Thursday, May 8, 2014

Let Me Tell You About the *FIRST* Time I Was Hit By an Unlicensed Driver

What's the chances of getting hit by an unlicensed driver Twice in a lifetime? Well, I really don't know & I don't believe in statistics -- don't get me started, BUT it's at least 1:(all the people you know)! HA! So here's the story of my first one!

My awesome Civic with it's beach-scene airbrushed on the hood. The license plate says "Curvy," which someone had changed to "Mikey has Scurvy". I still have that plate!

I was accomplishing my dream at the time, which was going to veterinary school! I had chosen Ross University on St. Kitts Island for multiple reasons. Partly because they had a high acceptance policy/fail rate, partly because I was single & young & the thought of moving to the Caribbean was Awesome, but mostly because they had the highest pass rates on the boards. They Also came with a huge bill. My student loans are $230K. Starting out pay for a vet is $40-$60K. Things to look into DURING planning for school, not after! Case in point from the New York Times:   High Debt and Falling Demand Trap New Vets

Where I was hit. RUSVM are those white buildings (poor me, right? Having to go to vet school There!;) That narrow strip of road in front probably still has scraps of metal from my car!

I loved my life, I loved where I was, and I was attending a fantastic school. I was living out my dream! Then one day I was leaving the school from the back parking lot and turning back into the front entrance to talk to the stationed guard about her new lovebirds. On St. Kitts, you drive on the left hand side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right. That's when two buses (they're minivans, but are called buses on St. Kitts) entered the scene. They had just dropped off their kids - they were school buses - and were racing each other on this one-lane-each-way road that circles the island. I was making a right-hand turn (equivalent to a left turn in the States), blinker on, just starting to go. The first bus saw & zoomed around me, but the second one which was right on his tail didn't have time, and the bus named "Crucial Vibes" slammed into the back of my car going over 70mph. As an aside, the driver was unlicensed but was never prosecuted due to island politics, much like my more recent crash. Just as frustrating.

Here's a random story about my awesome car. One time I was driving down the road when suddenly the hood flipped up, then to the right and started dragging down the road, sparks a-flyin'. The left hinge had rusted through (all cars in the Caribbean are salt-rusted) and I had to bang it back in with a brick!

All crash pics from Dr. "LJ" Shank

I didn't have my seatbelt on and that's the only thing that saved my life. I Always wear my seatbelt, and this one time for whatever reason I didn't. Crazy! I was thrown from the driver's seat to the passenger seat, which was the only place in the car that was not smashed.

The passenger side, after they cut me out 

St. Kitts had a brand new "Jaws of Life" and this was the first time they used to cut someone from a car. An ambulance took me the short distance to the hospital, where no lie there were chickens and goats running through. A nurse tried to give me an injection but I kicked her to keep her away - I wanted to be fully alert no matter the pain! I had break-away glass in my eyes that my friends had to wash out for me. X-rays showed that I had a right clavicle "zed" complete fracture. Later I found out I also damaged my hip, but that was misdiagnosed (by a stateside doctor.)
NOT my radiograph, but might as well be! "Zed" fracture.

That hip injury started a Whole other thing, you can read about it & my racing here! My LZ Guest-Blog "Monique's Caught the Triathlon Bug"

I remember everything... The hard hard impact. Harder than anything I've ever felt. Lying there in the passenger seat, with my head out the window. Not being able to move my right arm. Glass in my eyes, blood.  I knew I was too shocky to feel pain. I didn't know if I was going to live or die. But then I thought, everybody I loved knew that I loved them, and I was IN vet school, which had been my goal my entire life. So, I was okay with dying if that's what was going to happen.
Since it happened in front of the school, everyone heard the crash. People showed up from everywhere; workers from the sugarcane fields, friends from the school. The support of my colleagues and the school faculty & staff was overwhelming, I'm brought to tears just thinking about it now! They followed me to the hospital.
I remember there was a shuffling outside of the radiology door & the nurse saying, "Fine! Only one of you!" and my classmate Lauren meekly came in. They knew I wouldn't be going home for a while, and you know, Rebel needed to be taken care of, so could it be her? HA! I've just been smashed up & they're worried about the dog! ;) I love them so much! (Lauren took very good care of Reb by the way.) (I also heard that Dr. Reich's first response was, "Was Rebel in the car?")

Coincidentally enough, my college friend and fellow Shotokan brown belt Sue Chin was coming to visit from the States the very day I was hit. She had to go directly to the hospital her very first day in the Caribbean! It was extremely lucky for me though because true to her nature she immediately took care of me (she's an MD now). Even though I couldn't even get out of bed on my own I was determined she have a good time, and after being in the hospital for a night, I was released & we headed down to my friend X's Shiggidy Shack to have Carib beer and "Ting with a Sting" - I had to start Sue off right! Wow, I just checked out X's website, he seems to be doing well! (meh, now the link's not working) Don't be fooled, he has a silly side, he's a Hasher! ;) Anyway, we traveled around the island, and various friends & colleagues of mine made sure she lived it up in the Caribbean! Such great people there. Sue and I stayed with a colleague, then the school's psychologist Mrs. "Turtle" Jane Sandquist sent her son to pack my bags & have me stay with her until I was better. That may have been my greatest time on St. Kitts because she lived in a beautiful house with the most beautiful property, had tortoises and mango trees and lovely grandchildren, a ton of books, and she is the most fabulous cook. My colleagues would bring me my studies and homework until I could get to school again.

I ended up failing Pharmacology by 0.4% (69.1 and needed a 69.5, Ross doesn't do "D"s), & I decided to take a semester off. I was disappointed that I failed, especially by such a small amount! I knew that I was going through a lot at  the time and it was an understandable thing to fail such a hard class under those circumstances, but I was inconsolable. However, I returned to school the following semester with a vengeance, and have excelled ever since! I had to keep trying.
Life sucks and it's not fair. But what do you do, give up? Fuck that. I wouldn't be a vet now.

Here's some Kittitian newspaper articles: