Over the years, I've covered more than a few accidents. Some severe, some not so severe. I've had loved ones in accidents. My own husband was involved in a rather severe motorcycle accident in 2005.
Like most folks, I never thought it would happen to me. But it did.
On Feb. 2 last year, I joined the ranks. I was heading to Calhoun to spend the weekend with Derek and the critters when it happened. Always prone to inject a little humor into any situation, I joked later that my 2001 Volkswagen Jetta got into a territorial dispute with a semi on I-65 south just a few miles north of Elizabethtown. The semi, of course, won.
In some ways, I'd like to be able to say that I remember exactly what happened, but I don't.
I do remember resting on the gurney in the emergency room of Hardin Memorial Hospital, struggling to remember if I'd even gone to work that day. Ultimately, it would take about three hours for my brain to reboot to a point where I could remember that yes, indeed, I'd been to work that day. I'd stopped at a coffeehouse in Shelbyville for a white mocha on my way out. I'd passed under a sign that said the exit for the Western Kentucky Parkway was just 10 miles away. I was excited, because that meant I was just 90 minutes away from Derek.
The rest? Well, I've only been able to remember a few snapshots. I can't even remember sounds from the accident, including conversations I apparently had after crawling out of the car.
It's amazing to me just how the brain works, and what we can remember. I'm probably better off not remembering exactly what happened — seeing the car the next morning was bad enough.
The driver's side was shoved in at least a foot. Sheet metal on the front was peeled off. Our wonderful little car met its end.
But that little car was worth every bit of its five star safety rating, and I'm convinced the car saved me from a more severe outcome.
I was fortunate in many ways. As severe as the accident was, I had little more than a moderate concussion, a slightly misshapen skull, a few bruises on my left side, a piece of glass in my eye and what I found later was a piece of glass in my ear (ouch!). I was walking on my own, to the astonishment of the nurses, three hours after rolling into the ER.
But it left me with a few lasting problems. My short term memory isn't what it once was — though it's slowly getting better. I still get a little twitchy when passing, or being passed by, semis on the Interstate. For a month after the accident, I spent as little time as necessary on the interstates, even when traveling back to Calhoun.
It made me more appreciative of family and friends, and certainly even more aware of how quickly things can change.
Jonna Spelbring Prieseter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org