Car Accident

All posts tagged Car Accident

On hearing and personal normalcy.

Published September 28, 2016 by mandileighbean

Round of applause, please; I’m actually posting weekly! Granted this is the first time it has happened, but it’s all about the baby steps, right? It’s all about doing the work.

So without further self-aggrandizing glory, or further do, here’s this week’s writing prompt. I’d like to thank Cristina Hartmann who wrote a beautiful, poignant article on her deaf experience. Her willingness to be so honest and so personal helped me through writer’s block and taught me to be open-minded through validating the idea that there is a common human experience no matter the extenuating circumstances.

Enjoy.

WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT #29: A deaf woman undergoes a surgical procedure that enables her to hear for the first time.

The surgery had been an absolute success, one worthy of being documented in some elite medical journal that was never actually read but given a prestigious place on a bookshelf of some pretentious professional. But Monica had no idea that she was a medical marvel; not yet, anyway. She was still floating somewhere in the dark ether of anesthesia, blissfully unaware of the momentous, tragic changes in her life that had occurred while she was sleeping peacefully.

Monica had been born deaf, an innocent victim of her mother’s sins. Monica’s mom had been a pretty heavy drug user in the very beginning of her pregnancy and though her daughter had been the reason she finally got clean, it was too little too late. The damage was done and in her youngest years, Monica was constantly shushed so that the toddler wouldn’t make noise at inappropriate times. How was Monica to know she was even making sounds, let alone when she was being shushed? The kid couldn’t hear, couldn’t hear a damn thing, and so Monica struggled to learn American Sign Language. Doing so allowed Monica to meet many, many different people and in her important, formative years, she signed with adults, and that early exposure to maturity and a cynic sort of wisdom only vaguely hidden behind smiles that didn’t quite meet the eyes (because she was still a child after all) indelibly shaped Monica’s personality. She had always been an old soul – polite, conservative and comfortable even in the strange solitude that came with being unable to hear.

Being comfortable wasn’t always synonymous with being complacent, so when Monica had been referred to the Cochlear Implant Center, she continued on that journey to meet with an audiologist, and when her medical history had been sufficiently reviewed and all the necessary medical tests had been conducted, Monica willingly moved on to the last phase, which involved a psychiatric evaluation. In the end, all had been golden and she was approved for cochlear implant surgery.

Monica remembered her hands twitching nervously as the surgeon explained the procedure. She thought it was nice he wanted her to be informed, but Monica was letting most of it simply fall away. She was too nervous to concern herself with the details of the surgery because it wasn’t the impending incision that troubled her; it was the aftermath. She had been relieved to discover that she would still be unable to hear like a hearing person, and that the implant could be turned off so that Monica could effectively be deaf again. The thing Monica hated most about being deaf was that it was not her choice; taking a wide view of the thing, Monica supposed you could say it had been her mother’s choice, but unwittingly so. Either way, Monica liked the idea that being able to hear was her choice, very much her choice. If she longed for the familiar soothing and peaceful silence she had lived in for so long, Monica could go there any time she liked. That thought had calmed her enough to go ahead with the procedure.

Surprisingly, the surgery was no big deal; Monica learned that the majority of patients go home the same day, and that the surgery only lasted between two to three hours. After minimal hair shaving and a small incision (the aerated bone behind her ear had to be removed so the device could be implanted), she’d go home and remove the dressings the next day, standing in front of her bathroom mirror, breathing deeply and listening hard for anything, anything at all.

What a change it would be; good or bad, it would certainly be different.

So as far as anyone was concerned, Monica should have been on her way home. But her shit luck reared its ugly head once more, and there had been a minor complication. The procedure had caused facial nerve stimulation, and they wanted to keep Monica longer (overnight) for observation, to make sure the damage wasn’t permanent. The surgeon would tell her, with an overly enthusiastic smile and tone to let her know her optimism should not in any way shape or form be deterred, when she woke from the anesthesia but even that was taking longer than it should. A surgeon couldn’t be expected to wait around all day, could he? Certainly not; time to wait around was not a luxury in the business of saving lives.

Monica was therefore all alone when she began to stir. Well, all alone if one discounted her roommate, which it seemed most people did. He was a young man essentially being kept comfortable until he inevitably kicked the bucket. The car accident had ravaged his insides; so much vital stuff had been bruised and was bleeding and it was just a God awful mess. The next of kin had been alerted, but there wasn’t enough time (was there ever) and that poor young man was going to die alone and he was going to do so in a matter of moments.

“I’m so scared,” he breathed. It took a lot, to make noise, to push enough air through his throat to vibrate his vocal chords. It was a lot of work, a lot of effort, but it had to be done. Everyone deserves to have a final say, and he was going to have him, goddammit.

Monica’s eyes shot open. She heard it; she heard it. It startled her awake, the husky voice wracked with pain and despair, but it was the only voice she had ever heard. She was hearing. She was smiling and tears were freely pouring. She hadn’t processed what the voice said exactly, but for now, it was enough that it had been audible.

“It’s not fair,” the voice croaked. “I didn’t do anything wrong, man. I was wearing my seatbelt. I was sober.” There was a deep, shuddering breath. “How can there be nothing that they can do? How can this be it?” The voice broke near the end, cracked into a million desperate shards that had nowhere to land, nothing to shatter against.

The voice asked questions Monica was unable to answer, not only because she didn’t know how to intellectually, but because she didn’t know how to physically. She had years of speech therapy to go before she’d be able to effectively communicate without using her hands. Any sound she attempted now would be unsettling at best, impossible for the man suffering beside her to discern. Her smile had faded, had done so quickly, and something akin to indescribable sorrow had contorted her features to something decidedly less than beautiful.

“It’s karma,” the man said. He waited a moment, for an absolution perhaps. Maybe he was waiting for a kind soul to argue otherwise, but there was nothing. “It has to be karma,” he continued. “I knew she was drunk but she was smiling and laughing and I never heard no.” There was sharp intake of breath. “I swear to God, she never told me no. She never asked me to stop. I was young and…” his voice trailed off. Monica didn’t think he would speak again, and she was okay with that. She didn’t like playing priest in this warped confessional. How could the first voice she ever heard belong to a dying man, a dying man that felt the need to confess the worst thing he’d ever done? If he wanted to talk about what was unfair, Monica was game.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he sobbed. “I don’t want to die.”

Monica shut her eyes tight, letting the tears roll freely. What else could she do?

 

deafness

On near misses.

Published March 31, 2016 by mandileighbean

wakeupcall

For someone who believes in, and more often than not relies on signs from the universe, I’m constantly missing those signs. I’m frequently guilty of missing the point, as it were. It is usually only in hindsight that I am appreciative and finally realize that the Universe was trying to alert me to something.

I left Busco Beach ATV Park in Goldsboro, North Carolina around 9:30 yesterday morning. On the main highway in town, I was stuck in a line of cars waiting for the longest freight train I’ve ever seen in my life. I was patient and waited. Now I wonder if those ten minutes that felt like an hour made any difference, if those ten minutes affected my journey in a crucial way.

About 45 minutes later, I was merging onto I-95 and nearly had to swerve to avoid hitting a giant vulture and some other small bird feasting on a carcass in the middle of the interstate. I’d never seen vultures feeding in real life, only in the movies and on television, and it seemed especially stranger the birds would land and feed on such a busy road. It was a gruesome reminder of mortality, regardless if the location seemed unrealistic.

Some time later, I ran over a blown tire. The sound was loud and startling, but the collision was harmless. Another sign, perhaps, but of what?

The trip was mostly uneventful after the aforementioned incidents, aside from irritating pockets of traffic, until I reached Baltimore, Maryland. I was traveling over the bridge that ended in tunnels near the Port of Baltimore. I was being attentive, wasn’t distracted by my cell phone or iPod, but none of that positive, defensive driving seems to matter. Somehow, an orange construction cone (one of the big ones, shaped more like a tube and reminiscent of a garbage can) was left behind. There was no obvious construction, no other cones or material left behind – just the one thing. The car in front of the truck in front of me decimated the cone, smashed it all to bits. The truck in front of me slammed on its brakes, and I had no other choice but to do the same. I also swerved to the left, into the shoulder.

For a few terrifying moments, I was convinced I was going to crash into the concrete barrier, wedging my jeep between that median and the back end of the truck in front of me. I saw it all happen like some lame scene from one of those “Final Destination” movies. I’d slam against the steering wheel (would the air bag go off?) and there’d be blood gushing from my nose and mouth. My teeth, after thousands of dollars spent at the orthodontist, would be broken and shattered more likely than not. Would the windows bust from pressure of being squished between the concrete and the truck? I had my seat belt fastened, but what would that have really prevented?

But I’m okay. There was no crash, no sickening crunch of glass and metal, no screech of a scrape against concrete. The whole awful mess was avoided and I kept on driving, kept on going. There was no time to stop and investigate the accident that had almost happened, no time to figure out how it had been avoided. Pieces of the orange and white plastic flew by, circling end over end along the shoulder. The sound of my squealing tires reverberated in the air but only for a moment. Life kept moving.

And I was okay.

I think that’s the message from the Universe: Mandi, life changes and keeps going despite your personal dramas, and you’re okay. You’re going to be okay.

So I’m listening very seriously to my mom when she advises me to work on myself, to be happy with me. She seems convinced that once that happens, everything else will fall into place. I’m starting to agree. The ideology makes sense, but it’s also exhausting feeling guilty for absolutely everything that happens in my life. If friends hang out without me, I immediately wonder what I did wrong and try to figure out why they would launch an offensive to alienate me. If I was happy with myself, truly happy, I’d be able to realize that not everything is about me and how horrible I am. That realization makes me feel guilty, like I’m wrong for thinking badly about anyone ever when there’s so much wrong with me. Well, that’s an incredibly depressing attitude and I don’t want to be apart of it anymore.

Today, I got a manicure and a pedicure. Tomorrow, I’m trimming my hair and on Sunday, I’m coloring my hair. These may seem vain and shallow attempts at becoming okay with myself, but we all have to start somewhere, no? And truth be told, I’m happy with who I am on the inside. Sure, I’ve got some crippling insecurities and some awfully bad habits to work through, but don’t we all? I’m going to work on myself in the best way I see fit because I trust myself and I love myself.

There is a difference between narcissism and introspection.

I’m not missing any more signs.

vacation

On noises.

Published December 15, 2013 by mandileighbean

WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT #8: “While relaxing on his porch swing, a pig farmer hears a tremendous crash in a nearby field.”

Bob Jones was a farmer who had seen and done many things in his less than extraordinary life.  None of his endeavors had been exactly noteworthy, nothing to write home about as they say, but he had one or two anecdotes that could be employed over beers, or to stave off the ever-lurking awkward silence, that were, at the very least, quite entertaining.  With his boot heels resting on the wooden railing of his rambling front porch, Bob looked out upon the burning, setting sun.  It had been a long, hard day, filled with menial maintenance and more extensive manual labor – fixing broken fences and unreliable machinery – that left his body sore in a special, fulfilling way.  He could feel heat coming from his face in waves and knew that it’d be nice and crisp come tomorrow.  Despite the aches and burns, Bob felt good, really good.  The embarrassingly antiquated radio on the floorboards beside him was crackling out some cover of Hank Williams, Jr.  It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t completely terrible, so Bob tolerated it and after a verse or two, actually began to believe the song added to the atmosphere perfectly.  He was at peace with everything and everyone around him and at this particular moment, that was enough.  He took a long, steady drink of beer from his favorite mug, which he had frosted all day for this very occasion.

All that he cherished of the day was shattered in one loud metallic crash that chilled Bob to his core.  It was big, it was bad, and it was loud – it was a cacophony that announced the arrival of something awful and unnatural, something like death.  In the impending, eerie silence, Bob got to his feet slowly and stood simply, straining his ears for more, for some kind of screams, some kind of sirens, some kind of logical continuation.  It did not seem possible for the displeasing and varied sounds of chaos to sound so suddenly without some rational conclusion.  The silence made it worse, left the ending open to be written any kind of way.  Bob waited a moment more before taking off, bounding down the steps to the soft dirt.  He pumped his arms and legs past the stables, past the barn, through the rows of corn, and damn near tore up the field of grain that marked the end of his property, along which lazily snaked a country road that led to a small town with a single stoplight.  It was all Americana and perfect and picturesque.  But the crash had been as mighty as a resounding tear in the fabric of reality itself.  His lungs burned from the effort, his chest heaved, and his already aching muscles were singing, but he ran and ran until he spotted what he assumed had caused the commotion.

What had once been a beautiful, jet black sports car was now nothing more than twisted hunk of metal.  The car had plowed into a post well beyond the shoulder and such an excess of speed that it had impossibly wrapped itself around it, been morphed and warped into fragments that could not possibly be combined into anything of use, let alone a vehicle.  Steam was billowing from where the engine would normally reside and Bob assumed the car was moments away from catching fire.  In a moment’s decision, he hurled himself forward to the driver’s side.  Had anyone survived, Bob would have to extract him or her and pull them to safety, far from the explosion waiting to happen.  Bob had underestimated his speed and could not gracefully slow to a halt at the window.  He collided against it, breathless and sweating and terrified.  He looked through the opening where the window should be.  It was open, not shattered, and had been securely rolled down and away.  As a result, there was nothing separating Bob from the horrific tragedy before him; only air.  Slumped against the wheel was the terribly young and beautiful face of a man.  It was smeared with blood, and his dark hair was matted with it, but his green eyes shone bright, sparkled and gleamed through the absolute carnage.  His rusted-orange tee-shirt hung loosely on his thin frame so that Bob could see his chest falling rapidly.  His breathing was rapid, but the rest of him was still, as if this young man had already resigned himself to a particular fate.  He was dying.

“Hang on, man,” Bob yelled.  Later on, he would wonder why he yelled.  He had no other noise to shout over.  “I’m going to call an ambulance, just stay with me!”

The young man did not stir and in no way acknowledge that Bob had spoken, let alone yelled.  He stared at a landscape Bob could not see; all Bob could ascertain that it was somewhere near the lower left side of the man’s vision.  He licked his lips and wheezed, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Bob replied automatically and Bob was always glad he said that.  “I’ll be right back, I have to get to the phone.”  Bob reached in with every intention of squeezing the young man’s shoulder, of providing the poor guy with a human connection, the comfort of a human touch, but Bob thought better of it.  He would be horrified if he somehow further injured the already decimated body or, worse, inadvertently killed him.  Bob took off again, running as fast as he possibly could, when a second catastrophic noise filled the air.

It was the car exploding.  It burst into flames.  Bob turned slowly and dropped to his knees.

porchswing

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