First things first: I seem to be physically okay, though I was scared shitless at the thought of something else happening to my spine or making the syrinx worse. I'll have a better idea in a week or so, but I'm hopeful, anyway.
About 9:20 this morning, I was coming home from dropping Aiden at school. Driving north on East St, at the intersection with Venture, with Observatory Hill to my left and I-279 on my right. The light is green as I approach, and I note two cars waiting to turn in the opposing left turn lane. As I enter the intersection, the first car decides to MAKE THE LEFT TURN AS IF I AM NOT THERE. I swerve, but don't have enough time, and start screaming a half second before the side airbag smashes into my ear.
My car was knocked through the intersection to the right side of the road. Fortunately it was out of the way, because I could do nothing but sit in shock, shaking and sobbing.
The other driver turned around and parked in front of me. The driver was a sweet if somewhat befuddled old lady who apologized profusely and accepted that the fault was hers. That, at least, was a pleasant change from previous such encounters. Neither of us could figure out how to get my iPhone to actually dial 911, but fortunately someone else stopped to see if we were okay and was able to make the call. I don't think it was even ten minutes before a fire truck, ambulance, and police all descended on the scene. About five different very nice people were all asking me questions as I'm trying to text Andrei what's going on. Since I couldn't say for sure that I wasn't injured - my ear hurt from being smashed by the airbag, and my spine was steadily hurting more and more, which could have been the pre-existing injury, the stress, or some new injury - they put me in one of those molded plastic collars, strapped me to a longboard, and took me to the nearest hospital.
At the hospital the worst part was the half-hour wait before they got the doctor in to remove me from the collar and board. Flat on my back and unable to move is one of the worst positions for me to be in even before today's events, and to make it worse I was staring right up into brilliant flourescent lights that were alternately making me dizzy and stabbing knives through my temples.
(Perhaps it is amusing that, much like my accident 9 years ago in which the process of getting IVs into me in the ambulance was more painful than the 9-revolution-rollover that turned my SUV into a pancake and gave me a new haircut, this process of being immobilized for 30-45 minutes was worse than the actual impact.)
Once Andrei arrived, he was able to point out that my being strapped in was quite possibly aggravating my existing injury, and thus expedite the process of getting me the hell off of it, as well as fielding the incessant questions so I could just zen out and regather my shit.
The doctor came in, poked me in a couple places, ran an ultrasound of my belly to make sure nothing was injured, and said I could go whenever I felt okay to do so. At this point I was able to sit, stand, stretch, etc., and everything felt reasonably within pre-this-morning's-accident parameters.
Once we escaped the giant concrete edifice that is AGH, Martha picked us up at the Crazy Mocha on the corner and drove us home. Andrei went into a flurry of phone calls while I sat and zoned out for a while. Much logistical chaos ensued, between getting Aiden picked up from school, retrieving belongings from the wrecked Prius at the city impound, getting a rental, and providing effusive and profuse thanks to Martha, but now all is quiet and reasonably on track again.
Oh, and I had had my yearly physical scheduled for this morning. I will say that while effective, this is definitely NOT a recommended way to postpone one's Pap smear.
The worst part of all this? I was having a wonderful morning, on top of a wonderful couple of days. I'd just tweaked my pain medication to a combo that was working better than anything I'd yet tried, and was at the lowest pain levels I'd had in over three years. I was bubbling over with plans and projects and enthusiasm, truly full of hope for the life in front of me, again for the first time in a really long time.
The last time I'd felt this way? Was the afternoon of June 25, 2008, right before I was rear-ended in the accident that permanently damaged my spine.
The idea keeps rising that I'm not allowed to be happy, that if I do manage to get my life to a good place the universe will rise up and smack me down with a well-aimed hunk of hurtling metal. This is the third time I've been in a car accident that could have killed me; none of them were my fault; all of them have been bellwethers of huge tectonic shifts in my life, which is exactly what I DON'T need right now; and yet at the precise moment I start to think that maybe I can get beyond mere survival, I am squashed like a bug, an upstart who doesn't know her place.
I am fighting this idea, of course, tooth and nail, gut and blood. I tell myself that this will be the opportunity to prove that I can be happy despite bad things happening; that this is just a nudge from the universe, not a full-on phase change; that it is a chance to prove to the world and myself that it will take a damned sight more than this to keep me down.
I tell myself this, but it sounds hollow, echoing off the soreness in my back like mocking laughter in a deserted hallway. I know that it's the filter of depression making it sound that way; fortunately the antidepressants I'm on are doing a good job of keeping me afloat. So far. I dance between melodrama and affirmation. Somehow I can never allow a thing to be just a thing; I'm always weaving a Story out of it, making it Mean Something, like the fandom of my own life. Wow, does that ever sound pathetic. But whatever works, I suppose, especially in circumstances like these.
I almost hope the car is totaled, because I really don't want to drive a black Prius anymore. Either that, or that "Somebody Else's Problem" field I cast around my car to evade speed traps has leaked into something a bit broader than intended.