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brush with death.....

Last night I left work a little before 11. I was in a pretty good mood, thinking happily about birthday and vacation plans as I merged onto route 3. About two seconds later, a construction vehicle going less than half my speed pulled into my lane about three car lengths in front of me. I swerved to avoid him, seeing him swerve at the same time, and as I fought to keep the car from going into a tailspin it tipped over and began rolling. And kept rolling. And kept rolling. And came to a stop a few million years later on its roof, with me somehow fundamentally unhurt, with my legs out the driver's window and my hair caught under the roof.

(I'd somehow had the presence of mind to protect my ears through the whole thing and in the end I had my hearing aids clenched in my hands, and still working when I put them back in.)

I could see the crowd gathering outside, but few of them seemed to be paying any attention to me. After a few minutes of me yelling for help, someone finally noticed me and told me to stop moving, since there was glass everywhere (at which point I noticed the wetness all over my hand and legs, but I couldn't see it clearly enough to tell if it was blood). One woman told me the paramedics were on their way and offered to call someone for me. I gave her Tom's name and number and she called him and told him what was going on.

The paramedics arrived. My high point of humor for the night was when one of them asked me how I was doing and my reply was "as well as can be expected."

At this point I was starting to take stock of myself. Bruises and scrapes all over - my neck was cramping from the uncomfortable position it was held in thanks to my hair being trapped (think about halfway through a somersault that's overbalanced to the side). But nothing major was wrong, I had no trouble breathing, and the only thing that really had me upset was being trapped by my hair.

Eventually there were grinding noises as they used the jaws of life to cut off the passenger door. One of them climbed in, turned off the radio (which had been driving me nuts since I couldn't reach it) checked me out quickly, and then let me use his shears to cut off the hair that had me pinned. They slid me onto a board, strapped me into a stretcher, and got me into the ambulance. I got one of them to grab my purse, keys, and laptop, though I was already anticipating that my laptop would be a lost cause.

They started IVs in both arms, which hurt worse than anything else had so far (especially when you consider my phobia of getting stuck in that particular spot), and were off to the hospital. The lead paramedic was a trip. He told me to look on the bright side, I had ten men out there fighting over me :). And at one point when he asked me what was hurting the most and I told him "the IVs", he laughed and said, "you roll your car and the worst part is the IVs and those damn paramedics!"

They ended up taking me to Saints Memorial, which was supposedly in Lowell but I had no idea where as I'd never heard of it before. Between long periods of waiting (duh, as soon as they make sure you're not in immediate danger of dying you're ignorable) they cleaned me up a bit, checked out everything, took my blood pressure about nine million times (never went higher than 134/82). One of them gave me a phone and I called Tom to let him know where I was.

Another high point of witticism for me: the nurse asked me how old I was, and my response was "Is it after midnight yet?"

I got to the bathroom at one point and was pretty freaked out by my appearance in the mirror. Face was red and tear-streaked, of course - but my hair was a complete rats nest, blood clotted through a good portion of it. I had a nasty scrape on my scalp and another cut and goose egg on my forehead. It looked like I might have torn out a chunk of my hair where the scrape was (doesn't look like that now, though). Cuts all over my legs, glass bits everywhere. A cut on my finger that ended up being just shy of needing stitches.

A police officer showed up at one point and asked me about what happened. I told him about the construction truck pulling in front of me and estimated my speed at the time at about 50mph, since I had just merged. He was pretty adamant that I had to have been going faster than that, since cars don't roll that much and go that far unless you're going pretty fast. So I don't know what speed I was going, though I honestly can't see how I would have had time to get any higher than 60 or 65 at most.

Another thing that came out in this was that everyone assumed that I hadn't been wearing my seatbelt because of the position I was in when they found me. I had been wearing it, I always do - but apparently it came off at some point during the crash. The police officer mentioned that if I hadn't been wearing it, I almost certainly would have been dead. I estimated that the car rolled three times - he said that eyewitnesses claimed seven or eight. Amazingly enough, no other cars were involved. I have no idea what happened to that construction truck.

The car is, of course, totaled. Supposedly two of the wheels completely snapped off - the top was crushed, all the glass in front gone, and as I mentioned earlier they had to cut one of the doors off to get at me. What's left is at a towing yard in Billerica.

I'm hoping that I can manage to get out of the lease somehow rather than getting the car replaced. I *thought* that compact SUVs were less prone to rolling - I'm not exactly holding to that belief anymore. Between that and the seatbelt coming undone, I never want to get in an SUV again. It was bad enough being in Tom's Acura and having flashbacks of seeing the world start to spin in front of me.

Tom showed up and kept me company while they finished me up; giving me a tetanus shot since I couldn't remember when the last one I had was, taking out the IVs, bandaging my finger. And then at around 1:30am, we went home. I showered the rest of the blood off me, ate a nectarine, and went to sleep.

I'm not supposed to do much today, which is already driving me nuts since I had a million things to do today *before* I had to add filling out an accident report and calling my insurance to the list. I'm going to call my mom soon and see if she wants to drive down a little early to help me out. (If anyone else feels like showing up, feel free as well :)

Inventory of self ten hours later: very sore neck; bruises on legs, back, shoulders, head, cuts on left hand and both legs. Scrape and cut on head. Obscenely tangled hair that will need a fairly drastic trim. It's a miracle I'm alive. Happy 25th birthday.

Comments

( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
ef2p
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:02 am (UTC)
rollability of SUVs has more to do with how high your center of gravity is

Actually the two most reasonable ways to measure rollability are:
  • The angle from the center of gravity to the nearest edge of the polygon of support.
  • The amount of energy needed to lift the center of gravity of the edge of the polygon of support.

The polygon of support on a car is the quadrangle defined by the point where the tire contact the ground.

My last 6 months at the REC delt with a project where we were actively enhancing stability of vehicles to prevent tip over.

If people want more anaylisis let me know.

many hugs for Heather.
(no subject) - cortneyofeden - Jul. 9th, 2002 07:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mh75 - Jul. 9th, 2002 08:57 am (UTC) - Expand
leora
Jul. 9th, 2002 06:51 am (UTC)
Wow... I'm glad you're okay.
I'm fairly sure I've said it before, but I will say it again - be well.

And happy birthday
cortneyofeden
Jul. 9th, 2002 06:55 am (UTC)
Oh my god. I'm shaking.

I'm so incredibly happy that you're OK. Make Tom and everyone else take care of you (unless you don't want them to). I wish I was there to help.

Having to do nothing when you want to get things done sucks.

Love you!

May people bring you lots of sushi and hugs. Happy birthday, even if it got off to a horribly rocky start.
chaoticgoodnik
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:03 am (UTC)
::hugs:: Happy birthday.

::shivers:: Stories like this are not exactly motivation to get off my ass and finally get my driver's license....
tygeressdenacht
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:09 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
I'm sitting here crying just happy that you are alive girl. You are a dear friend and a wonderful sister and if anything happened to you..Shit. And I'm so far away it would take forever for me to know about it. If I was there I'd baby yah.. take care of yah and everything else. Well at least you get to be pampered on your birthday! *HUGS* THis is one of the BIG things that i'm ALWAYS afraid of when I drive my car. I don't know why.. but it's a big fear. *HUGGLES LOTS BUT GENTLY*
ef2p
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:11 am (UTC)
Hugs, I'm glad to hear you're mostly alright. I'd be over but the 1500 mile drive is a bit much.

When my parents rolled their outback (both times) the insurence paid off the loan. They had no interest in tell my parents what car to get. I don't think you will have any problems.

On the bright side, that tracker was giving you lots of problems, now you don't have to deal with them anymore.

::HUGS::
mh75
Jul. 9th, 2002 09:05 am (UTC)
er, their Outback? I didn't think those things were supposed to roll? (Mr. geek - got an explaination? I own one, so i'd like to know.)
(no subject) - cortneyofeden - Jul. 9th, 2002 09:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ef2p - Jul. 9th, 2002 11:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ef2p - Jul. 9th, 2002 06:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
sk4p
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:23 am (UTC)
a living heather is a good thing. I'll eat an extra hotdog this Friday to thank Her.
nuns
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:29 am (UTC)
Holy Crap! I'm really glad you're okay. Wow!
shoebox_bird
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:32 am (UTC)
OH MY GOD
THAT WAS YOU?!?!?!!? AHHHH!

There were about 4 firetrucks, police cars, etc -- when I drove by I saw the car and just thought "My god, it's flipped over! The poor people inside". It was completely crushed to the point that it wasn't identifiable as an SUV, and there was glass eveywhere. I had no idea it was you!

I'm so very sorry you went through that all. I'm glad you're ok, though.

*sigh of relief* *hug tight*
jnanacandra
Jul. 9th, 2002 08:28 am (UTC)
Re: OH MY GOD
I remember thinking at one point that you were probably driving by during all that, and being perversely amused at the fact that you would have no idea who it was.

Where did it end up, anyway? Was I still in the road, or in the median, or what?
Re: OH MY GOD - shoebox_bird - Jul. 9th, 2002 08:32 am (UTC) - Expand
alegria_a
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:34 am (UTC)
Um, shit. :eek:

I'm so glad you're okay, that account scared the living shit out of me. And don't let the police bully you into saying you were going faster than you were, m'kay? :)

I'll see you tomorrow, in my big honkin' steel Impala that is just about physically impossible to roll over. ;)
amergina
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:37 am (UTC)
eeek!

*hugs* Glad you're ok.

(seatbelts *good*! glad you were wearing yours!)
suibhne_geilt
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:43 am (UTC)
Heather,

Glad to see you've made it through mostly intact. And, happy 25th. The year can only get better from here, right??? I spent my 25th year half in Bosnia, then at the Special Warfare Center in Ft. Bragg - psycho central.

- Eric
flasher
Jul. 9th, 2002 07:45 am (UTC)
*hug*
don't do that. the wrecking and the flipping and the bleeding...not good things.

(stop shaking now)
I'm so glad you're okay. SUV's scare me when they are anywhere but the country where everyone drives 30 mph.

Don't know if the boy and I will be up tonight, though we're going to try to. It kind'a depends on how long it takes me to track down the hideous smell in our kitchen.
dphilli1
Jul. 9th, 2002 08:07 am (UTC)
AIEEEEEEEE!
Hugshugshugshugs!
kaote
Jul. 9th, 2002 08:14 am (UTC)
Ho.

Lee.

Shit.

Thank you for not dying, so I could say Happy Birthday. I will be driving extra carefully to work this afternoon, where I have to go instead of coming to see ya. Which I want to do before you go to Seattle and greatly lessen the chances of that happening.
alegria_a
Jul. 9th, 2002 08:16 am (UTC)
So come visit us in Seattle then, silly woman! :) USAir has esavers from Pittsburgh to Seattle about once a month (or at least they did), for like $150 per ticket. You know you want to come visit me........
(no subject) - kaote - Jul. 9th, 2002 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
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