A decade of not being dead

On 19 August 2003, at about 8:00 in the morning, I was hit and run over by a car while crossing the street on my way to work. I was pinned underneath that big ugly black 2004 Chrysler for about 15-20 minutes, fully conscious the entire time. That was hands-down the worst, most intense physical pain of my life. It’s hard to believe I endured it for that long and that I was in so much pain!

My elderly assailant didn’t brake after I was bumped up onto the hood of her car. She didn’t brake when I tumbled into the road. She continued driving as though I weren’t underneath her car. I suppose I have very strong legs, since the only thing that stopped her car was when my legs lodged under her back driver’s side wheel and literally stopped the car from going any further. It’s a miracle only my right leg broke, when both were underneath. The right must’ve rolled on top of the left to protect it.

I couldn’t walk for 11 months and had 7 surgeries between August 2003 and September 2009, four leg and three plastic on my stomach and abdomen. I needed two root canals. When I still had the burn scars, before my plastic surgeries, they were extremely ugly and extensive. I hope no one thinks I’m a sellout burn survivor for having chosen to have them surgically removed!

There was a gash on my right elbow about a quarter of an inch deep, which now is just a somewhat textured white line. I’m actually kind of sad the scar on the left side of my lower right arm, which looked like an upside-down Hebrew letter shin, has mostly faded away. That was a pretty cool scar. Some of the other cuts on my arms were so big I eventually had special bandages that regrow white blood cells. I still have some subtle scars hanging out in various places.

I have a slight limp, which I’m not above exaggerating if need be. Sometimes it feels worse than others. Finding out Curly Howard had a real-life limp was like a Magickal panacea that made me feel so much better about myself. Because of the metal in my right leg, I can feel cold or a storm coming on, and it hurts most in cold weather. I don’t have full range of motion in my right ankle, and I can’t fully jump on both feet together, or my right foot alone. Only in the water can I jump normally, without any pain or difficulty.

Had I died on 19 August, I would’ve shared my Jahrzeit (death anniversary) with Groucho Marx and Blaise Pascal. That’s pretty nice company.

A taller, thinner person might’ve been crushed or thrown. The body type i inherited from the Southern Italian branch of my family tree possibly saved my life. I had less distance to fall, and more flesh to cushion the impact,

You never know when your life might be about to be taken away, when you’re living your final moments. I really believed, at 23 years old, that I was about to die in the middle of that road in downtown Albany. There’s no way of empirically proving this, but since that day, I’ve had a special feeling that my uncle, who died in a car accident 25 years ago this St. Patrick’s Day, was watching over me and protected me from a lot of worse injuries or even death.

Had this happened 40-50 years ago, I was told, I would’ve been an amputee given how severely my fibia and tibula broke.

So creepily, chillingly ironic how several of my characters had limps prior to my accident. It were almost like I knew, even before I knew. When I turned my long short story/piece of backstory about my longtime secondary character Jakob DeJonghe into a full-length novel last Spring, I had the firsthand experience with a serious leg injury, the long healing process, learning to walk and navigate stairs again, and the resulting limp and residual pain. It was the ultimate, unintentional research experience.

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9 thoughts on “A decade of not being dead

    • She contradicted herself numerous times at our deposition, as well as making herself seem pretty cold and self-centered. Even her lawyer realized it was a no-win situation for her, so I got her entire insurance policy and we didn’t have to go to trial.

      The old woman died last March at age 95 in a nursing home, so at least she eventually stopped driving.

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    • She wasn’t jailed or fined, but her insurance policy went through the roof after she hit me. That was her second accident of that year, and she thought she didn’t need to report it since her car wasn’t damaged. She died last year at 95.

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  1. Such a horrid experience! I’m so glad your troubles weren’t compounded by an ugly fight with the insurance company. I believe in the guardian angels and know I’ve had my own. What we write does come from what we live! This is a good day for me, but not a good anniversary for you. Still thanks for sharing, and for your lovely comment on Alex’s blog today!

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  2. What an amazing story and perspective you’ve gained from your experience. I don’t know why hard things happen in life and why some are spared and others are not. But I firmly believe that if we are spared and given a second chance we can move forward with clarity that our life must have a purpose and mission.

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  3. Holy crappoli! You are certainly lucky to be alive. I’m sorry you had to go through that though. Must have been very traumatic.

    I have a friend who had a very traumatic experience when her car got stolen – she got in the way of it to try and stop the thief, but he just kept going, and ploughed into her. She got driven out of town at VERY high speeds (like outback highway speeds) and at 100 kph got thrown off the car. She has scars to prove it and still suffers PTSD, but she also knows she’s lucky to be alive.

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  4. Pingback: What’s Up Wednesday « carrieannebrownian

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