You know that stupid saying? The old standby to whip out when you’re thinking about NOT taking a risk: “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” Of course, there are other variations. My personal favorite (and adult in nature) is: “it’s all shits and giggles until someone giggles and shits.” I guess the phrase is usually referring to people having a good time…maybe too good a time. But really ANYTHING can be all fun and games….until someone loses an eye. It doesn’t have to be an obvious risk.
Can you tell that right now I’m speaking from paranoia? Well, I used to love driving. I loved driving myself places so that I could go by alone if I wanted. I loved driving for the convenience of it. I loved feeling productive in driving. Right now though, driving is probably my absolute least favorite thing. So yes, it was all fun and games until someone lost an eye. In this case, until someone (read: me) hydroplaned on the interstate.
I was heading home to Chapel Hill on Wednesday morning after Christmas. It was raining, and I was feeling really worried about hydroplaning. Well, lo and behold, about 10 songs into the new Adele CD gifted to me by my brother, my car hit a sheet of water and spun out of control. I honestly don’t remember anything but screaming my head off and then seeing that I was in the guard rail. My driver side airbags had deployed with efficiency, and I was saved from any significant injuries via the windshield thanks to my seatbelt. The first responders that pulled over when they saw what happened told the responding officer (who was really, truly kind and gentle with me) that I spun and hit the guard rail three different times. It’s really astounding that I didn’t hit anyone else or injure myself more seriously.
What I did come out with was severe whiplash, slight head trauma, and anxiety. The real effects didn’t really start to manifest themselves until the next day when I woke up stiff as a board. Of course that hadn’t been helped by the fact that the night before I had a small breakdown when I couldn’t sleep because my brain insisted on replaying what I did remember of the accident. So I went to the doctor, and they gave me something for it. The magical somethings worked, and I stopped taking them.
What I’m now realizing though is that even though the worst of the whiplash is leaving, the anxiety and tension remain. I was driving in the rain tonight on a twisty road when I realized I was having a sort-of panic attack. In a fifty mph zone, I was clocking thirty-five because I was terrified. My shoulders were tense and my neck was stiff. Every curve gave me a minor heart attack. So, I immediately retreated to a friend’s house that I was close to and gave in to comforting hugs.
Maybe I don’t deserve this. After all, I wasn’t speeding when I hydroplaned. I wasn’t driving crazy. I was being careful. But I guess it happens to all of us. However, while I might have been a little more cavalier in my driving habits before the accident, now I’m firmly in the camp of “better safe than sorry.” The main lesson I’ve learned though is that there are aftershocks. And my experience as of day six post-accident is that the effects of an accident like that are long-lasting. The hard lessons we learn don’t hurt because of what actually happens. They hurt because of what they continue to do to us.
So, this new year, everyone please be safe.
‘Cause it’s all shits and giggles until somebody giggles and shits.