Saturday, January 28, 2012

Car wreck(ed).

This might be a sad post, but it is necessary for me to write. I want to remember what happened, so I can be thankful for the miracle that I am still alive and Spencer is still alive. It happened the day after we were married. The very day. We saw my family that morning. We ate crepes. We opened gifts. We prayed because we were about to drive to our home in Los Angeles, from my parent’s home in Provo, Utah, and while it was a drive we were familiar with, my parents taught me to pray before going on long journeys. We got in our car. We drove past St. George. We were in Nevada, near Mesquite. Spencer was driving. It was my car. Our only car. Things were fine until they weren't: we had good snacks, good tunes, and a good book to read. The unraveling of the fine began with a large semi-truck appearing in the mirror. I saw it first, from the passenger side. It seemed dangerously close, and was dangerously getting closer. In sudden urgency I asked Spencer if he saw it too. He did, but there was little he could do. There was another semi in the right hand lane, so his initial effort to steer that way also had to be accounted for. He turned again toward the left, and that is when we were hit from behind, on the left rear side. The car spun, went off of the freeway, did an aerial in the sky, rolled down a hill, and landed upside down in a deep ravine. We were still intact, but barely.

Spencer was momentarily knocked out, making me momentarily believe that he was dead. One day after I married, I thought my husband was dead. I called Spencer's name. Some seconds passed before he came to. Anyone who has been in a similar situation knows that seconds in such instances feel like eternities, and eternities like seconds. And perhaps to thoroughly demonstrate that he was not dead, but alive, Spencer did what any alive person would do in his situation and climbed out a shattered window, before climbing back in. I think it was also to show me that he could breathe and that we could breathe, because for reasons I cannot explain, I was terrified that we would suffocate (and expressed such fears), despite the fact that every window was broken open, and therefore letting air in. For my part (and though very much alive) I was laying still in a pool of glass and blood. And would continue laying there for a long time, because when the EMT’s came, I told them that my neck hurt, because it did. And then they wouldn’t let me move after that. I regretted not telling them until after I got out of the car. One reason it took so long is that they were having trouble killing the battery, and understood the danger of the car starting on fire, so were themselves afraid to come in. I assure you that them telling me this did not make me any calmer. Eventually they did get me out, and onto a board.

Every act of movement tortured me. I have seen those boards before, but I didn't know how hard they were--I didn't know that they were hard. I thought that they would be soft and comfortable, comforting the injured. Instead, they are almost piercing in their firmness and inability to give. Being lifted up into the ambulance was a new kind of pain, and then having my head and neck secured against the board was another. Whatever they used was digging into the back of my head, and that became the pain I focused on. If I could have lifted my arms up (I couldn't, though they weren't strapped), I would have tried to rip that thing off of me. Spencer was in the ambulance, but not in the back with me. I couldn't see him for their rules. I kept calling his name, and pleading for him to hold my hand, hold anything. Do anything. He would call back to me, every time. He had dug my computer out of the wreckage, and opened it. I had been playing Ashley Mae's homemade video of our wedding, over and over, and now, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Spencer started playing it over and over too. Again, because he was apart from me, I couldn't see the screen, but listened to the words, and knew what was playing. That song, that video, was the single thing that could calm me and help me breathe simply again. In real ways it rescued me.

Once we got to the Emergency Room at the Mesa View Regional Hospital they examined me and x-rayed me. Everything felt long and painful. It was difficult for me to sit still for the x-rays, though it was equally difficult for me to move. They gave me medicine for the pain. Two pills of something. They made me throw up twice, when I stood up. (Maybe once for each pill?) And then soon after, they made it so I couldn't remember anything. One of the few things I do remember is a nurse saying that they needed to get me a top to wear, because my shirt was destroyed. I was confused, and didn't know what she was talking about. When I saw my shirt later, it was half covered in blood. There were so many holes where the glass was gouging my skin. That is what my back looked like. During this time Spencer had called his relatives. A cousin of his would be picking us up and taking us to his home in St. George. I don't remember the ride. I don't remember talking to my own parents on that ride, though Spencer assures me that I did. I don't remember the blessing I received. I don't remember the apparently constant question asked me at the hospital, concerning how much pain I was experiencing, on a scale from 1-10. Spencer told me about it sometime later, and that I always said 2. I thought it was strange and mildly funny that I would say that, on the night of the most physical pain I have ever experienced.

The next thing I would remember was not even waking up, but the part right after waking up. I was sitting on a stranger's stool at a counter. He was making me a smoothie. Spencer's dad and grandpa picked us up and drove us to LA. I slept most of the way. They flew back to Salt Lake, and we borrowed the truck for a week so we could do errands and finish moving-to-Europe preparations. It was very nice of them. All of those things, really. I would spend the next week recovering at my grandma's house, and Spencer would spend it driving into the city to try to expedite a new passport, and visa, and etcetera, since those things were lost in the wreckage. Spencer's parents and my parents would come to our much smaller reception in Claremont, to make sure that we were still alive. We were, despite sore necks, backs, and in my case knee. I was limping badly, which limp would remain through Milan and part of our bike trip, and sometimes now, when I walk up or down stairs (I am an old lady). It was so nice to see my parents. And my oldest brother. And my sister-in-law. And their very precious children. And my very precious grandma. And mine and Spencer's very precious friends.

We would make it to Europe a week or so later, despite the wreck, and despite the 6,000 canceled flights due to East Coast earthquakes/hurricanes. All it would take were some pretty terrible circumstances in Baltimore, Maryland (of which city I might be terrified, due to mine and my brother's love of The Wire), and some less terrible circumstances staying with Spencer's sister Kiersten in New Jersey before we could catch a flight to France. I would spend the next several weeks watching bruises appear and slowly disappear. They covered my legs, my hips, my torso. While bicycling Spencer would have to tell me if it was free to cross streets, because I could not turn my neck to check myself. I still have scars on both knees, and one on my right wrist, but am doing okay otherwise.

This is where we fell.
This is my broken car, frontside.

This is my broken car, backside.

This is my shirt.

This is some of my family, whom I love.


Lisa H. said...

I'm so, so glad you're both okay. Love you.

ashmae said...

i know i've mentioned this before, but I'm so glad we are all connected in ways that we don't even fully understand. I felt so strongly that I needed to finish that little video the night you got married. It didn't make any sense as I didn't think you would even get it until a few days later, but I'm glad I made it. And also, way more glad that you guys are okay and married.

canne said...

also glad you were safe! can't believe i didn't know this!

Little Lisa said...

I am very glad you prayed before you left and were protected in that car. Many prayers would have gone unanswered and many kindnesses lost had the result been different.

Cumorah said...

I tracked down the hospital you were at, and talked with Spencer there that night. They wouldn't let me talk to you because you still were really out of it/might have been throwing up right then, but I was so worried for you. I had just held and hugged you that morning, and couldn't imagine not hugging you ever again. Enormously grateful for the miracle that is your life. {and Spencer's too, of course.}

Rachel Hunt said...

I am glad we are okay too. Thank you, everyone, for all your love.

Maggie Malone said...

Seeing the car damaged like that, I can imagine that it could’ve been a very tragic accident. You are both fortunate to be given that second chance. So what happened to the truck that hit your car? I hope you already got the justice for what happened to both of you.
Maggie Malone @ Mastrangelo Law Offices

Vesta Duvall said...

You suffered badly enough to even remember anything after the accident, which is completely understandable given the severity of the situation. Imagine, on the scale of 1-10, you kept on answering just 2! What happened with the other vehicle involved? Did it even bother to stop after seeing what happened to you?

-Vesta @ Zalkin