Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Laughter is the best medicine. Unless your ribs hurt.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling as though I’d been hit by a truck … because Friday afternoon one DID hit my poor Honda.  While driving north on the 5 freeway, a very large black pickup truck smacked into the back of me at a rate of about 60+ miles per hour as I dropped my rate of speed to reflect what was going on in front me – a sea of red lights indicating an immediate slowing of our group groove thing.  The rebel truck behind me would have none of it and swerved to the right to avoid conforming like the lemmings before him.  Not giving himself enough time to execute the maneuver appropriately, he was left with one choice and one choice only – to plow unceremoniously into my right rear end (make no jokes about hips or fannies.  I’m injured and beyond snarky).  The front end of my car skidded along the center divider which activated the airbag, so I was treated to three large POPS … the POP! of the initial hit, the POP! of the center divider as it greeted my car’s front end and the POP! of the airbag.


By the time the nice (and very handsome) California Highway Patrolman knocked on my window, I was recovering from the initial shock of the collision and trying to answer the 911 operator who was literally asking me what hit me.  Between sobbing hysterically and choking on the smoke from the airbag it took a while for me to come to my senses and finally hit the down button on my passenger window.  When I did, the patrolman’s eyes were wide as saucers and he yelled, “Lady.  You gotta roll your windows down, don’t you know the fumes from that airbag is toxic?!”  No, kind officer, I did not know that.  In fact, the big sticker on my visor says nothing to that effect.  There is no big, “SHOULD YOUR AIRBAGS DEPLOY, PLEASE IMMEDIATELY VENTILATE YOUR VEHICHLE AS AIRBAG FUMES ARE TOXIC” sign giving that information.  Instead, I’m treated to a romantic version of how the airbags could be fatal to a child under the age of 12 in French.  Avertissement, indeed.


The officer excuses himself from my mascara-smeared, hyperventilating presence to go speak to the truck driver while mumbling something about having me locate my license, registration and insurance information.  I silently plan to do this, once I’ve determined that the liquid all over the front of me is not blood, but which turns out to be the 20 oz. iced tea that once resided in my beverage holder.  Once I’m convinced I’m in one piece and in possession of all of my limbs, I begin looking for these tiny scraps of legal paper in the now wet contents of my purse, scattered all over the passenger seat floor.  Leaning over is no easy feat, as my ribs feel as though they are on fire.  Funny, they’re soaking wet – yet I am in flames.  Yes, Alanis, isn’t it ironic?


The nice officer leaves me alone for quite some time, during which I notice my set of binoculars (for viewing my daughter’s last four years of high school Cross Country races.  I don’t chase the team, like some moms.  I sit in one spot and spy from afar their progress).  Since the 911 operator incredulously asked the make and model of what hit me, I decide to employ the binoculars to find out.  I do this just in time to hear the nice officer lean in the window to ask, “Lady.  Whaddya lookin’ at?”  I try to explain that I am only trying to answer a question that the 911 operation asked, but I am too mortified to finish.  He already thinks I’m a Grade A, certified wackadoo, I’m sure.


Eventually, a tow truck driver appears and begins to load my totaled (according to his estimation) Honda Pilot onto his flatbed truck.  But before he does, he stops to ask if I made sure to air out my car from the toxic airbag fumes.  Why, oh why, is this warning not posted somewhere in the car, I wonder outloud.  He chuckles and says, “Don’t you watch NBC Nightline?  20/20?  Mythbusters?”  He names three more television shows before I snap and tell him I must have missed those episodes.  Gee, that and a friendly warning on my stinkin’ visor would’ve been nice.


With quite a bit of effort, due to the blown out tires, I’m sure, the car eventually gets loaded.  Prior to this, I need to be loaded into the ridiculously high tow truck and require assistance to do so, which turns out to be no easy feat.  Both the officer and the Mr. Tow Truck help guide me up the three large stairs.  I am feeling very old and feeble, but remind them that I’m injured and that I am normally a scrappy and nimble-footed creature.  I’m just having an off day, you know, having been hit by a truck and all.  In one motion, the two of them nod sweetly and dismissively, which is an art that many man should always have in their bag of tricks.  Seriously.


Mr. Tow Truck Driver was very distracting and entertaining on the 25 mile drive to the glorified junk yard where my car was to be taken, which is one other gift everyone should learn.  Bad things happen, but on the way, funny things should be said to keep us from focusing on the bad things.  There is enough crying and gnashing of teeth to be done eventually, but laughter really is the best medicine before we get to that dark place.  We laugh and talk about the autobahn, German engineered vehicles and how those wacky Daimler-Chrysler executives were eskimopieheads.  It isn’t funny here, but trust me on the 5/14 interchange it was a laugh riot.  Might’ve been latent shock, but seriously it was darn funny at the time.


The collision center where my car landed involved paperwork I never read but signed under duress.  We all know the car is going to be stamped “trash” before the month of December is done, but we go through the motions anyway, smiling at one another and being polite about what day it is and what color my car really is — it’s light green, but the layers of dust give it the appearance of gray, which is what everyone keeps writing on their official forms, as though my car is in a witness protection program all it’s own.


After the proper paperwork is finished, they ask if I want a rental car.  Why, yes I do.  It’s a 12 mile walk home from this location and a car would be very nice about now, especially since my ribs feel like they require barbecue sauce, they are so enflamed.


A rental car representative appears two minutes later and the woman behind the collision center desk introduces him as “Sparky”.  I make her repeat this two more times, not because I didn’t hear her the first two times it emerges from her lips – but by the time she says it a third time, I can no longer feel the pain in ribs, just the one in my jaws, from trying not to smile.


Sparky (seriously) takes me to rental car world where a whole new set of papers is set before me whose phrases and verbiage is beyond my ability to comprehend while in pain and agony (and a bit of pleasure at the whole Sparky-thing).  I sign my life and first-born away and drive off the lot in a black jellybean sort of vehicle that I do not recognize nor commit to memory and spend the entire weekend trying to find in various large parking lots around Santa Clarita with a million other black jelly bean sort of vehicles.


Once I leave rental car world I drive myself to Urgent Care.  My ribs are no longer a laughing matter, in fact they aren’t even a breathing matter because neither is negotiable at this point.  The pleasant-enough doctor who visits me in the tiny cold room where I sit in a paper shirt for 30 minutes tells me that I can get an x-ray to determine whether my ribs are fractured or broken, but not a CT scan, as they close at 5pm.  On a Friday night, to go dancing and carousing, I’m sure.  When the x-ray proves there are no fractures or breaks, the doctor informs me that she thinks I may have a liver or spleen injury – but since the CT scan is not available to me, going home and waiting 4 to 6 hours until my belly becomes distended and excruciating pain ensues, will confirm whether it is serious or not.  Wow, the old “canary in a coal mine” diagnosis.  21st century medicine at it’s best.  I’m proud to be alive at this moment in history and pleasantly surprised to have made it this far, with advances such as this in medicine.


Given a prescription for pain pills and muscle relaxants I go home and try to relax and relieve the pain.  Neither is terribly successful, but I really don’t want to complain.  My problems don’t amount to a hill of beans compared to some people I know and what they are going through at this very moment.  In fact, I am determined to drain every last laugh I can from this experience in order to recover.  They say that laughter truly is the best medicine and I am all about that, times two, thank you very much.  Except that my side still hurts when I laugh.  Smiling is all I can muster and I’ll hold my (tilted, injured) head up high and be grateful that it was not worse (but the jury is still out on the toxicity of those airbags).

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