Friday, October 7, 2011

Scary Stuff

And no, I'm not talking about Halloween kind of scary.

One of my best friends was in a car accident this week.  For the most part, she's OK, but she's understandably shaken up and is sore from the impact.  I wish it hadn't happened, but I'm certainly glad it wasn't worse.

The first time I really remember someone close to me being in a car accident was one of my aunts.  As I remember the story (it was a long time ago now), she was on her way to work and caught a red light at an intersection.  The light turned green and, naturally, she went.  So what happened, you ask?  An ambulance that was coming up to the newly red light at this same intersection got a call.  They hit their lights and continued through the intersection, t-boning my aunt.  Yep.  My aunt was hit by an ambulance.  Of course, then they had to send another ambulance to help, since that ambulance was clearly out of commission.  My aunt broke part of her spine and had to wear a halo for something like 6 months.  Thankfully she's doing fine these days, but needless to say, she was wary of that intersection for quite awhile.

Of course, I had friends get into fender-benders in high school, but nothing that really sticks out in my mind as especially bad.  The next big car accident I can recall was when one of my parents' neighbors fell asleep behind the wheel (at a stop sign, I think) and died.  I'd grown up with his kids, and he had been the Uncle Sam in our neighborhood's 4th of July parade for years.  I remember going to the wake with my parents, and I realized that Dad and I have a very defense mechanism in those types of situations.  We make jokes.  Not loud enough that others can hear, since we don't want to be disrespectful, but it's how we cope with things so that we don't fall apart.

I, fortunately, was not in an accident until about 3 years ago.  In fact, it would've been this coming weekend in 2008.  A few friends and I were headed to Six Flags for Fright Fest.  We were about to make the left turn to get to the park entrance, but the traffic was crazy.  The friend who was driving wasn't sure when she'd be able to go, and there wasn't a turn arrow to be found.  A moment of opportunity came up and she started to go, but hesitated.  One passenger was yelling, "Go!  Go!" and another was screaming, "Wait!  Stop!" and by the time the driver made a decision, it was too late.  The first car we thought was going to hit us managed to swerve out of the way.  The car behind that, though, hit us dead on in the rear passenger door, right where I was sitting.

If you've ever been in an accident, you've probably experienced a lot of the same things I/we did.  First, to this day I can't remember the actual impact.  I remember seeing the car coming, tensing up, and then I remember the feeling of the car being spun around me (since I was kind of at the pivot point), but not the actual point of impact.  When the car stopped, it took about a minute for me to realize that my glasses we no longer on my face.  In fact, they were behind me.  Next, the friend sitting right next to me (in the middle, cushioned between two of us) and I realized that our ponytails had come out.  Yep, the force caused our hair ties to come loose.  One of us called 911 while the driver called her insurance company.  None of us seemed particularly hurt, so we didn't request an ambulance.  One came through later, and my boyfriend (now my hubby), who had come to pick me up, told me he wanted me to get checked out, but it wasn't there for us anyway.  

We had to sit around at the gas station on the corner of the intersection for hours.  It turned out that I had kicked my left leg with my right leg and given myself a nice bruise.  There was also a scrape on my arm, and it might've been a bit swollen, but aside from that and a headache, all seemed well.  Since I took the brunt of the impact, everyone was even less damaged than I was.  I won't go into details, because it was a LONG afternoon, but we eventually decided to forget about Six Flags and just call it a day.  

The next morning when I woke up, my entire body hurt.  I have never in my life felt so stiff and achy.  I was walking like Frankenstein for the better part of the day, and it felt like someone rammed a pole straight up my spine.  Don't even get me started on my neck...  Aye yi yi.  I'm sure some people do fake whiplash, but when it's for real, that shit HURTS.

Looking back, I probably should've gotten checked over after the accident, just to make sure everything was OK.  Fortunately, I healed up after a few weeks and was back to normal.  Well, physically.  Even now, when I'm in the passenger side of a car and we make a left turn with oncoming traffic, I tense up and hold my breath.  I don't do it on purpose, really.  I think my body just doesn't want to feel that pain again, so it's become a knee-jerk reaction.      

For anyone interested, the driver of the car that hit us was really shaken up (she couldn't have been older than 16 or 17), but otherwise alright.  Both cars were pretty much totaled (I had to climb out the other passenger door to get out, since mine was partially caved in), but all the people involved were relatively unscathed.  

Since then, I've been in two "accidents." The first was when I was driving from Milwaukee to Madison at night in a snow storm.  I was going maybe 25 MPH on the interstate when my phone rang.  It was my mom, and I didn't want her to worry, so I answered.  "Where are you?"  "Crashing.  Can I call you back?"  I grazed a guard rail, which was not the best thing that could've happened, but certainly wasn't the worst. 

The other was a situation where Hubby was at a stop sign, about to turn, and got rear-ended by a minivan.  Fortunately, the only damage was a small part of the van (like part of the headlight, maybe) and no one was hurt.  Phew.

Moral of this post?  Buckle up, kids!  It can get bumpy out there...


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