Monday, May 4, 2009

A little history & why today sucked

First of all, an apology: I acknowledge that I haven't blogged since March, and for that I am sorry. I spend much of my time on Twitter these days -- for many reasons, but I think that's another blog post in and of itself -- and therefore, the blog is neglected. Many of you follow my exploits on Twitter & Facebook, so I doubt you're missing much by my failure to update here.

But on to the point of today's post...Today I was involved in a minor fender-bender on my way to work. No big deal; no real damage done. I was stopped at a stoplight and moved when the light changed & cars started advancing. The only problem was the woman in front of me did not. Result? I rear-ended her car.

It took a [frustrating] minute or two to encourage her to move out of traffic to the parking lot to our right. Upon exiting my car I noticed that neither car was damaged, save a couple of white marks on her car's bumper. I approached her window, and asked if she'd like to exchange insurance information & assured her there was no major damage. Her response? "They're already on their way, baby....they're already on the way. I just need to collect myself. Please baby..." and she waved me away.

The activity of the next 30 minutes entailed: 1 full-sized firetruck w/ 3 firemen in full uniform, 1 ambulance w/ 2 paramedics, a flat-bed towtruck driver and one cop. She insisted upon going to the hospital -- on a stretcher, no less -- for neck pain.....from our 1mph "collision" a stop light.

I politely waited in my car and listened patiently as each of the emergency response personnel shook his/her head and assured me it would be okay, that the woman was "wasting all of our time." I managed to stay calm and cheerful as I waited it out. I accepted my ticket from the police officer for "following too closely," and I will pay my fine without question. None of this upset me.

However, the minute everyone had exited the scene, my emotional bottom fell out. Feelings of anger and frustration bubbled over, and I began to cry. The sheer unfairness and selfishness of the situation hit me like a brick. Here is why....

Seven years, four months and two days ago I was involved in an accident -- the last accident I experienced until today. I was traveling in a car behind my then-boyfriend/now-husband Tyler down an icy/snowy street. We were both passed on the right by a kid who was driving too fast for conditions. After passing Tyler's car he spun out of control. Tyler was able to avoid him; I was not so lucky. However, our impact was relatively minor.

I exited my car. When I stepped out I heard the other driver gasp. I looked up right as a car slammed into my vehicle, which proceeded to shove my car into my body like a Toyota Tercel-sized pinball flipper. Unbeknownst to me, a third car plowed into the car that rearended my vehicle which made the impact even greater. The pinball-flipper maneuver flipped my body into the lane next to our cars where I was struck by a moving vehicle trying to avoid the accident. I finally landed in the center turn lane, where I -- literally -- feared I would be run over by oncoming traffic in the opposite direction.

I lay on the icy road screaming for Tyler and waiting for help. I'm sure it was only seconds, but it felt like eons. My lip was bleeding, and I felt the most unbelievable pain in the middle of my back. It took approximately 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive...fifteen unbearable, freezing minutes.

The impact of the moving vehicle burst my L-1 vertabrae and cracked my T-12 veratabrae. It damaged my spinal cord and interrupted nerve signals to my bladder. I spent 10 days in the hospital and underwent a major surgery to repair my spine & correct the cauda equina damage to my bladder. I spent the next 3 months in a back brace & doped up on oxycontin, percocet, Neurontin and Bacolofen. I was told by my doctor that I was less than a quarter of an inch away from being paralyzed from the waist down.

I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have survived this accident and to be spared paralysis. However, I still live with the effects of the nerve damage today....The pain. The inability to do things like ski/waterski....even hot yoga is off-limits. My left leg doesn't sweat at all; my right leg overheats. I fatigue easily in hot weather. I worry about how I will fare pregnancy & childbirth. But those are the cards I was dealt, and I deal with them. I have a wonderful support system in my husband, family and work. And honestly? Most days I would never change what happened to me because it made me who I am.

However, the woman in today's accident made me want to scream. Why? Because I lived through a real accident. I lived through the pain, the suffering, the uncertainty, the lasting effects on my health....the pain medicines that made me lose weight, throw up, itch and knock me out...the nightmares...the fear of being in an accident again. What did she do? She took advantage of an incredibly minor accident and exploited it. She wasted people's time & money in the hopes that she might make a buck from an insurance company. Or perhaps she just wanted the attention from the paramedics and emergency room doctors....who knows.

The infuriating thing is that serious accidents happen everyday. These emergency responders need to attend to these accidents rather than one that could be taken care of with a simple call to an insurance agent. Her overreaction or cry for attention belittles every person that suffers a real injury, and it makes all lawsuits seem frivolous...when in fact, many are legitimate.

I felt the need to post this because I couldn't go the rest of the night without letting it out. Perhaps it might help some better understand why I was so upset earlier in the day. It's not just a frustration to's personal. It hit me in my most vulnerable place. I couldn't go on without saying something.


Joan said...

Wow, I don't blame you for reacting the way you did. That was an awful experience and you are probably lucky to be alive. Are you sure the woman didn't roll back into you? She sounds like an opportunist.

readergirl said...

kudos to you for keeping your cool- i would have yelled at her.

and, bravo, too for reaching out and posting your thoughts. you have a right to be angry!

i'm glad you are doing well and have recovered, because you are right-it has helped make you into the smart, funny, wonderful virtual friend that you are!

ks said...

Thank you guys for reading, and for being such great "virtual" support. It's so wonderful to know that people listen & care. You're the best!

Regina said...

Man, I so read this like an EW article, I couldn't stop reading til the end. I cannot believe what you have gone through and I totally see how the madness of watching a woman "play" the system affected you so.. You said everything so eloquently about your feelings and you shared so much so we could put it in context. Thank you for letting us know the "backstory" as it were. Big hugs, your strength and wit and stylishness is really something I look up to. - Regina

ks said...

Thanks, Regina! Your support -- and the rest of my Twitter family -- means so much to me. Thanks for reading. (For more than 140 characters!) :) -Kristen

comoprozac said...

Now I feel like an asshole for teasing you about the cute firemen. Can you forgive me?

I never really knew the extent of your accident until now. I'm so sorry you had to go through that, but I'm glad you've used the experience in a positive way.

This was such a powerful post. I started tearing up just reading it.

Stay strong. Of course, you already know how to do that.

ks said...

Zac, don't feel bad about teasing me about the firemen. That actually helped lighten my mood earlier today, so I appreciated it. I can rarely tell the full story like I did here because it brings it all back. Plus, Tyler doesn't EVER like talking about it. Sometimes I think it hits him harder (emotionally) than it hits me.

Thanks for listening. And for joking around with me this morning. I really did appreciate it.

Stacyr520 said...

Your story has stuck with me all evening.
I am so sorry about what happened before & that awful woman must have a pretty pathetic existence. I can imagine that something like that is pretty hard to let go.
But I am sure that your amazing energy & spirit will pick you right back up! Don't let her suck you down.
Hugs to you!

ks said...

Thank you Stacy! It was really nice of you to read & comment. Thanks for listening. And a big hug back!