I had picked up my boyfriend that morning, and we were driving to school. I have to say... if my parents had just stuck to their rule of not driving to school I would have been in a lot less messes. Kidding. I am totally kidding!
As I approached the school parking lot I turned on my turn signal and started to slow down. Suddenly the sound of brakes filled the car. BANG! Okay, that wasn't us. Good. BANG! Crap, that was us!
I honestly can't say that I remember anything that happened for the next several minutes. The sound of the cars crashing was loud and scary enough. I'm glad I don't remember more. I never did, even on the day of the event.
I do remember looking up to see the school principal standing at the window. He told me to sit tight. The ambulance was on the way. I looked up and saw the tree that I had almost hit just a few feet in front of my car. My car was sitting sideways on the school lawn, and a crowd had gathered.
I've definitely had a guardian angel watching over me throughout my life. All of my situations, while bad, could have been much, much worse. On this day it turned out that the person behind me saw my brake lights and slowed, but the person behind him did not. It was estimated that the car who caused the accident was going 60-70 miles per hour. This was immediately outside a high school, in an area that would have been a 35 mph zone at that time of day. Like I said.... this accident could have been a whole lot worse than it was.
In the distance I heard the wailing sirens of an ambulance and knew they were coming to help me. It was then I started to cry. Help was on the way, and I was relieved, scared, and embarrassed all at the same time. Crowds of students were gathering on the lawn of the school, and I felt like a goldfish in a bowl. I could just tell everyone was staring a talking. The principal insisted that my boyfriend and I stay in the car and sit still without moving.
The paramedics looked me over and asked questions about where I was hurt, previous injuries, and all the typical questions one is asked in a serious accident. This experience was definitely different than the previous one. I think the paramedic asked if I could slide out of the car, I don't know for sure. What I do know is that we discovered I couldn't move my left leg.
The backboard came out at that point. Two paramedics lifted me out of the car and put me flat on the board. My arms were criss-crossed in front of me and a strap was put around them. Another strap was put around my legs. My head was propped up between two stiff wedges, my face looking straight up. I wasn't allowed to move at all. Fortunately everyone around me kept up a constant chatter, letting me know what was happening. They loaded me into the ambulance, and we pulled out of the parking lot with the lights and siren going.
We got to the hospital and for the third time in my life my entire body was inspected. The reason I couldn't move my leg was due to all of the instant swelling in my back. There were, once again, no broken bones. Soft tissue damage was the word of the day. I knew that meant more pain and more work for me, but I felt fortunate. My boyfriend, by the way, was a little shaken up but seemed to be in good condition.
As we were leaving the hospital I realized that I wasn't seeing as clearly as I was used to. I finally figured out that something was missing. I assumed the paramedics had taken my glasses off, so I asked my parents for them. No one knew where my glasses were. We finally went to check the car. They were there, all right. All the way in the hatch back, along with the headband I had been wearing in my hair. Apparently as the car jerked forward and spun around my glasses and hair band fell off and flew all the way into the back. Interesting place for them to be. That made me realize, once again, how lucky I really was. My injuries could have been many times worse.
Upon returning to school I was a minor celebrity for a few days. I had always wanted to be popular, but that wasn't the way I had anticipated getting there! After awhile, the excitement of my car spinning out during its turn and almost hitting a tree (and landing on the school lawn) died down and life resumed its normal pace with me once again disappearing into the shadows. Life also went back to days of pain and frustration that I couldn't do the things I wanted to do.
I include this story in my history of dealing with physical limitations, not because there was anything new or different about this tale, but because it reminds me that I have had a lot more to deal with physically than I give myself credit for. When I get bummed out and can't figure out why my body doesn't work like the other 35-year-olds around me, I realize that I have been through a lot of physical trauma. Over time damage to the body adds up. I've just never wanted to look at this issue as closely as I have been.
It was after this accident that one of the doctors I saw mentioned that I may have a hard time later in life. I may have continued back spasms and other aches and pains in the future. I may even have trouble holding a physically demanding full-time job. The chiropractor I saw when I was done with the doctors agreed. The level of soft tissue damage done to my body over the course of a year would, no doubt, have permanent effects. With the proper chiropractic care, however, I would be able to keep the pain and stiffness under control.