Brett Mason's
Brett Bugle is the personal homepage of James Brett Mason of Lexington KY USA
Lexington KY USA




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On December 26th, 2000, at about 20h30, I was near Olive Hill KY on I-64 East (heading to Charleston WV). The road was frozen with snow flurries swirling across it. Right after I passed a guy, my 1995 Mazda Protégé hit a slick spot in the road, started spinning, bumped along the ground behind the guardrail, and flipped over. Fortunately, I was not wearing my seatbelt, and as a consequence, I am still alive. If it hadn't been for one stupid little compressed vertebra, I would have been able to walk away from the accident.

The thirty-second thrill

When you first lose control of a car, what are you supposed to do? I skipped that class in college. My reaction was to relax and enjoy the backward, bumpy ride, chanting, "this is how it ends. This is how it ends."

But when the car stopped and I opened my eyes, I found myself on the inside of the roof (on the passenger side), staring at an impressively smashed windshield. Above my head was a big chunk of snowy dirt where the driver's side used to be. My first thought was, "how am I supposed to get to Charleston?"

Zut alors!

The guy I had just passed was kind enough to stop and help me. After his slight struggle opening an upside-down passenger-side door, he asked me what we should do. I asked him to find my cell phone and call 911.

Funny thing: this guy was not familiar enough with cell phone technology to accomplish such a simple task. He handed me the phone, and I had to hit "SEND" for him.

While the witness and I were waiting for help to arrive, he did me another favor and grabbed my heavy coat out of the back seat and put it on me. Then I called Heather's answering machine and left her a message. Then I called my parents, just to say hi. Because my Dad's a nurse, he was able to guide me through some simple tests and make a quick diagnosis that I would be fine.

Where's my wallet?

When the cop showed up, he wanted my license. I had my wallet in my inside jacket pocket and was able to hand it to him. When he gave my wallet back, though, I put it in my outside jacket pocket — big mistake. It fell out somewhere between the wreck and the ambulance, and I haven't seen it since.

Want a quick 80 dollars? Find my wallet in a weedy crash site that's about 500 feet before Exit 161.

I found it three weeks later at the crash site, floating in a small stream of rainwater!

The chauffeurs

Since I had just mangled my Mazda, I had no choice but to let other people drive me around for the next few days. The first lucky person to do this was the ambulance driver. He drove me to the nearest hospital (in Morehead KY, 25 miles west) while his buddy watched me try to escape from the backboard and restraints. Alas, I was stuck.

The next lucky person to drive me around was the nursing assistant who wheeled me into the X-ray room. Doing the X-ray thing was not too uncomfortable, and we all laughed when we saw that the paramedics had caught a Tennessee roadmap in the straps of my backboard. At that point I realized that laughing was a physically painful experience for people with back problems.

Diagnosis and painkillers

The X-rays showed that I had a compressed vertebra in my lower back. What does that mean? I think it means I won a free night's supply of Morphine. The doctor (and my dad, who talked to the doctor on my cell phone) said I would not be able to manage the pain on my own, so I should spend the night. Fine by me! Free meals, free cable TV, free blood-pressure checks every 4 hours, and lots and lots of Morphine administered intravenously. Bonus prize: free CAT scans!

The helpful Heather

For the next 48 hours, my beloved Heather ran all sorts of errands for me. There were too many errands to remember, but some examples are that she brought me my stuff from the wrecked car, she kept my boss informed, and she drove me back to Lexington (which is 1 hour away from Morehead by car).

On Friday le 29 Dècembre she drove me to Harrodsburg, where I bought a new car. Suddenly, my self-sufficiency came back.

Just as suddenly, my need for a serious income came back. My Mazda was paid in full, so I had cancelled the collision portion of my car insurance in order to keep the premiums as low as possible. But no collision insurance means no jackpot check for that totalled Protégé, no down payment on a new car. Crap!

Meaning of life

Has this accident changed my life? Oh, yeah. I consider myself dead now. If I had been wearing my seatbelt, which I normally do on long trips, I am pretty damn sure I'd be dead or mostly dead. So every day that follows 2000/12/26 is a completely meaningless day, a day I should have been spending with the worms. Nothing matters to me as much as it used to.

Nonetheless, I don't mind doing the same things I always did: making a living and flirting with women. To the casual observer, it will seem as if nothing happened at all.

Brett Mason

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