Monday, December 9, 2013

Every Day Angels

I hurt EVERY WHERE right now.  Once I assume a position, I'm kind of stuck there for a good while because shifting around is quite traumatic.  Grouchy as pain makes me, I will do my level best to deal with it with a smile.  Why?  Because it could be UNBELIEVABLY worse than it is.  

Let me back up.  I spent the weekend down in Wallop's Island with my boyfriend and his family.  He and I were in the Chincoteague Christmas parade last night and it was all great fun.  I am directing the Christmas cantata at church so I needed to leave early enough to make it to church by 9:30.  I hit the road at about 7:45 with a big fat smile on my face.  It was raining and every once in a while I saw a few sleet pellets but nothing that really drew my concern.  

I was driving up the overpass toward the bypass when I passed a sign that said "caution: Bridges Freeze."  I dearly wish I had taken that seriously.  It hadn't been raining or sleeting very much for my drive and the temperature was technically above freezing so I wasn't worried... 

...until I saw the layer of ice ahead of me.  At which point it was too late.  I tapped the brakes to slow down from my 60mph and immediately went into a spin, slam into the guardrail, bouncing off and coming to a stop on the shoulder facing the same direction I had just been travelling.  It happened so quickly, there wasn't even time to be scared.  I could see the giant tear in my back bumper, the missing part of my front bumping lying fifty feet down the road, and the huge dirt divots my car had left on the grassy shoulder.  I called Mom, then Travis, then Mom again because she didn't answer the first time.  Mom told me to call 911 to report the accident.  At this point I had seen two other cars spin out and go to toward the grassy area in the center.  One was able to drive away but the guy in the red Toyota Tacoma was stuck like I was.  

I reported the accident and then called Travis back who was sending his mom to get me.  While on the phone with him, I saw another car spin out, miss my car by about 5 feet, and land against the guardrail.  She was hysterical so I helped her out of the car, urging her to get out of the vehicle and come away from the car.  I tried to comfort her as best as I could.  At this point, another gentleman had stopped and was telling us all to get away from our cars in case of another wreck.  I told her to call her parents and make sure she told them she was okay.  I think she might've been seventeen.  

When I hung up the phone with Travis, I called the woman who was in charge of the concert I was supposed to sing in that afternoon.  I was 99% sure I wasn't going to make it.  As I clicked "End" I heard the other girl scream and looked up to see a white Nissan spinning out and skidding right for me.  The details here are pretty fuzzy.  I don't know if I actually blacked out or not.  I tried to run but it was too late.  The car rammed into me.  There are a few second of blur and then I remember being on the ground in an awkward position, one shoe missing, my glasses off my face, and just in shock.  

I didn't move.  I at least had the presence of mind to not move when there was the possibility of head/neck/back injuries.  At this point, I started screaming and crying bloody murder.  I didn't even hurt any where at this point.  I was just grateful I was alive and beyond consolation.  A guy who saw what happened climbed over the guard rail and I listened as he called 911 for an ambulance.  The driver of the car got out and asked me if I was okay.  

This is when the pain started, mostly in my left leg where i took the brunt of the car hitting me.  I wiggled my toes but didn't move otherwise.  I was in an awkward position, slightly twisted and crumpled on the ground, my shoe gone and my coat hiked up.  As I lay there, my kind stranger called my mother for me to let her know I was hurt and being taken to the hospital.  Stuck in the same position, on the cold ground, I couldn't see a lot of what was going on.  At least one person came and threw a blanket over me and pulled my coat down a little bit.  

I wish I remembered the name of the guy who called 911 and my parents and stayed with me until the state trooper and the EMTs got there.  He kept me calm and managed to get me to stop screaming and crying.  An off duty EMT who had been driving by came and assessed me while I was waiting for the ambulance and helped calm me down.  They checked my pockets for my cell phone when I asked.  I was in such a befuddled state, I didn't remember I had been holding it until later when I was in the ambulance.  

Because I was over the guardrail that had earlier protecting me from having my car wind up at the bottom of a very, very steep hill, they needed back up to get me onto a backboard, over said rail, and into the ambulance.  The very nice female EMT kept talking to me as she was assessing and after the fire department arrived, they got me onto the board (still in an awkward position) and me head and neck braced with blocking since they couldn't get a collar on me due to my coat, and were hesitant to cut my coat off out there in the freezing cold weather.  I was then carried on the board, lifted over the guard rail, handed off to another group of people, most of whom I couldn't see, put on the stretcher, and placed in the ambulance.  As I was not critically injured, there was some initial stuff done on scene.  They needed to check on my left leg where I was having the most pain.  

What they don't show/tell you in the movies and on TV is that in an emergency situation, they will pretty much strip you naked to get visuals on your injuries and to care for you.  My coat and jeans were (unsurprisingly) torn anyway.  They cut one leg of my jeans open on site and cut my coat off to be able to get monitors etc on me.  At this point, I had one shoe on (I somehow lost the other) and they were kind enough to cover me with blankets.  They had waited to take the time to physically strap me to the board as they wanted to get me out of the cold first.  This was not a pleasant process as it involved thick nylon straps going across my bruised and tender legs and arms but I survived the pain.  

They had to wait for a second ambulance.  I have no idea what the details were there, to be honest, because when strapped to a board and told not to move, you are rather limited on what you are able to see.  I pretty much had a view of the ceiling of the ambulance and the face of the female EMT.  I was taken to PRMC, lights and sirens and all of that, and rolled in where the doctors and nurses took over.  I was transferred from the backboard to the stretcher where further evaluation took place.  My jeans and coat were cut the rest of the way off.  Thankfully, my shirt, cardigan, and bra were able to be removed without cutting them off, though the former two have tears in the sleeve.  I'm going to have to come up with some sort of creative way to fix them because the shirt was new and the sweater is the love of my cardigan life.  

The nurses and techs and social workers and doctors were extremely kind to me.  I was brought blanket after blanket when I could stop shivering, handed a phone to call my mom as soon as it came available, and was well cared for.  They were my angels.  

The girl I had helped out of her car and tried to calm down was apparently very worried about me, afraid I was grievously injured and concerned that it was her fault I had been hit.  The hospital couldn't release any information on my condition but they asked if it was okay for her to come back.  I said yes, and got to assure her that I was going to be fine, and that I didn't blame her (how could I?  It wasn't like I was standing next to her car when I was hit.  I was 30 feet beyond my own vehicle).  She said she would pray for me, and I told her I would pray for her.  She thanked me for herself, and on behalf of her parents for helping her.  I thought it was really nice of her and her parents to want to make sure I was okay and to thank me.  

I was eventually given pain medicine (the non-narcotic kind) via IV and sent off to X-ray to have pictures done of my ENTIRE left leg, hip to toes.  My parents arrived soon after the X-rays were taken, and worked some on gathering my things that were spread throughout the room.  My X-rays came back completely clean so I was cleared to leave with a prescription for 600mg of ibprofen, orders to rest and follow up with my doctor, and warnings that the pain was going to get worse.  Monday would be worse, and Tuesday would likely be even worse than Monday.  

After I had put on clothes (mom brought me sweatpants), we got in touch with the state trooper who gave me accident report #1 (from when I spun out and hit the rail) and got my most important stuff out of the car:  my purse, ipod, kindle, and one of the bags of clothes which, thankfully, included my boots as my TOM's were soaked and muddy (hoping they aren't a total loss).  Still waiting on accident report #2.  

My IV was removed, paperwork was signed, and I was discharged and allowed to walk out on my own power.  Travis had been making his way to the hospital and arrived just as we were leaving, so I rode with him for us to try to locate my car (and stuff) but it was apparently taken to an impound lot.  So we went home.  It was a very nerve-wracking experience to be in a car again, even not driving, especially with the snow and slush on the road.  We hit up Hardees for a quick lunch and a drink (since I was extremely thirsty.  For most of my hospital tenure, I couldn't drink anything until they were sure I wasn't going to have to be taken in for surgery).  

Upon making it home, I was waited on hand and foot (literally, when Travis fixed my socks for me) by Travis and my Mom.  I promised Travis I won't leave the house except to go to the doctor.  Trust, me this is an easy promise to keep.  I hurt every where right now.  I have whiplash, and my neck is honestly probably the most painful part of my body right now.  Nevermind the huge bruises, the scrapes, and cuts, my abdominal muscles from rib cage to pelvis hurt.  I will take every ache and pain with as much of a smile as I can muster though.  I am lucky to be alive and relatively uninjured.  

Mom asked me if I saw any angels taken care of me, and I said "Just the human variety."  I never saw any winged heavenly angels carrying me off, but I did see angels in the faces of strangers who covered me in blankets, called my mom, and stopped to care for me.  I wish I could thank them all for their help, for their kindness, for their compassion.  I may not have seen any winged heavenly creatures, but surely I saw the faces of angels yesterday.  

'Til next time, 

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