A friend's daughter was recently in a car accident. It was relatively minor, and Emma was sure that she was perfectly fine, but dad and mom insisted that they take her to urgent care to be looked at.
It reminded me of an event in my life.
When Paul and I were first married — we were just back from our honeymoon for a few weeks — the car I was driving, with me in it of course, was hit by a pickup truck that ran a red light.
It was 100% percent the other driver's fault. Not only did I have a green light, but it was a blind intersection from my direction. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it.
There were lots of witnesses. One of them was so upset by what he saw happen to me that he came running, first over to me to see if I needed help, then over to the person who’d hit me; I seriously thought he was going to deck him. It was that obvious how in the wrong the other driver was.
We had a friend staying with us that weekend, so when Paul came to get me, I insisted on going home. Fortunately, our friend Bill had more sense than I did, and convinced me to go to the emergency room to be examined.
At the time of the accident, I remembered what I learned from the article I’d read about what not to say, so I was careful NOT to say, “I’m okay.” I told the police and everyone within earshot that I wasn't okay. But not going to the ER would have been a really big mistake, so thanks Bill, and lesson learned.
After making sure that nothing was broken and that I wasn’t concussed, the doctor diagnosed me with suffering from spinlash — whiplash that you get when you're hit at an angle and spun forcibly around. The instructions for recovery were time and rest.
All of us thought I would be fine, and I thought I was for awhile. Gradually, however, I started having headaches. I was a person who rarely ever had a headache, but now I was getting one every day. Friends could tell that something was amiss and started asking me what was wrong. I didn’t realize that it showed on my face: I constantly wore a literally pained expression.
They weren’t your average everyday headaches, either. They would start with relatively mild pain in my jaw or cheekbone but spread within half an hour over my whole face and head until it was unbearable. The headaches were so bad that I began to understand why people would do themselves in just to make the pain stop.
Naturally, I sought treatment: doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, acupuncture — and I’m needle-phobic, so that shows you how desperate I was. After months and months of constant pain, finally I found an upper cranial and cervical specialist who, through exactly-positioned x-rays, found the source: the impact and the spinlash had misaligned the atlas joint at the base of my skull in two directions. Over the course of some weeks of treatment, she was able to get my atlas joint back in its proper place, and the headaches stopped.
We sued the person who’d run the red light and caused me so much suffering, and we won. We deserved to — and we needed to — because all that medical treatment over the course of many months added up to being a lot of money.
So I’m reminding you:
- Don’t say you’re okay when something happens because you probably don’t really know whether you are or not. You’re not capable of knowing at that moment.
- Get checked out by a medical professional whether you think you need to or not. You’re not qualified to assess yourself.
- Consult an experienced and qualified attorney if your injuries and the resulting debilitation weren’t your fault.
- If you have unusual-for-you symptoms, keep notes about when, where and how much you hurt for how long. I wasn’t smart enough to know to do this, but my attorney was and advised me.