Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Real 3rd-Anniversary Bash

This past Monday was the 3rd-year anniversary of Sucking on Oranges. I had been planning on a celebratory post, but the party has been officially postponed. Last Friday, Melanie, Edison, and I were in a serious car accident. Thankfully, we are all well and alive. We’re not all quite in one piece, however. More specifically, my left foot is not in one piece. While I’m not 100% sure of how many pieces it now consists, I know there are at least two broken bones in my ankle area and, according to the physicians, my heel has been “shattered.” It’s not the most promising adjective, but I assure you I consider myself a very blessed fellow.

So here’s the long beginning of the story. Friday afternoon, Eddie very cutely brings me my socks and takes Melanie her hat and then begins pointing at the front door, letting us know he wants to get out of the house. We didn’t have anywhere in particular to go, but we decided to please the little guy. So we head out just to do something frivolous – we stop and buy some Mountain Dew fountain drinks, and then we go to Hollywood Video and rent a couple of movies to have on hand for the weekend. On our way back home to have lunch and start a movie, we are waiting to turn left onto the street where we live. The light turns yellow. There is a car coming pretty fast in the other direction. I think to myself that the car probably could and should stop, but I can tell that it is not going to do so. So I wait. The car speeds through the intersection. The next car is a bit farther away, so I do not think there is even a consideration of that car not stopping. I barely start to go. I can then tell that this car isn’t stopping either. (By this point, I assume the light must have gone, or at least be turning, red, but I can’t officially say that I noticed – this all happened a lot faster than I can write about it.) I’m pretty certain I stopped trying to turn, because I know I just watched him barreling toward us, and I know I even said to Melanie that we were going to get hit. There is the sound of screeching brakes, and then there is the impact of what is basically a head-on collision.

We spin around so that we’re essentially facing the wrong way in the same lane we were just in, but pushed a little bit further back. Our car rolls a little forward and slightly onto the wrong side of the road (although we’re facing the right way for it now). There is a bit of smoke and I wonder if we have to worry about an explosion. The smoke only lasts for a second, but it’s a yucky smell. I realize, almost as an afterthought, that both the driver-side and the passenger-side airbags have deployed. Eddie is crying. I’m fairly calm, all things considered. I don’t know how much self-assessment I did, or even how much assessment I did of Melanie before I looked back to check on Edison. Blood is trickling down his neck. This frightens me, but somehow—perhaps defensively more than anything—I don’t get panicked.

As Melanie jumps out of the car and immediately goes for Edison, I look down and notice that my left foot is dripping blood. A lot of blood. Very quickly. I don’t feel much pain yet, but the blood doesn’t seem like a good sign. Witnesses are getting out of their cars and running up to us. A self-proclaimed child car seat expert commends us for having the car seat set up correctly. (Can he really tell just by glancing in the back window?) While not in his area of expertise, he looks at my foot. He tells me I have a cut. Maybe it’s broken, I suggest. Just looks like a cut, he assures me. He runs away and comes back to wrap it up in gauze. It’s a nice gesture, but I can’t help wondering if he even knows what he’s doing. Not that I’m going to protest. I’m feeling fairly complacent. It’s not that I’m happy to accept any treatment I can get, due to all the pain and trauma I’ve just been through. I just don’t feel that concerned or worried yet. Perhaps this is my way of being in shock.

At some point, I think about the other driver—the one that hit us. Is he mad at us, I wonder? Does he think it’s our fault? I look back. I can’t see anybody. Melanie is worried about standing in the heat with Edison, who is still crying. A man who works at the Dent Wizard car repair shop across the street (no, that’s not a joke) tells her to go sit in the coolness of their store. She thinks it is a good idea. I think so too. She goes. At some unparticular time, firefighters are on the scene. So is a cop. They’re asking me what happened. They ask me about pain. I’m not really in much, but my foot is finally hurting enough to at least mention it. Oh, and my left arm is kind of sore now that I think about it. There are a couple of cuts on it; one looks deep enough to make me worry. What about your neck? Your back? No problems there, I say. Again, at some uncertain time I realize I’m not wearing my glasses. I look around for them, feel around my body for them. They’re not anywhere. Just magically disappeared I guess. Obliterated. Same with Melanie’s.

The cop takes my license and is gone for a while. When he comes back, he tells me it is my fault based on eyewitness reports. Bad eyewitness reports, I think to myself. But I sign my citation. I don’t argue about it. I don’t think this is the time to argue about it. I know I was turning left and I know I’m probably stuck being at fault pretty much no matter what. Just moments ago, a witness had come up to me and given me his business card, telling me he thought I was in the right. That guy is gone now. I won’t bring him up to the cop, though. I imagine those things get straightened out later. It’s not my concern right now. I ask about the other driver, turning the focus back to concern rather than blame. I’m told he was unconscious right after the crash, so he’s getting priority treatment. They take him away in an ambulance and ask if I want another ambulance sent for me or if I want to find my own way to the hospital. Sure, send me an ambulance, I say. I wonder if it’s silly of me to utilize an ambulance when I’m clearly not on my deathbed. But I don’t know who I would call to give me a ride to the hospital. So an ambulance it is.

Melanie comes back with Edison. The firefighters are saying Edison should be looked at, even though the neck problem is probably just a cut from his car seat belt and nothing very serious. Melanie’s body is sore everywhere above her thighs, so she needs to be looked at as well One problem—babies and adults have to go to separate hospitals, so Edison will have to be taken away from us. I know how absolutely traumatic this would be for Edison (and for Melanie), and I know it’s not going to happen. I don’t think of it as a case of being overprotective—I genuinely think it would be a horrible mistake to pull Eddie away from us after giving him the scare of his life. Melanie agrees to sign a refusal of treatment form so she can stay with our son. But that’s enough to fill another ambulance, so they’ll have to get a third ambulance on the scene to take care of me. Melanie and Edison are gone now. It’s back to the waiting game for me. Luckily, the hospital to which they’ll be taking me is right across the street from the one to which they’ll be taking Edison. Melanie should be able to come find me after she’s done with Eddie. I’m glad we know where each other will be, at least sort of.

My foot is finally starting to get highly uncomfortable. I am still sitting in the driver’s seat, turned so my legs are dangling outside the door. I don’t put my left foot down on the pavement because it just seems like a bad idea. But I feel like it needs to be supported. I can’t twist or turn in a way that makes it feel okay. I try to cross my left foot barely over my right leg, to hold it up a little bit. Somehow, everything is uncomfortable and this isn’t satisfactory either. People keep asking me what exactly I cut it on—there is nothing obvious in that area of the car. I say I don’t know. An ambulance finally shows up for me, and they ask if I can try standing. They wonder if I can walk myself to the ambulance. I’m not thinking it’s going to work, but I stand up. I gingerly put my left foot down. It feels funny – sort of gelatinous-like – and very painful. It’s not going to work. I start to feel a swelling of nausea in my stomach. It’s intense. I recognize it as what it really is – I am going to pass out. I tell the firefighters this, and I sit back down in the car. I lean back and try to breathe very calmly. Gradually, the pseudo-nausea subsides and the threat of passing out is gone. They bring over a stretcher and work me onto it. They move me to the ambulance, which is air-conditioned inside. Being able to lay down, to be out of the heat, to just be wheeled around without any effort on my part—at this point it honestly feels quite luxurious.

And that is just enough to get us to the point where I go to the hospital. The hospital was quite an experience in itself. But I will save that for an upcoming post, which will hopefully appear soon. I’ll probably spend a lot of time just sitting around, so I might as well blog about things. Until then…


  1. Oh Benny, I just can't stand to think of you guys going through this. I'm surprised at your calmness and ability to take control- at least a bit. I don't understand how it could be your fault considering you were stopped at a yellow light, but what do I know? How is your foot now? Are you in pain? Duh, stupid question. Hopefully they can do a lot for you I guess is what I'm saying. It just makes me so sad for you guys. I miss you so much. Love you all!

  2. I saw the pictures on your wife's blog. What a horrible thing to have happen to you guys. I'm so glad you're all okay . . . well, relatively okay is what I should say. Thank God it wasn't worse! I'm praying for a speedy recovery of all your family's bumps and bruises and especially of your ankle/heel/foot.

    All the best . . .

  3. I never know what to say in these situations, just know that we love you and are praying for you.

  4. Oh my gosh. I'm glad that you guys are ok. That is so scary. We were in a car accident when Cedar was a baby and it was very scary -- I hope you guys are well and don't forget that when a baby car seat is in an accident you need to get a new one. An accident can jolt the effectiveness of a car seat (from the internal). Not to get all clinical when you're having trouble but just making sure you know. Take care.

  5. I'm so sorry to read this story, but am glad you are doing well enough to write it. I hope you are on your way to a full recovery and will be thinking of you three.

  6. Wow! It took me a couple of times through to quite picture the accident. At first it sounded like it was clearly your fault (legally) but then I figured it out and it seems clear that it isn't. The only part I don't quite get is why didn't the other guy just steer around you? Anyway, yikes, and glad you're all mostly-ok!