Friday, December 16, 2011

Adventures with: A Telephone Pole

This summer was a hot one. There was practically no rain for months, and I thought we would never have grass in our yard again. September brought random forest fires throughout my area - some arson - and at one point; I had to evacuate my home. It was terrifying, stressful, and I am immensely glad that it is over. When little sprigs of grass began to reemerge in November, I had to sit on the ground to admire them and thank God that my slice of Louisiana had regained its usual mugginess.

I am not going to blame the rain. I am too glad to have it returned to us to shake my fist at it. I suppose it is an easy enough thing to forget, the danger of driving on a wet road.

I was on time for what I needed to do for work yesterday. It was my turn to buy the daily drinks for Bookboy and I at the library since he was kind enough to buy this poor woman lunch. I had ample time to go to the store and post office before opening the library. I was not in a hurry, and I was not driving fast.(1) I was not on my phone(2), as it was playing Beauty Queens by Libba Bray over my radio for me. I was not distracted. It probably saved my life.

As I rounded one of the corners on windy Highway 168, I watched an 18-wheeler go over the yellow line into my lane. This is a common occurrence on this road; many people avoid driving on it when possible for this very reason. There is only one thing a person can do, and that is to take the ditch. I have done this numerous times because there are discourteous truckers going through Ida and Rodessa quite regularly.

This time was different. Instead of stopping in the shallow ditch, my car began to slide toward the trees on the side of the road.

This is not the location of the accident, but that an example of the roadside flora.

I knew if I went into the trees, things would be bad. Not only are there tall, bendy pine trees, but there are tall, magnificent oak and pecan trees. However, the only way I could miss the trees on my crash course is if I hit a telephone pole.  It is not very often that I have to choose between the lesser of two evils on such an awesome scale. I would have preferred not to hit anything, but there was no way to avoid it. I turned the wheel, and began to spin.

Many people cannot remember anything about their car accidents. I refused to allow myself to lose control of my senses, even though I had relinquished control of the car as I spun toward the telephone pole. I did not indulge myself in lost consciousness as pain enveloped me as my car slammed once, then twice, into the telephone pole. I was convinced that the impact would break my shoulder as pain exploded everywhere, but I stayed in the moment, even as the airbag exploded underneath my chin, throwing my head back. I saw and smelled the smoke rising from the hood of my car even before I stopped. I knew that I was going to have to leave my somewhat-beloved Mazdarotti as soon as the car stopped spinning, despite whatever injury that I might have.

I have heard recounts of other accidents where people say that time completely slows. Mine was over in probably less than five seconds. As soon as the car stopped, I pulled cords to bring my phone to me. It was close, as I believe it was what hit the front of my head during the whirlwind inside of my car. I jumped out, leaving everything else where it had landed because not only was the hood smoking, the airbags were as well. My entire car stank.

I was surprised that the door easily opened. The cords connecting my phone to its charger and my iTrip were wrapped around my seatbelt somehow, so the most difficulty I had was disconnecting from all of that. Once I was outside of my vehicle, I knew that I needed to call for help. I felt completely fine, except for an achy shoulder (I checked - it did not feel broken), so I called my coworker because I knew that he was closest. I then called my aunt & uncle because I would need a ride to work, and they were also close. It was not until my beloved aunt began screeching at me about calling 911 that it occurred to me at all. Why should I? I was uninjured and the 18-wheeler was most assuredly long gone and probably already out of state. I promised my aunt that I would call 911 immediately, just to get off the phone.

Thankfully, the first car to pass by my accident was a good enough Samaritan to stop. They had slowed to look at the accident, and then saw me wandering by the wood-line about a thousand feet behind the car and rushed to me. Luckily, the wonderful man and his children were not on an adrenaline high and had the good sense enough to call 911 for me. I took that opportunity to start ranting to his son (who was very young and driving the car) about not having his seatbelt on, because I was convinced then, as I am now, that it was the only thing that kept me in the car and probably saved my life.(3) The Good Samaritan then had me sit in his car instead of on the fence that I had found because it was still raining and I was shaking like a chihuahua at a pit bull party. More cars came. Bookboy arrived and retrieved my belongings from the car, and my family came to check out the car and me. A childhood friend stood at the front of the car, and kept me talking and distracted from everything. She told me that I should take my earrings out (she knew that I would be going to the hospital, even though I had been trying to convince everyone that it was quite unnecessary). I was able to get one out, but the other was stuck. Apparently, when the airbag hit, one of the French hooks went into my neck. Thank goodness my childhood friend was also a mother (we have iron stomachs, most of us lot) and kindly pulled it out for me. I think that was what bothered me most of all and set me on the path to being convinced that I should seek medical attention.

Once the adrenaline began to wear off, my head began to hurt - badly. My neck was extremely painful (not where the earring was, mind you), and it scared me. Once I began to feel dizzy and queasy, I told my aunt that it was time that I went to the ER. I had called my doctor, but she said that it would not be a good idea for me to go to the office. Duh, Kayla.

A police officer met me at the ER door and took my statement as I waited to be treated. He was a high school friend's father, and it was very comforting to talk to someone I knew. The doctors were unfailingly kind (as always), and one was extremely hot (a nice surprise). I checked out well enough. Nothing was broken, but I did manage to sprain, strain, and tear a good number of muscles. I am also supposed to wear a neck brace for a few days. >.<

Overall, I consider yesterday a win, despite my car losing its fight - and life - to the telephone pole.

Taken by my aunt at the wrecker's location - the fender is still at the site of the wreck

Here are the only injuries that I can post, because you are not seeing my hematoma rainbows on my chest and thighs unless you buy me dinner first.

This is where my neck had been burned and bruised by the airbags

I did not even notice that my thumb was sprained until I had gotten home

There are no words for how grateful I am to be safe and alive today to write this blog post. I have friends who have died from hydroplaning and similar accidents, so I was blessed to walk away from that accident, mostly unscathed, and to come home to my daughter and my family after only two hours in the hospital. I am not saying that I do not hurt - I do, oh, I do - but this is definitely the lesser of two evils.

(1) Please ALWAYS leave early and drive slowly when the roads are wet. I am so glad that this bit of wisdom was drilled into me even before I started driving.

(2) You know not to text or call people while driving, especially when it is raining, right? (Just nod and agree.)

(3) Please buckle up anytime that you are in the car.

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