About a year ago (or actually it’s probably been two by now), I read a news article about a guy who got arrested in Egypt, and he simply posted “Arrested” to this new social media thing called Twitter, and then all his friends came to his aid and everything worked out for the best, for him at least. I had never heard of Twitter before that, but the article intrigued me. I signed up for twitter right away, and then sat back and waited for a chance to use it in such a circumstance myself.
Okay, not exactly. I don’t lead such a dramatic life, and besides, after using twitter for awhile I realized that I’m not the kind of person that anybody on twitter even gives a damn about. I’m not that prolific and I don’t post very interesting things and I certainly don’t have the patience to create a “persona” that I have to spend time maintaining. I’m probably not even “lucky” enough to get arrested in a politically scary foreign country, and if I ever am, my lack of foresight in building a loyal online following will probably doom me to suffer in solitude.
But the story stuck in the back of my mind, and ever since then I’ve occasionally thought that if I’m ever in an earthquake or something, I would probably try to be one of the first to tweet about it. That’s just me. Anyone who really knows me knows I’m an early adopter and that goes for the news as well. But there’s another underlying motivation, a much deeper reason for announcing such events to the world. It’s the fear of What If I Disappear?
I don’t want to disappear, unmissed and unheralded, my friends blithely going about their daily lives, assuming I’m okay while I’m actually suffering alone. (Does anyone really want that?) So I guess my subconscious plan has been: if I fear I may disappear I shall immediately announce my location to everyone!
And that’s what I did in The Accident.
Well, okay, maybe not immediately. I wanted to, yes. This was like that; this “Accident” was my very own “Arrested” and I didn’t want the golden opportunity to pass me by. But I refrained until I had a stretch of uninterrupted time, which I didn’t have in the car, or on the gurney, or in the ambulance, or even in the ER at first. I thought about my phone, and I held onto my phone, and I tried to raise it to my face (unsuccessfully, ow!) during pauses, but ultimately my attention was on my caregivers to help them out as much as possible.
I did a lot of other things, too. Mostly along the lines of cooperating, and being cheerful through it all. Which included noticing things that I thought were humorous about the whole experience. I don’t really know if “funny” is the best word, but since I can’t think of a better one I’ll go ahead and use it.
I thought it was funny to look out and see all the little faces in all the little cars that the accident had halted, all of them looking at me with a sort of collective “OMG” bubble above their heads. And then when I got out of the car and looked over the EMT’s heads, I saw that people had gathered on the hill across the intersection, come out from their houses when they heard the crash, apparently, to watch me. How disappointed they must have been when they saw me climb out of the car alive.
I thought it was funny that the firefighters had me get out of the car on my own power, stand up, turn around, and sit down on the board, before they helped me lay down and proceeded to strap me down as if I had a neck injury. Once they had me down on the board, and three heads surrounded me putting the final touches on the head straps, I really wanted to take a picture of the triangle of their helmeted heads against the clouds and blue sky. How often does one get a perspective like that? But I didn’t. I didn’t think they’d appreciate the pause in their work, and I wasn’t sure if they’d be comfortable being in such a picture. And besides, I didn’t know who I would show the picture to, anyway.
I thought it was funny how one firefighter had to crouch low in my car while another opened my door, in case the passenger side airbags went off (which they apparently do, quite commonly). His good humor about it, in fact, the good humor of all the EMTs, made the whole event seem lighthearted and jolly, like we were all going to the beach together. In the ambulance, my EMT looked out the window and chuckled, “you’ll be proud to know you’ve caused quite the traffic jam here, traffic is backed up all the way into downtown!”
I tried to joke with him too, but I don’t think I was as mentally sharp as I might have wished, and my jokes could only consist of one or two words, as the breaths in between phrases hurt too much. He got one more joke in before we got to the ER, remarking that the hospital was going to get mad at him for coming back so soon, as they had just left someone else there before me. I asked him if it was another car accident, and he softly replied, “no, worse.” I didn’t joke with him after that, although he didn’t seem like he would have minded. I imagined that they had perhaps taken an elderly person before me, for some serious but expected condition that commonly befalls the elderly. But it just so happens that I stumbled upon what really happened while searching for a news article about my accident, and it makes me wonder how these guys can do their job day after day and not get seriously depressed.
I joked with the ER doc, when he asked me if I needed him to write any excuse notes to my employer or anybody else. “Dear husband,” I croaked, “please excuse Kelly from the following chores…” It’s a lame joke, I suppose, but we both got a pretty good laugh out of it, and he picked the joke right up and ran with it. I used the technique of giggling from my throat without having to fill my chest with air, which is a pretty helpful skill to have.
And when I was all done and released, an old friend from high school who lives near Eau Claire came to visit me, and she took me to get my pain meds and then together we went to a Mexican restaurant and ate a small dinner (with margarita! sanctioned by the ER nurse!) while we waited for my ride to make the 5 hour trip up. And we laughed about the accident and the funny stuff and my need to announce it and basic human nature. We laughed and we laughed, so much so that I had to use my chest laugh and not my throat giggle. It was painful, but oh so much fun. I think that was really good for me, to release the emotions of the day into laughter. I gratefully appreciate my friend being there for me and having the sense of humor that she does.
To sum up my current condition, in case anyone is wondering: my worst injuries seem to be a combination of my chest (sharp pain and a vague, squishy feeling) and a rotator cuff injury. I won’t be doing pushups any time soon (oh darn), and things that require strenuous exertion (i.e. deep breathing) make me sore and dizzy. The rest of the pains are annoying but healing quickly. I’m taking long daily walks and doing rotator cuff exercises, and I even tried dancing on Friday, which wasn’t as much fun as I wished. But I’ll be fine. I will recover 100%. And I truly thank everyone for expressing their concern for me, in person and on facebook. 🙂
And now it’s time for me to move on.