Monday, July 30, 2007

Four Years Ago Today

I still remember the sound of the first impact, though I have no memory of the second one.

The car wreck gave me a lot of opportunities to experience kindness at the hands of strangers, first and foremost the fellow who ran up to tell me that I would be all right and that emergency vehicles were on the way (it turned out that a CHP officer had witnessed the whole thing, and was on the radio immediately). He dug out my cell phone so I could call Zirpu and tell him I was okay but had just been in a serious accident. I figured that the part I would want to hear first was "I'm okay" so that's how I started out.

I'd been at a training at Fresno Pacific University and one of the ambulance drivers called the financial aid office to contact someone at the training. Someone I barely knew at the time came to the ER and stayed with me until Zirpu arrived three hours later. We just talked, but it was really comforting to have company in that crowded ER. I had no idea how badly injured I was; I expected I would be back at the office the following Monday, and instead I was out for six weeks.

Unfortunately I don't remember the kindnesses as much as I remember the unpleasantnesses. I won't even go into how difficult it was to get straight answers from the HR office and from anyone at two of the three insurance companies I had to deal with, and what an ass the orthopedist was.

Years after working in drug treatment I got really clear on why people would self-medicate. I was angry all the time, irritable even before I started withdrawing from Vicodin. The Vicodin made me feel better; the pain went away and everything else went with it, too. What a relief, to not feel angry.

I struggled a lot with feeling like I ought to feel grateful that I hadn't been injured worse when I was feeling really angry that I had been injured at all due to someone else's error. Fresno PD wrote on the report that an "unsafe left turn" was the cause of the accident (as if there is any other kind of left turn when rolling on the highway at 65 mph). The other driver reported that she lost control of the vehicle, but I know what happened was that she yanked the wheel to the left when someone took the spot she was planning to merge into, because that's happened to me.

Four years later I can tell when the weather is changing and I am really careful about my back. I'm stronger than I was before, because physical therapy led me into weight training. I'm a cautious driver (Zirpu would say too cautious), and I plan to never return to Fresno.

I also consider myself blessed.

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