HAIR EXTENSIONS SAVED MY LIFE IN A SERIOUS CAR ACCIDENT & OTHER SERIOUS EPIPHANIES ABOUT TEENAGE STUPIDITIES

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November 14, 2014

When I was 18, I had these blonde braid hair extensions. I actually think they were instrumental in protecting my skull and saving my life in a car accident. I was a hip hop go-go dancer at this time (I know how funny this sounds), and my boyfriend was driving a Honda Accord, with another guy in the passenger seat. His friend (who was also a dancer at Club Clearview with he and I) was behind the driver’s seat, and I was in the backseat passenger side.

So we’re in the Honda Accord, pulling out of our friend’s apartment complex, about to turn left across a 3-lane road. I was in the back seat, wearing a tank-top backless minidress, so basically a small piece of fabric with not a lot of skin coverage. I’m in the backseat, and we get crashed into by a Lincoln Town Car going 80 mph. We got hit in a “T” on the drivers side, and our car spun 25 to 50 degrees, throwing me out of the backseat of the car, flying across 3 lanes of pavement.

I blacked this whole thing out. The next thing I knew, I was on the side of the road in the grass where my boyfriend had carried me, and my back felt wet (with blood). I remember I didn’t like how the grass was sticking to my wet back, so I tried to sit up. A couple of females who saw the accident were attending to me and pushing me back down, telling me not to move. The next thing I remember after that, was being in the ambulance. (The guy who was in the backseat with me said I was laying in the road and he thought I was dead, until I sat up and started moaning. I don’t remember that.)

The EMTs were asking me questions in the back of the ambulance as we raced to the hospital. Questions like, “Do you know your name? Do you know what you ate for breakfast?” And I don’t remember anything but feeling like I was covered in blood, and I was frantically saying to them, “I don’t care! Just tell me if I’m going to have scars on my face!”  They wouldn’t tell me. They probably couldn’t tell at the time. I did have road rash on my right cheek, my hair was bloody, and I chipped my front right tooth.

The next thing I remember, is that my head was taped to a board and I was fully restrained on it so I couldn’t move or turn my head. I was in the ER like that, unable to move, for 8 or 9 hours. I got an MRI and I have no idea what other tests. My mom and stepdad came, and also my roommate, whose boyfriend had been in the passenger seat. It was his car that we were in.

While I was stuck laying there in the ER, I had to listen to the woman next to me, with only a sheet between us, give birth to a baby. I remember thinking it would take forever. It was really fast though. It was her third or fourth kid, so I guess in that case, it goes much faster.

I was wearing my mother’s vintage watch from the sixties. It was really cool, looked kind of like a “swatch” (which were popular plastic watches in the 80s)… its second hand was a black flower that moved each second, under a clear face with exposed gears and a black wristband. I looked at my wrist and saw that this really cool vintage watch that I loved was still running, but was destroyed beyond repair in the accident. I started bitching about it and showing my roommate, and hospital staff removed her because they thought she had upset me.

I was also wearing an antique family heirloom gold locket around my neck that was given to me by my Godmother, with a photo inside of my mother and I, when I was about 4 years old. The locket got badly dented and was ruined too. (I tried unsuccessfully to get it repaired and I still have it.) Aside from my jewelry, I was an extremely lucky girl. I was bloody, but I didn’t break anything, but my chipped front tooth. I had a few small pieces of glass stuck in my back (which were later removed) and I still have a small shard stuck in my right eyebrow, which no one can see, but you can feel it.

My blonde hair extensions were covered in blood, (especially in the back), but I think they acted as a helmet, protecting my skull. To this day, I fear if I ever go bald or have to shave my head for any reason, it will be exposed that the back of my head either has a scar or is slightly flattened in the back. It feels weird, but I do not want to ever see it bald and really find out. I had probably a pound of hair braided in, and the amount of padding on the skull made it difficult for me to put on a motorcycle helmet that was too big when I didn’t have the extensions. Also, they were at least 18 inches long, so if they laid between the pavement and my skin, they also protected me wherever they laid.

I ended up hurting my back and having a lot of road rash and soreness, but I was able to walk with my own two legs out of the ER that morning. When they un-restrained me and let me up, I was escorted to the bathroom and I saw myself in the mirror for the first time. I was first horrified, and second pissed off that no one had bothered to wash any blood off me in the 8 or 9 hours I was there. I also remember the first few steps I took out of the doors of the hospital. I looked at the pavement below and it scared me. Each step seemed unsure. I guess it was some post traumatic feelings.

My back was messed up for some time after that, and I had to go to physical therapy for 2 or 3 years. I realize how lucky I am. I flew across three car lanes, and I did not even break a bone! For a week or so after the accident, I had to move in with my mom and stepdad so my mom could help me get around and look after me. Right when they took me home from the hospital, my mom made me take a bath, and the water hurt my road rashed body so bad, it was torture. I remember being so aggravated during my time of healing that the Subhumans were playing when I was injured and sore, and there was no way I could go.

Looking back, I was too young to think of this at the time, but my stepdad had a daughter whom I’d never met, who was broadsided in a car accident and she became a quadriplegic, and was never able to walk or speak again. It happened to her when she was 23 and she had to live the rest of her life in an old folks home with a bunch of senior citizens with 24-hour care. When he and my mom got the call that I had been in an accident, I wonder how he must have felt. (They were not officially married at that time yet, but were shortly after.) I’m sure that was a bad deja-vu for him and I wonder if he had any feelings about me being there and living through it so much easier than his own daughter did. It never even occurred to me to make this connection until this moment, writing this story, to share for the first time. (That poor father).

It’s also interesting to me to think about this because at the time of this writing, I am having a major issue with my vocal cords and am not supposed to speak. I have been forced to take time off from my job and from having regular social interaction or speaking on the phone because I am supposed to try not to talk. It’s been really difficult and upsetting. Recalling this story feels like a gift though. To be reminded how my step sister, who I never got to know, had to live not only unable to speak, but unable to move or do anything for herself, and surrounded by a bunch of old people when she was young, feels like a wake up call to appreciate everything good I have in life. Remembering her and her very sad plight is like a gift from a higher power telling me to get over myself, and this really isn’t so bad.

[I got to meet my stepsister only once. Her body was completely limp and lifeless. I watched her be carried up the stairs because our parent’s apartment didn’t have a wheelchair ramp. It was so disheartening to see. I felt so sad for her. Everything I know about her is what her father told my mother. He went to visit her for an hour or two every day she was alive. Her health care cost a huge amount of money, which he paid for and it was a big financial strain. She had a keypad that she could type on that would speak for her like a creepy robot “speak and spell” toy voice. She frequently told her father (in that creepy robot voice) that she wanted to die. She had just come out as a lesbian right before her accident. She was probably looking forward to her new life as someone who had come out. She had to live that way for a long time, but passed away some time ago. Although I felt so bad for my stepdad for his loss, I knew it was a blessing and she did not want to live like that.]

I’ve been so worried about how I’m going to make money and survive with my vocal cord problem, and how long I have to be a mute, that I wasn’t really focused on being grateful for all life’s gifts that I do have. I’m really thankful that my mind led me to this story and a bigger picture. I’m sorry if it ended on a sad note.

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