I should be dead right now. Like, legitimate… I. SHOULD. BE. DEAD…
So…I’ve had this tooth that the filling had chipped, which ended up breaking back in December. December, which was possibly the most chaotic month I’ve ever had. There was so much going on with my final exams, the twins’ 1st birthday, my mom finishing her chemo and having her surgery, and of course, the Holidays. My sister and brother-in-law ending up closing on their house right after Christmas and moved into their new place that first week in January. On top of all that, I had to prepare for my own move down here to Nashville. As you can probably image, it was absolute chaos. With all that going on, a broken tooth wasn’t exactly at the top of my list of priorities, so I put off going to the dentist until the week before I was leaving NY–admittedly in part because like most people, I hate going to the dentist. I mean like really, really HATE it…and have since childhood. I had to go to the dentist a lot when I was little because for some reason, my baby teeth never fell out on their own, like they usually do. I tried everything. I’d try to wiggle the loose tooth with my tongue or pull it out with my fingers, but it would never work. I even remember once trying the whole string technique…the one where you wrap the string around the loose tooth and someone pulls on the other end of the string really hard. That one. But instead of someone pulling on the string, my brother tied the other end of the string to our front door handle and slammed it really hard. Not surprising, it didn’t work…and that was the first and last time I foolishly tried that. So, I’d have to go to the dentist and have the teeth pulled. On top of that, I also had a few too many teeth and a really small jaw, so there was a lot of crowding. Thanks to a sadistic cousin of mine when I was about 3 or 4 years old who decided to push me face-first off the concrete steps in back of our old house, my front teeth were crooked…which meant having to get braces. Before I got them though, the dentist had to pull several teeth so there was enough room. That was definitely not a pleasant experience. And neither was having to wear braces. Braces suck. You have to go to the orthodontist every few weeks to have them tightened–which hurts and is really uncomfortable. Sometimes they’d tighten them too much and the metal would dig into my gums, making them bleed. Again–not fun. Keeping all that in mind, I’m sure you can understand my dislike of going to the dentist. Not to mention the unpleasant experience when I had to have my wisdom teeth out a few years ago when I came out of the anesthesia mid-procedure and freaked because I could feel everything. Because of that, the oral surgeon opted to finish the one side and have surgery a few weeks later to take care of the other side. That really sucked.
Anyhow, back to the present. So, I went to the dentist before I left and after x-rays, the dentist said I’d have to have an oral surgeon extract the tooth–something about the roots being too close to the sinus cavity, or something like that–because he wasn’t equipped or certified for an emergency in case he perforated the sinus cavity or whatever. Since I leaving in a week, I was pretty much screwed. The oral surgeon couldn’t fit me in until weeks later and I was leaving. So basically, I’ve just been using braces wax to cover the broken, sharp part of the tooth. I haven’t had a chance to shop around for dental insurance down here, so I was stuck with the wax until I did. Then yesterday, I saw a tweet on The Tennessean on how this dental practice down here was offering a free dental day today for anyone living in Nashville. They were doing fillings, crowns, and extractions–completely FREE. So, I figured what the hell and decided to check it out. It was one of those first-come first-serve things and started at 7am, so I got up and left early, heading to one of the locations in Franklin, which was about a half hour drive. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperative–and hasn’t been for a week now–and it was raining pretty hard. The rain, mixed with all the ice we still haven’t gotten rid of because of these sucky below-freezing temperatures, made for some pretty slick road/driving conditions, the Interstates especially. Since I had to take 65 to get to Franklin–one of the main interstates down here btw–I had no choice but to deal with the road conditions. The speed limit is 70 the majority of the way, but most people–myself included–were being cautious and going well under that.
I was doing perfectly fine all the way until about 5 miles from Franklin…and then I wasn’t. One second I was driving along as usual, and a split-second later, I was hydroplaning and spinning completely out of control at 50+ mph. I literally have a bruises on my neck and collarbone from the seat belt. Talk about whiplash–it was intense. I mean, I’ve gone off the road before, even stuck in a few ditches once or twice…but all of those incidents combined completely pale in comparison to what happened this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever been so completely terrified as I was this morning in that moment. I know they say you’re supposed to not panic and turn into the skid…but that was the last thing on my mind as I was 360’ing at 50 some odd miles per hour, heading right for the concrete wall median. I managed to somehow turn the wheel to the right, literally just inches from slamming into the median. Ironically, if I had crashed, hitting the median probably would have been far better than the alternative. Turning the wheel the other way was probably the worst thing I could have done because while, granted I didn’t hit the median, 360’ing in the other direction across 4 lanes of oncoming traffic was even worse. It was probably over in like 20 seconds, but it was the longest 20 seconds of my life. It felt like it was all happening in slow motion at the time. There I was literally whipping around in circles, inches and seconds from probably flipping the car entirely because I wasn’t thinking and was turning the wheel more sharply than I probably should have been…right in the path of 3 oncoming tractor trailers. God, I don’t think I’ll be getting that image out of my mind any time soon. I’ve heard how your life is supposed to flash in front of your eyes in those kinds of moments…but all I saw were those 3 semis heading right towards me. It was like a scene right out of some Hollywood movie…only, it was real. Terrifyingly so. I honestly believed I was going to die. They couldn’t have been more than 100 yards away, although it was probably closer to less than that. I knew that even if they slammed on their brakes right then, it would have been too late. And with the roads as wet as they were, chances are if they had slammed on their brakes, they’d have jackknifed. It was going to go one of two ways…either they’d hit me head on without stopping, or they’d hit me and there’d be a pileup. Either way, the odds were most definitely NOT in my favor. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that 20,000+ pounds of a semi truck going 50 mph–if not more–is no match for a little Jeep Cherokee SUV like mine. There’s no way I was going to walk away from that. No way.
In that moment, I froze. I was too scared to even scream…that’s how scared I was. So I closed my eyes and braced myself for the impact, hoping it’d be over quick. By some miracle–I don’t know what else to call it–the Jeep came to a stop partly off the shoulder of the side of the road. Technically, the front of my car was still a foot or so sitting in the lane. Seconds later, the tractor trailers whipped past me, the one in the lane closest to me having to swerve a little, avoiding my bumper by mere inches. The whole vehicle shook with the force of their speed as they went by–that’s how close it was. I literally lost it right then. Shaking. Hyperventilating. The whole deal. Twice I had to try and shut off the ignition and turn it back on so I could try and get myself completely off the road because my hands were shaking so badly. I still had my headphones on for the handsfree from when I’d called my grams when I’d first started out, so I managed to call her back…totally freaking out. She had to give my mother the phone because I was crying too hard for her to make out what I was saying. She calmed down once she found out I hadn’t actually gotten hit, but it took me a half hour sitting on the side of the road to pull myself together to get back on the road and continue the rest of the way. My nerves were totally shot to hell. Then when I finally got to the actual place, their parking lot was completely covered in a sheet of ice. Completely. And there was a downhill slope to it, so maneuvering to a parking space without sliding was a challenge.
The good news is that the dentist was amazing and so nice. They did a quick x-ray and prepped me for the extraction. THAT wasn’t exactly pleasant, to say the least. It took 4 shots of Novocaine in my gum and one to the roof of my mouth, and then 45 minutes of pulling and sectioning the tooth before they were finally able to get it out. I’ve never had an extraction take that long. By the time it was over, I was pretty much drained…physically and mentally, both from the extraction and my close call on the way there. All I wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed. The drive back took twice as long as it should because I was too freaked to drive any faster than 40 mph. It was probably just my nerves overreacting but I kept feeling like the back end was slipping and each time I thought for sure I was going to spin out again. I was a nervous wreck every time a semi passed me or got anywhere close to me. Once I finally got back to the apartment, I downed some ibuprofen and crawled into bed, passing out for most of the day.
So yeah, I should be dead right now. I don’t know how I’m not. I don’t know if it was luck or what…but I’m grateful to have walked away with nothing but shot nerves and some nasty bruising on my neck and collarbone from the seat belt. It could have been much, much worse. One thing’s for sure, I take back saying that I’m going to love winters in the South. I’d like to redact that statement…and put it on record that I now think the opposite. This is Tennessee. Mother Nature needs to get her @$$ in gear and do something about this backwards weather. This is the South…we get the sunshine. New York can keep the snow and ice. Just sayin.
‘Til next time.