I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I seriously would make a lousy junkie. Painkillers, muscle relaxers, all that jazz? They just make me extremely sleepy and a little loopy. I have the painkillers & muscle relaxers to take at night (and they are powerful suckers) and a slightly less sleep-inducing variety for daytime. Plus, of course, the killer cough syrup (that comes in a scary, big, old-fashioned glass bottle - looks like something creepy you'd get in ye olde apothecary shoppe) and yet another round of antibiotics for the pneumonia. Feh.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's return to the scene of the crime...
It's around 4:20 on Friday afternoon. I have a day off, friends are in town for the Dolby gig, and I'm not coughing my head off. It's a good day. I decided I would invest fourteen bucks in having someone else blow dry my hair at the local Hair Cuttery, so I'd look semi-human for our evening at the Birchmere. (Fourteen bucks is a luxury these days, but I just wanted to look decent!) So, there I am, freshly styled hair, gently blowing in the breeze, sitting at a red light, four blocks from home. Gonna hang with my friends, gonna see Dolby one last time before he leaves for Canada and the UK...
I never saw her coming. I didn't hear any brakes. I vaguely remember seeing something big and tan suddenly filling my rear view mirror before the sensation and sound of impact. I'm so glad I was wearing my seatbelt. So very, very, very glad. She hit me at probably 45-50 miles an hour. Hard enough to crush the back end and bend the frame. Hard enough to send me into the windshield and then almost flat back. Hard enough that my car is now totaled.
I just sat there for a few seconds, totally paralyzed. My hands were shaking, my right arm and my neck hurt and the tilt function on the steering wheel was loose and just flopped in my hands as I slowly pulled myself up. I'd hit my arm and leg against the dash and the center column and they already throbbed. My first reaction was to roll down the window and ask for a witness. Strangely, other drivers just smiled and gave me a thumbs up. WTF? I always stop and offer to be a witness when I see an accident. Why weren't these people stopping?
The driver of the SUV that struck me finally approached my car. She didn't ask if I was okay. She simply said, "So, how do you want to handle this?" A variety of inappropriate responses went through my head. As I waited for traffic to clear the intersection, a car pulled in front of me. A man hopped out with a scrap of paper in his hand. "Ma'am," he said, "I'll be your witness. You need to know, she was on her cell phone, looking out the side window, when she hit you. Didn't even notice you." He gave me his name and phone number. I patted his arm and said, "Bless you, hon." I was still pretty out of it.
I pulled over to the far right lane, and the SUV driver followed after a while. I'm not sure what was going on with her. With hands still shaking, I dialed 911 and asked for the police. The dispatcher felt, from the from the sound of my voice, that paramedics should come, too. I just waited in my car. I didn't want to get out until the paramedics had arrived. I called the Sasquatch, since he, his sister, and Gonzomantis were on their way to pick me up at home when all this transpired. That's when I cried.
I pulled myself together when the paramedics arrived. They held my neck as they determined what problems I might have. They wanted to transport me to the hospital, and they'd blocked my tires and drained the air out of a couple of them, to make it easier to put me on a back board. But I declined. At that point, I just had a mule kick headache. I asked questions about how my refusal to be taken by ambulance might affect my insurance if I decided to go to the hospital later. They explained there would be no problem, but they felt that going to the hospital would be a wise move for me. I thanked them all, wobbled out of my car so they could reinflate the tires, and suddenly remembered that I had both my cell phone and my digital camera with me. I snapped photos of the back of my car and the front of her SUV. My car was crunched. She had a dimple on her fender. She had gotten out of her car again as the police pulled up.
I asked her what happened. Why didn't she stop? She started to babble about not having time to stop, that she was being rushed by people behind her. None of it made sense, since I'd been sitting at the red light for a good 15-20 seconds when she struck me. I could see she had her registration card in hand, but the police officer on the scene asked us to please drive around the corner to exchange information - we were in the middle of traffic on Rockville Pike at the start of a busy evening rush hour.
As soon as the paramedics cleared the scene, I pulled around the corner, turned on my hazards, and waited for the other driver. The Sasquatch and crew arrived in mere minutes and waited with me. Gonzomantis went back around the corner to see if he could find the SUV driver, but she was nowhere to be found. I told my friends they should go ahead to the concert, and I would meet them there, but they all waited with me (good damn friends!) Eventually, I called 911 again, and the dispatcher sent the officer back to my location. He was astounded that the other driver had bolted. I dug through my memory and realized I had a photo of her license plate on my cell phone. Eureka! The officer used my cell phone snap to track her and he gave me all her details.
What kind of moron flees the scene of an accident with a cop around *and* someone with two cameras?!? Well, this kind of moron not only got caught, she lives one street over from me, where her boat of a car, with its wee little bumper dimple, sits in front of her door. Jerk. Weasel. Ass.
On a happier note, the Sasquatch's sister has been through this same sort of mess before, and she was able to give me a handful of ibuprofen at the Birchmere, which certainly made the evening go well. I looked like crap - my nicely blown dry hair was a mess and I was in my "running errands" clothes, complete with smear of gold craft paint. But the gig was great and it was terrific to see Thomas one last time before he hit the road for points far distant.
After the show, though? Oy gevalt. I was starting to hurt. A lot. My friends dropped me at home, and I gathered my things to take to the Suburban ER. Apparently, my gathering technique needs some improvement because, at midnight, when I arrived at the hospital, I discovered I had forgotten my wallet. No ID, no insurance card, no nothing. D'oh! One more trip home, and I was ready. By then, though, the car had started to give off an unpleasant smell, like an overheated cheap transistor radio. Not good.
I was in the ER for four hours. The waiting room had little in the way of entertainment. There were the other creatures of the night, like me, a TV that seemed to only show infomercials, and a December 2005 issue of New York magazine. I was desperate; I read it. I finally was ushered into an exam room, sharing space with another patient behind a thick curtain. He had apparently torn a shunt out of his body at a nursing home, and he gibbered and moaned and cried constantly. His family, clearly veterans of a long illness, gathered around his bed, only leaving when the ER staff had to undertake painful tests on him. I felt for him and his family, but the whole experience just scared me. I don't like hospitals and I fear having things like this happen to me.
Traumas were called left and right as a light rain outside turned the streets into an asphalt slip 'n' slide. A woman across the hall cried out, "Oh god, oh god, help me, help me, Jesus!" over and over and over again. I remembered I had earplugs in my purse from the concert (did not need them - the opening act was really good) and I popped them in. Still they didn't muffle the cries of the man in the next bed or the woman across the hall. I found a Halls cough drop in my purse and slowly chewed it to drown out the sound of agony.
The ER doc who finally came to see me was very nice and very certain that I'd done the right thing in coming in. She checked my range of motion and found the points where I had the most pain. In the end, I got a script for painkillers and muscle relaxers and a referral to an orthopedist, and I was sent on my way. When I walked out, at four a.m., I was wide awake and strangely, a little hungry.
I drove up the Pike to the 24-hour CVS to drop off my prescriptions. I was the only customer there, and I could tell the pharmacist was pissed to be asked to work. He was lounging in the waiting area, reading a paper when I walked up. He growled at me, "It'll be an hour." I looked around. No one here, just two prescriptions. I shrugged. There was an IHOP up the street. Might as well have breakfast. It was 4:30, after all.
Most of my visits to pancake houses are surreal, and this was no exception. My waitress was high on Vicodin from a wisdom tooth extraction the previous day. She kept calling me "Elaine" and "sir" and singing "Mellow Yellow." She also stopped to tell me about the baby daddy woes of another IHOP employee. Still, breakfast was good - and a good thing, too, as it was basically my last meal for a couple of days.
My insurance company called me at 8 a.m. on Saturday, after I'd had about three hours of sleep. I was a zombie, but they were very helpful, and they hooked me up with Hit and Run Girl's insurance folks. Other than that, I slept for all but three hours of Saturday and Sunday. It's all pretty much a blur at this point. The muscle relaxer turned me into Madame Spaghetti Legs, and I had a helluva time cleaning out the car to take it to Hit and Run Girl's insurance collision center on Monday.
By Monday afternoon, my car had been totaled. The repair bill outweighed the car's value by about $500. The Crapmobile is going to a salvage yard. I couldn't find the title, so I have to get a replacement from the State of Maryland. I have to call the insurance guys now and let them know that. I'm sure they'll be annoyed, but hey - it was *their* client who hit me. It wasn't like I was in need of my title this week, otherwise!
So, that's the scoop, kids. I have a rental car from her insurance company until next Tuesday, thankfully. It's a little SUV, and with my back hurting, it's amusing to watch me try to get up and in the driver's seat. I hurt a lot, walking is a real pain, and I'm just plain tired. Hopefully, finding a new car won't be a real trial. We shall see. My choices are limited by my financial situation, but I'll do the best I can.
And now, time for some water and a moment of fresh air. Well, as fresh as the air gets here...