When I was 17, I got into a really bad car wreck and had no seat belt on.
I was taking a left turn at a busy intersection that had no green turning arrow at the time and it was at night. The traffic light turned from green to yellow just as I got to the end of the turning lane. I saw no cars or headlights coming toward me so I began to take my turn.
Suddenly, (in the middle of the intersection) I could see glaring headlights from my peripheral vision. It seemed like they were right beside me, like an interrogation light in the face. Only the next thing that was in my face was a windshield.
I felt and heard the intense impact of a car smashing into the corner of the passenger side o the small Toyota I’d been driving.
My forehead slammed into the windshield and all I remember after that is panicking and a strong urge to exit the car. I pulled at the driver’s door handle. It would not open. Quickly, while crying in even more panic, I leaned to try the passenger door with fear that it wouldn’t open. But it did and I hopped over the middle console and out the door swiftly.
A lot of that panic actually came from knowing I was in the middle of the intersection and fearing I’d be hit again and this time killed.
When I got out, I scurried to the driver’s side, staying close to the car, still being aware that it was the safer side to stand on. I was terrified to cross the road and get out of the intersection, because I couldn’t see.
I was sobbing and put my hands up to my face. When I pulled my hands down, I could see they were covered red in blood. Feeling more fear, and having no idea what part of my face this blood was coming from, I sobbed even more deeply.
As I stood there, I heard one shrill female voice scream in my ear, “Why’d yo go through the red light?!!!!!?” Repeatedly.
I said nothing to her. It was confusing. I couldn’t get my thoughts straight concerning this accusation and I couldn’t even see her.
Then I heard a man’s voice on the other side of mesay, “Do you want me to take you to the hospital?” It was like an angel had swooped down to take care of me. I felt a sense of relief.
Writing now, I feel the sting of the tears that want to break through. I wonder where he is now. And I realized a long time ago I never thanked him. I wish I could do that now. He is my hero.
I nodded, hands over my face, and he gently led me to a car, where I could hear the car door open and then a small child’s voice asking him questions.
He calmly told the child to get in the back seat so I could get in front and they could take me to the hospital. As it should happen the wreck occurred in very close proximity to the local hospital.
When I arrived at the emergency room door, there was a nurse already standing outside, ready with a wheel chair. I was tended to immediately by nurses and doctors. It turned out all that blood was coming from my forehead.
I was x-rayed, stitched up, wrapped up, and questioned by a state trooper.
I never even thought about the fact that I’d left the scene of an accident until later. I don’t remember that being a matter of concern for the cop, as injured as I was. I don’t remember the questions the cop asked me either. All I was worried about was how injured I was. What my face would look like. What the scars would look like when I healed. I also wanted my mother.
I called my mother after I was taken care of to let her know what happened. It was her car I’d just wrecked and my father was working nights back then and had the other car. She told me on the phone, after asking if I was alright that I’d have to wait until my father got off work to be picked up.
Soon after that phone call, a nurse came in and told me they needed the bed in the ER so I would need to wait in the waiting room.
I wonder as I write this now, what she thought about the fact that I had to wait as long as I did for a parent to get me.
I felt so alone and lonely, sitting in that waiting room. It took me back to my childhood when I’d felt forgotten as the last child being picked up after certain events at school or church.
It helped a little when the friend I was on my way to pick up, walked through the waiting room door, after walking to the hospital from his house. I never even called him. If memory serves, he called the house looking for me since I was so late. My mother would’ve told him what happened. And there he was, right by my side.
For the longest time I chalked it up to my usual luck. After all, my mother didn’t have a car so she had every reason not to be able to get to me. It was just Murphy and his laws and they followed me everywhere.
Years later, my sister told me that my mother seemed to be beside herself that night. She mentioned how weird it was to see her that way. Since our mother never worried about anything.
It was then, finding out how worried she was, that I questioned, why had she not knock on neighbors’ doors and ask for a ride to the hospital. I mean, if she was so distraught, why would she not utilize any resource that would’ve been available. We had plenty of neighbors. We lived in a twin. The whole block was twins. And even a neighbor who didn’t know her, would likely have helped. She knew the people who lived in the house attached to ours. The neighbor on the other side of them had a daughter that was my sister’s best friend.
Would not most mothers, even if the neighbors were strangers, knock on every fucking door until they found someone who would help? Anything to get to her kid, right?
There was no follow up that I remember after being discharged from the hospital. I had a lot of muscle pain through my body which was something I just needed time to recover from. But I hit my head. I don’t know, it seems like a head trauma specialist would be in order.
So since there wasn’t any follow-up after the wreck, I wonder if this injury effected my brain in such a way to alter some of my behaviors, reactions and my emotions. I wonder if it’s a contributor. I’m not saying that the abuse from my parents didn’t effect. Hell, just needing to wait in the waiting room that night before I could get home was damaging.
I know there are plenty of other things that contributed to my anger and agitation and even my seemingly lack of empathy at times. But I don’t remember having outbursts before that wreck happened so I wonder seriously if it has contributed.
I guess since I could still walk and talk after that wreck, my parents didn’t see it as a necessity to follow up to see if there was any serious impact to my brain as a result of my head hitting that windshield.
The only thing I remember doing is going to see a plastic surgeon to see if anything could be done about the scars on my forehead, because as a 17 year old girl, that’s what I was concerned about. But it would’ve been my parents’ job to follow up on any possible brain injury.
In addition, if my parents were actually loving parents, I think anyway, correct me if I’m wrong…my mother would’ve banged on neighbors’ doors asking for a ride to the hospital to pick me up rather than let me sit in the waiting room for hours.
And my father??? Well he would’ve left work.
I excused it because he was a radio announcer. He’d have likely been fired if he’d left dead air to run out and pick me up. But I can’t help but think how could there not have been someone around to ask, to fill in for a fucking family emergency.
More thoughts on this also had me questioning what really happened. Because if I’d gone through the red light at that intersection, the lady screaming her accusations at me would’ve also gone through the red light from the other side.
There was no extended green there on the opposite side I was on, at the intersection where the wreck occurred. and I know that I saw an opening just as the light turned yellow. Even at that age and as a new driver, I would not have attempted the turn if I’d seen someone coming from the other side.
So what I think happened, is that she was going through the yellow light too from the other side, and had come out of the gas station on that opposite corner and forgot to put her head lights on.
So when she fucked up and slammed into me, she thought it would be best for her to blame the young driver…which was me.
I wish I’d had more awareness back then. My parents sucked. What parent doesn’t follow up on this shit?
Oh yeah, mine!
In fact my mother should’ve been there before the state trooper had a chance to question me. Not that I did anything wrong. And not that he should not have been investigating. But I was a minor and still in shock from the impact.
Just a note here: When hitting the windshield, the part of the brain that’s under that part of the head is the frontal lobe.
Do you know that one function of that part of the brain is for planning? This could be part of my issue with my lack of taking initiative to plan for any part of my future…or at least it may have contributed along with not being guided by the people who are supposed to have taught me how to make plans for myself.
In fact, here’s a link that explains what the functions are of the frontal lobe.
It’s helpful in explaining some other stuff too. Since I’ve never had a brain scan to check for what’s going on or if hitting the windshield may contribute, but it’s interesting to read that some of what I struggle with (impulse control) or have struggled with in the past (using sex as a drug), are things that are controlled by this part of the brain.
When I think back on it now, as I edit this on Friday 9/29/17, I want to say that my mother froze. I am torn because so much is wrong with this scenario. But I understand at this point that she was likely stuck in freeze response that night. But it’s mixed with not understanding how she would not have been more in a reactive state and go knock on doors, find a ride. I wish I could ask her. There was nothing more lonely at that point in my life, than sitting in a hospital waiting room, injured, in pain and having bandages wrapped around my head, still wearing (literally) bloody clothes, when all I wanted was my mom, comfy soft pajamas and my own warm bed.