Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Headache

Last night, on my way to the Austin-Bergstrom Airport in Austin, Texas, I was hit from behind while stopped at a light. The woman who hit me in her SUV was from out-of-town and had taken her eyes off the road. Personally, I wondered if she’d been on her cell phone. She plowed into my car, actually my son’s 2006 Kia Spectra5 hatchback, going at least 50 mph. My car was forced into the car in front of me and that caused a chain reaction with all the cars waiting at the light. There must’ve been 6-8 cars involved. I won’t know for sure until I obtain a copy of the collision report.

Anyway, the experience was quite scary. When I was hit, I felt the force of the blow in my chest, likely the result of the seatbelt doing its job. My brain and my organs were all jostled about. I don’t really recall hitting the car in front of me. Just the realization that I was hurt. I had enough wherewithal to feel for my cell phone and call 9-1-1. The operator asked me questions:

Operator: “What is the nature of your emergency?”
Me: “I’m hurt. Somebody hit me from behind. I’m in my car.”
Operator: “You’ve been in a car accident?”
Me: “Yes”
Operator: “Where are you?”
Me: “In my car.”
Operator: “Where are you located?”
Me: “In my car.”
Operator: “Where did the accident occur?”
Me: “I don’t know. I was on the way to the airport. I’m on 71.” (I looked up and could faintly make out the La Quinta Hotel sign.) “I’m in front of the La Quinta.”
Operator: “Stay on the line with me. Help is on the way.”

I could hear people talking to me, but I couldn’t focus my eyes to see anyone. It was such a scary feeling wondering whether I was severely injured or not. My next thought was about Gene, who I was supposed to pick up from the airport. I left him a message on his cell phone, knowing he would be arriving in the next 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, a couple of people were trying to talk with me through the passenger side of the car. A young man opened the passenger side car door and asked me for my insurance information. Another woman poked her head in the door and asked if I had called 9-1-1. I told her I had. She was also on the phone with them. The young man again asked if I had insurance. I told him I did. My brain wasn’t computing why he was asking me that type of question, instead of asking if I was okay. I said, “Are you the one who hit me?” He replied, “No, I was at the front of the line. I’m just on my way to the airport and need to get your insurance information.” I replied, “I’m hurt.”

Then, a fireman knocked on my window and asked, “Are you hurt?” “Yes”, I said. He pried open my door and began asking me more questions. Officer Nordstrom from the Austin Police Department arrived and took care of the young man who’d been bugging me.

My eyes came into focus and an EMT replaced the fireman by my side. He asked me where I was hurt and began to examine me. I had the need to try and stand up to see if all my parts were in good working order. He explained that, indeed, my internal organs and brain had been seriously jolted, causing my headache. He said I had experienced trauma and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. Initially, I told him yes, I wanted to go to the hospital. But, once I stood up and realized there were no cuts, no blood, no apparent broken bones, just bruises, bumps, a very sore neck and back, I opted not to go to the hospital.

Many years ago when my son was young, I was rear-ended by a driver and was taken to the emergency room at the nearby hospital. I was there for hours and hours, only to be told there was no apparent damage. The thought of repeating that experience, even if there was something wrong, did not appeal to me. The EMT kept an eye on me while the accident was being cleaned up and asked if I’d seen the back of my car yet.

As the EMT directed me towards the back of the car, I gasped at the damage. I nearly cried. One of the firemen told me how lucky I’d been and that my Kia had held up very well. In fact, several of the emergency responders commented that the Kia had held up well under that type of impact.

Then, I walked to the front of the car and saw the hood had buckled under the impact of me hitting the car in front of me. The site was amazing, and I truly felt blessed at that moment.

The police officer informed me that my car would be towed, obviously totaled, and asked how I wanted to get home. I told him I could take a taxi to my friend’s house. Then, I mentioned that I would call my friend at the airport and tell him to also take a taxi. Officer Nordstrom offered to drive me to the airport to locate my friend and suggested we take a taxi together. He felt it would be best for someone to have an eye on me after the ordeal. I agreed and accepted his offer.

Before we left, I saw the grill of my car lying in the street and picked it -- a memento of my gratitude for the life I have and the body to experience it in, a reminder of my holiday headache.

Life is Full of Unexpected Blessings, Y’all!

No comments:

Post a Comment