Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reflections on my car accident (part 1 of 3)

It's been a bit over 6 months since my car accident, and I finally feel like I can write about the accident with some perspective. Perspective that only time brings.

Background (WARNING -- some people may not want to read):
I rolled a convertible off the interstate while going to class the last week of fall semester. I was found upside down, seatbelted in by a truck driver ~ the roof of the car lower than the level of the steering column. I do not know how long I was alone. I just know that this happened during rush hour in the morning, around 7:30, it took them about 45 min to get me out of the car and 15 to fly me to the hospital; I did not make it to the hospital until 10:30 AM. As it took them so long to get me out of my car, and my car was in such rough shape... I was airlifted to the hospital. At the time the rescue personnel arrived on scene, I did not know my name, where I was going, who I was, my occupation, or anything else about me with any certainty. By the time I arrived at the hospital, I still had not figured out the date.

At the accident scene... I remember being in a fog, and then in a lot of pain (my neck hurt), and finally when they cut my seatbelt off -- very, very cold. Colder than I have ever been in my entire life. When they got me out of the car, in the cold winter air, they cut my jacket off and clothes up (cut jeans above my knees, sweater and shirt above my elbows and in a straight line down to my abdomen) in order to ensure access to veins if needed. They finished cutting my clothes off when we got to the ER and replaced them with a hospital gown.

There are things I remember about the ER -- the absolute chaos when I came into the ER, followed by the absolute stillness once they determined that I was going to be okay. I remembered meeting some people who will have me as a student in the future, and seeing some familiar faces (from shadowing in the same ER earlier in the semester). As my husband was a few hundred miles away on business when he got the call about my accident, my father-in-law came to the ER, and in addition to being a comforting, familiar face; took instructions from the police officer investigating the crash, hospital personnel, etc. and reassured my husband about my status until Pete arrived -- things that I was not able to do in my concussed, confused state, and am so thankful that he was there.

I was released from the ER that afternoon, requiring only 6 stitches behind my ear... pretty banged up, and not quite sure if I was going to be able to continue with school, in part because I could not think straight at that time (a post concussion effect -- took a few days to resolve) and also feared that I had forgotten everything I learned fall semester just prior to all the final exams.

Thankfully, I have been able to continue with school. The effects of the accident have been nil, as far as I can tell... although I have decided not to participate in any contact sports/activities that have a higher likelihood of concussion (i.e. hockey, sledding, skiing, lacrosse, etc.) for the next year. And the academic effects have been almost moot ~ I do have to return to school early (August 11-22) to study and take the last exam in Anatomy, which I missed as a result of the accident.


Yvonne said...

thank you for sharing this Heidi.
and if you have a minute could you email me your email address? i am reading a book and wanted to ask you a question. thanx.
you can email me at:

Amy L said...

So thankful that it has been 6 months and all effects seemed to be temporary. I agree that sometimes we need lessons in life to be laid out in black and white in front of us, glad that you can take the 'good' out of a very scary experience. Love you.