The lovely Mrs. Claire and I are hanging upside down in our car. This is not a comfortable position - trust me. After I'm sure we've stopped moving, I ask her if she's ok, which is really the only thing that matters to me. She assures me that she is, and asks the same of me. After a few seconds of silence, I state what was probably obvious to her: "Honey, I am so glad you're ok. I think we're probably going to need a new car, though." She laughs, and we continue to hang there for a moment, deciding what to do.
Being strapped in by a seat belt in a flipped car kind of feels like being in the junior space camp program, or getting a wedgie from Barney Frank, with the exception that I've never been to space camp. Orange was always the safe word with Barney. I released my seat belt first, and partially hit the roof of the car before I had a chance to brace myself. I say partially, because I was driving, so I was wedged - what should be under, but was then over - the steering wheel. It was an awkward position, considering that my chin was approximately at dashboard level and the roof was about an inch below my head, not to mention that the windshield was completely smashed, and there were shards of glass everywhere. It was tetanus shot city - like an Occupy rally. Claire then unbuckled her belt, and we quickly discovered that the amount of space one would usually have in the front portion of a car had drastically decreased, and it looked like we had been playing some a really messed up game of Twister. After nimbly spider-walking exorcist-style into the backseat, she reconfirmed that she was unhurt, and was able to get a better vantage of the situation. The whole world was upside down, as the defeated British army sang at Yorktown.
We were driving on the highway, hydroplaned, fish-tailed, spun completely out of control, then rolled over a couple of times into the ditch. The automated Onstar voice would not shut up, and Bob Dylan kept telling us how "the times were a-changin'." No s#$t, Bob.
There was a piece of glass sticking out of my leg, and a good sized circle of blood pooling around it. Being a trained health care professional, Claire was extremely concerned, and cautioned me against yanking the glass out. I thought it just didn't look right and pulled it out anyway, like I do in parks at night - only it's not glass I'm pulling out, and it's other people who get scarred, but that's another story.
It's weird when you're thrust into a situation over which you have no control, like having to watch Obama get inaugurated for a second term. You just have to wait for the car to stop flipping over and hope today is not the day your number is up. Nothing felt like it was going in slow motion, as so many accident survivors recount.
The people who stopped their cars to stay with us while we waited for emergency personnel to arrive were all very kind. All the EMT/fire/police people were fantastic. Thank you, everyone in Bathurst. You were all very gracious and kind. On a side note, everyone seemed to have really cool decorative Kleenex on hand, which Claire used to put pressure on my leg wound while we were waiting (we were unable to get out of the car).
We were on our way to the hospital for an appointment anyway, so it worked out.
All that mattered to me was that Claire was fine. That piece of glass sticking out of my leg? It took only one stitch and a small band-aid to patch it up. The band-aid they used was about the size of what they put on after you get a flu shot.
Later that night, I went to WalMart to get some new clothes, clothes that didn't have my own blood on them. I found myself just wandering the aisles aimlessly, knowing that the weather and road conditions were terrible, causing 26 accidents that day, most very similar to our own. Some of the people in those accidents were severely injured; some of them died.
I think some of the people in the store started getting a little freaked out at the sight of a seemingly confused man in ripped jeans with two large, perfectly circular shaped blood stains that looked eerily like an old MasterCard symbol just meandering about.
The accident played over and over in my head: what if, what if, what if? I thanked God. I thanked Mom and Dad for looking out for us. I thanked God for protecting Claire. I thanked Dr. B for insisting he see me, and for prescribing the sweet-ass drugs he assured me I would need once the stiffness and aches set in, and they sure as hell did.
It was a miracle we survived - really. We went flying. The fact that we were both able to walk away - well, they made me take a stretcher, but no big deal - again, nothing short of a miracle.
Survivors of accidents often recount stories of their lives flashing before their eyes. I can tell you that by simply looking at Claire as our car embarked on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, it's true for me.