My brush with death

Last Wednesday, 27  June I was on my way to work.

It was an overcast day with the promise of rain predicted by the weather forecaster the previous night. I greeted my husband as he was in another mood after the previous night and I went out the door locking it behind me. As I was making my way to the main road, as I needed to cross it and catch a train, I was humming and saying my morning prayers.

A white taxi zoomed by me and I was annoyed as it was such a daily occurence. I stepped down into the parking bays and went a bit further into the road to see whether there was any on coming traffic. Yes, the light had just turned green. I stepped back and as I turned left, I felt myself shoved to the ground.

I saw the tail lights as I went down and I hit  my head hard as I fell flat on my back. I opened my eyes and realised the black I was looking at was under the taxi. I felt the heat of the exhaust and felt myself being dragged along the ground. My heart and the noise of the van pounding in my ears. I screamed.

Then the taxi moved forward and I could see sky and feel the raindrops and the tail lights of the taxi and with sudden fright I realized it was reversing back over me again. I screamed louder than before. I remembered seeing the newspaper boards lining the street telling of a van dragging a woman four blocks before realising it. I didn’t want to die that way. Without realising it I was craning my neck away from the taxi exhaust and trying to keep it out from under the taxi. I remember seeing a woman standing on the sidewalk covering her face. I had realised by now that I was laying between the vans tyres.

It didn’t help the fear. This was not how I wanted to die.

Then the taxi stopped and drove right off my body. I could see my grey boot covered feet and there was more people surrounding me now. It seems liked everyone was on their cellphones calling police and paramedics. I felt myself shake without control.

A kind woman took my hand explaining there was no actual damage that she could see but that an ambulance was on its way. She told me she belonged to some relief organisation and she had called them but I don’t think they ever arrived. Someone shouted that a traffic cop was on the scene and then suddenly there were policeman and everyone was telling me not to move my head. It was almost funny how they chorused. The woman was holding my hand and wanted to know what my name was and where I lived. She asked if there was anyone she could call and I realised I’d have to call my husband only 15 minutes away from where his wife could have died.

Two paramedics arrived on the scene. A woman who barely spoke a word of English and a man who laughed when he heard I was actually English-speaking and not Xhosa or some other language. They soon made room for two other paramedics who spoke to me in calm tones. They reassured me that I’d be fine. My head and neck was secured and then I was rolled onto the emergency services gurney and taken to the ambulance.

I heard my husband arrived and I heard his panic. I heard him scold the driver and give him a stern warning. I could hear the nonchalance with which the police officer handled the case. Marco my paramedic and Keenan the driver was feeling for broken bones. Marco, hunting for a good vein in my hand, apologised for hitting me. He tried to explain that it was only because a vein was hard to find. It made me smile.  I was shaking like a leaf and smiling. It was such a contradiction. Then he found a good vein and told me it would hurt only a little. I’m so use to my veins being on holiday that I knew finding a vein would be an adventure and sticking the needle in would hurt more than just a little. Keenan reassured me from above that Marco was the best and soon it was over and I had morphine running through my veins helping the throbbing in my head to quiet down.

Maro gave the police officer the yellow light to which the police officer replied – Mr taxi driver, you’re very lucky.

They took me to hospital and called my manager at work. At first I thought, no don’t start the conversation with,

“Hi I’m Marco calling from ER24, there was an accident.” You scare the person on the other end but when the conversation was over, he put his phone away and told me that the manager sounds concerned and hopes you feel better.”

I immediately felt tears run down my cheeks, poor Marco wiped them away with gauze and held my hand till we arrived at hospital. It was like an episode of Greys Anatomy where the doctors are all smiles and tests and pricking and prodding. They undressed me until all that was left was my undies. All my clothes were wet but it wasn’t needed with all the scans and x-rays taken. I was given another dose of painkillers and found myself drifting in and out of consciousness.

Nothing was cracked or broken I was just going to bruise and be in a world of pain. We called a cousin to pick us up but 3 hours later I was still stuck in a reception waiting chair. When a driver did arrive, I was stiff all over. I think I still managed all this is my drug induced state. It was the following morning when the painkillers had worn off and I was sore and stiff that the big blow came. My state of the art optimised android cellphone of 3 weeks had been crushed under the taxi wheel along with my spectacles and favourite colour lipstick. All these had been in my handbag which had landed next to me in the fall and had been run over. My manager called to find out how I was and this is when I laughed with shock – my manager wanted to know if I was coming in to work. I couldn’t cry on the phone and I tried to explain that I was still in a lot of pain. I was called again the next day when I was feeling so much worse.

My left leg bruised by the impact has difficulty bending and the tip of my spine is so sensitive that it makes sitting for longer than 20 minutes a painful mission. I can barely sleep or stand up or turn by myself. My husband has to help me to the toilet and bathing is unpleasant. He says it’s through sickness and through health but I feel anger and helplessness.

It’s Sunday and tomorrow I will make my way back to work. My leg works. I have a big blue and purple bruise and it’s still swollen at the site of impact but I’m walking by myself. Sitting and laying down for long periods are still uncomfortable but I can now get up and sit down by myself. I’m even taking myself to the toilet again. I don’t know if he’ll just let me take a slippery bath by myself but at least I now know the boundaries of my work life.

I still have to make a case against the driver for recklessness and I was informed that he was charged with reckless driving four days prior to my accident. I have to face work knowing that they don’t understand how serious my accident and the injuries were and I have to overcome my feelings about that.

I’m happy to be alive and to be given the opportunity to enjoy my second month anniversary with my husband today. He probably won’t allow me to go to the station all by myself ever again, which I appreciate and I will try to solve anything that might be off between us before I ever walk out that door again.


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