1. I got my driver’s license (well, technically, I got it before my junior year started, but we all know that when the final bell rings on the last day of school, you automatically promote yourself to the next grade).
2. I got contact lenses. Finally, after years of begging, my parents decided I was old enough to stick pieces of plastic in my eye every day and not have to wear my thick, heavy glasses. My eyesight is terrible and I have happily worn contact lenses since I was sixteen years old.
Just before school got out for the summer, I had an appointment with my optometrist in the Highland/Munster area. It was an appointment to check my new contact lenses and make sure everything was all right. It took about 45 minutes to drive either way. I had only made the trip myself a couple of times.
I went to the office and had my appointment. I left the office and began the drive home. It was raining kind of hard.
On a busy street, the car in front of me stopped suddenly and I slammed on my brakes. I think I would have been okay, but the truck behind me did not stop at all and slammed into me from behind, pushing me hard into the car in front of me.
I screamed. And then I screamed some bad words. And then I pretty much freaked out.
As I attempted to pull myself together and was still trying to figure out if I was okay, there was a knock on my window. I opened the door.
“Oh, wow, are you okay?” a lady asked.
“I’m not sure…I don’t know…” I was crying.
“Just sit right there. Don’t move.”
There were sirens as the police cars arrived and an officer came and stood with me and asked me not to move. Another officer followed my instructions and found my insurance card, registration and driver’s license.
More sirens and ambulances arrived. None of this was helping me not freak out.
The EMTs were concerned about me. They carefully strapped me into a back board and loaded me into the ambulance. For the entire ride, they checked my vitals and asked me questions–my birth date, my grade in school, about my classes, about my contact lenses–I guess they just wanted to keep me talking.
“Hey, do you want me to tell him to turn the siren on?” One of the EMTs asked me.
“The siren’s not on?” I realized.
“We’re driving fast, but we don’t need the siren. You’re not in bad enough shape to need a siren.”
This made me feel a little better.
We arrived at the hospital and I was examined and x-rayed and diagnosed: Whiplash accompanied by intermittent muscle spasms.
It was a very busy hour or so at the hospital, and it was a little bit overwhelming. At one point, I was lying alone in a room in the ER and I was crying a little bit because it was all so overwhelming and scary and all of a sudden, a rather handsome male attendant appeared at my bedside and kept me company until my parents arrived.
(Jenny–this is where *I* learned about the Damsel in Distress phenomenon.) (Also, I couldn’t find the “Damsel in Distress” blog post from your blog to link to it.)
When my parents did finally arrive, they apologized. My brother had taken the message from the hospital before they both got home from work. When they arrived at home, he informed them that their oldest child had been in a car accident and was in the hospital. Which hospital? Well, it started with an “M.”
Little brothers are a gift…
Well, the doctor prescribed some pills and put me in a neck brace (which I wore when I took the SAT the following morning–high on pain killers and muscle relaxers, by the way) and we left. We stopped to look at my parents’ mini-van through a chain link fence. It was crushed.
I was fine. I wore the neck brace for a couple of days, took my pills and the pain went away. I was a nervous driver for awhile and would tense up any time a car got close to my back bumper. I scored in the mid-1200s on that SAT (not bad, all things considered). With the settlement money, I was able to afford a trip to Israel, which I did during the month of March my senior year.
It was the only time I’ve ever been in an ambulance. And I didn’t even get sirens…