a real-life adventure
Read Part XII here.
Now available in ebook format!
"What?" I gasped.
The police officer paused to look me in the eye.
"Because the two accidents occurred separately and not as a result of each other, we will be reporting them as two separate accidents," he explained.
I was still too much in shock to comprehend what he was saying.
"Another person? Is he alive?"
"Yes, ma'am. But his neck is broken."
I began to weep and hyperventilate. Someone was pinned between my car and the truck because he was a good Samaritan. He paid the ultimate price for trying to help a stranger.
The police officer must have sensed my thoughts.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I was not aware you didn't know about him," he explained. "He is undergoing surgery right now, but the doctors do not believe he is paralyzed. They don't know the extent of his injuries, but they believe he will walk again.
"He is here at this hospital. I can give you his name, if you'd like."
My heart, might and mind were still reeling from the adrenaline rush, but I somehow found the sheer will to reply.
It would be two more days before I met Louis, my guardian angel. It would be nearly a month before I comprehended the role he played in my life.
While I was still feeding on the overload of emotions provoked by this late revelation, an emergency room technician entered the room equipped with a clipboard of forms filled with empty lines and blocks, a clue the next hour would be spent trying to determine how long it takes to deplete the ink reservoir of a ballpoint pen.
All my insurance papers were in my purse. I didn't have my purse, so I was temporarily spared the task of completing about half the forms. I wondered what the staff would have done had I not been cognizant. Would they wait until I came to my senses to do the paperwork before they prescribed a pain killer???
The second half of the paperwork involved what parts of me would be x-rayed. After a brief question and answer period, the nurse decided a complete set of upper body shots would be in order.
Off I was wheeled to a photo lab not too similar to the kind of darkroom I'd rather be in.
I ended up in a string of similarly backboard-strapped patients lining the hallway. And one patient in a wheelchair ─ my daughter Raz.
She could see me, but I could not see her. I had forgotten that someone had asked me for permission to examine her. She had complained about pain in her chest. This was my first chance to talk to her since that morning. It was comforting to hear her bubbling about how she bumped her chest when she unsnapped her seatbelt, not just because it meant she may not have internal injuries after all, but because there was a time when I thought I'd never hear her voice again. Waiting so long to talk to her just made her potential absence seem all that much more real.
I was ahead of her on the triage priority list, so I got my x-rays before her. But we both waited more than an hour before I was wheeled into the lab.
Once there, I wished I wasn't. First I had to be photographed while still taped to the backboard, to make sure my neck and my back weren't broken. Then I had to be shot again, more thoroughly, without the tape and board, on a cold metal table.
By this time, it was obvious to me that something inside was broken, and I was just as curious as the doctors and nurses might be, but I was just another restless and wounded patient to a lab technician who was in for a long night.
"Turn on your left side," she barked in assembly-line fashion from the control room.
After three unsuccessful attempts, I barely had the strength to respond.
"I can't," I whimpered.
"Oh, you're not hurt," she spat in mock-motherly tone. She emerged back into sight and with one swift movement set me on my left side with a handy jerk on my right ribcage.
"Ow!" I murmured. If it hadn't hurt so much, I might have been too angry to cry. I remembered Tara in the x-ray department in Estes Park. Tender Tara. Thoughtful Tara.
I wasn't hurt then, just shook up. It was my first serious accident. My car then looked like an accordion with a bite take out of it by a real-life Godzilla. I was accustomed to taking pictures of accidents. Not being in one.
Tara had treated me with kindness and compassion. Of course, she didn't have 15 people waiting on stretchers in the hallway. But still, there was something about her that was absent now. When Tara spoke softly to me, I didn't feel quite as bewildered. Now, every word that came out of every mouth seemed to further traumatize me.
Read Part XIV here.
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Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson