Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Blessing in Disguise (Really, Really Deep Disguise)

One of the problems I encountered with my moving to China this summer was the issue of what to do with my car.  After discussing the matter with my parents, I decided that storing it was not a viable option, so I would have to sell the vehicle.  In this present economy, that was quite a daunting task.  However, help with the car issue came in the form of disaster . . .

On May 6, I headed up to my friends' house in the mountains for an all-night Lord of the Rings marathon (yes, we're all very happy nerds).  We planned to watch all three extended versions of the films, and in between films, we planned to each read aloud our favorite section from each of the novels.  In case you're wondering, I had chosen the following scenes:

  1. Fellowship of the Ring - The scene where Gimli is forced to wear a blindfold in Lothlorien, and Legolas volunteers to do the same.  (This scene, sadly, was not included in the film.)
  2. The Two Towers - The humorous scene where Sam forces Gollum to help him make stew and Gollum explains his dietary preferences.  (I actually like the way the film portrayed this scene.)
  3. Return of the King - The scene where Eowyn (my favorite character, of course) defeats the witch-king of Endor.
As I was rounding one of the many curves up on the mountain road leading to the Meltons' home, I suddenly came upon another vehicle approaching from the opposite direction.  These mountain roads in Virginia, I should mention, are very narrow.  When two vehicles meet, each much hug their side of the road in order to pass safely.  This vehicle, however, was in the middle of the road and fast approaching.  I made an effort to swerve to avoid them, but they neither slowed nor swerved (the other driver, a twenty-year-old, was clearly not paying attention).  A front-end collision occurred.

The passengers of the other car (four people) claimed that they were all wearing seatbelts, and that all four seatbelts snapped off during the crash (hmmmm . . . ).  I, as always, was securely seatbelted, so I was kept from serious harm.  My seatbelt gave me a spectacular abdominal bruise and some chest bruising.  The force of the impact gave me whiplash and bruising on the tailbone (not quite sure how/why the tailbone bruising happened).  My brass owl on my necklace swung up and hit me in the head, apparently giving me a concussion (I learned of that later).

OnStar called immediately to see if I was all right.  You know what?  They really do respond exactly as portrayed in their commercials, and they really do stay on the line until help (which they call for) arrives.  OnStar was a particular blessing to me, as my cell phone died right as I tried to call for help.  They offered to call my friends for me, but I couldn't recall the number and couldn't access it either.  Being in the mountains and the middle of nowhere, it took at least twenty minutes for the police and ambulance to arrive.  The other car's passengers all had facial injuries from lack of seatbelts, but were otherwise all right.  I declined to go in the ambulance, not realizing two things:  1.  I was actually hurt worse than I thought and 2. I didn't know that my car insurance would cover it.

I had a remarkable answer to prayer during all this.  The other people were a bit frightening, yelling at me and trying to blame me for the crash (even though they were 100% at fault, as the police eventually determined).  I was trapped in my car, as the driver side door wouldn't open and I was in too much pain to try to find another way out (plus, I honestly was a bit afraid of the other people and their relatives who soon arrived at the scene).  I prayed that God would send a late-arriving friend, have my other friends come looking for me, or else send a kindly neighbor who at least knew them.  God did much better!

My friend David was repeatedly delayed as he tried to leave work that day and head up for the evening/night's festivities.  Normally, he is prompt.  He ended up arriving shortly after the accident, and was clear-thinking enough to take lots of pictures for me.  He was the more opportune friend that God could have sent right then -- you see, David is a lawyer!  After I spoke to the police (the officer only asked about five questions), David drove me up to the Meltons' and reassured me that I was not at fault for the accident.  I knew I had done all that I could to drive safely and to try to avoid hitting the other car, but in my state of shock, I kept wondering if I was remembering everything correctly, and going back in my mind to see if I could think of anything I should have done differently.  In the end, I finally realized the dismal truth:  No matter how careful good drivers are, we can never be completely safe from people who just don't pay attention.  

Poor little Flavia, the best car I ever owned.
In another example of God preparing in advance, I had, at the last minute before leaving home, grabbed my neck heat-wrap and my migraine pain medication.  Although I felt just fine at the time, I had a sudden feeling that it would do well to be prepared, just in case I got a migraine.  Normally, I don't bother to carry my migraine supplies for normal visits to friends.  I was certainly glad to have them with me that night!  

I ended up going to ER the next day, where they proved just how inept ER can be by focusing on only one problem and ignoring the others.  It was not until a few days later that my severe neck pain led me to a chiropractor, who did x-rays.  A week later, I went to my doctor for more pain medication (I had horrible unceasing pain after the accident, plus daily migraines).  My doctor pointed out that I had had internal bleeding from the accident, an injury which people actually die from.  ER should have known that a swollen, hard abdomen after an accident means internal bleeding, but they never bothered to listen to me, and I was too medicated to insist.  Fortunately, God kept me safe.

So what was the hidden blessing in all this?  Well, at least now I don't have to worry about selling my car!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"