I have pharyngitis so I drove myself to the Immediate Care Center last Tuesday night. I was listening to Willie Nelson on the radio, enjoying the nice weather we’re having in Kentucky and drinking from my ice cold bottle of water. Now Dixie Highway is a main strip here. It’s two to three lanes depending on where you are and there is no median between the opposing lanes. I was nearing the left turn at the light that leads to the clinic when I heard what sounded like an explosion. Then there was the sound of tires squealing and brakes squeaking and engines revving and saw a red car was hit from behind. The black car that had run into it was out of control and heading straight for me.
I watched my life pass before my eyes, almost paralyzed with fear. Then a brown car struck the black car. The brown car was turned perpendicular and it aimed the car just slightly to the right. It was still heading toward me but also slightly in the direction of my only escape to avoid being hit head on. The black car was at times revving and jumping forward then would brake then lurched forward again very quickly. I was horrified. With all its starts and stops then sudden surges forward, I could not tell where it was headed. I turned my car into the right lane and I have to say that I didn’t glance over to see if there was any traffic behind me. I couldn’t get the image of the black car heading directly for me. I was able to swerve away from it and I sped forward to get out of its way. I then got into the left turning lane and held my breath as I watched the multiple car pileup taking place behind me in all six lanes.
There was a lot of screaming and crying and people panicking. Even now as I type this, my heart is racing and I feel it beating strongly in my chest. Having EMT training, though I am no longer certified, I felt that I should have stayed and helped but everyone who had been involved in the pileup got out of their cars and though they were freaking out, they were walking around. I was about to put my car in park, flash my blinkers and get out to help but saw others going to middle of the road where everyone had gathered; looking around at the smoke, flames and their crumpled cars beyond recognition. Thankfully, the fire department was on the scene in seconds and there were four police officers in the doctor’s office parking lot that rushed to the scene and I knew their skills would be much better than me fumbling around with my rusty skills while sick and a nervous wreck. So I drove on to the doctor’s office and meditated until I was seen by the doctor. When my blood pressure was taken, it was 131/79, which is high for me. I was confused, at first, by it being so high then remembered, duh, the wreck and near head on collision.
The Kentucky Derby is here in Louisville this Saturday but the whole week is full of Derby activities so there are a lot of out-of-towners here as well as everyone in the city going to the events, so traffic is kind of a disaster until the Sunday after the Derby. The highway was packed and backed up because that intersection is one that leads off I-264 south so people were unknowingly headed straight for the chaos. After I was seen and getting ready to leave, I overheard the nurses talking about how they’re going to get home roots and since this was my end of town, I know shortcuts and alternate routes. So I was able to give them directions before I left.
As soon as I started to walk out, there were three people in a car in front of the clinic. They looked kind of shady so the nurse said she’d stay there and watch as I walked to my car. It turned out that they were looking for a doctor because one of the people in the car kept having asthma attacks and they didn’t know where to go for treatment. The doctor’s office was officially closed but the nurse said she was going to see if the docs were still around so she could be seen. The lady looked just awful. She was disheveled, distraught, coughing and throwing up and it seemed much worse than a simple asthma attack. I gave them directions to the nearest decent hospital and told them what they could expect and how long it should take, etc. The nurse came back out and said the doctors were going to stick around to take care of her. Thank goodness. So I headed home.
Still feeling weird from seeing my life flash before my eyes, I turned on the radio and listened to some tunes. The first one was a song called The Edge of Glory, which was written about how her grandmother held her husband’s head as he was passing away. She said, in an interview or concert that instead of being sad, she saw the two of them together holding hands and it looked like the two of them against the world and that it looked like they had conquered it together and won the game of life and that their love would last beyond death. The next song was I Hope You Dance, which had a line that says, “I hope you never take one breath for granted.” And the next had lines like “Tell him how you feel before saying goodbye.” It felt like terrible omens so I cried all the way home thinking that this might be my time to die and that something was going to happen to me.
I watched the news but didn’t see the wreck mentioned. I live in the south end of Louisville, which is rarely discussed as the rich folks live in the east end so they’re stuff is considered more important than the south end. Also, it’s Derby week so it was all about the horses.
I had called my boyfriend when I got to the clinic because I’d left my cell phone at home by accident and I left a voice mail telling him that if he heard about a wreck on Dixie Highway, it wasn’t me. He knew I was going to the doctor and where it’s located so if the wreck was mentioned on the radio news channel, he might have freaked out. Especially if he called and I didn’t answer my phone, which was lying on the sofa. I told him about the car coming straight at me and about swerving to avoid a head on collision but that I was uninjured and fine. But he’s a worrywart and had called my cell numerous times, which I found out after I arrived home. He arrived just minutes after I did and he hugged me and held me tight and told me that he loves me that he was glad I was okay. I’m glad I was, too.