I survived a car wreck in early February. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to say that. My 2014 Kia Rio was totalled. But the vehicle looks a lot worse than I do. I managed to walk away with only a bone fracture in my left hand.
I was traveling on the interstate. The weather didn't seem to bad at home, so I made my way north. The further north I got, the more snow there seemed to be covering the grass. There had been snowfall recently.
Snowfall is nothing unusual for Wisconsin in February. We get about five or six months a year where it's expected that we'll get some kind of snow, regardless whether it accumulates. After Christmas through March is when things tend to get really nasty.
The soundtrack from Night in the Woods was playing. I remember it so well, but I couldn't tell you which song it was by name. I think it was the one that plays when Mae looks through the telescope to the stars.
I changed lanes to get out of the way of someone pulled over alongside the road. I don't think they lost control. Maybe they were waiting for something or someone. They were rather close to the highway, so it's kind to give them space.
When I attempted to return to my original lane, I lost traction and slid off the road. I panicked and instinctively tried to straighten my vehicle and get parallel with the highway to avoid colliding with anyone on it, and avoid colliding with the trees that bordered the highway.
I couldn't get the car to do what I wanted. Traction was gone. I had no control. Trees approached and all I could do was close my eyes. I shouted just before the initial slam. My breath was immediately sapped and gone by the time I felt another hit. And another.
I was conscious for the whole thing. All of it. I recall the sounds of metal and glass collapsing. My eyes were closed but I could feel and hear everything.
I thought surely, this was my final moment.
The car slid for what felt like forever. When I opened my eyes, I still couldn't figure out which direction I was facing. The steering wheel airbag, and all the airbags on the right side deployed. Between those, the mangled hood and the shattered windows, I simply could not see outside the vehicle
I had an open and an unopened can of soda. Both of them emptied into the vehicle. It got on everything. The smell of gunpowder occurred to me suddenly. In a sticky panic, I killed the ignition and ripped out my keys. (Not that the engine was running anyway.) But when I smelled gunpowder I immediately thought of the dangers of ignition. I didn't know if there was a fire or not. I didn't want to risk it.
I removed my seat belt and opened the door. I stepped out and looked myself over. No cuts? Nothing obviously broken? Just sore wrists, hands and a right foot. But wait a minute, the adrenaline could just be masking some of my damage. I was shaking so hard. Not because of the cold, but because of what just happened.
I called emergency services and the sheriff arrived first. At first he didn't believe me when I said I was not seriously injured. I suspect he thought I was just being tough, since the vehicle looked like a crushed can. Later, EMTs arrived and checked me out. They had insisted I get checked out. But I knew I'd be back home the next day and wanted to go to a clinic I knew. I don't have a lot of trust in our health care system or insurance so that was really important to me.
I also didn't want to ride in the back of a police car. But I didn't really have much of a choice. The weather was getting bad again and I needed to get somewhere warm.
I rode to a nearby truck stop. I made some calls. Insurance, Tormod, family, and of course the friend I was going to see in the first place. With my sore and barely functioning hands, I researched where I could stay. Thankfully, there was a motel nearby. I had to cross a highway to get there and walk a long way around a barbed fence in the fresh powdery snow, which made the trek that much more difficult.
I had the chance to get all my belongings from my vehicle since the tow yard was adjacent to the motel. Many trips back and forth, crawling through a wreck and carrying all that I could.
A potentially fatal experience like that made me think about a lot of things that I often put off thinking about. Did I tell Tormod I love him enough, and would he have been able to get by without my contributions? I didn't make preparations to hand over my account credentials in case I wasn't around anymore. We weren't married yet, so who gets the rights to my creative works?
I had a lot of time to think about all this while in the motel overnight. The conditions outside were really bad, it was dark by the time everything wrapped up, and I couldn't expect anyone to come and get me until the next morning.
I was really happy when my mother and uncle showed up to get me. I hugged my family firmly. I was 'okay', just bruised and shaken. My hands looked super discolored and nasty by that time.
A trip to the clinic later revealed that I had fractured a finger. It's possible all the damage to my wrists and hands was due to the airbag. I was stuck in a cast and the next five weeks would consist of being stuck at home, ineffectively working remotely.
Two weeks later, Tormod's vehicle would be totalled by someone running a stop. I was present for that, and that caused some serious anxiety. The other driver was uninsured and gave a fake name to the police. Peachy. He found something new in Madison, though.
On the final weekend of my cast, we went up north to get a vehicle. We spent some time with good friends and went to an orchestral classic rock themed concert.
The morning after the concert, I woke up to squealing tires. Oh no. Then a loud smash outside. Then a growly exhaust peeling out of there. Did I imagine it? I was barely conscious. A very real dream? I went back to sleep despite my racing heart.
It happened that there was indeed a hit-and-run on the street. A large truck plowed into a vehicle parked just fifty feet behind mine. My vehicle was parked just behind Tormod's. If not for the neighbor's vehicle, we could very well have to deal with two more totalled vehicles. I only purchased mine twelve hours prior.
I got my cast removed and I'm recovering. Making a fist is still painful, but I'm told the bone healed magnificently and all I need to do is exercise the muscles again.
There wasn't anything particularly technical about this post, I just felt like writing something. Thanks for reading!