The Accident

26 October 2014
Well, it's been a bit of a crappy year for us luck wise. Everything that could have gone wrong has, pretty much - career, health, financial issues; a much-wanted move back to Sydney delayed by one complication after another. Way back in January I bought a car, anticipating it would take me a couple of months to learn to drive and then I could pay my way through uni as a youth worker; instead it took nine months, five tests, and a minor bump in a carpark that cost $1200, before I finally passed last week.

We pencilled in the move for next week, and yesterday DH was doing some packing; I took Baby G to the pool to get him out from underfoot. We had a lovely time, and I was driving us home feeling positive our luck had finally turned and things would be okay now, when my car apparently blew a tire in the worst possible place - the hairpin bends over Waratah station. I wasn't sure what had happened, only that the car was handling funny. I tried to get it under control before we could pull over on Hanbury Street, but I lost control and we slammed into a power pole.

I couldn't quite believe what had happened (I still can't) - crashing after having my licence for five days, and not hooning around like a P-plater stereotype, but driving my kid home from the pool doing 40km at 2pm. There was a huge bang, and shards of things flying, and I sat there stunned for a second or two until Baby G started to scream and scream from the fright. Then a lovely lady from a nearby house came and startled unbuckling G and told us we were going to be okay but we needed to get out of the car now; it was leaking petrol. Having seen too many Crash Investigation episodes, I assumed this meant the car was about to blow up.  My door was jammed; I climbed out the passenger side, in the rush losing my shoes and glasses. G screamed, and I screamed a little too, until the nice lady sat me under a tree, plonked G in my lap, and said it was all fine and the fire and ambulance were on there way.

G calmed down very quickly - someone had a friendly dog - but instead of going to pieces, I felt like I was floating above it all. The firies arrived and deduced there was no danger of the car exploding; we'd need to arrange towing (I didn't really take this in). DH was summoned, and the paramedics arrived, and said as a precaution, Baby G and I were both suspected spinals and we'd need to go to the John Hunter, being the major regional trauma hospital. As we waited for the second ambulance for G, it became apparent that he really wasn't hurt at all (I'm glad I researched the child seat with the best safety rating), and that he was in fact having the time of his life. He asked and answered questions about the equipment and the broken car - trucks and playing doctor being his favourite things, so this on top of the earlier waterslide ride, this was his perfect day. For me, not so much. Lying there in an immobility collar, unable to see what was going on, I kept worrying about what happens with the move, with the car?

At length we made it to hospital. It was a long wait, but the paramedics waiting with us were lovely. Everyone was really, but one guy in particular waiting with me made sure I had ice chips and was always next to Baby G and encouraged me to have a bit of morphine, which went down very nicely. I had a stiff neck and a very sore sternum and no one was sure how bad it was, so we waited. Baby G didn't need to stay in his bed and was soon singing and chatting and wanting to go home. DH hovered over, worried, in between tending to Baby G. It's funny the things you remember - he noticed that my feet were dirty and covered with gravel from when I lost my shoes; he tried to clean them, as he knows I hate having dirty feet. (It hadn't bothered me at all).

I had to wait till I got the all clear - the long wait was a good thing, as it meant my injuries were classified as low priority. The police came, took a statement. Moved to a bed. Finally the doctor came and said stiffness and bruising but no real damage, and I could go home. We had to get the bus, but I didn't care (the drugs helped). I was thirsty at the time of the accident and cold water never tasted so good.

Today I'm pretty much okay (and G is just fine). I've huge seatbelt shaped bruises across my chest - my left bosom looks like an overripe plum - and stomach. (Seat belts save lives, never forget it - we were at low speed and nearly home). The car, not so much. It's a write off, inasmuch as it would cost more to repair than it would to replace, and till I get a job we can't afford either. It was towed here last night, and I went out and had a little cry - the cabin is still completely clean and undamaged, contrasting with the crumpled front. It's a bit heartbreaking that for 9 months I had a car and no licence; after 5 days of driving enjoyment, now I have a licence and no car.

There's a scene at the end of Four Weddings and A Funeral where Andie MacDowell, standing in the rain with Hugh Grant, says there's a point where you're so wet you can't get any wetter. That's how I feel about this. I'm past peak load for disappointment. I'm grateful that Baby G and I are both okay, and that after some tense times this has made DH and I see how horrible it would be to lose each other, and that however we get there, I now don't have to drive to Sydney on moving day with a 3 year old and a howling incontinent elderly cat in a car that can't have air conditioning and go up hills at the same time. I'm grateful for the wonderful treatment we received from onlookers, the paramedics and hospital staff. (DH wondered aloud if I'd develop some mild PTSD from this; I said I don't think so. No one hurt me, you see).

I've been trying to focus more on faith lately, but all the things that keep going wrong make me wonder if I'm going down the wrong path (DH is firmly of the belief that none of it has meaning, it's just a bunch of stuff that happens). It could though have been so much worse; if we hadn't hit the power pole, we'd have kept going into the concrete office block five foot further along. On Baby G's side of the car. Oh my. Who knows what it all means. Drive safely and look after each other.


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