Saturday, April 01, 2006

Crash, Bang, Prang!

As has been previously noted, I drive like an old lady, and am generally pretty careful when it comes to maneouvring metal boxes on wheels. So it is with some embarrassment that I present this story:

The Day I Crashed My Car.

First of all, don't get excited: it happened almost two years ago, and, as you can probably spot by the dates on these here blogicles, I'm not dead. Secondly, it wasn't 'my' car, it was a rental. A crummy little Toyota Echo.

Here's what happened. I had dropped BetterArf and Offspring off at their various schools, and was returning home. It was about 7.30 am. The weather that day was a little bit strange. There were clouds on the horizon, and the sun was just rising and trying to break through the clouds.

I was driving up the Gardens perimeter road. It had no speed bumps at that time (they appeared about a month after my accident). I was probably doing a little over 60 kph. I was completely unprepared for the sun on the horizon right in front of me bursting out from behind a cloud just as I rounded a bend in the road. I was completely blinded. I hit the brakes of the car, and then I heard a loud


The car seemed to be moving backwards, then sideways, and then it threatened to tip over on its side. Then it stopped moving. I looked up: the windscreen had shattered into a million pieces, most of which were inside the car, and quite a few inside my shoes. The passenger-side door pillar was bent inwards. Looking around, I saw that the car was parked at right angles to the road, perfectly positioned between two low hedges on the central reservation. Parked on the road opposite me was the obstacle that I had so definitely hit. A flatbed truck belonging to Messrs Al Naboodah. Why was it parked there? They were pruning bloody trees.

I staggered out of the car. No signs of blood. No signs of personal damage at all, in fact, except it was a bit hard to breathe. A car drove past and screeched to a halt. It was a friend of mine who lives close by. She called the cops and the ambulance. After what seemed like an age, a police car showed up. The guy just could not understand why I had rammed this truck with my puny Echo. He awarded me the blame (shukran habibi: I'm bloody dying here!).

Then the ambulance turned up and took me to Rashid Hospital. Well this was fun - I'd never been inside an ambulance before, and this one had magic windows that changed from clear to opaque at the flick of a switch.

On arrival at the hospital they all rushed around like crazy people and then, having established that I probably wasn't going to die straight away, they put me on a gurney and parked me in a corridor. I was sent for an x-ray or ten. And then back to the gurney. A grinning doctor comes up to me and says I've fractured my sternum (breastbone). He wants to keep me in for 24 hours. I protest, and he enigmatically asks me if I have life insurance.

So I'm on this gurney for a few hours while they try to find me a bed. A junior doctor appears and tells me I'll be getting 'nil by mouth', but it's ok because I'll be on this fabulous nutrient drip, and really, it's much better than the food. I am a bit upset. Because, not only was it my first time in an ambulance, it was also my first time as a hospital in-patient, and I really wanted to try the food!

Eventually they find me a bed in a ward full of sick people (ewww it was horrible). I was dying for a fag, but it was Ramadan. Oh, and hospitals are a bit funny about that kind of thing. I get changed into the uniform, and, disappointingly, nobody checks the cleanliness of my underwear. They give me some humungous painkillers and I have a kip. About teatime, BetterArf shows up with some reading matter - a couple of books and what looks suspiciously like a porn mag. It turns out to be FHM, but the cover pic is just astonishing!

Visiting time over, the other inmates get given food - looks like a nice biryani-type thing. I get nothing, and then I realise I'm not hooked up to a drip. When the guys come to collect the empties, they bring me a 'European' meal - grey soup, cold greasy chicken leg, mashed potatoes, peas, an apple and some orange juice. I realise I've eaten nothing all day, and this meal is certainly welcome. I'm not asking anybody about the nutrient drip.

I do a little reading, and then try to get out of bed to use the bathroom. I cannot do it. The forces involved in pushing yourself up all connect in your sternum. I summon a nurse who helps me get vertical, and decide that I will never lie down again. I'm ok while I'm standing or sitting in a normal chair, but being horizontal is just too much. Time passes, though, and I'm ready for a horizontal sleep. It's about ten pm. I struggle into bed, shut my eyes and start to drift off, and am totally horrified when the noise and population levels in the ward start to increase. It seems that because it is Ramadan, they have a late visiting session that goes on till midnight. Bloody hell, somebody give me a beer.

Next day I'm up at six, and breakfast arrives at seven - it was a chopped-up boiled egg, minus the yolk. Yukk. Cold toast, etc. I'm told I have to wait for the doctor, who'll be swinging by at about eleven. When he comes and has finished his inspection, I ask him what he meant about insurance. 'Oh, nothing', he says. 'Just that in cases like yours people sometimes have heart attacks and die, so it's better if you're already in the hospital'. Ah, thanks a lot.

Hey ho. They let me out at about one o'clock. And just in case you're interested, it takes two weeks for your sternum to repair itself, and during that time, getting horizontal and getting up again are absolutely agonising. Even when you have planet-sized painkillers.

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