(11 Dec 17)
Welcome, Dear Reader.
I promised this essay more than two years ago; my aplogies that I took this long to write it.
I wrote in an earlier post about my 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang.
Here’s how I lost my 1965 Ford Mustang.
It was Christmastime 1999.
I had simple plans to attend that year’s Christmas Midnight Mass. No particular subterfuge, I just wanted to connect at least to one familiar custom since childhood. I don’t know what were the extent of my beliefs in Catholic dogma nearly 20 years ago, nor do I know if or whether there is a high being; the latter is beyond my pay grade.
My planned attendance at Midnight Mass 1999 would not be.
Dear Reader, if you read other entries at this web-site, then you know that I alluded in those earlier posts what happened to disrupt my best laid plans one fatefull December 1999 Sunday night.
I drove to Tucson in my classic 1965 Ford Mustang. I about never exceeded 65 mph on the freeway, but this was that one time when I decided that I would push the engine to 75 mph the entire distance; it purred like a kitten all the way. Wow, I arrived at Tucson in almost no time compared to my usual 55 mph.
I spent Saturday evening and then Sunday working at the TV studio – editing my next ‘Rock Club Rising’ TV show and working a couple live shows during my breaks. I departed the studio Sunday evening, stopt to fill the tank with gasoline, chatted with the attendant for a few minutes, and made my way home to Phoenix.
That weekend was pretty much the same routine as any other previous weekend to Tucson. The drive home was un-eventfull almost til the end of the way; I listened to KFI AM on the radio same as usual when I returned home from Tucson on Sundays – there was Sunday night programming that I enjoyed hearing on my way home.
I approached the Southern limits of the Phoenix metropolitan environs. I observed headlights shining into my inside rear-view mirror. Those lights were quite a distance behind me and were the only other traffic travelling my direction at 11 pm. I scanned the road in front, then back to those headlights in the rear-view mirror. The lights still appeared distant, yet this second time they shown to be closer than they should have been for a vehicle travelling at an average speed. No matter, I figured; I’m driving in the ‘slow’ lane where I belong and they should be driving in the ‘fast’ lane where they belong. The third time was not the charm; I looked at the lights in the rear-view mirror, they were right there at my tail.
I literally hit the accelerator – pedal to the metal – as hard as I could – as if my foot would have gone through the floor if I pressed any harder. As quick as my Mustang’s engine responded, it was not quick enough.
I heard that impact; I felt that impact.
I also felt a sudden draft of cold December wind, looked into my rear-view mirror, and saw that something was terribly wrong. I took a quick direct gaze back and saw that the entire rear window was blown out. I did not see til days later how bad was the actual damage.
I let off the gas – acceleration was not gonna happen ever again in that Mustang.
The Mustang wanted to fish-tail. I had training, I knew how to control a car in such a violent situation. I controlled the steering into the skid as best as I could. The Mustang waivered two cycles – back and forth, back and forth. What just happened was not of my doing, but I knew that I had the capacity to mitigate whatever future events were about to happen. I knew that I had to prevent my car from crossing into the median dip to the left, possibly hitting an on-coming vehicle, and resulting into a massive head-on collision with multiple vehicles.
A second hit – this time at the passenger side rear corner, this time while my Mustang faced toward the desert. In that instant, my Mustang headed un-controlled toward the right-hand side of the road rather than to the left side and into on-coming traffic.
That second hit at least was better than the alternative to being hit at the driver’s side rear corner.
That second hit also made certain that I no longer had any control of my Mustang.
In that instant,
- I knew that I had to brace for impact against either a tree, the freeway fence, an abutment, anything.
- I knew that I did not want to experience whiplash from further assault.
- I knew that I did not want to get hit with a face full of windshield glass.
- I knew that I did not want to get my chest crushed against the steering column.
- I knew that I did not want to get thrown through the windshield to certain death.
I knew from driver education training, from teaching driver education as a Forest Service ‘Safety Committee’ member, and from practice experience what to do next and how to handle an un-controlled vehicle; there was no time other than react as I was ingrained. I went to lie across the front seats and brace for whatever would be the unseen impact this fatefull night.
I did not – could not – see the events in the night-time dark. I do know what happened by the results. Maybe not seeing it as it happened was the better.
I do remember quite well being tumbled, but I did not know during that time that that tumbling was the roll-over.
I always wear my safety belt. The old model 1965 Mustang was built before the days of seat belts, there were none in my car.
My act to lie across the front seats saved my well-being, saved me from more serious injuries, saved my life. My injuries would have been catastrophic had I been sitting up-right:
- my spine could have been cracked and left me paralysed as paraplegic or quadraplegic,
- I could have been crushed and killed during the flip and roll-over.
The Mustang hit a mound of dirt about eight yards across, flipt up, rolled over, and crash-landed flat on the roof of the car. The smashed car then rolled twice and settled right-side-up on the shreds that were once tires and wheels. What I saw on TV shows or in the movies now happened to me in my real life.
Making my initial assessment of my injuries, I rose up as far as I could, as high as I could from my crouched position across the front seats within the confines of this flattened vehicle.
My eyeglasses came off during the tumble.
I tried peering from inside the car through what meager opening existed where what was once the windshield barely a few moments earlier. I observed two men approaching – each with lights and each talking to someone on their cellular telephones. One shined his light into my car and exclaimed, ‘There’s one dead inside here’ while I observed the other who waved his light toward a tree and stated, ‘I think I see a dead body in the tree’. I, meanwhile, shouted to either if they could hear me that the only occupant was me, that I am injured, and to please call rescue to get me out and take me to the emergency hospital.
The fire department, or whomever they were, came to my Mustang; I repeated to them that I was the only occupant, that I feel multiple injuries, that I lost my eyeglasses and can’t see too well. They manipulated the ‘jaws of life’ into place, peeled up the roof, and opened the driver’s side door to lift me out and set me on the stretcher. They wheeled me to the side of the road.
EMTs approached and began snipping off my clothes to expose my body’s nakedness to the cold air. I expected that it would be best to explain to the EMTs that I am Transsexual in case they did not comprehend what Inter-sex looks like. Bad decision, but I had no decision lying there totally exposed. I was shivering; I was pleading for them to cover me with a sheet or something. Instead, the EMTs began to gather, to take a look at this freak of nature, ‘Come here! Take a look at the tranny!’. Damn them all!
My dislocated right shoulder was in immense pain as it hung down to the side of the stretcher. I pled to the EMTs to restrain my arm; they refused. Was this how those EMTs treated this Transsexual?
Then came one EMT who stuck me with needles to do blood draws (when I returned to the scene a few weeks later, I found the scraps of the six needles that they used to stick it to me).
That fink of a Highway Patrol ‘Smokey’ accused me of drunk driving, drugged driving, sleeping at the wheel, anything and everything. I countered to him that I was hit from behind – twice – by a large vehicle. I told them that I was travelling within the posted 65 mph speed limit, that the other vehicle had to have been driving at excessive speed and the wrong lane when he hit me and fled the scene. ‘Smokey’ the fink ignored the words of this Transsexual lying there on the stretcher. He repeatedly accused me of being drunk and drugged. He told me that there was no other vehicle.
Para-medics flew me to the hospital via life-flight helicopter. ‘Smokey’ was there observing my treatment, or shall I say, my mal-treatment. The ER doctors did various scans of my body. I counted – the ER doctor stuck 12 staples in my head to hold it together without any anaesthesia; I can still feel that scar. I repeatedly reported to ER that I felt a bump on my chest and asked what it was, but they ignored my pleas; that ‘bump’ was my fractured clavicle that they refused to treat. The ER doctors made no effort to respond to my pleas to examine my right shoulder that had separated from the crash.
The ER team eventually transferred me to a recovery bed. I was too wound-up to sleep. I recall there was ‘Serpico’ on the TV. I watched that, then came the early Monday morning local news. Then the traffic report. I saw the remnants of my collision on live TV. I soon fell asleep – exhausted and overwhelmed.
I recall waking to see that ‘Smokey’ left at my bed-side a traffic ticket assigning full responsibility to me. What an outrage! I was subjected to a hit-and-run, my precious classic 1965 Ford Mustang was demolished, I lie hospitalised with innumerable injuries, I could have died. Yet that creep issued charges that included driving without lights, driving without insurance – all were bogus charges, the inaction of a lazy ‘Smokey’ who lacked decency to speak with me. He skipt out on me, that creep. Through all ‘Smokey’s’ efforts to accuse me of impaired driving he failed to list any such accusation – he could not – I was not drugged, drunk, impaired in any way; all those multiple blood draws proved my capability to drive. Certainly an impaired driver could never have handled a motor vehicle in the controlled manner as I when it shuddered upon impact, fish-tailed, and shot into the desert.
One nurse had no clue how to comprehend my ‘half-and-half’ intimate anatomy; she likely never previously saw Inter-sex. She brought a man’s urinal bottle to me for when I had to ‘go’. I chose to stumble to the privacy of the toilet instead.
Another nurse came to give a sponge bath to me. She gently cleaned off all that dirt and desert dust that covered me from the roll-over. Her kindness was one of the few bright spots of this experience.
I called my Uncle Artie who resided here to tell him what happened to me. I called my garage; I had no idea what would be the disposition of my car, but I had belongings that I needed to recover from it. Both men were very helpfull. My uncle collected a few items from my car – clothes so that I could get dressed – and drove me home.
I spent that first week in extreme pain. I ate tangerines from my tangerine tree; they tasted sweet, better than anything else.
Other injuries include spinal damage at three places – crushed disc material damaged my spinal cord leading to the lack of feeling throughout both legs down to my feet. Both my liver and gall bladder incurred severe injury.
I had to re-learn how to walk. I commented that my numbed legs made walking as if I were on stilts. I walked from one place to another keeping close to something that might let me grab if I fell. I walked along the wall so that I could fall against it. I refused to use a cane, walker, crutches, or wheelchair. I knew that I had to do it on my own if I expected to recover my ability to walk. I fell many times, but the frequency diminished through the years; I fell during the Summer this year, before that was perhaps 10 years ago when I injured my left hand and fingers bracing myself as I fell. Every so often I feel a weakness at my right knee as if it lets loose; I re-steady my balance and proceed without falling.
The pain at my head was so extreme that it hurt to comb my hair. After a few weeks of not combing it, I had to do something with the way it was matted at my scar. I chopt off sections of my hair. In humour, I told people that I call my style a ‘Crushed Mustang’ in regards to the way my classic Ford Mustang was crushed on the freeway.
The absence of feeling at my legs was not complete and it has diminished during these years.
I occasionally experience a hyper-sensation – I felt nerve impulses where there probably were none in the normal person; these sensations have been lessening. Sometimes it felt as if I were being either stabbed or hit with a jolt of electricity. I called them ‘nerve shots’. They occurred suddenly, without warning, instantaneously. There was no actual pain, but merely my hyper-active nerves sending messages that mimicked the sense pain.
One day the next April, I stubbed my little toe. I’m sure in reality that it was quite minor. But in my hyper state it felt total agony. I went to the clinic, they examined me, did an X-ray to determine any actual unseen injury, and re-confirmed that my toe was not seriously wounded but that it was my erratic sense of feeling.
I was watching football one Sunday afternoon the next November. I was munching on chips, olives, whatever. I began feeling pain at my lower right-side abdomen. Those pains persisted all day Monday.
I went to work the next day still in pain. I decided to be examined at the clinic after work. I left work at 5 pm, checked in, and was called by 5.30 pm. I would be examined by several physicians, have blood draws, do urine tests through the next few hours. The physician came to me after 11 pm and told me that I needed to have both my gall bladder and liver removed because of the damage from the collision.
My initial reaction was shock.
I had medical experience that told me that such surgery could be life-ending. I knew the consequences of liver transplant.
I repeated ‘No!’ to the doctor. I told him that would not consent to this drastic surgery – at least not now at this sudden notice. I asked him to provide more options to me and more time to think about all options. He asked me how well I could tolerate the continuing pain; I told him that I survived since Sunday, that I shall do what I can one more day as long as the pains did not worsen. The doctor excused himself to consult with others as I sat there alone to ponder my future with or without my organs.
He returned maybe 30 minutes later. He presented an ‘eat, do not eat’ paper that listed a variety of foods that were good to eat versus foods that caused damage to the liver and gall bladder. The essence of that list was to totally avoid salt, sugar, oils. That was easy – I never bought any of that in my adult life; my downfall was habituating into those ingredients when I purchased canned and processed foods rather than fresh foods. We discussed this list. I told the doctor that I shall follow his list to the point, that I shall return if the pains did not subside.
The pains did diminish.
I still have my liver and gall bladder and they are doing well.
I have been able to eat some prohibited foods during the intervening years. There was a time when I felt extremely nauseous at the scent of pizza; now I can tolerate it, but limit consuming pizza to rare occasions. There was a time when I became violently ill if I ate any cheese; now I use it sparingly.
I have done my best these many years to maintain the most of that list.
A few years later I heard a couple cracks as I squatted to sit on the floor one evening.
I felt nothing, I saw nothing.
I mentioned this event to co-workers the next day; they suggested that I go to the clinic to be examined.
The doctors X-rayed my foot and told me that I broke my big toe in two places. They asked me about the pain, they asked me if I needed anything for the pain. I told them that I feel absolutely nothing, that I need no medicine for pain because I have no pain.
I departed work one Friday feeling woozy.
I stopt at Goodwill on my way home looking for something on my shopping list. I passed a white wall and noticed black dots sprinkled into my vision. I looked into a mirror but did not see anything suspicious.
Uncertain, I went home, gathered some belongings, and went to the Emergency Room. I knew there was a possibility of severe injury or illness that required immediate attention.
ER admitted and examined me; they held me for observation over-night through Saturday morning. They checked me every hour or so. They discharged me Saturday with a follow-up exam at an eye specialist to check for any detachment or abnormality. That examination took an hour or so with no particular results other than to be mindfull of any increase in those black splotches or any pains.
Whatever it was must have been transient.
I was doing yard work in my backyard one afternoon (2013).
I came inside and sat on the floor to watch the evening news.
I noticed something at the heel of my right foot. I attempted to flick it off with my finger. It did not fall away.
I looked at it a bit closer, I was not certain what it was, I attempted to grasp it with my fingers, but it would not come out. I grabbed harder and out came some kind of carpentry or industrial staple that embedded at least one inch into my heel.
There we go again, another trip to the Urgent care clinic. I showed the staple to the medical personnel, again the questions asking me how I could not feel such a device, and I told them what happened. They X-rayed my foot to be certain there were no rusted remains inside my wound. They administered a tetanus shot and sent me home.
This lack of feeling is a problem. We need our sense of touch to know when we injure ourselves.
I am still in recovery from that cold December night.
Lemme tell you about ‘Smokey’ the fink.
I learned a few weeks later – mid-January 2000 – that he got smacked, rear-ended by a kid who was doped on drugs. ‘Smokey’ died. I never cried any tears or felt any sadness about him; I kinda felt that Karma came his way for the way he treated me and likely many others.
I learned later (November 2001?) that ‘Smokey’ and a whole host of police and local yokel court judges were running an insurance scam; the chief judge of the jurisdiction’s city supreme court was convicted of insurance fraud and sent to prison. Now Karma seemed more appropriate than just for my own selfishness.
I learned that this scam involved exactly what happened to me – that if there was a collision on the freeways, the police assigned in that jurisdiction would find the other driver at fault, not the commercial vehicle that caused that collision.
I learned that many motorists died in what they feloniously assigned as a one-car crash. The family of those people may never have known that their loved one was victimised by the very people we in our civilised society expect and demand to be truthfull.
I seriously considered visiting the kid who was serving prison time for killing dirty ‘Smokey’. I never did register or visit him. If by chance he is reading this, then I tell him ‘Thank you’ for bringing justice upon a dirty cop in precisely the way he deserved it.
Rough justice indeed!
Thank you, Dear Reader, for visiting this page.
Please return for the next installment.