I Had A Car Accident And All I Got Was This Lousy Hospital Bracelet

Oh yeah… And my life. It happened around 5:30 yesterday because I looked down for about 4 seconds in my car on Pacific Coast Highway, at Sirius radio no less (next time I will leave the station on The Supremes) and didn’t look up until I heard the terrifying sound of crunching metal, saw plastic car parts flying everywhere and felt an airbag hit me full force in the chest.
Apparently I veered a little to the right, and hit another Prius, parked on the side of the highway, which then slightly damaged a parked Mini in front of it. Thank G-d no people were hurt…

The first Samaritans that stopped their car to help me out after I ran out onto the side of the road, convinced that the car was about to explode, were a lovely older couple. Right away I noticed that the guy had a hole in his neck from a tracheotomy. Even in my shocked state, when he asked me how I was, I was tempted to ask him the same question. He actually seemed in worse shape than I was but here he was helping me; calling 911 and giving me a cell phone to use…

Although when I asked him to please try to find my cell phone in my car he came out first with my Siruis radio and then with my iPod, so I decided I should ask someone else under 90.

The reason I wanted my cell phone was that I had just left the house knowing that the babysitter was imminently picking up the kids from school and bringing them home. I was urgently trying to get in touch with her so that she wouldn’t drive by the car and the kids wouldn’t see the wreck and be upset.

Turned out she never got my message and texts until later (fucking AT&T) and the kids saw the car (though not the damage) and the personalized plate, and she had to spend the rest of the night convincing the kids that it wasn’t my car and that Mommy was at yoga. She handled it really well. Samson only fell asleep at 10:15 because apparently he was so worried…

At some point between a bunch of firefighters, paramedics and cops asking me questions, a guy in a wetsuit came up from the beach, “Uh that’s my car…”

Because that’s how cool we are in California. I apologized multiple times and he was really nice about it. Turned out he was an ER doctor, just in case I didn’t get the message that something somewhere was protecting me.

Then one of the brilliant police officers understandably asked me this question, “Are you taking any medication, ma’am?”

“Yes I take anti-depressants,” I replied.

“And what are you take those for,” he followed up, shrewdly.

“Depression?” I replied mystified.

Well, not everyone in the helping professions can be gems.

The paramedics were incredible though, sweet young guys who looked like they should be playing paramedics on television- it was a relief that not every good looking person in L.A. feels the need to pursue acting.

I didn’t even want to go to the hospital because I get hideously car-sick travelling backwards in ambulances, which makes everything worse…but the paramedics insisted. They even played rap music back there so I could sing along (something that’s always help me with motion sickness since I was a kid) but of course they weren’t allowed to give me so much as a club soda because of “procedure, ma’am.” I was forced to spend the entire ride pushing on the Chinese acupressure points for nausea- it must have worked because I never did need to use the bucket.

Besides having to sit in the hallway on a chair in the ER instead of lying down, because they were so full of cuffed felons and beaten up meth-heads and slightly more innocent victims of illness, I didn’t have to wait that long (thanks UCLA Santa Monica. And fuck you AT&T, no service.)

After a full workup: EKG, x-ray and examination by the hottest doctor I’ve ever seen in real life (not to be crass but I would’ve enjoyed an even more thorough workup but my husband was sitting right there, thanks for coming honey!) I was pronounced fit to go home. The doc also warned me that tomorrow i.e. today would be much worse in terms of pain. At least I think that’s what he said, I was envisioning a whole other scenario so I was finding it hard to concentrate… Perhaps I was in shock… Adrenaline…

I was nervous because I’m not very good with pain but actually it’s been quite manageable and I didn’t even have any excuse to take the good stuff, so I haven’t. The last thing I need is to get hooked on pain medication. Apparently I have enough trouble concentrating on the road when I’m stone cold sober.

I was leaving the house at the time, to do something nice for myself seeing as, some of you know, I finished my book yesterday. I thought I would have a mani-pedi, which I haven’t had time to do in months, and perhaps let myself have one moment of a hard earned feeling of accomplishment (I’m sure it’s been years since I’ve let myself have that.)

G-d had other plans, and I must say that having a brush with death is even more invigorating than getting your nails done!

In the middle of the night David (the eight year old) climbed into the bed, “Mommy I missed you. Something really freaky happened, we saw this accident and..” So I told him that it had been mommy’s car but I was okay besides a bruise on my chest and very lucky and I didn’t sell out the babysitter at all, telling him she didn’t know. Like his father he had a disturbing number of questions, until I had to ask him to stop (like his father earlier.) There are only that many times you can re-experience the moment of impact, for your family’s entertainment pleasure.

In the morning, Samson came down, nude and threw himself on me for a hug. I had to tell him right away (before he gave me whip lash with his huge seven year old athletic frame.) He paused and stared at me with his beautiful compassionate eyes, until his brother came into the room. Then he turned to him and said: “In your face David! I told you it was mommy’s car!!!”

His concern from the night before had morphed into being glad that he was right. That’s my boy!

So I am never, ever changing the station/calling on the phone/turning on iPod/putting on mascara/changing my underwear while driving again (what? Shit happens.) No more. I got a pretty cheap wake-up call considering… If you had seen the car you would be shocked that anyone had walked out of it almost without a scratch.

It’s incredible the lengths G-d will go to, to make me feel lucky to be alive.



  1. Wow. I am so glad you are ok…sense of humor and serenity intact it seems. I will try to let this post be a cautionary tale for me too.

      • my advice to you from watching people go through car accident recovery in the primary care clinic where I work is to take advantage of any insurance coverage you have RIGHT AWAY and get a jump on getting help via massage, chiro, accupuncture or any other means you can…

  2. Hi Susanna, I’m glad you are OK. I’d love to reblog this on my new site, Fix The Toaster. It’s aim is to raise awareness to the crazy amount of people dying in car accidents and promote discussion on change.

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