Saturday, October 12, 2013

Through the Flames and Out of the Wreckage

I started writing this two days ago, only a few minutes after I got the news that my husband was in a car wreck. Luckily he is fine. An SUV ran a red light and hit him. The car was totaled and rolled onto its side. I don't know all the details, I have yet to even see pictures. We are of course very fortunate that he was not injured. We are also very lucky that the car that hit him had insurance. This is only a very minor setback in our lives, and it's not the first time we've had a car incidents. I hope there is never a more relevant time to mention our unfortunate history with automobiles.
In 2003 shortly after we got together the car that we used was a primer gray Mustang. We used it a lot. We did Christmas every year for the first three years we were together in both of our hometowns, which were at the two opposite points of a right triangle from college, each was about a 5 hour trip from us directly. It became tradition to go to one of our parents for the week prior to Christmas, do Christmas early in the morning, then travel the 8 hours or so the hypotenuse trip was, do Christmas late on Christmas day with the other family, and stay through New Years.

During one of these trips, about 3 hours from our destination, the car started overheating. We were heading back to college a few hours earlier than a group of friends. We were able to flag down someone to let us use their cell (we didn't have one yet), and got in touch with our friends, who gave us a ride the rest of the way back to college. The next day, we got a ride back to our car, equipped with snacks and multiple jugs of water. We would turn the heater on to funnel heat away from the engine, drive until it overheated, pull over and wait till it had cooled moderately, and refilled the radiator. Each time it overheated a little bit faster. We decided to travel on the feeder roads instead of the major highway, until we ran into one that dead ended. The car was about to overheat and stop moving, and turning around and finding the proper way back onto the highway would have cost us a couple hours at the rate we were going, so I headed straight up the highway embankment and onto the shoulder of the highway. We stopped there and let the car cool off, hoping no one would call us out on our shenanigans.  After eight more hours or so we'd gotten it only two hours normal driving time closer to home. The whole process was repeated a few days later, eventually getting it into town. After way too much college student money, after fixing a half dozen things, the final suspected issue was found and fixed. However, I was never going to be comfortable in that car again. I gave it to my father, who then bought me a very nice used Ford Escort as a graduation present.

Then there was the time in 2009 when our Camry caught on fire. (What happened to the Escort, you ask?  We're getting there!) We we're heading from Corpus Christi to Midland for my niece's wedding. We were well into the trip when we started hearing strange knocking noises. We thought something was up with the tires, so we pulled over. I then noticed some bubbling on the hood. We opened it up to reveal orange flames! We were making this trip with both our dogs, and managed to leash them, and Lord Covington stood with them on the side of the road while I then started rescuing stuff from the car. You see, this was our Christmas trip in addition to my niece's wedding and we had filled the car with Christmas presents. I was rather frantically running to the car grabbing presents and piling them on the side of the road. Back and forth from the car while the flames were getting larger and larger.  I grabbed some important papers from the glove compartment and foisted them upon the future Lord Covington, and the complete ridiculousness of it hit me as I realized those included my Last Will and Testament, as I ran back towards a burning pile of car. The car did not explode, nor did we lose anything terribly important. We even managed to rent a car and were able to get to our destination for New Year's Eve and of course for the wedding.
Post-apocalyptic Camry
"You guys have been through some terrible things with cars!" you might say.  However, neither of these were our worst car experience. In 2007 we were in the Escort, making the trip from Midland where we were living at the time, to League City (near Houston) to visit Lord Covington's mother for Christmas. We were making an early trip this time; it was December 19th. We were going through Burnet Texas, we'd never been that way and we liked taking new paths each time we had to make this long journey. We were driving along when the car in front of us slowed too quickly for us to compensate. C changed lanes, trying to go around the car rather than rear end it, but there was oncoming traffic. Somehow the car turned and the impact hit mostly on the passenger side where I was. The car was utterly totaled, as was I. I had broken a dozen bones, punctured a lung and lacerated my kidney (or liver? it was something important, in any case.)  I was airlifted to a training hospital in Temple, with an EMT manually squeezing one of those bags to breathe for me the whole way. I don't remember the impact or anything following it. I was placed in a medically induced coma, waiting to see if I would make it and be able to breathe on my own again. I woke up more than a little out of sorts, surrounded by friends and family. I had a breathing tube in, and as soon as possible asked what day it was, what day it happened, and what it was, exactly, that had happened. Later, I asked if it was Christmas. I spent about a three weeks in the hospital, a few more in rehab, then got to go home. I was wheelchair bound for months, then able to get around on a walker, then cane. A colleague at work told me "Sorry I didn't visit you in the hospital, I didn't even know about it until about a week later. I replied "Neither did I!" I consider myself very lucky in that the lasting damage from that car wreck is mostly a handful of scars, a knee that will eventually have to be replaced, and a synostosis resulting in not much more than an inability to receive a low five or use chopsticks.

Drivers side
My side

It is frustrating that most recent wreck happened at all, and more so that it happened while Lord Covington was away on business. I don't think either of us are terribly stressed over it. We know there are worse things in life than financial setbacks. It has only been a couple of days since Lord Covington left for his trip, but Toddlesworth has asked for him multiple times a day, and every time our son asks for daddy it breaks my heart to tell him daddy isn't back yet. I don't even want to try to imagine the pain if I had lost him, and if I had to tell my baby every day that his daddy will never be back. He will be away about one more day. I am 'holding down the fort' as it were, unable to get to him or comfort him in any significant way. But he will be back soon, and we'll pick out a new (used) car, dust ourselves off, and get back to living life. We know this is minor; we have been through much worse.

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