Friday, October 16, 2009

Saved by Reflexes (and God)

I came quite close to death this morning, or at least very serious injury. Probably missed it my mere inches, in fact. As I was taking Luke to school this morning, a mini van ran the stop light of a cross street as I was entering the intersection. I promise you, my light was green! Normally, I look both ways even after a green light to make sure everyone has stopped. I don't consciously remember doing that this time, but I do it so routinely, I'm not sure. Either I didn't look, or I didn't see the van at first. There were two lanes of traffic in each direction of the cross street, and the road curves right there, so it is possible the van was screened by the line of cars closest to me. Regardless, the van came flying through the intersection at full speed after I had already entered the intersection.

Beyond that, I am still unclear on exactly what happened. I had stomped on the breaks and come to a complete stop before I had even consciously registered the threat. defines the word "reflex" as "an automatic and often inborn response to a stimulus that involves a nerve impulse passing inward from a receptor to a nerve center and thence outward to an effector (as a muscle or gland) without reaching the level of consciousness." Often inborn, but not necessarily so. All I know is that it was well after I had pounded the pedal and stopped before my conscious mind registered what was happening. In my brain, it went something like this:

(Stomp, stop; actions assumed but no actual recall) Consciously register "Did I see something out of the corner of my eye?" Watch van go whizzing past, swerving into the oncoming lanes to avoid me (thank goodness there was no one coming), glance up at light to make sure it is in fact green, watch van continue on down the road to my right. Glance in rear view mirror to check status of driver behind me. Decide that, based on his appearance, he did not hit me (if he had only tapped me from behind, I'm not sure I would have known it at the time). Continue on through intersection to daycare.

I actually do not even remember stepping on the brake. I remember my light turning green and me moving forward. I have a very vague recollection of some sort of flicker of movement in my peripheral vision to my far left. I have a very distinct memory of the sounds made in the car as all the junk in the seats and floorboards shifted forward, but I don't remember physically stepping on the break or actually coming to a stop. The next thing I remember is being at a stop and watching the van fly past.

Luke was perfectly fine. He was actually completely unfazed, besides scolding me for "making a mess." One of those distinct sounds I heard was apparently his breakfast bowl hitting the floor and scattering Pop-Tart crusts everywhere. We were less than 1/2 a mile from daycare when the incident occurred. By the time we got there, I was shaking pretty badly. I dropped Luke off, got back in the car, took a few deep breaths, and took a *different* route home so I didn't have to face that same intersection again so soon. Other than a little soreness in my lower right leg, I thought I was okay.

By the time I got home, I was shaking even worse, and I was in tears. It just came on gradually as I drove, and I was in full blown bawling mode by the time I pulled in at the house. DH works from home on Fridays, so he was there to hold me and listen. I also realized that my right leg was really really hurting! I had stomped on the brake pedal so hard that my entire leg hurt from hip to ankle. I'm sure it didn't help that this was the same hip I hurt about 18 months ago. Over the course of the day, more things started to hurt: my right elbow, 3 outer fingers on my right hand, my shoulders, and my neck. I've been in very minor accidents before, and these are all the same things that hurt. I guess I just didn't expect it (other than my leg, which I understand) when we didn't actually get hit. Advil is my friend!

Don't get me wrong, I am very very grateful that we missed each other! I feel so very very lucky. I of course realized at the time that the accident would have been quite bad. It was only later that I consciously realized that the impact point on my car would have been the front driver's side, either the wheel well or the door. As in, MY door! It would have been very very bad for me, and I don't know how bad for Luke (he sits behind the passenger seat). I'm still a little baffled about how we managed to avoid colliding, but I'm not complaining either. Makes me think twice about skipping evening prayers, that's for sure. Everyone be safe out there!

Currently feeling: way too close for comfort


  1. {{{{hug}}}} This is what I will not miss about the faraway commute. The close calls coming off 280 to 380 by SF Airport.

    Same kind of thing.

    I am *SO* glad reflexes kicked in my dear. {{{hug}}}

  2. I praise the Lord that your reflexes kicked in, even though you didn't realize it! I had a similar situation a couple of weeks ago when a kid pulled out in front of me. I saw 'the whites of his eyes', and I thought I was going to hit him and kill him. Praise the Lord, I somehow managed to slam on my brakes, jerk the van quickly to the right and avoid him AND anyone else. The adrenaline was amazing in that moment of panic and reaction! I am so glad that you are okay, and that Luke wasn't hurt! Love you, friend!

  3. I am SO glad you're okay. I don't think I could bear it if someone else I know, even if we haven't met in person, was in an accident at the moment.

    Reflexes are the most amazing thing. We manage to do things we have no recollection of doing and probably couldn't manage if we consciously tried.

    Again, I'm just so glad you and Luke are okay and I hope the Advil does the trick.

  4. I'm very glad to hear you're okay and nothing more serious happened!

  5. What a terrifying experience - so glad you are both unscathed physically, and hope the mental scars can be dealt with. The hardest part will be taking that same route again....I know how tough that is (and you will think of it every single time you reach that junction). Lots of {{{{{hugs}}}}}.


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