The police officer stepped into the small room where I lay in the emergency room.
He asked me a few questions and then explained that he would not be giving me a ticket. I was shocked. He went on to explain that after investigating the crash he believed if I had not swerved left that we both would have been killed. Then his next words were when I realized the severity of the day’s events: “I’m still amazed you survived at all. You’re lucky.”
To my 19-year-old mind those words were sobering. I was not a teen who thought I was invincible, but neither was I daily aware of the brevity of life. The realization of how close I had come to death that morning stirred fear inside me that began to take over my thoughts.
Hours later I was finally released to go home.
The doctors had ordered tests, blood work, and a tetanus shot – at which I burst into tears again. The nurse who administered the shot was greatly amused that after a head on collision I would cry over such a minor pinch. I had spent most of my day strapped to a backboard in painful discomfort only to be told I had a concussion, facial burns, and a few cuts and bruises. However, I was in so much pain that I could not do anything without help.
As my Mom helped me put on the new clothes she had gone out and bought for me to wear home, (remember, they had cut my clothes off), I felt more than physical pain. I felt fear. Just the thought of getting back into a car made it hard to breath. The 15 minute ride home was torture. I kept my eyes shut the entire time and prayed that we would just get home quickly. This was just the beginning. Over the next few days I did nothing but rest. There were a few rides to doctor appointments and each one was like the first – filled with panic. On Sunday, my parents made me drive for the first time since the accident and while I did it, I shook the whole way. I drove practically straddling the white line and almost came to a complete stop any time I saw another car approaching.
For the next 6 weeks that is how I drove.
But most of the time I begged and pleaded with my parents to drive me to work and pick me back up. Many times they gave in simply because I was a wreck and they did not know what else to do with me. Honestly, it was probably the wisest thing they could do at the time even though it may not have seemed to be. Every time I was in vehicle I had a panic attack and, as I already mentioned, in my attempt to be safe, my driving was anything but.
Then on Christmas Eve the story took a crazy twist and I became worse.
To be continued..