In January, I was involved in a car accident. I spent some time in the trauma center and regular hospital ward, and this was my first go-round with this type of experience. Ever wondered what it’s like? I’m happy to tell you. I clearly survived, but my car did not.
My (former) Kia Forte. Yes, that’s the engine trying to get into my lap.
Did the other person’s car make it through? I have no idea, and here’s why:
1. You have no idea what’s going on, but you THINK you do. You REALLY REALLY think you do.
I had no idea what I had hit. A person? A car? A large tree? A building? It was driving….driving…..driving, then suddenly people at my window asking if I could hear them, shattered glass, and airbag dust. I had blacked out for no discernible reason. After ascertaining that my teenage son was in good shape and not the least bit upset that we had just smacked head-on into another vehicle, I turned my attention to the helpful people who had seen my accident and were attempting to communicate with me at my driver’s side door. I babbled off some information to them, then the ambulance arrived. How quickly? I cannot say. That part is a blur.
They are roomier than you think…….
Then someone informed me they were going to pull me out of the wreck. This was the EMS guy. I distinctly remember that I would certainly need my phone (to inform relatives of the occurrence) and my house keys (so my parents could go let my dog out if I ended up staying in the hospital overnight). I slipped my keys into my front pocket and my phone into my back pocket, then I was hauled out as if I were a bag of feathers and wheeled on a (gurney? I don’t know what they are called….) into the ambulance. I KNEW my keys and phone were with me, I even heard the EMS guy in the ambulance mention them to his co-worker.
When I was released from the hospital the next afternoon, guess where they were? Not in my bag of personal effects. (cue Shyamalan-esque twist) My dad found them both in my wrecked car in the junkyard.
2. Ambulances are not comfortable
When you’re injured, you feel every bump. And as you go over those bumps, an efficient and well-trained EMS person is sticking one or more IV’s in your arms. In my case, I had a normal one in my left arm and a Y-shaped one in my right arm. As this is happening, you also have an awkward and uncomfortable neck brace and you are being asked a lot of questions about your medical history. Also, you’re in shock, and due to that you’re friggin freezing. The EMS person piles more blankets on you, but it might as well be snow, because you are feeling like you survived the car accident but will soon perish from hypothermia.
Who put this glacier in South Carolina?
And you wonder if the ambulance is taking you to another state because the ride is so long, and you wonder if you will be that lucky bastard whose ambulance gets in a car accident on the way to the hospital, because that would be just perfect.
3. Pretty much everyone will see you naked
In the ambulance they cut off my clothing. I felt it. I was exposed as fuck. And I did not care. Being in shock does that to you. I had a half-cone thing around my neck and I was butt nekkid save for the hospital blankets when they wheeled me in to the trauma center, where my blankets were lifted and I was butt nekkid to all eyes under fluorescent lights. Howdy, everyone! When everyone had seen my naked lumpy flesh, I was subjected to an MRI and then wheeled back to the trauma ward to hang out for what felt like months. The MRI, the exams, the questioning could have all happened in one spot for all I know. I was cognizant but also distant. I recall being wheeled around on my stretcher, but how far I traveled is a mystery. The janitor could have practiced drawing my blood and I’d just stare at the ceiling. There is no time for modesty or judgement in the trauma center.
4. Strange men will wipe your vag
When you’re not allowed to rise from the bed, and eventually you have to pee, you know what happens.
Shown here much less awkward than it actually is.
A kind nurse brings a bedpan, and you revert to babyhood by attempting to pee lying down. If you really gotta go, you will indeed pee lying down and it will feel awesome. And then an orderly will wipe you. He won’t like it, you won’t like it. But he’ll do his job, and you both will try to make jokes and not make eye contact and it will be fine because you feel like maybe you died and this is only heck, which is a nicer but still inconvenient suburb of hell.
5. The seatbelt will kick your ass
Artist’s rendition of how cute I look half-conscious in a seatbelt.
I’m certainly not saying not to wear seatbelts. Wear seatbelts! And sit a reasonable distance from your front airbag. My airbags did me no harm at all. My seatbelt, while saving me a massive head injury, did indeed leave scars. I have one on my neck from when I slipped forward and it caught me. It was a nasty gash for about a month, and kept getting gooey and my long hair would stick to it when I slept and ewwwww……..then it finally healed into a red scar I plan on telling everyone I sustained in a prison riot. Where the lap belt held my body to the seat, I have scar tissue that pushes my stomach in and leaves a weird bulge above where it indents, like I have a very odd muffintop jutting out on one side. Also, my stomach was bruised dark purple for a good three weeks, and I was stuck wearing leggings/yoga pants from the tenderness and swelling. Is this better than not wearing a seatbelt? YES. Is it still shitty? YES.
Epilogue: I ended up with the aforementioned scarring and a fractured lumbar vertebrae. I am in pain to this day and there is no guarantee I will never not be in constant pain. My son is just fine; he had some minor bruising that cleared up within a couple days. The accident was my fault and I was told by the police in the hospital that the woman I hit was well after the incident and did not even need medical assistance. I hope she is doing fine and got a new car out of it to boot, if indeed it was totaled. I never found out, but I can’t imagine it came out well if mine was a total loss. Wear your seatbelts, kids! Seriously. Do it. And have good car insurance! And airbags are awesome. You never know….