Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Life In A Split Second

After I completed EMT training and started answering emergency medical calls for our fire department, I worried about how I would do when we were called to our first car wreck.

I didn’t plan to be it.

Monday morning, I cruised the Net, checking activities in Portland, planning our vacation next month to the Oregon coast.

I made progress on my current script and liked what I read. Maybe this will be the “one.”

Ate lunch, collected my Dad and we ran errands in the afternoon.

On the way home, at an intersection I’ve passed countless times, a man driving a full-size Dodge pickup, was waving to a friend, and started across the intersection without noticing I was already there.

He hit us at the driver’s door, which sent the Chevy sliding sideways up a hill until it hit the soft dirt at the side of the road and commenced to roll.

Shaken witnesses at the scene said the car rolled three times.

Fortunately, I don't remember the roll.

I clearly remember the scene out the windshield, sliding sideways up the road. Then starting to roll.

Returned to full consciousness after coming to rest upright.

This ceiling center console which held interior lights and a place for the garage door opener, came loose and bashed into my head.

Every window, save the back one over the tailgate, broke out.

Six Good Samaritans ran to the car, all clutching their cell phones, all calling for help, all trying to assure us help was on the way.

One older lady held my hand while trying to call my family, and she was so upset, she couldn’t get her phone to work. The rollover must have been a horrific to watch. No fun to endure.

Neither air bag deployed.

Volunteer fireman, guys I’ve trained with, used the Jaws of Life, to remove the door so they could package me for the ambulance.

Package. That’s what we call it. An intricate set of procedures to insure the patient suffers no further injury before medical help can be reached. I’ve practiced this several times in training. Works slick, but trust me, it’s no fun being the package.

Another team removed my father.

After eight hours, the hospital sent us home. Dad has a broken collar bone. He’s out of commission for six weeks.

I have cuts, strained muscles and a heck of a bruise on my head. (And I later discovered, a torsion injury in my back from the seat belt that saved my life.) Even my hair hurts.

Today’s Wednesday. My aches are fading. I’m a little less stiff. What doesn’t seem to diminish is my memory.

I clearly remember the view through the windshield and having the presence of mind to think, this is my life. This moment. This second.

Not in three weeks on vacation. Or next fall when the Nicholls are announced. Or that fateful day I get it all together and something sells.

This second, I’m rolling a two ton car.

Make your life what you want it to be. Not next week or six months from now.

This second.


  1. If my experience is anything to go by, you'll have flashbacks for a while, an aversion to that particular intersection for a while longer, and for the rest of your life a vivid vignette of one particular memory photo snap.

    I'm truly glad that neither of you was injured beyond repair. Pax vobiscum.

  2. Thank-you.

    I drove for the first time -after- yesterday (Thursday) and I avoided the center line and flinched whenever traffic got too close. I suppose that will pass.


  3. OMG!
    Damn, girl, I'm glad you and your dad came out of this alive!

    Your awareness - this is your life - at that moment is profound. Everyone needs to think about that, but hopefully not after having gone through what you just did!

    It's similar to the liberation I felt when I finally let go of all my religious delusions and became an atheist. Life had sudden clarity: this is it. This is all there is. So live it. Live it in the now, not in some supposed future or hoped-for afterlife.

    As someone once pointed out, this ain't dress rehearsal.

  4. Not exactly what I meant, but to each her own.

    Thanks for the good wishes.

    We went looking for a replacement vehicle yesterday, and the car salesman kept saying, don't you want to drive?

    Uh, no! My job today is to sit here and flinch as other cars go by.

  5. Anonymous3:22 PM

    holy shit... holy shit...


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