Jul 27, 2015

5 years ago today, I almost died

We had been away for 10 days in our RV, visiting friends in the Vancouver area as well as in Point Roberts, USA,  just across the road from Tsawwassen where we used to live.  I had just started my blog in May of 2010 and that vacation is well recorded.  You can go back in my achieves ( to the right, just click on 2010 and then July ) if you want to follow up.  We had a marvelous time and returned home about 6PM on July 26th.  It was so very very hot that we decided to just put our RV on the lake lot and stay there for the night and not bother unloading.  At that time where we live now was just an RV site which we owned and we lived across the road in a house similar ( not as grand ) as this.

The next morning, July 27th, I remembered that I absolutely had to do an important bank transaction. So off I went in my car to Lake Country  and did what I had to do.  Meanwhile Colin had received a call from a major client who needed to see him in Kelowna asap and so off he went.  The girls stayed in the RV.  Our parrot, Cheikka, at the time was still at the bird sitters.  We had traveled with her before but as we were crossing into the USA we could not take her with us as we did not have papers for her.  She was a rescue from Acapulco, an illegal Mexican without papers.

Our lives changed in an instant!

I was turning left off the major highway onto the road that leads to our community.  Because of the high number of accidents at that intersection I never ever turn unless absolutely safe to do so.  I waited until the light turned amber and I looked into the eyes of the driver of the car stopping in the faster/passing lane as he slowed and stopped, it was an orange sedan as I recall.  I also made eye contact with the fellow in the curb lane ( in a green car ) and then I turned very slowly and carefully.

I was T-boned by a vehicle from California who used the turning lane onto the road that led to our home as a straight forward lane.  It was traveling at top highway speed ( 80 – 100 kmph ) and went through the light.  That car not only hit me but sent my car up in the air.  My Suzuki X-90 spun 180 degrees and flew straight between two power poles so close together that later it was determined that the distance between the two poles was less then the length of my car.  I was very lucky indeed.  Everyone was surprised I survived.

It was a very small car.  My first new car in my life.

It was a very small car. The first new car in my life. It was a surprise 9th anniversary gift in 1996 from Colin.  If I had gone between those power poles sideways I would not have made it.  Thank goodness it was a sturdy car.

I even landed with the wheels on the ground.  That is Colin in the dark blue shirt.

I even landed with the wheels on the ground facing the opposite direction I had been traveling.  That is Colin in the dark blue shirt.   Yes, I landed under a personal injury lawyer sign.  Note the 2 light gray posts on the left….those are what I flew through.  Photo by Robert.

I believe I did die, for I saw a tunnel of white and could not hear nor sense anything.  Suddenly I came to as Colin was screaming my name at the top of his lungs.  It turns out that he witnessed me flying through the air at the intersection.  He was waiting to turn onto the highway to go into Kelowna.  I believe he brought me back.  I have never ever heard such terror in his voice.  He was  screaming my name over and over.   Can you imagine the emotional trauma he suffered?

I came back from where ever I had gone and very calmly directed what came next.  Of course the firetrucks, paramedics and ambulances came.  My crash shut down the highway for a few hours.  Before I forget….there is now a set of lights with a left turn only signal at that intersection.  Anyway I was able to take off my diamond earrings and my watch and give them to one of the firemen that we knew for safe keeping.  I asked Colin to use his cell to call Robert to come down the road in his golf cart ( there was not way a car could get through ) and to bring his camera to record the scene.  When Robert got there, we gave him Colin’s car keys as well as the RV keys so he could care for the girls.  Colin traveled to the hospital with me in the ambulance.

I actually freaked out in the ambulance as they tied me down and then closed the door with one guy inside.  I am claustraphobic and a

I actually freaked out in the ambulance as they tied me down and then closed the door with one guy inside. He refused to untie me.  I am claustrophobic and I proceeded to scream.  Colin came running to my rescue.  They untied me as long as I agreed to not move my neck.  Photo by Robert.

I won’t go on with all the details but suffice to say that I did get home late that night ( thanks to Robert picking us up ) and we ended up living in the RV for several months. It was much easier for me to get around because it was so compact. The ER doctors could not believe that I survived with so little injury but I was still in an incredible amount of pain and could barely move.  My car was totaled.  The next few days were a blur of police, insurance and legal phone calls.  It was a complicated situation as it was considered an international incident.  The police are so busy here in the summer that they did not do an investigation and simply assigned both parties 50/50 blame.  I don’t recall being asked any questions whatsoever as to what had occurred.

Lucky to have survived.  Photo by Robert.

Lucky to have survived. Photo by Robert.

I did write a blog post, a few in fact, as to what had transpired complete with photos.  Once I retained a personal injury lawyer I was told that I had to take down my posts.  He insisted and if I didn’t he would not work on my behalf.  I was not allowed to discuss this or any details with anyone.  I had planned to show you those posts once this was all over but somehow they became lost in the computer.  My wonderful father who had printed out all my posts had printed them out and I recently found them.  It is too much for me to recreate them for you and also traumatic for me.  However after writing this post I did read what I had posted 5 years ago and my words are almost exact.  I even choose the same photos.

The legal stuff came to an end last September and I am now allowed to tell you only part of the story.  Why would I want to you might ask?  Well over the past few years you know that I had a hip replaced in 2013.  What you don’t know is that that in fact it was my second total hip replacement.  My first hip was replaced in 2011.  If you go back and read my posts from those years you will read that I could not walk the beach while in Mexico.  Many of my posts were worded “from my garden I see” or “from our wonderful site here on the beach I see”.  My friends on the Isla saw how much pain I was in for years and years and how I walked hunched over like a gorilla.  In fact this last winter was the first time I could really walk without pain and be free to enjoy life.  Everyday here, where we live, people ask how I am feeling.  I am wonderful now.

But I felt bad not being able to tell my story. I think you all know by now that I don’t hold much of anything back.  I mean who else posts a photo of getting acupuncture needles inserted in one’s butt 😳

It has been a horrible time for us.  One of our first losses was our wonderful girl, Cheikka.  That is why we were called the 5C’s.  She is the one sitting on my shoulder in my blog photo on the right.  I never changed it to the 4C’s.  She is always on our minds.  Colin could not care for me as well as the dogs and the parrot, it was too much work.  For many many weeks I was unable to do anything.  She had already been separated from us for 10 days and the sitter was willing to take her permanently.  ( I told a fib in that post as to why we gave her away. ) She was going to look after Cheikka while we wintered in Mexico so she was going to be a part time Mom anyway.  The deal Colin made was that if she no longer wanted the bird she was to contact us first.  She did not and has since given Cheikka away and we have no idea where Cheikka is today.

Cheikka and Colin's Mom.  Photo by me... a fluke.

Cheikka and Colin’s Mom. Photo by me…..a fluke.  Look at the color in her wings.

Colin has made huge sacrifices over the last 5 years, to care for me not only after the accident but after the replacement of both of my hips.  When we traveled he did all the work and most of the cooking as I could not stand in the kitchen for long.  Here at home I was able to sit on a stool to prep meals.  Our business has suffered.  Somehow in the middle of that we designed and built this home on the lake.  Now you  understand why it means so much to me.  I really try and live each day to the fullest.  That is also why I drink wine.  I have been criticized by blog readers because they think I drink too much or talk about it too much.  Well folks, wine is what kept me going.  I chose wine over drugs for the pain and the stress.  Even after both of my surgeries I was off morphine within a week of being home.  And of course both my parents also died in the last few years.  We often discuss how different our lives might have been had the accident not happened.

We rescued her and loved her so very much.  We only had her 2.5 years and in that time she was royally spoiled.

We rescued her and loved her so very much. We only had her 2.5 years and in that time she was royally spoiled.  She was a Mexican Red Head Amazon aka as a Red Crowned Amazon.

I also wondered why some of you never wondered why all of a sudden Colin was off to Palm Springs to buy me a new car.  He felt so bad for me that he scoured the internet at night while I slept to find a very special car for me.  It was his way of making things right.  One that would protect me and would be unique as was the X-90.  The Suzuki was built like a tank which is what protected me and the BMW is made of steel, has roll bars and several crumple features so I will remain protected.  I of course longed to post what was happening but was not allowed to. It was very difficult for me as I am extremely open and honest. But all of sudden I had a new to me car.  I hated the deception of what I was only allowed to post.  The funny thing is, is that with my hip problems I had a heck of a time getting into that car until this year 😕

Now I am allowed to finally reveal my last five years within certain perameters.  So if certain things did not mesh in my writing, now you know the reason.

Colin took this at the junk yard when he went to collect my things.

Colin took this at the junk yard when he went to collect my things.

So somehow life presented me with a different road to follow five years ago.  I am a different person now and who knows what the future might have been.  It is what it is now and I am who I am now.   I do know that life is so much more precious to me and that I love much more intensely ( the girls and friends included ).  I am much more open and honest which many do not like because I am forthright.  Life is short and I am living it the best way I see for me.  I will not be dishonest and say something is wonderful if I disagree.  I do tend to be too straightforward and I am working on it.  Colin tells me that I am brutally honest.  But really and truly, life is short.  I have to do what is right for me.  Diplomacy is important, but sometimes reality has to over ride it in order to be true to yourself.

Carmeh & Caeli loved Cheikka.

Carmeh & Caeli loved Cheikka.

This is the first time in five years that I am normal………





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48 responses so far

48 Responses to “5 years ago today, I almost died”

  1. Colleen says:

    Wow, that was horrendous Contessa. So glad you are finally doing so much better.

  2. Kay says:

    I so feel your pain as well. An accident took my left arm, and shoulder. Left me looking like a stroke attacked me. No longer could I do much as the pain was unbearable. I fought the pain mentally to keep from being forced fed the drugs. I had to keep my mind as clear as possible to protect my young son. People did not understand why I just didn’t take the drugs. Life is no fun when one is drugged to the max. I didn’t give up. It took a couple of years before I would slide under a steering wheel again. Took about the same before I would ride on a freeway. To this day, I will not follow a Semi with an open trailer full of stuff. In fact, I will pass as far to the left as possibly safe or pull off and wait 15 minutes to allow the semi to get several miles ahead of me. I suffer daily from neck, and back and shoulder pain. I fought even the Mayo when they wanted to remove the nerves and install a morphine pump to control the pain. I fought hard. One morning when I woke up, I trotted my way to the kitchen for my first meal of the day… 14 different pills non were pain pills. I stood there looking at my plate and said to myself “This is life, hardly worth living anymore. I will no longer take this stuff and will suffer until God heals me.” Today, I still deal with pain, but I am drug free and I can write. Not as much as I used, not without discomfort, but I can write. I will not buy or ride in a small car anymore. My beloved GEO Metro was totaled, and I was not driving, I was the passenger. Forcing myself to endure the pain made me stronger as a person. A lot of trust died the day of the accident, and making certain one is coherent at all times possible is how I live today. When you take drugs to kill the pain, someone can move forward to deem you needy and take control of your life in ways unsuitable for what you would choose. I totally understand your post. I too, cannot talk about the what happened, who did what, of when, as it is a sealed settlement for life. As for wine drinking, NO ONE has the right to judge. It is NONE of their business, period. That is the problem with this society. Too many move into another person’s life and try to dictate how another should live. My Motto: Until one walks, sleeps, breathes, and lives in my shoes and panties…. they have ZERO RIGHT to condemn or speak about me, my life, condition, or choices.

    You continue on, you’re doing wonderful. I love you blog, and how you love your world. Be true to yourself. That is what matters and the hell with those who condemn you. They are not your keeper. Bless you and Colin and the girls. Consider making a site for the missing bird….

    • Contessa says:

      Oh Kay, my heart breaks for you. You have have been through so much and have been so very very brave, yet you comfort me. I am so glad you survived and overcame what you did for your son and for yourself.

      I always pause at that intersection to turn left and if it is not absolutely clear I don’t turn, even on the amber. I don’t care about the guy behind me hitting his horn. It is my life. For the first few years I had to close my eyes when Colin drove and made that turn as I would get heart palpitations. I so understand what you are saying about how you drive now. I really only started enjoying my car this last year but with caution. I understand what you say about getting a small car. Can you believe that someone suggested I get a Smart Car as a replacement???? Heck I couldn’t even use our golf cart for many months. When Colin came back from the US with the BMW I refused to get in it, never mind drive it for a long while.

      I am sorry that you still have pain but you have fought a very brave battle. I could ditch the drugs but needed the wine to calm me and decrease my pain. Fortunately I don’t NEED to take the wine anymore. It is a drug in it’s own way but it does not control me. I like to joke and say it is a natural product.

      Thank you for your support and for being a continued reader of this blog. Being true to myself is of utmost importance to me and I will no longer waste even a moment of my life to to something I don’t want to do nor put up with someone else taking advantage of me. As I said in the post “Life is short”. I so admire you and most especially for taking the time to write your comment. I know it was not easy and for that and what you have done to survive, you are my hero.

      As to Cheikka, we have let her go. As we still travel to Mexico it is impossible to cross two international borders with a parrot. One day we will get another bird, likely when the girls are gone.

      Stay strong my friend.

  3. AJ says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure writing brings up memories that are hard. So glad you are getting back to a normal life and I enjoy reading your blog. Thank you…

    • contessa says:

      You are most welcome AJ. Yes it was difficult to write but I felt compelled to share my story. I have been thinking about it since last fall and with my Father being ill and my being there for a few months it just fell by the wayside. Today seemed the right day to post about it. I am so glad that you enjoy the blog. Thank you for commenting.

  4. I remember those posts glad that tings have worked out and tyou are feeling much better now.
    You are a lucky woman.

    • contessa says:

      Yes those posts were just up for a very few days. Many of my readers did not know me then as I had just started my blog.

      If memory serves me correctly I had just met you the previous winter when you traveled to the Isla. My accident happened just a few short months later.

  5. Rae says:

    Isn’t memory a funny thing? That little detail about remembering the orange car says so much about how that moment was firmly implanted in your brain. It wasn’t your time… I firmly believe that we have a time. I should have died that day that I lost the brakes on the motorhome coming into Pemberton on the Sea to Sky Highway and I didn’t. Like you, I remember every frame of that event with shattering clarity and it has shaped every moment of my life since. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt. I marvel that you were able to bounce back as well as you have. It took a long time, but your body healed. I’m very glad for you that it has and that you will very likely be able to enjoy this coming winter on Isla even more than the ones in the past.

    I’m glad that you were finally able to share that post. What a relief it must have been.

    Sending hugs and a virtual glass of your favourite wine.

    • contessa says:

      I will never ever forget making eye contact with the guy in the orange car. Yes I believe that we do have a time….meanwhile every incident we experience makes us a stronger person, such as you and Kay who commented earlier.

      I am so looking forward to walking the beach on the Isla and just enjoying being alive. Thanks for the virtual glass of vino 🙂

  6. Shelagh says:

    Cheers! You rock on.

  7. chris says:

    I’m glad you’re telling the story for the simple reason that you are here to tell it. If not, I would have never met you and Colin. I’m glad we did because were friends and that means a lot. Colin is one special guy. Big hugs to both of you.

  8. Quite the time you’ve had. Thank you for sharing it with us. You certainly have had to battle through a tough time.

  9. Sandy says:

    Your openness and honesty are two of the many reasons you have so many faithful followers of your blog. Thank you for sharing and please continue to do so. Sandy M

    • contessa says:

      Sandy, I so appreciate your comment. I strive to be open and honest and I will admit it gets me into trouble sometimes but it is who I am.

  10. Shelagh says:

    Just over 16 years ago after I had surgery I jumped out of bed to holler at my youngest just leaving with the car and fell flat on my face. After a moment and trying to sort myself out I noticed my thigh was huge and purple. A little voice yelled blood clot so I called Peter and asked him to call the hospital while I called my doctor. Yep and they said get to hospital asap and call an ambulance enroute if my breathing changed!!

    We arrived at Surrey hospital and they were in super overdrive to deal with me, I was ok but poor Peter went home at the end of the day and googled everything. I could lose my leg etc, die good chance, me I complained about the food!!! There were twists and turns along the way but I made it out of there with both legs still attached. A couple of years ago in your home town I broke my leg on a Saturday, by Monday I had yet another huge blood clot, survived again.

    Contessa, it is not our time to go and drinking the vino is keeping everything flowing nicely!
    We are the lucky ones.

    • contessa says:

      Oh Shelagh what a horrible experience you had back then. I had to laugh at you complaining about the food in hospital while Peter was stressing about it all back home. It was not an easy time you shared but now you can look back and marvel at your survival and how far you have come together.

      We are the lucky ones. Cheers to you 🙂

  11. Sandie says:

    Thank you for sharing that very painful story with us. Sometimes all we can do is take one day at a time and realize that life is short and we need to be honest to ourselves. Bless you.

    • contessa says:

      Thank you Sandie. I appreciate your comment. Yes take one day at a time and live that day to the fullest. You never know about tomorrow.

  12. Peter says:

    Niente vino, niente vida!
    Italian proverb.

  13. Croft says:

    Well, this certainly fills in a bunch of the blanks. All of us have had these life shaping experiences although most of us thankfully not as dramatic an experience as yours! We survive them and carry on, adding each experience both good and bad to form the sum total of who we are,

    I am happy this is finally coming to a close for you and that you are finally able to share some of it with your friends.

    • contessa says:

      Thank you Croft for your thoughts. I really appreciate them. I agree we all have life shaping experiences in a variety of different forms. Now you understand why I think the way I do sometimes 🙂

  14. Dolores tanner says:

    Oh, my goodness…. that made me cry. What an ordeal for both of you to have to go thru!!! So very glad you made it thru and are so very much better now. So contrite, but life does manage to go on, we do the best we can. Shows that one can be so very careful and diligent and still things change in an instant. Live life to the fullest.. the restorative powers of wine 🙂
    Take Care and God Bless

    • Contessa says:

      Sorry, I didn’t want you to cry just to know what had happened. Yes life goes on and I am very happy to still be in it. Thanks for thoughts Dolores.

  15. Sharon says:

    You are a blessed lady. May you now feel relief as your story has been told. We all know you so personally now. I have been trying to catch up on your blog from the beginning. You could write a novel on all your adventures–even your daily life isn’t boring. I’ve just finished where you built your new home on the beach–all the stress of the trades coming in and having to be there to supervise. You truly are a strong person. Take care and be true yourself. You have a super man in your life. Sharon

    • contessa says:

      You are right Sharon, I do feel a sense of relief at having it all out in the open. If you are going back to the beginning and reading it all you certainly do know who I am. That time of building this house was when I was in the worse pain ever since the accident. I could not/would not stop doing things and directing and supervising. It was between the first and second hip replacement. It was the most exhausted and worn out I have ever been in my life. You are right, even our day to day lives are not boring. I have friends who comment on that 🙂 Thank you for being such an ardent blog reader and my supporter. Hugs to you.

  16. Well you certainly have been through the mill….and like they say “ours is not to reason why”, but I’m happy for you, Surviving to tell the tale is a good thing. Bottoms up in celebration. …

    • contessa says:

      You are right Leslie, surviving is a good thing. I just wished that I had had more energy over the past few years to just do stuff. Cheers.

  17. Teri says:

    I’m so glad you were finally able to tell the whole story, but I am even more happy that you are still here. Personally I think you are one tough lady!

    • contessa says:

      So am I, you have no idea who much it bothered me to not be open about everything. Little things about why we didn’t kayak or canoe over the last few years. Thanks for your comment and support Teri, I really appreciate it.

  18. Ruth McIntyre says:

    You deserve every glass of wine you consume and that is better than drugs which you can easily become addicted to. It’s a true miracle you survived that accident. Your guardian angel was with you!!!

  19. Connie in DE says:

    Oh my goodness – so glad you made it through all of that – thanks for sharing your story!!!

  20. Upriverdavid says:

    Enjoy a glass of wine or more whenever you want…You should see some of the former forms of transport I’ve survived..And..it was never my doings..other than just driving down the road or flying through the air.
    Keep on writing and sharing..I enjoy reading your stories,
    Take Care,

    • contessa says:

      Thank you Upriverdavid. We are who we are because of what we have experienced over the years. I’m glad you enjoy my blog.

  21. Barbara says:

    Bless your sweet heart. Colin’s too. My word. You owe no one an explanation for anything you do – so to heck with those who are critical. Your honesty and authenticity is one reason I love your writing and how you live your life. You were spared for a reason no doubt about it. I’ve always believed that in every moment, in everything we do, we teach How To Be or How Not To Be. You my dear are a gorgeous example to all of How To Be. Rock on. I admire the heck out of you.

  22. Janet A says:

    One moment in time, a life forever changed. Nothing can bring back good health and lost opportunities.
    Agree, a catastrophic event forever changed your life and how you view and live it.
    Think you are doing a great job living the life you have chosen.

  23. Kelly says:

    Thank you for writing about this 5 year journey…. A moment in time can change so many things.
    You have done well to rebuild and work through so many issues.
    Kudos to you Contessa..

  24. Wow. what a story. I am so sorry you had to go through all that but very glad you are finally living life walking normal!

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