06 September, 2010

Warm Socks

At the time that the following events occurred, I couldn't recount them due to legal issues.

How I missed seeing the car remains beyond me. Sure, it was gray and bleary outside with limpid bits of snow drifting down onto ice-crusted road mush and finely aged snow. And sure, it was my everyday route where I'd practiced crossing the busy street to get to the bus stop for the past several months. I had thought I'd gotten pretty good at it. I was wrong. I missed seeing the low-slung black sedan coasting along behind the large white van, so I stepped out into the road to cross. Suddenly there was a large black mass in my peripheral vision, and I turned to acquaint myself with the contours of its hood 3m away and rapidly closing. I tried to sprint out of its way, but it was too close. The bumper caught me in mid-air and I distinctly remember the dull thwang of my skull upon its hood. I bounced off of it and over the right side of the car.

I do not remember actually falling.

The next thing I registered was how cold the asphalt was as I drew a breath face down against it. Then I made the mistake of exhaling and every neuron called in in pain. My face was oddly warm. With the next inhalation of cold, wet air, panic bloomed as I realized that I was in the middle of a lane of traffic where motorists routinely zipped past the bus around a blind curve. I was quite certain that I did not want to be hit again.

Vision unfocused, I queried the location of my hands and feet, found them, and somehow managed to maneuver myself upright. I shuffled, bent and suddenly re-learning out how my limbs functioned, the 5 feet back towards the center line, somehow objectively impressed that I'd been thrown 5 feet laterally. It took about 3 minutes for my hearing to return enough to note that the driver was frantically screaming 10 feet away, asking if I was OK. She was shaking, tears in her eyes, and I immediately felt horribly guilty. As I fumbled out words trying to assure her that I was OK, I registered the warmth trickling down my face. My right hand felt weird. I remember her eyes widening as we made eye contact, and her gasping "Oh honey, your face!". I had no clue what she was talking about. But when I took the tissues from her and applied them to the trickling on my face I was surprised to find copious amounts of blood staring back at me. My hands were shaking, my knees were unfirm, and suddenly the bus driver was there, shepherding me and the driver to the side of the road and promising to wait until the police arrived.

A cruiser pulled up within 2 minutes and the officer within persuaded me to sit down on the curb while he got the driver's information. I tried as vehemently as I was able to at the time to convince the officer that no, I was fine, I'd just walk back home and patch myself up. The officer called bullshit and informed me that an ambulance was already en route. Meanwhile, I began to get very, very, very cold. I couldn't stop shivering, couldn't stop shivering, couldn't stop shivering. I managed to fumble off my right glove to see what was up with that hand and found that the stitching on my glove had de-gloved a decent-sized patch of my right thumb.

An ambulance arrived in 10 minutes, and the EMTs insisted that I lay down in the snow so that they could check my vitals. Then they insisted to put me in a neck brace and onto a backboard. In retrospect, this wasn't nearly as much fun as one would think. After that I got trundled into the back of the ambulance like a plank of wet potatoes. They began placing diagnostics and noted that my body temperature was apparently quite low, so they packed my coat with heat packs and tried to place an IV line. Normally, I have beautifully apparent veins that make nurses cry with joy at the ease to find and draw from them. But here, I had gotten so cold that all those squiggly green lines had retreated far beneath my skin and they were unable to place an IV.

Anyhow, at the hospital there was quick admission and 2 nurses deftly managed to take my clothes off without taking me out of the neck brace. This is an impressive feat because I had on a long trenchcoat buttoned and belted up with 2 thick sweaters and a dress shirt beneath it. My pants were easy, but the armored flight boots with lots of lacing were not so easy. They managed to do all of it without having to cut anything.

After that, I got checked out by neurologists to make sure everything was still functioning, and because I was still awake, coherent, and somehow coordinated they decided that I was OK and didn't need any X-rays or CAT scans. This is when they let me out of the neck brace and sit up. It was a relief to see what was going on. Not too long thereafter, they sent over a resident with forceps and saline to dig what gravel she could out of my face. Then she patched up my hand and I was free to go. Somewhere in this, a nurse passed by and noticed that my feet were bare, so she returned with a pair of pre-warmed socks and put them on me. That was pure joy right there, and was definitely the high point of that day.

This is where a logical person would go home and seek comfort. No. I went to lab. I opened up my computer and tried my damnedest to plan an experiment, but no dice through the haze of a now-throbbing headache. So I wound up going home early and sleeping for most of the rest of that day. I couldn't shave for the next week while the fine grit healed out of my chin, and my knees are still scarred from being scraped up, but overall I made it out quite luckily.

However, I can now empirically recommend that getting hit by a car is not wise. This should be common sense, and it is, but it is nice to have data anyway.


sarcozona said...

I am glad you survived this experiment!!!

quietandsmalladventures said...

oh damn!! i wondered what happened to you! gad you're ok, but if you keep having headaches go back for an MRI. i spent the better part of a semester in undergrad with an undiagnosed major concussion and i do NOT recommend it (especially as it took a couple of years to fully recover from it).

take care!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

WOW. Glad you're OK after all that... damn emergency services trying to give you hypothermia on top of everything else!

Anyway, thanks for going out there and collecting the data for us, so we don't have to...

Jax said...

Holy crap-- this doesn't sound fun at all. Glad you're okay, and good to see you posting again.

cally said...

Hi! I only occasionally check into your blog, and have lurked for a year. Your recordings of your life in the lab illustrates to me what my husband must've lived like when he was in school.
I wanted to step out of the shadows to say I'm very glad you're alive & functioning, and, you're one tough dude, between this & the throat infection shenanigans!

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