Where am I? What happened? I was driving my first car, a cute lily pad green Envoy Epic, along the gravel road to Iddesleigh, a rural hamlet in Alberta, Canada where my best friend, Judy, was waiting for me. Yesterday we had quit our summer jobs, hers clerking at her family’s general store, and mine sorting bottles in a factory. This morning we planned a trip to the mountains where we would play tourists for a few days until university started.
What am I doing in a strange bed, in a strange room in —a hospital?
In two, I-mean-business strides, a scowling woman in a snow-white uniform complete with nurse’s cap stormed to the foot of my bed. Her dark piercing eyes glared me as she pointed to her puffy, blackened eye. “Look what you did to me!” she said.
“What are you talking about?”
Voice elevated, approaching a yell, she said, “You hit me, and you tried to bite your mother too!”
“Why would I do that? How did I get here? What happened?”
“They brought you to Emergency last night. They found you in a ditch.”
“What are you talking about? Who brought me here? What happened?” I asked.
“Oil rig workers driving home saw your car rolled over in the ditch. They stopped. They found a dead coyote and you. You hit me!”
“I’ve never hit anyone.”
Turning abruptly my new archenemy marched to the door only to return with a fellow nurse in tow. “You tell her she hit me. You tell her.” And tell me she did.
“I’m sorry if I hit you,” I mumbled. Why couldn’t I remember?
X-rays followed. The no-nonsense technician who had positioned my aching body and the overhead camera ordered, “Now get down from the table.” Had he heard about my nurse attack? When I didn’t move, he took my arms in his hands and pulled me none-to-gently to the edge of the x-ray table. I reached out and grabbed him around the neck to keep my dangling feet from touching the floor as shards of pain ripped along my spine. He wheeled me back to my room in silence. Why can’t I remember? What’s wrong with me?
The x-rays revealed a fractured coccyx. I spent the next six weeks in the hospital sleeping on fracture boards, commuting to and from physiotherapy in a wheel chair. No vacation, no cute lily pad green Envoy Epic and no memory of the accident.
I did walk again. I was able to return to university. And in hind site I appreciate just how lucky I was. What if one of the oil riggers had not noticed my car totaled in the ditch? What would have happened if I had been thrown through the windshield, onto a rock, into a barbed wire fence…? I could have been paralyzed. I could have been killed.
Mine is not the dramatic tale of near death experiences in movies and books. I saw no tunnel, no glimmering white light and no angel guiding me through heaven, pointing out the mysteries of the universe, then urging me to return from whence I came. But return I did because of luck, synchronicity, divine intervention, or was it simply not my time to pass?