Car accident + hospital stay – US health insurance = no fun

Jan 3rd, 2015- Outside of Kimball, Nebraska.
Honda rolling

Note: I do NOT recommend rolling your car. Not even for the “thrill” or “adventure”. There’s no real good benefit to doing this- not even good stories.

“What? What happened?”

45-mph winds, white-out conditions, freak snow storm and a bridge that had black ice/snow on it. Even though I was going less than 30mph, I was blown into another car. I swerved to avoid him, over-corrected, spun out and ended up headed for a ditch- where my car rolled (1.5 times!) because of the Nebraska soft/fluffy snow.

(Front air bag didn’t go off. Side ones did, though).

“Holy shit! Are you ok?”

Seat belts save lives. Everyone should wear one.

“Did you (audio) record the accident?”

Sadly, no. But it looks just like it does in the movies. Slow-mo, everything flying around you. Totally surreal. A lot of static.

“Did you end up in the hospital?”

Yep. I cracked my spleen (a side effect to wearing a seat-belt). I was internally bleeding for about 7 hours until I walked into the ER feeling achey but “My mom told me to come in. I’m fine. Just tell her that.” They took a CT (goodbye 5K$) and while we were waiting for the results, I was joking around with the nurses, voxing my brother, and about to eat a slice of left-over pizza that someone offered. The head-nurse lady (Emily) came in and yelled “NOOOOOOOO!!!” all in slow-motion and smacked the pizza out of my hand and screamed “YOU’RE INTERNALLY BLEEDING! YOU’RE A TICKING TIME BOMB! WE HAVE TO GET YOU TO SCOTTSBLUFF RIGHT AWAY FOR EMERGENCY SURGERY OR YOU COULD DIE!”

(Side note: Her bed-side manner needed work.)

Now- little known fact of LN: I don’t have health insurance in the states. I haven’t since 2011. It’s a really long story revolving how the system is broken- which is a different post. You’re probably reading and thinking “doncha wish you had health insurance now?” and the answer would be “uh. I wish I didn’t roll my car”- but I digress… This fact is important to know for what happens next:

The nurses are frantic. Panicked. Getting me to Scottsbluff is a problem because they shutdown the highways-due to other (fatal) accidents, and the weather got worse which means that the (VERY EXPENSIVE) helicopters are grounded.

Now… The whole time nurses were coming in and out and trying to keep me distracted. I called my dad. He told me to go to Scottsbluff. I voxed josh- scared out of my mind.

Finally, they convince an ambulance to take me to Scottsbluff (an hour away) and I’m rushed to Trauma 1 and all the nurses freak out because the ambulance rider told them I was in Africa.

(Wanna freak people out in a hospital in Nebraska? Tell them you were in Africa. Watch them take 3 steps back and put more gloves on… Ha!).

After they questioned me (name, address, health insurance) they asked me “When did you leave Africa?”
“Nov 22nd”
“ok- we’re good” (And all the nurses/doctors relaxed and came and started probing me with things).
“THAT’S IT?! But you didn’t ask any of the important questions!”
“What important questions?”

  • Did you eat Bush meat? (no),
  • Did you eat bats? (no)
  • Did you get bitten by any bats? (no)
  • Did you get bitten by any humans? (no)
  • Have you been in contact with any bloody bodily fluids (not yours) in the past 3 months? (no)
  • Did you bathe the dead? (no)
  • Did you touch anyone who was dead? (no)
  • Have you contracted Ebola? (wellllllllll… I wrote it on my food in the hostel… No!)
  • What part of Africa were you in? (southern horn)
  • Have you ever seen a zombie? (yes, but I used to work at Microsoft).

They didn’t ask any of these…. (Actually none of the airports I went through asked me any ebola questions, either.) Weird, huh? They only care about the incubation period (which could totally change! Has NO ONE played Plague Inc?) I digress…. again….

The doctor came in and said “you’re under observation. You’ll probably be fine.”

O.o   *blink….. blink*

I was rushed up to PCU (Progressive Care Unit) where I was being held for observation. Josh voxed me back and I heard in the back-ground my mom screaming “I’m forcing her to pay for it! How dare she not have insurance! THAT’S HER FAULT!*” My (amazing/diplomatic) brother was trying to calm me down (see scared vox) and tell me that everything is fine- understanding that I’m in a hospital in some place- far away from everyone I know- on my death bed- with the clock ticking- and that could be scary for a lot of people.

*(Note: this is what my mom does when she gets scared. She panics. It’s who she is. She’s not a monster. My mom is awesome- but her timing and volume could have been better.)

In the PCU, they gave me a blue pamphlet called “5 wishes”. This is your living will- and it needs to be filled out. They ask questions like:

  • “What do you want to happen to you if you’re in a coma?
  • If you’re brain dead?
  • If you die- who has your funeral wishes?
  • Are you an organ donor?
  • How do you want your friends/family to talk to you in the hospital?
  • At your funeral- write below what you would like to be read.
  • Do you have any religious wishes? etc.

It’s a lot of morbid crap. Stuff that I wasn’t really expecting to have to deal with today.

Now- I have purposely put myself in dangerous situations for a while. Skydiving, Bungee Jumping, swimming with great white sharks, working on Fable 3

If I die, I die.

But here’s what was going through my head that night:

  • Was I happy with my life and how it turned out?
  • Is there anything left that I haven’t done?
  • Did I disappoint anyone?
  • Did I care if I did?
  • What would I have done differently?
  • The Quiji board said I was going to die when I was 32- maybe I was supposed to die today.
  • Maybe I dodged death and this is a whole “final destination” movie I’m stuck in until I have a (hopefully quick) death.
  • Maybe I should listen to my favorite music right now.
  • Why is it my favorite music?
  • Who influenced that?
  • I should donate more money to Wikipedia and Pandora.
  • Should I call them and tell them that right now?
  • Man I wish I could have bacon grilled cheese and tomato soup right now.
  • Goddamnit-my last meal was shitty biscuits and gravy!
  • Maybe I should post on the book-face an update. But what would I say? I don’t want the pity-train.
  • Can’t I just Cntl-Z the day? Reload my last save?
  • It wasn’t supposed to be like this. (etc).

8 hours of this type of thinking. I didn’t sleep.

Spoiler: I didn’t die.

It was 4pm the next day before I ate/drank again. I had gained 7lbs somehow from JUST LAYING IN A BED. I looked like a nightmare. I reeked. I did get to order room service (I don’t even want to know what that costs…). The social worker came in and told me I was going to be checked into “Inn Touch” and the doc discharged me at 8pm- telling me that I couldn’t do any burpees for a month. (Horray! First piece of good news since the accident!)

Leaving Nebraska was pretty painless. I was sore/achey for the next 5 days, I couldn’t sleep a full REM because I kept having nightmares- all normal/basic stuff I’m told. The same thing happened in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda. It’s mild PTSD or something.

 

“Would you have done anything different?”

  • I wouldn’t have gone to the hospital at all.
  • I also wouldn’t have swerved to avoid that truck (and just rain into him). Bumper cars is better than rolling a car, IMO.
  • Never have a schedule when I drive. “I NEED TO BE IN ____ BY ____ DATE!”. Nope. Never doing that again. “Sorry. The weather is bad. I’m not driving” is going to be uttered out of my mouth for a long ass time.

Huh…. Good to know I guess.

“What’s the lesson?”

2 things:

1) Never eat the crappy biscuits and gravy at Ho Jo. They aren’t worth it. Every meal shall now be taken as “my last meal” and it will be glorious.

2) My friend Jim said: “Sometimes in life, you just roll a 1“.

I thought of all the other times that I “rolled a 1”: Getting poorly kidnapped, getting mugged, Typhoon Haiyan. Then I think about all the other times that I got super lucky. The times I was distracted by someone/something in the car, the times my plane didn’t go missing.

In reality- life is about how you live after you roll a 1. How you shine.

(It’s a lesson I’m trying to still figure out.)

 

——–

SIDE NOTE: I need an editor! (preferably one with audio experience) Who reads this thing and fancies themselves a content editor???

Send me an email LN.Lurie(at)yahoo.com

4 comments

  • So crazy, we were just talking ins when you were here. Hugs… come home, I have a Spare Oom and War Drobe.

  • We need a seatbelt power-up/upgrade. There has to be a non spleen-damaging design variant. I wonder if anyone’s on that mission.

    • What shocked me the most was that every person I talked to asked me “were you wearing your seat-belt?” and I replied, dumbfounded, “uh. of course!”

      The whole thing took me back to Moshi, Tanzania where the taxi driver looked at me in disgust and took offense when I put my seat-belt on. “I’m a good driver!” he said. “Why do you have that on?!”

      It’s interesting how different cultures look at seat-belt wearing- and how most of the world doesn’t wear them.

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