I was 18 years old and it was early summer. I had spent the evening with friends, having a bonfire by the lake. Just to get it out of the way, no, I was not drinking alcohol, nor were any of the kids I was with that night. Regardless, trauma ensued. Physical trauma that is, mainly to my lower jaw and teeth.
I was riding shotgun in a 1988 Nissan Sentra. It was silver and boxy, a little puddle jumper with only a lap belt in my seat. We were headed home late that night and weren't paying much attention to where we were going. We noticed our turn too late, but the driver still attempted to make it. Wouldn't you know there was a very large ditch off the side of that turn? The last thing I remember thinking as our car skidded across the pavement toward that hole was, "my parents are going to be so mad at me for this!"
My face felt very peculiar when I came to and I spit something hard into my hand; one of my teeth. Then the fog cleared a little and it dawned on me that I was not the only one in the car suffering. Although my dear friend the driver was completely unscathed, the same could not be said about my friend in the back seat. The poor girl's face was unrecognizable under an incredible amount of blood. Not only that, she was in tremendous pain and unable to get out of the car on her own.
I did get out of the car, I remember thinking I had to because it was going to blow up. This must have been a combination of shock and having seen too many episodes of the A-Team. So, there I was on the side of the road in Timbuktu, bleeding profusely from the mouth, spitting out teeth, slurring my words incoherently, thinking my best friend is trapped in a car that is going to explode at any minute.
You know who I feel the worst for right now though? The driver. Sure, both of us passengers were covered in blood and suffering from a multitude of physical ailments, but can you imagine bearing witness to this trauma all the while being the one who inadvertently caused it? Not that I blame her, it was an accident pure and simple.
Out of the darkness another vehicle materialized and then an ambulance. We were taken to the hospital where it was discovered that in addition to knocking out two teeth, chipping six of them and breaking my jaw in three places, I had also nearly severed my tongue. No wonder my words sounded foreign. I was the lucky one though. My friend in the back seat broke her nose, cracked her spine and split open the skin from her eyebrow to the tip of her nose, which required more than a hundred stitches.
It was certainly the most physical trauma I have endured but physical pain is forgotten as soon as it subsides. I ended up no worse for the wear with the exception of a few fake teeth.
One thing I am really thankful for? That the EMT's who responded were not from my own local fire station, since they ended up cutting all my clothes off of me.