Accident: Part 1
I am a physician but I am a patient too. On February 1, 2019, I was driving to clinic, where I had a packed schedule of patients to see. I was driving straight in the extreme left lane. I was one exit away from work when I suddenly noted the smell of rubber burning followed by a horrendous screech. Immediately thereafter, my car was impacted on the right side and subsequently swerved into the middle divider before spinning 270 degrees back onto the freeway against oncoming traffic.
Once my vehicle stopped, a pickup truck pulled up to me, the driver glared into my car and drove off. My immediate thought was that I had been in a hit and run, and he was running. Shards of glass glistened like dew across the interior of my car. I sifted through them to locate my cellphone.
A woman approached my window and instructed me to roll my window down. My trembling fingers searched for the button. The window had barely opened a crack and she said “My goodness!! Are you okay? I saw everything. He came from the far right lane straight into you. He might have been on the phone. I’m going to stay in my car because of my baby but I’ll wait here with you to speak to the police.”
My car’s SOS feature had already called the police. Somehow an ambulance had also been called. There were multiple moving pieces all at once. I called my husband and my clinic. A policewoman circled from me to the other car. She grabbed my shoulder and assured me I was going to be fine. Multiple people asked me if I was a doctor. Someone asked me for my car keys. Paramedics tried to pull off my jacket to check my blood pressure. Someone was palpating my neck. Then they placed their stretcher next to my car and told me they were taking me to the hospital.
The doctor in me started doing my own trauma assessment. I had not hit my head and did not have a headache. My airway was intact and I could breathe. I was not having chest or abdominal pain so I didn’t suspect any internal bleeding. I was not having any tingling or numbness in my limbs. My neck hurt, though, but I did not think I needed an emergency room for that. I started realizing I had survived something terrible and was very lucky.
Highway patrol closed off the freeway and pushed my car and the car that hit me to the right shoulder. The witness drove over as well. She brought me some coffee from her car. We exchanged phone numbers. Then she said her baby was crying and she needed to go. She hugged me, I thanked her for being a Good Samaritan. She said she would want someone to do the same for her.
Two tow trucks had arrived by then. The driver of the truck assigned to me asked if I was a nurse. I tried to figure out where to tow my car. Highway patrol took my statement last. He said “So you were driving along and all of a sudden out of the blue, someone smashed into you. People always ask about fault. It’s obvious who was at fault.” He handed me a receipt of sorts and walked back to his car. I hitched a ride in the bouncy tow truck to the nearest dealership.
Stay tuned for part 2...