Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Aftermath

(For Parts 1 and 2 of this true story, see The Time I Got Hit by a Car and The Time I Vomited in Megan's Car, respectively.)

It's been almost two months since I got hit. I'm still in physical therapy. There are good days, and there are bad days. The bad days mean it hurts to sit or stand for longer than 30 minutes, sometimes even 10. Walking feels good, but I usually have to walk pretty slowly -- and I'm usually a really fast! Now I feel like I'm walking at a snail's pace!

The question I get most often is, "Do you have flashbacks?" And the answer is no, I don't. I do, however feel somewhat frightened by and skittish around cars. I have to walk by the scene of the accident every day, and every day, I see those skid marks. Every day, I scoot to the inside of the sidewalk just a little bit (as if that helps!) to put more space between the traffic and me. If a driver makes any sudden movements coming out of a parking garage or turning a corner, I jump a little. And I never, ever, ever walk through a crosswalk unless I see the little white man. Even then, I pay attention to what the traffic looks like.

I'm incredibly grateful that I'm alive and mostly well. I realize that the accident could have been much, much worse. But I am not grateful for this trial. I have gained an amazingly different perspective because of my accident, but I would've been fine living life without such perspective. Still, I think I ought to tell you what I've learned from this newfound view on life:

  • Drivers are generally extremely inconsiderate to pedestrians. The drivers at State Street and South Temple are particularly egregious. I witnessed an almost auto-ped accident just last week. The driver obviously just wanted to make her light, so she drove into the crosswalk, even though the crosswalk sign showed that pedestrians had at least a dozen seconds remaining. But that's the way it is. Although cars have increased the speed of human travel by . . . well, by a lot -- drivers are still in a big, fat hurry. Forget that pedestrians have nothing to shield them from these multi-ton pieces of metal -- drivers must make their light!

  • The world isn't made for slow-moving people. Traffic lights in Salt Lake City are built to give pedestrians 16 seconds to walk from one side of a very wide street to the other. When you're walking slowly, 16 seconds isn't much time. It's especially not enough time when you have to wait for people who want to make their right turn, even when the little white man has just popped up. So now you're down to say, 13 seconds; by the time you get to the other side of the street, you have to start watching out for the driver on that corner, who is itching to make his right turn. I can only imagine how difficult life must be for the elderly and a person with a disability worse than mine.

  • In the United States, one crash-related pedestrian death happens every 2 hours. Pedestrian injuries occur every 7 minutes. Alcohol involvement for the driver or the pedestrian was reported in 48% of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian death. Most pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, non-intersection locations, and at night.* Do with that information what you will, but remember: Alcohol can get you or someone else in serious trouble if you drive while intoxicated. Just don't do it!

I could say so much more on this subject, but 1) it would take several more posts, and 2) it's difficult to put all of my thoughts into words. So this is the last auto-ped post. As a final thought, though, I want to reiterate one thing:

Slow down!

Slow down in life, whether you're driving or running late for something or listening to a child. People move really, really fast, and for my part, I don't think it's quite as healthy as slowing down a bit.

*Source: Pedestrian Safety (CDC, 2014)

Thing I'm thankful for: Mandy, my physical therapist

Monday, August 03, 2015

The Time I Vomited in Megan's Car

(For the Part 1 of this true story, see The Time I Got Hit by a Car.)

As I said, I took that little magic pill of hydrocodone and felt my aches slowly disappear. I also started to get sleepy. Megan drove Celisse and me back to my house, where Celisse -- bless her heart -- drove herself home, and I gathered a few overnight things. Megan was so nice to let me stay with her that night; she knew that getting rest in a house with no air conditioning would be nearly impossible. While gathering a change of clothes and some toiletries, though, I started to feel nauseous. I broke into a cold sweat and felt dizzy. I sat down on the bathroom floor and prepared to throw up. Nothing came. I waited for the nausea to pass. It only took a few minutes before I felt good enough to stand up and move around again, so I grabbed the last of my things and headed out of the apartment and walked to Megan's car.

As soon as Megan started driving, I felt the urge to puke again. Two blocks into our drive, I said in a panic, "Pull over! Pull over!" I hurried out of the car, knelt on the sidewalk of the Conference Center, and tried to throw up in the bushes. Nothing came. I waited for the nausea to pass, and the cool night breeze made me feel a little better.

At that point, a couple of guys in a truck pulled up next to Megan in the other lane. "Are you alright?" one of them asked.
"Well, it happens to all of us," he said as he smiled and drove away.

I got back into the passenger's seat, and Megan grabbed an old Target bag she had in the trunk. "Here," she said, "Use this if you need to throw up."

As soon as she got onto the Interstate, I felt the nausea come back again, this time with intense force. I closed my eyes and tried to remain calm. I was cold, and sweat was pouring down my face. I tried to keep everything down, but it was no use. I kept a pretty good game face for most of the night, hardly crying at all. Puking into that plastic bag was a real low point, though, and I cried and cried while I threw up and then dry-heaved. I felt better, though. Until the smell of my vomit made me sick all over again.

"Megan, I can't have this in my face anymore!"
"You can put it on the floor in the the back."
"But I don't want to smell it anymore. I can't smell it anymore; it's making me sick!"
"It's okay. You can just put it on the floor."

And then.

I realized there was a small hole in the bottom of the bag. It was slowly leaking onto my lap.

"I can't put it on the floor; it's leaking! It'll get all over the floor!"
"It's okay."
"But I don't want it in my face anymore . . . I can't take it. I have to do it, Megan. I have to . . ."

And with that, I rolled down the window and threw my vomit-filled bag as far away from me as I could.

Megan said she didn't think it hit any other cars.

See what happened next in The Aftermath.

Thing I'm thankful for: Megan's motherly instincts.