Just seconds later my mind and body were jarred by the wailing of my car horn.
As if someone had flipped a switch, my brain was ushered back into alertness. My vision brightened, my ears heard the surrounding sounds, my nose smelled the fumes, my tongue tasted fresh blood in my mouth, and my body could feel the pain of burns on my face and the pricking of glass in my feet. As my body reacted to the state of shock it was in, I mentally concluded that the abrupt sounding of the horn meant that the car was going to blow up at any moment. Disregarding the shooting pain in my body, I stumbled down the hill and without looking, ran across the road.
Each step I took made me increasingly desperate for help. Blinded with panic, I was startled by the arms that reached out and hugged me. I recognized the equally startled face of Jenny, a long time friend from church. She led me away from the edge of the road and listened to me practically yell at her about needing to call my boss to tell him I was going to be late for work. At the same time, another familiar face showed up on the scene. This time it was my Dad’s log truck driver. He had quickly brought the loaded, tri-axle, log truck to a halt as he was coming up the northbound lane just moments after I had swerved into it. If he had been just seconds sooner he would have come around the curve and completely obliterated both me and my car.
A state police officer also arrived and seeing that I was temporarily okay, he ran to the other car. They lady who had hit me was trapped in her small vehicle, but alive. Walking back over to me, the officer made me sit down in the front seat of his patrol car where he calmly tried to talk to me despite my shocked babbling about needing to call my boss, my car being a mess, and the pain in my neck and back. At the mention of those three words, “pain”, “neck”, and “back”, he demanded that I not move an inch. I begged to get out and see what was going on as the first responders arrived, but he had Dana and Jenny keep me still while he ran to get the EMT’s.
Everything was a blur and I was in a state of shock and didn’t even know it. My Mom arrived on the scene and sat in the back of the police car while reaching forward to hold my neck still so I was unable to move it. Meanwhile the emergency team worked with the jaws of life to free the other driver from her car. While that was happening my Dad came, followed by another one of his employees, Scott, who drove my brothers down to the scene. Finally, after what seemed like a long time, the EMT’s came over to begin working on me. But when I went to get out the car they stopped me.
“Do not move!”
The guy and girl EMT team both firmly ordered me. I sputtered and argued that I was able to get up on my own only to be told again that I was not allowed to move. At all. Not a muscle. The group of people surrounding me at this point each tried to explain that it was very important that I not move because they did not know what was going on in my body and that back and neck pain were not a good sign. With one person in the driver’s seat to my left, two people in the back seat behind me, and two people reaching in from the passenger door on my right, they slowly worked braces onto my neck and torso in preparation to move me out of the car. Then with many hands they inched my 115 pound body from the passenger seat of the State Police cruiser and cautiously laid me onto a wooden backboard.
By this point the shock tinged with fear began to turn to humor and I tried to crack jokes about everything. Seriously, shock does some crazy things to your mind and body! As the EMT’s, my Mom, and Scott, (who at one time had been an EMT), began to get me ready for the ambulance I kept fussing about my feet hurting. One of the guys tried to unbuckle my clogs and I kept saying, “Just pull them off!” To my amusement and his chagrin, he was trying to unbuckle my slip on shoes! Sure enough, I had shards of glass from the shattered windshield stuck in my socks. They finished bracing my neck and what felt like every other body part, too, and began to load my in the back of the ambulance when my attention locked onto Scott. In my mind, for whatever reason, I thought he was on the ambulance crew and begged him to come with me. The poor guy went to find my Dad and explained that I wanted him to ride with me to the hospital. My Dad graciously agreed and so the driver sped away with my Mom up front, Scott and the two EMT’s in the back, and the lights flashing.
Now at this point, any normal person would think that anything else might seem minor.
But not me. The female EMT informed me they were going to have to cut off my clothes and start an I.V. line and I began to whine like a toddler: “No! Please, no! You can’t do this!” She gently, but firmly explained that they needed to begin treatment and that since I was strapped to a backboard, and there was no chance they were going to let me move, the only way around the problem was to cut my clothes off. All of them except my underwear. I was mortified. So I cried. They snipped through my beautiful leather coat, favorite jeans, sweater, and even my bra. They started an I.V. line, began to monitor my heart, and tried to make me smile the best they could. They kindly kept me covered up with a warm blanket and talked to me the entire way to the local trauma center.
To be continued…