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Cars that go slam in the night

Corey, the kind ambulance EMT tried to keep me talking. I told him I didn’t feel like conversation. After all, I’d just been lying prone on the asphalt smack in the middle of the intersection at Highway 62 and Antelope Road. It was a cold, dark night.

I glanced around the working interior of my conveyance to Asante — not scary. An experience I’d feared felt warm and reassuring. I was relieved I hadn’t worn a dress to the concert that evening.

I’d just slammed into a careless driver who did not understand the meaning of a flashing yellow turn signal, or that an oncoming car coming closer and closer means WAIT! Poor Fiona clipped merrily along at 45 mph or so, as we have done thousands of times on that stretch. I suppose the odds were finally up. Honking, gesturing, braking, praying — all were replaced with instant resignation that I would hit this turning car and driver at 45 mph. I’ll admit to having occasional curiosity about how an impact like that would feel. My curiosity has now been satisfied. It proved shocking, horrifying, traumatic, and loud. An airbag deployed in a cloud of strange smelling smoke, and the seat belt performed admirably, though leaving bruises. My knees met the dash.

I spent three hours in the emergency room as they checked me over and took a couple chest X-rays. No bones broken. Lane appeared through the door shortly after I was admitted. The sheriff had phoned him since I’d just left his house.

At first my chest felt heavy, like a hippo sat eating aquatic plants on top of it. My knees felt like they did when I was a kid and fell off my bicycle, skates, or ran ahead of myself and met the sidewalk. Though they monitored my breathing, it seemed difficult to talk. I shook for two hours. The room had a television. It was late enough for Frasier, but I couldn’t laugh without pain (torture). For a couple weeks there was no laughing, coughing, sneezing (the worst) or even burping without chest pain. I couldn’t lift a cup or pull on socks or button my pants without pain. It went from bad to worse as the days passed, moving to my back, and I wondered if I really was healing. I realize folks suffer these accidents every day. The EMTs see far worse on a regular basis, but when it’s personal, it’s like childbirth without the baby — you’re the only one. I’ve dreamed of cars turning in front of me or running a red light through an intersection that I avoided.

Fiona took the blow and died a hero. She wasn’t worth much on paper after 12 years and 141,000 miles of duty and adventure. She will long be remembered as a true and faithful steed. Ironically, I’d just written a column about the Expressway and how I opted for that route for night driving. Had I taken Foothill instead. ... Life is full of what-ifs and precise timing.

I’m better now, one month on, save for residual soreness. Physical therapy with Bret Reordan at Jacksonville PT is moving all the shaken up parts in the right direction. Soon I’ll brave my first massage.

Among post-accident challenges are the paperwork, cleaning out Fiona the day after the wreck and smelling that smell again (I didn’t see her that night) and getting the cited driver’s insurance to pony up, but I am out of that.

The upside is a new(er) car — yep, another Honda Civic purchased from Justin at Klamath Falls Honda, though I had positive experiences with JT at Lithia and Russell at Jim Sigel in Grants Pass. I haven’t named her (him?) yet as we need to have a couple of adventures under our belts.

I’m thankful for friends who came alongside in prayer, Costco chicken/groceries (Lynn), numerous chauffeuring trips and listening to moaning/groaning (Lane), and even a car loan (I’ll return it soon, Anne Brooke, I promise).

And I’m thankful to be alive.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who’s back in the saddle. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.