Broken

7

Warning: this post isn’t for the faint of heart. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

So I was walking across the parking lot at Chipotle in Allen on Tuesday, stressed from work, hungry from a diet lunch of quinoa and vegetable salad and not much else. It was a Tuesday that felt like a Monday in an endless string of Mondays. I’d given myself the evening off from obligations and decided to get something for dinner that I didn’t have to cook, didn’t have to clean up. Tony told me to go, treat myself.

While Chipotle isn’t much of a “treat” it also wasn’t a difficult decision, and it was down the street. I walked across the parking lot, phone in one hand, purse in the other, and noticed a van backing from a parking space that very obviously didn’t see me. So I stepped it up to get out of their way, and fell.

My sunglasses skittered across the pavement, some guy helped me pick up my phone and said, “Ooh God, are you OK?”

The van that had worried me drove off.

“Yeah yeah I’m fine I’m fine…”

“Well, you’ve got some…blood on your…”

“OK, cool, I’ll go inside and wash it off.”

“Is this an old phone?”

“Yeah, it was already cracked. But I need to find the rest of my bracelet. I only found two pieces.”

“OK, um, are you sure you don’t need any help…?”

“Yeah I’m OK,”

“Hey, look…it happens. It happens to everybody.”

Since I didn’t want to cry in front of the stranger in the Chipotle parking lot who was being so kind to me, I decided to go in the restroom inside to check on myself and see if I truly was OK.

spider-smashed iPhone. funny thing - with the screen protector over the cracks, and the case, the biggest problem is that I can’t always tell if my pix are sharp, or if I've spelled everything properly.

I wasn’t.

I could feel my teeth crackling and rough as I walked through the restaurant to the bathroom. I waited for a moment for the person already in there to come out and then walked in and in the semi-lit semi-industrial darkness I looked in the mirror and saw myself. I started to feel the scrapes and bruises on my elbows, I saw my shattered teeth, the scraped and bruised lip and chin, and realized I needed help. I wasn’t going to be able to go up to the counter and order dinner.

There was no place in the bathroom to sit down and call Tony so I decided to go back out to my car, call him. But I was afraid to talk with my teeth because, hey, they could be salvageable! It’s possible, right? I went out the back door (relieved that there WAS a back door) everything got hazy black. I REALLY wanted to sit on the curb and wait for him to come get me but I realized I was behind the building and if I passed out on the curb there I’d be a lot harder to find and a lot harder to transport. I somehow made my way to the car and to turn it on and I sat there in the hot-but-cooling car and worried. About my teeth, about the injuries that I probably had but that I didn’t yet feel, about how we were going to get the car home from Chipotle, whether I could drive or not, if I looked too horrible to go to work…and God what about my TEETH.

Tony showed up and by the look on his face and the “Oh God, baby, oh no” that this was bad. He managed to clean me up a bit and get me home – I wanted my mommy, of course, and he called her and had her help him get the other car home. I put in my molded night guard for my teeth as soon as I got home and I could talk and eat(ish) and ache as he cleaned my multi-point road rash.

Assessment of injuries:

  • split lower lip (inside and out)
  • bruised and scraped chin
  • bruised and scraped hip
  • bruised and scraped elbows (one worse than the other)
  • bruised and scraped knees (one worse than the other)
  • both front teeth chipped shattered
  • bruised nose
  • bruised and embarrassed soul

Tony called our dentist to get an appointment the next day, and I remained shocked and worried. It was very difficult to sleep overnight, and I was going to detail all of the agony at the dentist but I’m not feeling so hot again and I need to go lie down. I spent about 4.5 hours in the dentist’s chair and got my teeth “presentable”. My teeth will likely bleed at random for the next few weeks, and yay for potentially being in (and speaking in) long meetings with not-quite-vampiric teeth. I liked my teeth. Why couldn’t I just break the nose I’ve struggled to come to terms with since grade school? (That comment got such a laugh form my sister, afflicted with the same nose – we’ve got a dark sense of humor, the two of us)…

And the fact that “presentable” isn’t what I usually go for, especially not at work. “Presentable” is not “professional” and most definitely not “pretty”. I don’t kid myself that I’m a supermodel or anything but I’d like to think I aspire to a level higher than presentable.

I will have to deal with this for another few years, the rest of my life, really, and that’s the part that bothers me the most. I don’t know what the ramifications of this accident will be, but they’re already pretty hefty. The dentist (whom I love dearly for taking care of me through copious tears) said “This is a very big deal.” She elaborated that my other teeth could one day turn grey from unseen trauma and need to be removed. I could lose the root of the tooth most damaged (it was fractured up the middle, and down the back) and need a more permanent dental implant solution. I don’t know what will happen but now this is yet again something I will need to worry about, keep in mind. Forever. Like the surgical scar on my chest, life is effing me up, one body part at a time.

I can’t blame anybody or anything because it’s nobody’s “fault”. That’s the benefit and the BULLSHIT part of this as I move through denial into anger. Nobody hit me, and NOOOOOOO I wasn’t texting or tweeting (god wasn’t THAT the first fucking question people [that I want to call insensitive assholes] asked me). I’m traumatized and everything in my whole body hurts; I’m on painkillers but they’re only superficially effective. I’ve been traumatized. I thought I could go back to work Thursday. Instead I’ve slept most of the week, and I really hope I’ve kept my coworkers and boss (reasonably) informed.

It’s nobody’s FAULT, though. And there’s nobody to blame. It was, as my mother said, “a pure accident”, like an act of God only more personal.

And if I’m such a baby about THIS, I know there are people out there thinking, imagine if something REALLY horrible happened to you? Don’t you know there are {choose one: starving children in the world, a neighbor kid who had to have all of her teeth replaced, people without dental insurance}…? This is a really big deal *to me*, and for now keep your bundle of attempts to make me feel bad or somehow feel better that the world is even more horrible than this, and wait until I’ve earned my perspective by living through this and coming out all right on the other side.

I haven’t even begun to mourn my jade bracelet. I’ve had it since the mid-90s, and worn it every day since then. It’s bad luck to take it off, so I wore it through exercise, showers, no matter the outfit, whatever the occasion. It was a gift from a Burmese friend who said he’d brought a bunch of bracelets with him to trade in place of money as he fled the country, and gave it to me as a token of friendship. They say that true jade bracelets will break to prevent trauma to their owner, and this one broke all right. So then I wonder, what could have happened to me if it hadn’t absorbed some trauma from that accident. What does it mean that I never found the rest of it? What will I do without it? It’s very difficult to buy an *actual* jade bracelet, and one of the quality mine was is expensive, prohibitively so. I will always wonder what happened to the last piece(s).

The asteroid-like impact on my car windshield during the morning commute followed by a 10.5-hour work day and a horrendous commute home in peak rush hour traffic – those are all things that are not easy to deal with, but neither are they to blame, unfortunately. I wasn’t altered or drunk, hadn’t had a sip of beer, I was conscientious and aware enough to get out of the way of a backing-up van that clearly didn’t see me AT ALL, and there was nothing in the parking lot that I saw that could have tripped me. But I fell. The universe wanted me to slow down, and it won.

AND MY BLOG IS UGLY AND BROKEN AND I HAVEN’T HAD TIME TO FIX IT WAAAAAAAAAH. </selfpityparty>

Update: forgot to mention

  • the giant asteroid-impact hole in my windshield
  • the speeding ticket I’d forgotten about that I had to (legally) handle before Monday
  • my sister’s not-well puppy
  • something else I can’t remember right now the house AC went out on a 95°+ day and…I slept through almost all 8 hours of the outage. yay drugs!
  • I think I need to write an actual update post.

7 Responses

  1. MJSmith

    You know, the photo of the bracelet is extraordinarily meaningful for those of us who remember it as a part of your life story from way back when…. Even after hearing about your physical injuries, somehow that broken piece of jade hit home. Hope you are feeling better. We love you!

    • Colleen Lin

      Yeah, you know, I debated putting a picture Tony took of my broken teeth up, and that would have been graphic, had high shock value, but it was unnecessary. I think I’m most upset about the jade, because it was such a part of my life. I’m very glad to have finally found all of its pieces, at least. I’m looking forward to finding another. 😀 I thought about KR and I hope it isn’t too disturbing to her that it broke. It’s sad, but it’s all home with me now, and I’ll find another, someday.

  2. Joanna Jordan

    Oh man, no! I’m so, so sorry. This sound so similar to how I felt when I got in that bad wreck a few months ago. It’s definitely traumatizing. And that’s OK. You’re allowed to feel traumatized. I’m just sorry this happened to you at all.

    • Colleen Lin

      Thank you hon – A friend of ours said on Facebook that someone once told her, “When it’s *your* body, it’s serious.” So very true.