Saturday, June 7, 2014

Author's Dog Sensed Danger, Car Accident Hits Home

By Cal Orey

Skyler sensed danger; his name means
On Thursday, June 5, it was a warm pre-summer day at Lake Tahoe. My sibling, two dogs, and me finished our long, peaceful walk and headed to the pet store. On the way back home we were stuck in heavy traffic. An elderly woman in a white car stared at my 1 1/2 year old Austrian Shepherd. Skye (his name means protector) loves people but this time he barked nonstop at her. She was "off"... I said to her that he doesn't do this. She had a blank, vacant stare. No words. I was confused by my Aussie's warning...

My brother drove on and within a minute or two a loud crash rudely happened to our car, our lives. My strong senior Brittany Simon stumbled off the front seat and was headed for the windshield as my sibling also lost balance but kept the car from spinning out of control. I yelled, "Grab Simon" as I went into caretaker mode despite the shake-up. I, in the back with Skyler, held onto him but my head and upper body lunged forward (I hit my right cheek bone on the seat), and back I went hard onto the back seat. It all happened so fast. 

We were hit by another car; it felt like being in the Bumper Car amusement ride. I looked back and it was the same lady that Skye barked at. She looked dazed when I went into protective mom mode and shouted, "Pull over!  Pull over now!" I was scared. I was angry. I was in shock. My dogs were hot and panting. Cars were speeding by. Fight or flight syndrome kicked in (I wanted to flee and be anywhere but there) but my brother was concerned about the lady's well-being...

My 11 year old Brittany almost hit the windshield
He got out of the car and complained his back hurt, walked over to the woman who rear ended our car. She told my sibling that she was 99, shouldn't be driving because her license had expired for years. She wasn't alert. 

Amazingly, there was no damage to either cars. When my brother came back to me I was holding the back of my head. I said, "It ached." We agreed to call the police for her, the woman in the white vehicle who hit family.

Within five minutes several police cars and paramedics arrived on the scene. The drama was overwhelming for this sensitive one who lives and works in a serene environment. My dogs were calm but in need of water which I begged the men for but nobody had it except Gatorade! The authorities wanted me to go to the hospital. I was frightened. We were on a busy highway, all these uniformed men opened our car doors and I was holding onto my two boys' leashes. I was terrified. More words darted, "Let us check you." I didn't want to leave my fur kids. So, one paramedic began asking me questions.  "What year is it?" I answered, "1900." His eyes widened. We both were concerned. But he darted in a soothing voice, "That's okay. Let's try again." I passed the verbal questions.

After a grueling ten minute debate about taking me to the hospital I agreed to monitoring myself at home. "Yes, if I feel dizzy, nauseated, or have blurred vision I will go to the hospital." We were allowed to drive home after getting an Event card of the accident. My dogs were on their best behavior; both survived. It was a close call that could have ended up worse. But my head, neck, right cheek, and back pain kicked in more.

At home, my sanctuary, I went to the bedroom and put ice on the back of my head and heat on my back. I take pride in that my blood pressure is often under 120/70/57--a low heart rate because I swim, walk my dogs, eat right, and stay lean. But when I took my vitals it was 200/100/108. For two hours I couldn't get it down. I was scared. "What if I get the head injury symptoms?" and "What if I have to got get hooked up like ET, the alien in a fave film?" and "What if I lose my writer brains?" But I tried to chill and remember a college counselor once told me that most what ifs do not happen.

By 9 p.m. my blood pressure was good. I was still upset, replaying the accident over and over. I called the woman who hit our car and affected my health and loved ones. Her daughter answered the phone and was abrupt: "I don't know you. How do I know you didn't hit my mother? Do not call us again." In between her words I told her how I could have lost my bother, my dogs, my head hurt. She did not care.
I love walking my boys and seeing their smiles

So, an attorney returned my call. I saw a doctor in the morning because my head hurt badly. After a two hour thorough neuro and full body exam the diagnosis: whiplash with combined post traumatic stress disorder. I continue to replay the incident in my mind. More physical therapy next week.

We  filed a claim against the woman who has car insurance yet we were told her license had been suspended since 2011. She was not allowed to drive home; her car was towed away.  On Saturday I was informed the woman admitted to the insurance company people that she indeed hit our car. 

I sit here in bed with back pain. I haven't been able to work. Today, I won't walk my dogs or swim. My life has temporarily been put on hold. I am happy to be alive as well as my family but I am sad that this woman drove illegally, hit us and had made my life chaotic. One more thing:  If my sensitive Aussie ever barks at a stranger, you can bet my life on it I will listen and take action. He gave us a head's up that danger was ahead. I wish I had listened.

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