Becoming a Passenger

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you weren’t in control at all? Where it’s more like you’re watching everything unfold around you and nothing you do affects anything at all? Since Saturday, I’ve had this feeling nonstop.
Saturday, after a week of teasing us with small drizzles, it rained like a champ. I honestly don’t know why I voluntarily left my house to drive anywhere. With the wipers on high, visibility was still pretty low. As so, with poor visibility and torrential rains, I got on the interstate to drive out to the mall and return something at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.
The speed limit was 70mph, and it’s not unheard of for me to drive 75, but the conditions were bad enough that I actually slowed down to around 65. A large SUV in front of me was driving about 50, so I changed into the left lane to pass. As I’m passing, the other car starts to drift into my lane. So I drift to the left to avoid getting clipped. I drift far enough to be safe from the other car, but far enough to hit a puddle on the shoulder and hydroplane. There’s a brief instant where I think everything will be fine, and that I’ll get control back in just another few feet. That instant is gone once my left tires hit the soaking wet, slick grass.
I’m off the road, spinning towards the wires that separate me from the oncoming traffic. I remember thinking that I saw an 18-wheeler coming, and if I happened to jump the fence, I’d be a dead man. I hit the wires, while facing backwards, and they grabbed my truck and held it earthward as I slid for what felt like a mile.
I didn’t lose consciousness, but it felt like I was watching a movie of myself, filmed in the first person, calling the highway patrol. They told me to sit tight and remain in my vehicle, so that’s what I did. I called Strutter to tell her what happened and that I was fine and not to worry. Then I sat back to wait. While I was waiting, I took an inventory of my things. I still had two arms. Still had two legs. Ten fingers. Ten toes. No blood. I guess I’m okay. Then I looked around the truck. A lot of things shifted around, but nothing looked broken, except my headrest was smooshed all the way down. I’m 6’1″, so I always have the headrest in the highest position. After playing with it a second, I realized that the clip that holds it in place was broken. My head hit the headrest hard enough to break it. I touched the back of my head to feel for a bruise or, worse, blood. Everything was fine. Odd.
After about ten minutes of sitting, and fifty to sixty cars driving by without stopping, I got out of the truck and surveyed the damage. Everything looked normal until I got to the passenger side, where scrape marks ran the full length of my truck. The back and front corners were shredded from sliding along the fence. But other than some major body work and being tangled in the wires, it actually looked like I could still drive the truck. While I was looking around, getting soaked to the bone, someone finally stopped to ask if I was okay. His dad owned a tow truck, and I asked him to go ahead and call it in for me.
Let me get sidetracked here. I’m just cynical enough to think that it’s possible he stopped because he was trying to drum up some business, but he was a nice enough guy that I don’t believe that. What I’m really disappointed in is that I sat there for TEN MINUTES, INSIDE MY TRUCK, without anyone stopping. If I had been unconscious and bleeding, I could have died in that time. People like to say things like “I’m not going to stop because they could be a rapist or a murderer.” To those people, I’d say that’s a pretty elaborate fucking scam to total a vehicle just to get to rape/kill someone. Now if I see the person on a cell phone, yeah, I’ll probably keep driving. But I was, for most of that time, sitting in my driver’s seat not moving. (It might’ve taken me two of the ten minutes to monkey with the headrest and make sure I wasn’t hurt.) Now…
The highway patrolman arrived shortly after the kid, and he got my information and account of the accident, then wisely went back to his car to sit it out. It was, after all, pouring down rain. I was soaked. My clothes were clinging to me. My wallet had soaked through. I took the time to put my cellphone back in the truck to keep it from getting any wetter, but it was already pretty drenched.
When the tow truck arrived, I stood and watched as he walked around the truck, trying to figure out just how he was going to untangle it from the wires. Eventually, he hooked up some chains and started up the winch. It wouldn’t budge, so he asked me to get in the truck to turn the wheels as he pulled. So here I was, in the driver’s seat with my windows down so I could hear him yelling, pouring down rain coming in through the windows, glasses fogging up because of the humidity, trying my damnedest to steer without power steering and without having any idea which way my wheels were facing. It was funny. It was also the first time I noticed that I felt a little confused. He was shouting “Turn right” and my hands would sit there on the wheel, while my brain tried to recall which way was right. Odd.
Eventually, my truck was on the tow truck and the highway patrolman returned all my stuff along with the green form for insurance. Strutter was on her way to pick me up, and bringing a dry shirt. I was still feeling sort of like a passenger in my body, but less so because the rain was cold, and I was starting to feel it. I made it home safely, and spent the rest of the day… I think I sat on the computer all day after that, but I don’t really remember. Odd.
Sunday, my neck and back were sore as hell. It’s totally expected, so I took some Ibuprofen and wrote it off. My father and I went up to Hartsville to pick up my grandfather’s truck. It sucks to be without a vehicle, but it sucks even more to be a burden on people. So I figured I’d be a burden for one day and then I’d have my own method of getting around. On the trip, I noticed that I was feeling a little dizzy, but again wrote it off. It was nice to spend some time with Dad, and we talked about various things… none of which I can really remember. We arrived at my aunt’s house, and I played a few games on the Wii with my little cousin, but I had to get back in town before too late so that I could gather my things from the truck. So I got in my grandfather’s little teeny truck and drove home. I can’t really remember much of how I spent the rest of the day. Notice a trend?
Monday, I was still sore, but took some Tylenol and went in to work. Our office is moving in a month or so, so my department got to walk around looking at the new building and deciding how many network drops to put in each office and stuff like that. I was feeling dizzy again, but didn’t think too much of it. Somewhere in there, I took a phone call from my insurance agent and gave him the details of the accident. After lunch, I was back in my office and updating some calls in the help desk program, and started to realize that I wasn’t reading very clearly. And then I started thinking back and realized that this had been a trend. I’d been foggy-brained for a couple of days now. I had been shrugging off as a mild concussion, but people had started commenting on it, and mentioning how Liam Neeson’s wife said she felt fine too. So, I went downstairs to get checked out. They sent me to get a CT scan.
I’ve never had a CT scan before. It was kind of neat. Basically, they stuck my head in a UFO and turned it on. I was expecting a light show, or some beeps, anything to make it work the $300 it was about to cost me, but I was disappointed. I was even more disappointed when the doctor informed me that he saw an “artifact” in the scan. Now, to me, artifact is a word that brings to mind some ancient, super powerful magic item like the Ark of the Covenant. So I’m thinking it’s pretty cool for a second. But then I realize that it’s not very likely I’ve got The Sorcerer’s Stone stuck in my brain, and “artifact” could mean something bad.
Basically, it means that I might have moved my head suring the scan. Or it might be a spot where my brain is bleeding. They can’t really tell. So they sent me to get an MRI this morning. I’ve had MRIs before, but both times they were on my knee. This time I was going in the other way and, let me tell you, they do not make those tubes with broad-shouldered men in mind. I had to scruntch in my shoulders, wrap my torso in a tight ball, and not breathe until my chest was completely inside the tube. I felt like a torpedo that was about to be launched. Then the man said, “Okay, don’t move for the next eight minutes.” What the fuck? Is this some sadistic for of rodeo?
But where the CT scan didn’t give me any bang for my buck, the MRI was nothing but noise and shaking. For eight minutes, I sat in that torpedo tube while my submarine went to war. I heard lasers being fired off. Metal scraping against metal. I felt the whole damn thing shaking, which made it very difficult not to move. (Thank God my shoulders and arms were pinned to my body!) And then, it was all over. The man in the booth said something into the intercom that sounded like “Enjoy the rest of your day at Six Flags!” and then the tube ungraciously spit me out.
And now, I’m sitting and waiting for someone to look at the picture of my brain, roll some dice and determine exactly what that artifact is, and call me to let me know. To occupy my brain, I decided to come to work. But since I can’t really focus, I’m not very effective at working. So, to clear my mind, I thought it might be a good idea to write down everything I could remember, which is what I’ve just done. I’m not to worried about the results, since it’s been four days and I haven’t died yet. But in case I do die… thanks for reading. I’m sorry I got so slack in updating all of you in how my life has been going.
Also, in case I do die, I just wanted to say that I’m glad my life turned out the way it did. I thought about this a lot last night, lying in bed and worrying. (Because that’s the only time it’s acceptable for to worry, when no one can see me do it.) I have no regrets. Bad things may have happened in my life, and I’ve done things that I’m not proud of, but they all shaped me into who I am today. And I like that guy. So thanks to all my friends and family who gave me love. Thanks to all the people who wronged me and taught me not to be TOO trusting. Thanks to God for giving me this opportunity to reflect on my life and realize it was pretty keen.

3 thoughts on “Becoming a Passenger”

  1. Wow, hope you’re alright. I nearly lost my sense of hearing at a concert last week so I’ve been doing a lot of serious health worrying, too.
    It feels good to read you, though 🙂

  2. Well, my brain isn’t bleeding. Apparently my brain has had some abnormality since birth. I could have told them that withoug having to shell out $700 worth of scanning.
    So the official diagnosis is mild concussion, which means I get to be dumb for a week or so.

  3. So the official diagnosis is mild concussion, which means I get to be dumb for a week or so.
    I’m going to avoid the obvious joke and just say that I’m really happy you’re just abnormal.

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