Thursday, October 05, 2006

Accidents will happen

Yesterday afternoon I was stopped in traffic on the freeway, waiting for my lane to start moving again, when I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw what looked like my imminent demise bearing down on me in the form of a big, black SUV. I had just enough time to scream before the other driver hit me from behind -- hard -- and shoved me into the car in front of me. (Also an SUV.) For whatever reason, the shoulder part of my seatbelt failed to lock, and as a result, my head bounced right off the steering wheel, the same way the crash-test dummies' heads do in those slow-motion videos, except in this case it all happened in about .000025 seconds.

All three of us pulled over onto the shoulder and looked at the cars, which were in remarkably good shape for how hard the impact was. My rear bumper was hardly scratched, and even the woman who hit me only had minor damage. My head, however, was another story. We all exchanged information and took off, and the farther I drove, the more it hurt. It wasn't aching (yet); it stung, like I'd been hit with a baseball. But, it wasn't cut or bleeding, so I went on home, called my doctor's office, and asked what I ought to do. They sent me to urgent care, where a nice young doctor looked in my eyes with a pen light, tsk-tsked about the failure of my seatbelt, and told me to take Advil for the headache I was going to have. And boy, did I end up having one. It didn't kick in until around 9:00, almost seven hours after the accident, but when it arrived it was a doozy.

Today, the external injury doesn't look bad at all -- I have a bump about the size of a quarter with a nice red imprint of the steering-wheel cover in the center -- but my head feels as delicate as an eggshell, and it still aches when I have to bend over or turn abruptly. My neck is all sore, too. Still, I count myself lucky: if the lap part of my seatbelt hadn't worked, I would have been thrown right into the dashboard, and that would have been bad. I didn't have G with me either, which is a very good thing. It could have been a lot worse.

Weirdly, I had a sort of premonition the day before that I was going to be in a car crash. I'd been thinking about this long drive I was going to make, and out of nowhere, the idea that I might get into an accident popped into my head. I never worry about car accidents -- God knows why, since they're more likely to get you than most of the stuff I do worry about -- so it's strange that the thought would even cross my mind. Maybe I should set up as a psychic.

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