see them. All I could see were the ceiling tiles, which, because the pediatric room was the only open room when I arrived, were covered with little paw prints. Ash stood next to the bed, talking to me so that I could tell where he was. After a physical exam, I was unstrapped from the backboard, but the neck restraints were left in place and I was instructed to lay still while we waited for a pregnancy test to come back-- and boy, was it fun to use a bedpan! I think I'll go out and buy one for recreational purposes!-- and then they wheeled me off for an extensive set of xrays. The doctors and nurses who took care of me were very kind and reassuring in what was really a frightening situation for me. Finally, it was confirmed that nothing was broken. Official diagnosis: soft tissue damage. I've also got scrapes and bruises from my seat belt (thank you seat belt, for keeping me safe) and my shins are bruised from, I think, hitting the edge of the console. I've picked some glass out of my scalp, and there's a spot on my back that I think may have a small piece of glass in it still.

But I walked away. And if you could see the remains of my car, you'd be amazed by that.

Today, three days after the accident, I am still in a good deal of pain. I missed two days of work so far, but I am hopeful that I will be able to go back on Monday. Thursday was bad, Friday was worse, and today was better than either Thursday or Friday. My back hurts a lot. It feels like my spine is being compressed when I walk. I'll be following up with my physician later this week sometime. I must admit that I am very, very scared about the possibility that the pain won't stop, that I'll join the millions of people who have chronic back pain, and it's pissing me off. The careless action of some idiot driver is causing me physical pain, financial loss, and no small degree of inconvenience and stress in dealing with insurance. And my wedding shower, which was scheduled for today, had to be cancelled because I can't travel such a long distance just yet.

I might not be quite so angry about all of this if it weren't for the fact that she's not taking responsibility for what she's done. Maybe she's very remorseful and I just don't know it. Maybe she hasn't been able to sleep for worry about the damage she caused. But her statement to the police was the biggest piece of bullshit I've ever seen. And just to add insult to injury, when Ash and I went to get my things from the car, we saw hers: it has a dent in the front and the airbags deployed. That's it. Her insurance will pay to have that fixed and her life will go on. My car is obliterated. And they probably aren't going to pay me enough to have it replaced.

You've probably noticed that I didn't mention the driver of the car in front of me. I habitually stop a good distance back from the car in front of me for precisely this reason-- you never know what the person behind you might do. I still hit him, but the damage to his car was pretty minimal-- it looks like I knocked his back bumper off and that was it. Thankfully, the police report specified that I had "no contributing action" in the accident, so even his damages will go back to the SUV driver with no question.

We all walked away from the accident. That's the most important thing.

7 Comments:

At 11:53 PM , Blogger Sonja said...

Grrrrr. This makes me so angry!
I'm glad you're okay. Or at least getting there!

 
At 12:27 PM , Blogger Krista said...

Oh, my goodness! I can't believe that happened to you! I'm so sorry.

I have back problems from a high school injury. If your doctor wants you to go to physical therapy, I HIGHLY recommend it. Insurance doesn't always cover all the treatment, but, if you two can swing it, it will save you so much pain and misery in the long run.

Hopefully, however, this is all just bruising and you won't need any of it. I'm so sorry, honey. Big hugs.

 
At 2:36 AM , Blogger pacatrue said...

Wow. I am so happy that you are still with us to be pissed as hell. I've never really been in such a situation, but I do understand the angry part. My first year here I was riding my bike downhill when a car pulled out right in front of me. Trying to stop, I flipped the bike and ended up in the emergency room with cuts all over my face getting a CAT Scan. In the end, I only needed a few stiches, but I still remember walking around just pissed off for a week or two.

A week later I was using a crosswalk and some car started to turn right on red where it isn't legal and was coming right at me. I glared right through him and shot my arm towards the "no turn" sign. Considering your accident was so much more than mine, give yourself some extra time to stop being angry. Eventually, it went away for me. Well, it went away until I started reading political blogs. Stupid, stupid me!

 
At 3:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are still with us. The world needs more lawyers! As a former insurance adjuster, I feel that it is my duty to inform you that 1) there is no such thing as soft tissue damage, and 2) Chiropractors are EVIL!!!!!! (Like Nazi bad).

I can't tell you the number of times an obviously guilty driver "just didn't see the other car AT ALL!!" Those poor innocent drivers, minding thier own business when !BAM! an intersection just appears! My favorite excuse was when someone would claim that the deer hit them.

Hope you feel better soon!

-M-dad

 
At 9:17 PM , Anonymous Christina said...

Wow... how scary. I'm so glad you're mostly OK. Sheesh.

I also wanted to quickly comment that I totally agree with what Krista said about physical therapy. If, after you've tried therapy, your back/neck still is in pain, I'd recommend looking into prolotherapy. I've had it done on my shoulder (and toes) and it works wonders and is non-surgical.
www.getprolo.com

Feel better soon!

 
At 4:51 PM , Blogger Liz said...

Oh my God! I'm glad you're okay. And your co-worker? He/she was in the car with you, yes?

 
At 8:46 PM , Blogger katze said...

Liz--

My coworker had soreness and bruising. However, his seat collapased, which seems to have spared him from the same sort of back injury as I suffered. The driver's seat does not collapse on impact, presumably because it's more important that the driver have a chance to control the car than to have that extra bit of energy diverted.

Krista--

I am really amazed at what a difference the PT has been making for me!

Paca--

WOW. That must have been super scary for you! I'm always terrified that I'm going to clip a biker even when I"m being very careful for just that very reason-- they get hurt much more than another car driver would!

 

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