Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Week After...Rear Ended on Hwy. 50 Lake Tahoe

By Cal Orey

Back is stiff...Swimming, hot tub, heat, ice...
aura better. Trying to heal mind, body...

My Aussie sensed the driver who hit us was
 "off" and dangerous
I admit it. I have never been in a car accident. But last week changed that fact. After being rear ended at 5:45 P.M., I realize that I'm not invincible on the road. Ironically, I haven't driven a car for a long period of time (and it's not due to seizures and I don't drink). This oddity goes back to when I was 16 years old. In Driver's Ed, I, two other students were taken out to drive. My test was to master a winding road. Unfortunately, I flunked. And due to my lack of skill four of us including the irate instructor almost went flying down a steep ravine. He yelled at me. A lot. He vowed to never take me out driving. Not ever.

Pair that experience with the Driver's Ed films. You know the ones: Those graphic cautionary images of people in deadly accidents. Not to forget the horrific accidents I witnessed on Hwy. 17 on the way to the coast. Enough is enough. As a sensitive teen (one who sensed oncoming earthquakes and weather changes), I made the decision not to drive. So I ended up doing what lots of post-hippies did in the 20th century: boldly hitchhike (across America, Canada, and Mexico); ride a ten speed bike for keeping in shape and going to parks and fraternity parties; take buses, trains to college; book planes for book tours and vacations; and grab cabs anywhere they exist. 

Moving On... Fast forward to present-day. After being hit by a dazed and confused elderly woman who was driving with a suspended license for four years, I get it. Life as I know it can end any time, any day. It was a frightening ordeal and one I'd like to forget. But this week tossing the details again and again upon the request of authorities, the accident couldn't be tossed. The absurd accident is being scrutinized by an insurance adjuster.
The 90 yr old driver admitted to her ins. co. she rear ended us 
...she still drives 
 I swim, hot tub, use ice/heat to heal my aches and pains

Three doctor appointments, 10 attorneys later--I am exhausted--mind, body, and spirit. The diagnosis: Whiplash and post traumatic stress disorder. My body still feels like a truck hit it. Read: Stiff from neck to ankle. I walk like a 90 year old woman who has osteoporosis. I am sad, mad, and glad that I'm still alive's not fair. The elderly drives lives on and I hurt mind and body. 

Personal injury attorneys whom I spoke with fascinated me. I swear they wished I had a severe brain injury that affects my daily life. One was begging me to get a cat scan and MRI. Another lawyer was obsessed with my sibling's SUV. He asked me several times, "Are you sure it there isn't any body damage?" My brother's mechanic didn't find a scratch. But during my one week intensive crash course (pun intended) in Car Accidents 101 I discovered that you can get a bad whiplash at a low speed of car movement.  But my brain is still in working order and I don't need to search for the wizard of oz.
Zen is zen-like and I love him 

So, I continue to replay the drama complete with police and paramedics, not to leave out the potential stress of losing my two beloved canines who were hyperventilating due to the heat during the intervention on Highway 50 where it all happened. Recalling the details is not fun. My medical doctor, a general practitioner, talked me down and suggested counseling. He also told me that I survived. I have a life to live and focus on my trip to Europe not what could have been the outcome. And I'm doing just that. Also, I'm following doctor's orders: forcing myself to swim (easy while in the water, not so much after), walk my two boys every day (a chore, especially the Aussie who is pushing 50 pounds), and try to tune out the spooky rerun of the event.

Meanwhile, both my brother's and the driver's insurance company are on it--reviewing the case. It appears one of them will foot the bill for my medical bills, pain and suffering, and who knows what else. So, here I sit flanked by Zen (the Siamese kitty who helped lower my BP the night of the accident), Simon, who had a close call if he had hit the windshield (there is a dog god), and Skyler at my feet, who I held onto for dear life.

So, life goes on. I am resilient, as I told my doctor. I can cope with the experience and time will help heal but now I'm skittish when on the road. I will swim. I will walk. I will work. I will travel in a few months. The only thing that bothers me and I can't kick is, this woman--like so many elderly people--has a suspended driver's license and if she's caught driving again it's not a big deal. If she hits another driver or pedestrian it's not a felony. In my book it's a mortal sin. How can she sleep at night?  Shame on her. I am forced to deal with her selfishness and negligence by driving with a suspended license and making her problem my problem. It's time to put my life back together. I will survive. 

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