About a year and a half ago I detailed my first car accident in Life Experiences That No One Needs. I didn’t need it the first time, and I definitely didn’t need it again.
To start at the beginning, I went to work at the hospital at 7 am Tuesday. Around 9:30 the phone rang with a call from an outside line. I never answer these calls, as they’re never for me, but I was sitting at the desk and happened to glance up at the phone and see that the number was my mom’s cell phone. I got excited, thinking she’d gotten the call that a kidney was available for her. The actual purpose of her call was much less exciting. She said that she had fallen and thought her wrist was broken. She asked me to come get her and take her to the ER.
I got off the phone and rushed to the back room where a coworker was filling in for the crew lead who is on vacation. I frantically told her I needed to leave and why, and she told me to drive carefully. I did, and the 10 minute drive to home felt like it took hours. I brought mom to the ER, waited around with her for what felt like more hours, and she learned that her wrist was just sprained. She got a wrist splint and was released.
Mom had been planning to get a blood test redone that day and asked if it was okay if she did that before I took her home. At this point I’d missed so much of work I figured it didn’t matter, and went with her to the outpatient lab. I finally got her home and headed back toward work.
A couple of miles from work, I was going around a curve when the car slid on the wet road and went into the other lane. As I tried to correct it, the car slid the other way, into the grass, and turned sideways and the back of the driver’s side slammed into an electric pole, breaking it in half. I sat there, stunned, and a moment later someone pulled into the driveway of the nearby church and came running over.
I was shaking too hard to dial my phone, so she called 911 for me and waited until the police arrived. I had some minor pain in my left knee and left upper arm, but my bigger concern was that I hyperventilated so badly that my entire torso and both arms went numb.
A county sheriff’s deputy asked me to explain what happened and took my driver’s license and insurance card. The paramedics let me get out of the car on my own and walk to the ambulance, where they just had me sit on the bench seat and buckled me in. A different deputy brought my license and insurance card back before we took off, and gave me the report # on her business card. She said that the road doesn’t slope correctly on that curve and there are a lot of accidents there. After some time to calm down, I wondered if I could file a claim against the state department of transportation due to that fact.
The ambulance took me back to the hospital, so it was kind of like getting a very expensive taxi to work. I had to put on the sexy hospital gown and the doctor said he didn’t think anything was broken but recommended getting the x-rays anyway for peace of mind. So I got a couple of x-rays of my knee and a couple of my upper arm, and then the x-ray technician wanted one of my elbow too.
It didn’t take long for me to be released and I headed back to work, where my supervisor asked if I was cleared for duty. I think she might have asked if I was okay first, but that’s not what stuck in my mind. I finished out the day and a coworker gave me a ride home.
I didn’t call mom and tell her what happened. I thought I would wait and say it when I got home, but then I realized I was too scared to tell her face-to-face so I texted her. She said, “Seriously?” As if I would joke about such a thing.
I didn’t freak out too badly until I got home and she reminded me that I needed to report the accident to my insurance. I did so and had to answer a million questions asked by some foreign lady at a call center, and one of the questions I didn’t know the answer to so I had to call back later with that information. Then I asked mom a question and she said I should have asked them, so she called them back and I ended up having to talk to someone again because she couldn’t answer his questions.
Juggling our schedules to share a car was a nightmare last year, and finding a new car was even more of a nightmare. This time will be worse, because the budget is much tighter. I don’t know how I’m going to survive this. I was supposed to be working on that driving anxiety hierarchy and can’t make progress on that as long as I’m sharing mom’s car, if I can even get over the increased post-accident anxiety.
Then I had to drive mom to a concert she was singing in. It was in a city I don’t normally drive in, and it was after dark. I got almost there before I completely freaked out and had to pull over at a gas station. She drove the last couple of miles with me having to buckle her seatbelt, start the car, and put it in gear.
The next day I had an appointment with Brent. My notes already said that I wanted to increase my BuSpar dose, and with this turn of events I felt even more strongly about that. He agreed to increase it to 15 mg 3x a day, but still prescribed it as PRN and told me not to take it if I don’t need it (but then turned around and reassured me that I should take it if needed and not try to suffer through the anxiety). He was not willing to make two changes at once and I was still bringing up the idea of Lamictal, so he agreed that when I see him again in a month we will start it then and eliminate the Latuda, if I still want to at that point.
Brent has a bunch of questions he has to ask every time and one of them is “Do you have any thoughts of hurting yourself right now?” He literally means “right now” – if it was the day before he’s not concerned. I always say no. I said no, and then said, “Wait, that’s a lie.” Last night around the time I was talking to the insurance company I started planning to buy a couple of bottles of Benadryl. Surely if 40 pills screwed me up as bad as they did, 200 would do the trick. I didn’t get a chance to buy them because mom was with me, but I was still considering it even when sitting in the waiting room before my appointment.
I kind of spaced out and Brent asked me a question that I swear sounded like something about coffee. I have a bad habit of not asking people to repeat themselves and just giving a vague answer and hoping it’s right. So I said, “No.” The question was whether I would call if I needed help. Oops. I didn’t understand the next question either and this time did ask him to repeat it. He wanted to know if I needed to be in inpatient. He said he had no grounds for making me go there. Really? I just admitted to current suicidal ideation and there are NO grounds? I would have expected at least tiny ones.
I said I’d avoided going for a year and now was aiming to get through all of 2015. He asked again if I’d call for help (this time I said yes) and he repeatedly assured me that if I called he’d squeeze me in, even the same day.
Later in the day, I also had an appointment with Sadie. We focused primarily on the obstacles this development would present for working on my driving anxiety. At this point mom and I are sharing a car, which means I can only take it for necessities, such as work and therapy. That rules out doing any of the steps on my hierarchy, given that even when I had my own car mom told me not to do them because they were “too dangerous”.
Sadie said it was crystal clear why I had anxiety. At another point she said she’d like a session with my mom to tell her to stop sabotaging what we’re working on.
I had committed to doing the first four steps during the week between appointments, and I did complete those, plus three more. I practiced making left turns onto and off of the US highway, and Tuesday night I drove someplace new locally by dropping off my car keys at the towing company. Sadie was excited that I managed 1/3 of the list in a week, but I still need more practice at the left turns, and all the other steps on the list are harder and more time-consuming.