It’s OK: I’m OK! It’s been a month, and I’ve been waiting to feel better before posting. Happy New Year everyone, especially ME, because I am literally glad to be alive…
[Content warning: images of crashed car coming up.]
I’d left home at 5.45am, in a light drizzle after a great night’s sleep, keen to drive the one hour trip to teach my Pilates class.
I definitely drove more slowly than usual because of the newly-wet roads, up and down through the winding hilly rainforest, listening to the radio, looking forward to my horse ride later that morning.
I came round the last big corner before town, no other cars on the road, driving 10kms below the 80km speed limit, when suddenly my back end began to slide out. I corrected a bit but didn’t brake, just took my foot off the accelerator, but kept fish-tailing… then realised I was heading for the grass bank looming in front of me.
“This is like a bumper car/dodgem car game, but a bad one!” I thought, struggling to believe I was going to impact.
But impact I did.
The car flipped, rolled right over and half again, crossing the road, and ended facing in the wrong direction.
I remember being upside down, feeling like I was in a tumble dryer.
“I just have to wait till this stops, then see what I have to deal with,” I surrendered.
The terrible screeching of metal on road stopped, and in the sudden silence, I waited for extreme pain to start, or blood to rush down my face…
“Right, I’m going to get out of the car then.”
I unclipped my seatbelt, which was pinning me in the air (the car had stopped on its side, passenger door down), and dropped into a crouch position. No windows were smashed, but neither door would budge. I had a moment of panic, feeling claustrophobia arise, then heard myself say “It’s OK gg, it’s OK, we’re going to get out, we’re going to get out.”
I remembered a YouTube clip I’d seen of someone smashing a window with the metal rods of the headrest to escape a car sinking in water; I registered I didn’t need that, although I could see fluid leaking across the road from the engine, and steam rising. I reminded myself that cars exploding into fireballs on impact is mainly a stunt for the movies, but that getting out was definitely a good idea.
My hands flailed around to unlock a door or something, and suddenly the electric window wound down- I stuck my head out, noticed there was not too much debris where I would land, and jumped out over the roof barefoot like a ninja!
The first person to stop was an angel called Jason, who held both my hands, looked deep into my battered soul, and said:
“It’s OK, you’re safe, I’m here, I’ve got you, let’s go sit in my car.“
I stared into his kind brown eyes, and in that moment, never felt so grateful for another human being in my life.
‘I want to sit on the ground, I want to be on the earth,’ I insisted, so the good fellow sat me in the blessed wet welcoming grass of the verge.
Again, the best grass I ever saw.
Second car to stop held two guys who had a traffic control cone in their van, so they began directing traffic and called the ambulance.
Third car was a nurse on her way to work, so she stood behind me and held my neck still like a neck brace for 10 minutes till the ambulance arrived with the real plastic one.
Then off I sped to hospital for a CT scan, terrified and in shock, yet managing to call work to say I wasn’t coming, plus my girlfriend to tell her what had happened, and to please call my son.
In 37 years of driving, I have NEVER had an accident. Not a prang in the supermarket carpark, or a slight ding when reversing near trees, or even many ‘near misses’. I loved driving; remember I used to have that gorgeous black Mini Cooper? A delight to drive. But I’d sensibly swapped it for an AWD Subaru when I moved out to the rainforest, and I’d put new tyres on it a couple of months ago…
So I was majorly shocked. Still am. Driving makes me anxious, and exhausts me for now.
But you know what? I’m ALIVE. We have a health care system which means I was taken care of, and of course friends and loved ones rallied round to offer emotional and practical support.
I am SO GRATEFUL. I came home with concussion, and whiplash, which can be a long journey of healing…
But I am HERE. I can eat, hug, laugh, see my son, and enjoy experiences with friends, like Xmas and New Year, albeit slowly and gently, with lots of naps.
SO SO GRATEFUL.
And so lucky. I feel like my dear departed Dad definitely saved me- even the doctor said he couldn’t believe I wasn’t more badly-injured/dead.
SO SO GRATEFUL.
So Happy New Year everyone. 2020 was a car crash for all of us, as well as illuminating where massive changes need to be made, and while I slowly recover, I am sitting in my vulnerability and willingness to learn lessons and make changes…
This blog could be a good place for that?
Stay safe please; drive carefully; take deep breaths as often as you can, and practice gratitude for the roof over your head and the loved ones you share it with.
Seriously, Life is a precious gift we completely underestimate.
Blessings, G xO