It’s Thursday morning around 6:30 a.m. I’m driving down the freeway in the far right-hand lane in Rich’s Kia. Traffic was light and the freeway damp from a light dizzle. Maybe I wasn’t paying attend or simply misjudged the speed of the car in front. I slammed on my brakes and the cars skidded to the left across two lanes.
Your life is supposed to flash before you at times like this, but it didn’t. I just thought “Oh no, something bad is going to happen. Maybe I won’t live.”
The next thing I remember was wondering why I was asleep and dreaming such a strange dream with so many voices and the creepy horror that you’ve passed out. “Open your eyes” my brain tells my head. And I do. I’m so confused. At first, I don’t know where I am. It’s all very surreal. I closed my eyes trying to recall what happened.
A man named “Joe” is in the passenger side holding my hand. He’s trying to keep my hand from touching the glass that’s shattered on the seat. And he’s saying over-and-over again, “You’re going to be okay. Just don’t move.”
The pain hits me like I’d fallen and I can’t breath. Nothing can take away the pain. Not Joe’s soothing words. Not the reality that I’m alive. Nothing. I’m in so much pain. I can see my leg twisted, my ankle pinned between driver’s side. The rest of my body is sprawled across the passenger side. The pain. The pain. I know that I’ve broken my hip.
I can only scream and try to squirm into a more comfortable position. But Joe won’t let me. Soon a nurse, obviously on her way to work identifies herself and tells Joe to move. I hate the nurse. She’s clinical and deeply concerned that I’ve broken my spine. She’s not soft-spoken and kind like Joe.
And now a paramedic appears. He too, like the nurse is on his way to work. He demands that I not move. He grips my head and offers no comfort for my twisted hip. There’s so much confusion and the nurse is wondering why it’s taking so long for the paramedics to appear. So much pain. So much horror.
“Were others hurt,” I wonder? “Why are so many people standing around? And is the front of a truck really pushed into the driver’s side of the Kia. I can reach over and touch its headlight.
It doesn’t matter. I just want the pain to end.
Soon the police, the paramedics and the firemen show up. They use flashlights to ascertain how my leg is pinned in the driver’s side. Someone crawls into the back seat to hold my head steady. The truck is backed up and the driver’s side door is removed. It seems like an eternity until they pull me out of the car and strap me to a board. I’m loaded into an ambulance where I close my eyes – hoping to pass out. Hoping to end the pain.
I fantasized about seeing Rich within minutes since the hospital is moments from the crash site, but they took me to the Brackenridge Trauma Center. My clothes are cut off. X-rays are taken. IVs are started. They poke and prod as I scream and flay my arms. Everyone is so angry at my intolerance. But I don’t care. I want Rich. I just want Rich to hold me.
So much time passes before a social worker arrives and calls Rich. Oh god, my life has come down to two things. Let me see Rich and end the pain. Both are important, but if only I could see Rich, everything would seem so much better.
Time drags. And the pain doesn’t subside. More morphine is administered. The x-raying continues along with the prodding.
Rich arrives. Nothing else matters. Rich is by my side.
Five long, painful days later, I write this blog, once again waiting for Rich to arrive. My pelvis has been fractured in four places – a lengthy fracture across the back and three in the front. Two of my ribs are cracked. My body is bruised. The pain is somewhat controlled with medicine. My life has been turned upside down.
Crying is my own relief.
I’m in a rehab center to learn how to tolerate the pain and learn how to walk on one leg with a walker for the next 6-8 weeks.
Rich says there’s silver lining in what happened. I’m still looking.