September 1, 2011

Bionic Woman

Tuesday afternoon I decided to walk (like I have done nearly every day of the 10 years I have lived in my apartment) to get some lunch. I was trying to cross the street at Monument and Meadow but since I didn't have the right of way on Meadow, I decided to cross Monument. With 16 seconds on the crosswalk sign I began to step into the street, waiting for a string of cars to turn that didn't want to give me the right of way even though legally I did have it.

   Here is where things get fuzzy but a police officer filled me on this part at the hospital. The last car I was waiting to pass was a large SUV and apparently behind it was the car that ending up hitting me. I couldn't see his car so when I began crossing Monument, his car picked up speed up about 15 or 20 MPH and struck me semi-head on. I was stuck by his bumper at the knees, flew up his hood, and then rolled up his windshield. When he finally hit the brakes, I was thrown forward several feet and landed back on Monument. Amazingly I never hit my head and remained conscious the whole time. The first person on the scene was a woman who also had a nursing background and like an angel she kneeled over me, blocking the sun from my eyes, holding my hand, telling me I was okay while we waited for the ambulance to come.

  And now for the extra crazy part. The driver did stop and stay on the scene, asked me if I was okay, however a "witness" was screaming at me that the driver had the right of way (not true) and that I set this man up to hit me. She began yelling about racial talking points, something about me setting up a black man to take the blame for something that was my fault. So as I laid on the road in agony, a fight broke out among the witnesses who were very angry at this crazy woman trying to blame me for being hit. One of the few memories I have of this time frame is me on the ground giving this crazy woman the finger because she was wrong on so many levels. This hit  had zero to do with anyone's color and had everything to do with me and the car that struck me being in a blind spot created by a big car between us. The police were on the scene in mere minutes and broke up this fight, removed the driver and the screaming lady from my area so I never saw either of them again. (THANKFULLY!) The sane people collected my glasses, my purse, phone and kept me focused on my breathing while we waited for the ambulance to arrive which again, only took minutes.

  At this point I don't think my positioned changed for the next 5 hours -flat on my back looking up and unable to look anywhere but up. It is maddening to be stuck this way with no other view point but up! I was strapped on my back onto boards, my clothes were cut off (good-bye vintage jumper), and they began the frantic hunt from head to toe to figure out where I was hurt and just how badly I was hurt. It is also at this point when you realize that you have entered the work day of the medical emergency community and while this is a traumatic event for you, you are still just part of their average work day. I listened to the sarcastic banter behind closed doors of the ambulance as the EMT people mock the police officer for not knowing what hospital they would be taking me to. Then in their line of questioning me to keep my mind off the injuries once all my stats were in, was comically about the EMT woman's distaste for RVA so I was asked funny things like "What brought you to this crappy city?"

  Once I was rolled into the trauma center I think is when I realized I might not be okay. I was told by EMT to be prepared for craziness in the hospital but when you have just been in an accident, at that point you can't imagine things getting weirder, but it does. Suddenly you have at least 5 people around you machine gun firing questions at you about your body as they touch, poke, prod, and pull things. It is so confusing to have a ton of strangers asking you questions all at once and while I know it is their job, it is so overwhelming and frustrating because it seems so disorganized and chaotic. I tried to answer all the questions but at this point my adrenaline was in full swing and I didn't really know what end was up. I couldn't stop shaking which made simple things like getting an IV difficult. In a perfect world you would be still and act like an ideal patient but your body will just do what it wants to do. I was given endless amounts of Xrays and then taken into a new room for cat scans. A chaplain was brought in quite early and I have to be honest, this is what scared me the most. I thought instantly of last rights but in reality she was called in to see if I needed comforting and to let me know Kenny was already there. (a woman who had my phone when I was first stuck called Kenny and told him I was being taken to MCV) I spent a good 4 or 5 hours in the trauma area - still mostly flat on my back - and so HUNGRY because I had not really had breakfast and never made it to lunch. Kenny was allowed back to stay with me so as scary as this all was, having Kenny by my side kept me grounded and feeling safe. With nothing to do but lie there (too ouchy to talk) Kenny and I overheard what all people sound like when they are at work with downtime. You overhear the chatter of people being people who again, are not in a strange place, they are just at work.

  Test results showed that miraculously nothing was broken. There was no internal injuries or head wounds. When you look at my body there are only minor abrasions across my knees , elbows, and hands. Looking at me you you would never know I was hit by a car and thrown off the windshield. While I am in aces shape on the outside, I am however very sore and relatively immobile. I can walk sort of but for the most part, moving most of my body is next to impossible. I have my hands but I am in head to toe agony otherwise. It hurts to breathe. I have a non stop minor headache and am at my weakest I think I have ever been.

   At 6 AM yesterday my morning nurse review my accident report and asked if I understood how lucky I was because few people survive that kind of hit. I think that is when I really understood what I had just survived. Having the hospital staff consider me a miracle is not something I take lightly and I am truly grateful for all the fast, top notch care I have been given - Kenny being at the top of the list.

  There are so many thank yous to offer. The first woman at the scene of the accident who comforted me until the police and ambulance came and other neighbor who called Kenny for me. The police and EMT for arriving so quickly on the scene. For MCV for being very thorough and finding me a private room that Kenny was allowed to stay in with me over night. There were so many tremendous nurses who comforted me in very personal sweet ways.

  So here I am. Alive. YAAAY!!!! I know it will be a long recovery process but there is too much to celebrate than curse right now. My biggest fear and dread in all this is my lack of health insurance. It sucks that I can't focus on healing when all I can think about is how poor I am and how without health insurance, this accident could ruin me financially. I am really hoping that the car insurance of the guy who hit me will cover everything but who knows. Sad this this is where my head is at now but this is the reality for those of us who live without healthcare.

  And one last thank you - to my friends and family. Being able to see comment on Facebook truly helped me feel less alone and loved. You have no idea what kind of power to heal that offers. THANK YOU ! ! ! 


  1. TRACY. I am SOOO glad and thankful that you are here to write this. That's definitely not something I'm taking for granted. Love so you so much, lady!!!

  2. Thanks lady! I think I need to have a party where people bring records to the house since I can't go anywhere.

  3. thank you for letting us know the details tracy! i was super worried about everything, its comforting to hear you are doing so well. if you need anything feel free to call upon me! much love to both you and kenny.

  4. Tracy, I'm so glad you're here and getting better! VCU/MCV has a program for the uninsured called VCC. Usually they will try to automatically register people for VCC when they enter the ER if uninsured. You should check your hospital paperwork to see if they noted that in any of your forms. That should hopefully help ease your mind about a heavy financial burden. {{{sending you mental hugs because they hurt less}}} -Janet

  5. Tracy---we are so glad that you are okay! And we're sending e.s.p. hugs and healthy wishes your way. Hoping that everything works out with the insurance, too. Take it easy!

  6. On one hand, that sounds like a terrible ordeal. On the other hand, you're lucky to be alive so I'll take the luck. I hope the healing kicks into high gear soon. Get better.

  7. You rule, dude! Someone was watching over you on Tuesday. Like the person above said, a lot of times if you are not financially well, they will help you out. I had major bi-lateral hernia surgery at MCV for absolutely free about 7 years ago.

  8. that's the most insane story i've ever read. I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE OK!! please let us know if you need anything. xoxoxoxoxo

  9. You remember much more than I do from my accident. I think medical payments become a little more negotiable when you don't have insurance (it was a colosal headache for me and I had insurance--although of the crappy high deductible variety). Maybe the driver's insurance will pick up the tab. Another avenue is that if you have car insurance it may be able to pay if the guy who hit you lacks insurance or only has a bare minimum policy. Back in the day when you were a major label rep you probably had a super tricked out policy that would have covered everything.

  10. Anonymous 9/12/11, 5:11 PM

    Hello. I don't know you nor you, me... I'm just a fan of Cause & Effect and stumbled onto your blog today (looking for podcasts, in fact). I'm shocked to read this story but as a former auto insurance agent i feel compelled to tell you that the at-fault driver's insurance should indemnify you 100%. To be sure if you were crossing against the green you'd have a much bigger problem on your hands but since you had the right-of-way and the motorist did not, you should not have to pay even a deductible. And if the driver were uninsured your own auto policy has a coverage that would kick in as happened for my husband a few years ago when he was victim of a hit-and-run while cycling.
    Hopefully you've learned all this already and these worries aren't hanging over your head.

  11. dejavudu - thank you so much for your insight and kind words. More importantly, if you ever want a podcast that has an expired link, just let me know and if I have it, will be happy to send it along to you. xoxo

  12. Tracy upon reading your blog I'm so worried about you but I'm so glad to hear that you are completely fine. Here is the thing about the accident you can file a whiplash compensation
    once you prove that the accident is because of the negligence of the other people.