On October 20, 1996, I Realized I'm Invincible....Sort Of
“I should slow down.” I thought as the rain began to turn to snow.
I remembered the note Chris had just left on my car to tell me the tread on my tires was dangerously low so I decelerated from 65 mph to 55mph. As soon as I hit 55, I felt my car hydroplane and begin to spin. As the car turned 180 degrees, sliding from the far left lane into the far right lane, I remember thinking, “Crap! I can’t afford higher insurance.”
I saw headlights pointing in my direction and felt the driver’s side of the car tilt down the embankment and thought, “Hmmmm, I guess I won’t be worrying about insurance…or anything else anymore.” I knew I was about to die as the car began rolling down the hill.
I was told the car rolled three times. I don’t know. It was more than once and each time it went upside down, the left side of my face slammed into the roof of the car where the window meets it. Each time it landed on its tires, I felt my entire spine painfully compress.
The car rolled to a stop and the radio was still playing. “Either I lived through that, or the music in this new place is not so great.” I thought. Apparently, I had survived.
Knowing how badly my spine had been jarred, I was hesitant to move, but also wanted to be found. I pressed on the horn until Lloyd showed up shortly thereafter.
It was around 3 am and Lloyd and I were both going home after working a shift at the same casino in the mountains. I knew Lloyd and I was a little worried when he asked me my name. “Did he not recognize me? How bad did I look?”
“Lloyd, it’s me. Andi.” He seemed to remember me then, but I was still concerned. “Lloyd, this is going to sound really shallow, but since I can’t feel the left side of my face, do I look okay?” Lloyd laughed and told me I looked just fine.
Somehow, with all the broken glass in my hair and all around me, I had only gotten two tiny cuts on my left hand. However, my brain didn’t feel right.
Soon, Mike the cop showed up and asked if I was hurt. I told him I wasn’t sure but couldn’t feel the left side of my face. Mike asked for the usual paperwork cops ask for, which normally would have been in the glove compartment.
Since the door of the glove compartment was dangling, chances seemed to be good the papers were not there. Many items, including the watch that had been on my wrist, had flown out of the shattered windows and Lloyd had begun gathering these items in the dark field. The papers were later found in the field.
As I looked through the remnants of the glove compartment, I found $30 I did not know I had. I asked Mike if he would hold it for me as I continued to search. Mike furiously waved the money away and proclaimed he was not allowed to take bribes. “What an idiot.” I thought. “No, Mike. I would like to keep that. I’m just asking you to hold it so I don’t lose it.”
I never found what Mike needed, but he did graciouslyl hold my $30.
Paramedics arrived and Mike walked around my car to speak with them. I was still hesitant to move so I stayed in the car. I heard them ask Mike if I was okay. “She’s fine.”
I shouted to them, “I can’t feel the side of my face.” Mike: “Oh, yeah. She can’t feel the side of her face.”
“How did this guy get to be a cop?” I thought
The paramedics made sure my spine was intact and we walked to the ambulance. Shortly after, one of the firemen returned to the ambulance with my glasses. “Um, we found your glasses.” Me: “Awesome!! Thank you so much!” I thought I had lost my glasses along with my watch. Mr. Fireman then smugly said, “So, you were driving without wearing your glasses, huh?” acting like that had something to do with my wreck.
“Um, no sir. They were on.”
“What? We found them in the backseat of your car.”
“Cool! Was the watch I was wearing back there, too?” It was not.
I don’t remember the ride to the hospital. I don’t remember much from the hospital.
I do remember being on a gurney, as I was wheeled to get X-rays, thinking my brain wasn’t working the way it should. I tried to subdue the panic with the thought, “If I can remember everyone’s name, I will be okay.”
For quite a while, I could remember the name of everyone who attended to me that night. 25 years later, I only remember Mike and Ruth.
Ruth was the hospital chaplain.
While we were waiting for the results of the X-rays, Ruth came to visit me. The Chaplain. Why? Did Ruth know something I didn’t? Were last rights necessary in my case? It felt like I had been stricken stupid, but I didn’t think it was a mortal wound.
Turns out Ruth was just saying, “Hello.” and her visit was not foreshadowing a visit from Death.
Mike came to visit, too…to write me a ticket for not having my papers (found later by Lloyd in his field search) and for reckless driving. Mike, the wonder-sleuth, had found Chris’ note about my tires and felt I should have known it was too dangerous for me to drive. He might have been right.
My nurse saw Mike giving me a ticket and blew up at him. “She shouldn’t even be alive and you’re writing her a ticket? What is wrong with you?”
It was great to have someone stick up for me, but it was Mike’s job and I let her know I was okay with it. She let me know I shouldn’t be, but didn’t push anything.
My doctor confirmed nothing was broken, but that X-rays showed I had a cerebral contusion. Basically, I had a brain bruise. I was told I would not be the same for at least a year or two and I wasn’t.
Mike asked me if he could call anyone for me. It was just before 6 am and I could only think of one person I’d be willing to bother at that time. Mike called my friend, Randy, and came to my room to report back on the call.
“Well, I called but no one answered so I left a message.”
I made the mistake of asking, “What did the message say?”
“Well, it started off with some cheering in the background…”
I interrupted, “No, Mike. What did YOUR message say?” I was worried Randy would think I was dead if he got some vague message from Mike the Cop about me being in an accident.
“If I’m the one with the head injury, why do I think this guy is so dumb?” I thought.
I don’t remember Mike’s actual message, but apparently it was acceptable.
To be fair to Mike, he later taught some of my classes in the Police Academy and, after getting to know him, I really believe he was trying to be funny every time I thought he was being stupid. I DID lose my sense of humor for a while after that accident.
I used the $30 I found for a cab ride home. I showered the glass out of my hair and went to bed. I don’t remember much after that for about the next 6 months. Most of those 6 months are lost memories that can not be teased back into existence with clues or reminders. Gone!
I do know that I struggled with having to ask for patience with my new-found stupidity. I had never been patient with others in that regard and had to repent. God sure did smack me upside the head with that one.
I lost 27 IQ points in that accident and I could tell. In a matter seconds, I went from annoyingly smart to irritatingly stupid.
I went from easily making A’s in college to busting my butt for C’s. I couldn’t remember anything short-term. I would stand up to do something and just sit right back down having lost the thought within a second.
My roommate would kindly put the ice cream in the freezer after finding I had put it in the microwave. Friends “lovingly” asked me to keep a notebook so I could write down conversations in order to keep from continuously asking questions that had been answered 5 minutes earlier.
One friend, not so lovingly, stated over dinner, “You’re just not you anymore.”
I couldn’t read for almost 2 months. I stuttered. I was dyslexic. I forgot almost everything. But I kept going.
I eventually regained most of my mental capabilities, after being humbled sufficiently.
After the accident, I remember skiing better because if the crash didn’t kill me, skiing sure wasn’t going to. I took more chances in everything. This was all bonus time! I shouldn’t even be alive.
I was not meant to die, yet. I should have but there was a hand over my head that night holding the roof of the car up. God has a plan for me and will not take me home until it’s completed. I don’t have to fear a thing!
I learned I am invincible until my time is up. So are you!
With God there is no need to fear anything. Enjoy the ride wherever it may take you. If you trust Him, it’s sure to be a wild adventure.