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10-6-2004

Death of an S-10


I have no clue as to how many of ya'll might have caught it, but this news blurb appeared in the Leader on Sunday morning:

WILKES-BARRE - A two-car crash in the city on Saturday sent a woman to the hospital with minor injuries. Police said Melissa Basham of Wilkes-Barre was northbound on High Street when she collided with a car driven by Mark Cour at the intersection of Hazle Avenue. Basham complained of neck pain and was taken to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.

10-4. I was involved in a fender bender early Saturday morning. Well, it was more like a frame bender, but why split hairs?

I have commented on occasion on the ridiculously high number of serious motor vehicle accidents in this city at four-way intersections controlled by traffic lights. Basically, a nasty broad-sider at these intersections is virtually impossible unless someone plays fast and loose with the traffic rules.

This past Saturday morning was much like any other Saturday morning while heading out and about as early as I was at 6:30 AM. I encountered nary a motor vehicle, or very many pedestrians for that matter. While the normal folks tend to sleep away on Saturdays, us six-days-a-week fools continue to toil away. Mostly against our will.

With my recent lower back flare up just about behind me, I was leaning towards riding the Stomper rather than rolling with the pick-up. I eventually decided to give the lower back one more day of rest and leave the Stomper behind. I rolled south on Penn Avenue and made the turn onto Academy while zeroing in on Hazle. As I approached the intersection at the Boulevard, the red light changed to green and I proceeded through the intersection. I have been in varying stages of pain ever since.

On my right periphery, I noticed a red blazer type vehicle about to collide with my truck at a very high rate of speed. I uttered a sound not unlike that of a Somali "Skinnie" that had just been shot through the eye with a 50 caliber round. I heard the thunderous thud. Things seemed to be flying all about within my truck cab. And within a nanosecond, my truck was pinched against the curb at the Turkey Hill. I don't even remember thinking anything at that point. All I can recall is opening the door, falling down on my hands and knees, and staring at the sidewalk. I was completely stunned at that point.

And then I saw pairs of feet near my hands. As I stood up, some of those regulars from the Salvation Army were telling me to lie down. Yet another was asking me if I was okay. I have no friggin' clue if I even acknowleged their sudden appearance before me. I really don't. I know I glanced towards the offending vehicle only to see the operator sitting upright and yapping away on a cell phone. Actually, I couldn't denote much detail as my glasses had been separated from me by the impact. I looked through the cab, but I could not locate them.

Around that time, one of our copper dudes arrived on scene and I know I was talking to him, and him to me. Ya' got me as to what. Then he said "Take a seat on the bench." I responded with something that escapes me now. He kinda lashed back with: "You're in shock! Sit on the bench!" I sat on the bench for a spell.

Within a few minutes, hose dudes were seemingly popping up everywhere. I heard a few: "You allright, Mark?" queries and whatnot. I then received the head trauma checklist from Al. Dizzy? Nope. Blurred vision? Not. Sick to your stomach? Nah. Another dude took my blood pressure and said it was way too freakin' high. I remember saying: "I'll calm down." We're talking about a normally hyperactive crazy person getting a massive, massive infusion of adrenaline in one big bolt. They were lucky I wasn't spinning in place ala the Tazmanian Devil.

I noticed that the chick who had pulverized me was being prepped for a trip in the ambulance. I asked about her and I was told she was complaining of back pain. Believe it or not, I was happy to hear that. Coulda been worse, I supposed at the time.

I refused my first ever opportunity to take a ride in an ambulance and I had to sign a release form. What the hell. I was feeling no real pain, only some slight discomfort to my right side. My head was bleeding. My hands were bleeding. And both of my arms were bleeding. But I wasn't injured, per se.

Events were accelerating. Or so it seemed. All the while, I repeatedly asked for my glasses and my new Bush-Cheney cap. Finally, one of the copper dudes found my bent, but still intact glasses. They were sitting smack dab in the middle of the intersection, and somehow, the numerous rubberneckers had failed to flatten them.

My daughter arrived and took pictures of the wreck at my direction. Larry arrived on scene and I know talking with him had a somewhat calming effect on me. City-Wide arrived and off went the offending vehicle. And there was my Bush cap pinned between the two vehicles. Larry made reference to the fact that I was in shock, much like the copper dude had just minutes before. I thought he meant like fifteen minutes ago. Little did I know. The kiddo and I headed for home as the wrecker boys were getting set to haul away my twisted hulk of metal that only minutes before passed as a functioning S-10.

Once we arrived at the adobe, it took me about two hours, eight beers and ten cigarettes before I calmed down enough to even think about showering. Before doing so, I fished the broken glass shards out of my scabbed-over forehead, my hair, my pockets and even my jockey shorts. I took that shower. It was a long one and a very, very hot one. Once dressed, we chewed on the particulars of the accident yet again. I played with the grandkids for a while. And feeling somewhat spent and emotionally drained, I finally settled into the Bartuska/WILK recliner for a quiet night watching the video advertising box. Before very long at all...it started.


"It" being the pain that seemed to grow in intensity every time I moved. Before too long, the wincing became moaning. And around the time I decided to retire for the evening, my breathing had become very, very quick and shallow. I was no doubt concerned, but I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning.

Peace and I arrived at the General Hospital emergency room at 6 AM. After registering at the desk, I told Peace to go as she had to work in less than two hours. For the next three hours, the emergency room folks put me through a battery of tests and I grew more worried while waiting for some sort of definative diagnosis. Then I was told that they had detected blood in my urine and more tests were to follow. My youngest had arrived by this point and that news coupled with the fact that my breathing was seriously labored got her to worrying. I could tell. I told her I'd be fine and that she should go home and tell wifey she'd be hearing from me soon. That was around 9:30 AM.

Soon afterwards, I could not sit, I could not lie down and I could barely breathe. I was almost a basket case. Thank goodness, one of the senior type nurses poked her head in my cubicle and asked me if I wanted a shot for the pain. Guess how I responded to that one. Down went the shorts, and in went the most glorious needle I have ever been stuck with. After what seemed like just a few minutes, suicide was back off of the table. Relief, albeit, temporary relief had arrived.

I had suffered through all of the tests. Now all I had to do was wait to hear how screwed-up I was. And wait I did. I had no friggin' idea where we were headed. Crushed spleen? Perforated lung? I had no idea, but with the amount of pain I was dealing with even after the needle, nothing would have surprised me at that point.

Around 1 PM, wifey came strolling in, gave me a cautious hug and started crying. She said she was scared. See that! She still loves me. This was curious. I was scared, but I was forced to tell her not to worry. After hearing about the blood in my urine and the resulting CAT SCANS, there was no further point in trying to calm her down. Only some good news from Dr. James could achieve that. So we waited. And we waited. And we waited some more.

Finally, the doctor appeared. He proceeded to sit down, eat his Mickey D's, and peruse what we assumed to be the results of the CAT SCANs. I found myself getting nervous all over again. At the same time, I found myself caring less and less what the results were. I just wanted to get whatever it was that awaited me over with already. Rip my freakin' spleen out. Give me an artificial prostrate. I don't care. Just do it already. That's where I was at.

After lunch, he finally approached us with his overdue assessment of what was left of my hunched-over body. 3 broken ribs and a bruised kidney. He had a prescription written up for me and I was free to go at 3:30 PM.

I've been to my family doctor twice since then. I've got two more prescriptions meant to save my right lung from either pnuemonia or a possible collapse. I've been dealing with the human resource types at work, my insurance people, her insurance people, the tower, the pharmacists and my doctor nonstop. I've got paperwork up the friggin' wazoo to make sense of. I've got two more x-ray events to attend to during the next two days. Another doctor visit looming. My license plate lying near my feet. And lost wages, medical costs and subjective pain & suffering issues still to contend with. All because some nineteen year-old decided to blow through a red light while going 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. Very nice.

These medications have suppressed my appetite. When I do eat, I have to fight back a robust puking event almost immediately afterwards. Sometimes I puke. Sometimes I don't. I can't lie down due to the intense pain, therefore, I can't sleep to any degree. I can't sit for very long without seriously regretting having done so. I can stand up and I can walk, but doubling over in pain is an all too frequent occurrence when I do.

Breathing hurts. Coughing hurts. Laughing hurts. Belching hurts. And sneezing...sneezing is hurtful beyond any known description. I don't even want to think about hick-ups. And what did I do to deserve all of this hurt? Absolutely nothing. I simply tried to get to work one lazy Saturday morning.

And what of the girl that pulverized me? Despite everything that I've been through during the past few days, I'm really not mad at her. I wish her no ill. I only hope that this experience has taught her that reckless actions can and often do have serious consequences. I hope she learns to slow down. Our roads would be much safer if the great majority of folks thought that civility and courtesy were virtues that could be applied to their everyday driving habits. Sadly, we've got a ways to go before civility and courtesy rule the day. Or the roads for that matter.

Whatever. Instead of seeing other motorists as enemy combatants to be dealt with, maybe approaching them as folks that deserve no less than what we'd expect for ourselves would go a long way towards making our roadways more friendly. I don't know. I'm finding it difficult to simply think straight these days.

At the very least, if you get partially crushed while on your way to the Lower Askam Orchid Show, when the trained professionals, the first responders tell you to go directly to the hospital and get your injuries checked out, by all means, listen to them.

Being somewhat stunned after such an upsetting event is to be expected. Being shocked is likewise understandable. But being in shock and not realizing it can delay the necessary medical attention you may obviously be in need of. I know. I did it.

My pills are kickin' in and I'm feeling kinda funky.

I'll talk to ya'll later.

PS---Red means "Stop." Green means "Go." And yellow means "Go faster."