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Pick up truck

2013-05-11

On December 27, 1999, at about 5:15 in the evening, I was driving home from the grocery store. I had just bought a gallon of milk and one or two other things at Von’s.   It was a cool and deep evening; the sun had gone down half an hour before.
As I was driving east on North Avenue, passing Temperance, in a 1997 Ford F-150 4WD pickup truck, I was going about 50 miles an hour. A Toyota Corolla going north on Temperance failed to stop at the stop sign (there were skid marks about 10 feet long leading into the intersection.) His car hit my truck just below the right front door, at about 25 mph.. I felt and saw the truck turning to my left, with the right side rapidly becoming the bottom.
The next thing I remember is being in an emergency room, lying on a bed, with an IV tube in my arm, and the nurse is talking about whether they should put in a Foley catheter because I haven’t peed in two hours.
While I was unaware or unconscious, the following happened:At the moment of impact, the Toyota was below the Ford, and it continued to submarine. The Ford’s right rear wheel rolled over the Toyota’s hood. This impact caused the Ford to roll over to the left (counterclockwise.) At the same time, the rear of the Ford went up above the front.  The Ford continued to roll counterclockwise, and probably completed a 360 degree revolution.  It destroyed a telephone junction box that was about fifteen feet northeast of the intersection.  Eventually, the Ford landed upright on a small orange tree in the field fifty feet northeast of the intersection. The Toyota came to rest in the northeast corner of the intersection. A witness (a teenager) who was a passenger in a vehicle driving south on Temperance, heard a bang, then saw “the truck flying thru the air.”
When the ambulance arrived, I was not seriously injured. I had a large cut on the left side of my temple above the ear, caused by the frame of my glasses when my head slammed against the left side of the roof of my truck. Apparently, I was “alert” according to the ambulance report.  I do remember someone coming to the side of the truck and asking if I was alright.

The other driver, the one who ran the stop sign, was also alone in his car.  I don’t know what his condition was.  Later, I was unable to find out what had happened to him; I dealt only with his insurance company, AAA.  I did find out that he was probably on his way home from work and habitually ran that stop sign because there was so little traffic.  He couldn’t see me coming because there were large trees in the field to the southwest of the intersection that blocked his view.

Afterwards, my stepson went to the accident site and found all of the contents of my pickup truck spread out among the orane trees.  My toolkit, the groceries, and everything else movable had exited the truck during the crash.  Later, looking at the wreck, I could see that the gallon of milk, which had been on the passenger seat, had gone straight thru the windshield, leaving a gallon-sized hole.

At the emergency room, I refused to have a Foley catheter stuck in my penis just so they could test my urine. I told the nurse if they would let me stand up, I could pee for them. I also refused to have a CAT scan of my brain. I said that I had no insurance and I couldn’t afford any such thing. Little did I know that the other driver had insurance that would have paid my expenses up to fifty thousand dollars.
I did have the laceration on my left temple stapled.
I do not recall talking to the staff at all; my wife explained it to me afterwards. She arrived about the time I started to remember things. The hospital had called my house and left a message, and when she got home from work she played it. Only two hours later did I begin to have continuous memories again.
When I got home that night (I had checked out against medical advice; they wanted to keep me all night) and undressed to go to bed, my wife found bruises all over the left side of my body.
Later, I had an MRI scan of my brain free of charge from a new scanner that was being tested. It showed normal except for a tiny empty spot, apparently an old infarction, about 7 mm long and 4 mm wide. This lesion was somewhat mysterious, as the rest of the scan was completely normal. It didn’t correspond to any area that would produce a noticeable deficit, so there was no way to make a clinical correlation. The consensus was that this lesion had nothing to do with the head injury, although there was no previous MRI to compare it with.
The head injury in the crash caused a loss of memory that extended from the moment of the crash when my head hit the inside of the roof to about two hours afterwards in the emergency room; afterwards, memory returned to normal immediately. Later, I had tests that apparently showed a mild form of traumatic brain injury. I felt that the diagnosis was obvious given the circumstances. Eventually, AAA paid me ten thousand dollars for my expenses, mainly to put crowns on three of my teeth that had fractured in the crash.
It took me several years to recover completely. Sometimes the effects of the injury were overwhelmed by the way people treated me. They acted as if I really were brain-damaged. Sometimes I felt as if I were not impaired, but at other times I did feel that I was missing something, especially when my wife kept things from me.

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