March 10th is a strange anniversary for me. My husband says that it is a day that I shouldn’t drive. It’s my birthday that doesn’t fall on my birthday.
Three years ago, I was excited because that afternoon, I had purchased to tickets for the race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Of all the NASCAR events I’ve ever attended, that salad bowl offers the best view and the best noise.
I had a full evening planned, my in-laws were dropping by for dinner and I planned on meeting two of my three daughters afterward. A not-so-local pub was hosting an event that featured a Dublin favorite beer of ours, Kilkenny and I was to meet the girls around eight.
With minutes to spare, I decided to do a quick deli plate dinner for my in-laws so if was off to my local grocery store to pick up some different meats, breads and salads. I really do like my in-laws, and would normally feed them better than this, but they were literally stopping by on their way home.
The Publix grocery store is less than half a mile from my home. Right turn, left turn, right turn, groceries. I wasn’t talking on my phone, I wasn’t fiddling with the radio. The sun was going down, and I was going over my list in my head.
I can’t tell you how it happened from my eyes, I still can’t recall. I know this: the driver’s side of my little champagne color Kia Rio was now sharing space with the front of a large, black SUV.
I was in an accident, right? I can’t afford an accident, can I? What Happened? Where’s my phone? I think I’m okay, nothing hurts, nothing looks broken or bloody…
Most people I know call 911 in that situation, I called my husband. He was home, less than a few blocks away. A nice lady got in to the passenger seat of my car. She was sweet and told me I was okay, then she said “You look so pretty for just having such a bad accident”. That made me laugh, even though I’m sure I was streaming snot, tears and broken glass. She left the car when my husband got there. He brought my three year old son with him since finding a sitter at the moment didn’t seem like it was important. An elderly couple who witnessed the accident kept my boy on the side of the road.
With my husband’s help, I slowly got out of the car through the passenger side door. The ambulance arrived. I was confused, but pretty sure that everything was okay, that I was not broken. My husband had enough wits to call 911.
I was standing and talking with the EMS personnel, I can’t tell you if they were men or women or zombies, but I am grateful that both they and my husband talked me into taking the ride with them to the hospital. They fixed me up with a neck brace and strapped me in for the ride. Even though I was on a gurney, I felt like freight, every little bump echoed throughout my body.
My daughters met us at the ER, my in-laws were at my house with my little boy. I remember my girls coming into the room and we were cutting up, making jokes about what an attention whore I was. They were in the room, then out, my husband was in the room. I was just waiting to be released and go home.
The doctor came in. She told me that I wasn’t going home, that I had some internal stuff going on. I was going to be moved to the ICU. Wait. What?
As it turns out, the side airbag that deployed and came between me and the SUV broke a rib, which, in turn both punctured my lung and poked into my spleen. I wasn’t in any pain until I got sent for a CAT scan where I needed to lay still with my arms above my head. That was eternal. I don’t remember much afterward, the next few days were like walking through jello, slow and muddled. To this day, I cannot tell you how my spleen was repaired, I know my body went into the shop that night. My lung was re-inflated and my spleen was patched up. The rib had to heal on its own which took bloody forever.
I sort of watched the Bristol race from my hospital room. My husband and my oldest daughter took turns hanging out with me. I wasn’t much company, I was pretty dopey and I slept a lot.
Here it is, a very quick three years later. There is a new three way stop light at the intersection. It turns out that the accident was my fault, I turned in front of the SUV who didn’t have time to stop. The driver was an 18 year old girl. She had a gash on her knee and a totaled front end. I’m happy she is okay.
Except for a foggy memory , a faint scar and a lot of debt paid off, there are no lingering effects from that day. While I do wish that accident never happened, I’m glad it did. I am hyper aware when turning left, to the point where I feel bad for anyone behind me. I am grateful that I accepted the bumpy ride to the hospital and for all of the people who I don’t remember that helped me. I’m grateful for the people that I do remember, my kids, my husband, and my friends. I’m extremely happy that today, I am so normal, so complete, that it feels like it never even happened.