Friday, July 26, 2013

I Can Drive Again!

As some of you may or may not know, I had an accident in my van on April eleventh. I was going up the freeway following at a safe distance when I started to see the brake lights go on in cars in front of me. I started to slow down, and then all of a sudden the car in front of me came to an abrupt stop. I tried to stop to avoid hitting him, but my brakes just would not let me stop in time. So, I swerved off the freeway only to find a small car stopped who had run out of gas.
I could not stop and hit him squarely in the back. My airbags deployed and the front end of my van was destroyed. There was a light mist falling and I talked to the Minnesota State Trooper who asked me what happened. After I gave him my account of the accident, the paramedics were there and managed to get my chair unlocked and pulled me back away from the driver’s area.

I had a bad gash on my right knee from the hand control mechanism underneath the steering column. Needless to say, I did not feel it; but there was a nice sized pool of blood on the floor right below where my knee had been. They slid me out the driver side sliding door and left my wheelchair in the van when they took me to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). It is the closest Level I Trauma Center to where I was on 35W. For those of you outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, yes, that is the same 35W Freeway where the bridge came down August 1, 2007. On a completely unrelated side note, my first post on this blog is titled, "When Bridges Fall" when I told about my day when the bridge fell. If you are interested, you can read that post by clicking here.

I spent a night in the hospital after getting my knee stitched up in the emergency room. It was a very ugly seventeen stitches since the wound went in all directions and all the way down to the patella. I got a charge out of one of the paramedics in the ambulance when he said; "I can see bone so it's a deep cut."

Whereupon, I responded, "That must be the patella then."

You should have seen the look on his face when I knew what bone he was talking about. He responded by saying, "Uh ... yeah, that is the patella."

After getting my van back from the body shop several weeks later, it still was not in good operating order, as the brakes did not work very well. I was having a hard time getting home that day from the body shop up the street I live on a little more than thirty blocks from my house.

I could not turn the wheel and get it past my apparently much larger abdomen. It seems I had gained a good amount of girth in those five weeks! I found out later the brackets that held my lock down on the wheelchair had shifted in the accident and caused me to sit closer to the steering wheel so I was unable to turn it.

The van sat in my parking lot until May twenty-first when my attendant and I took it to Rollx Vans so they could look at the special modifications and see if the van was indeed drivable.

Finally, after more than two months and $2500 more repairs, (the total repair costs were just under $18,000), Robert and I went out to Rollx Vans and got my van. After more than three months and being dependent on the independent haulers to get me to them from appointments, I am driving again. The brakes work great now! It took a brake booster, a few other parts and a new master cylinder, which needed to be sent from Detroit to Rollx, and then off to Idaho to be modified and back to Rollx, it finally arrived back at Rollx when they called me and told me they would be able to look at it on July fifteenth.

The service technician who called me, told me I could bring my van out at any time around the fifteenth. I told him you have had it since May twenty-first, and he was completely surprised! That did not sit very well with me!

Anyway, I got it back and drove it to my acupuncture appointment yesterday. It is now sitting right outside my window where it belongs, waiting for my next trip. Here is an old picture of me driving from about ten years ago: this picture is also in my book and on my website. Click on the image to make it larger:

I am very excited to have my van back and the degree of independence it affords me. For those of you that know me well, you know how important my independence is to me.

I was once told many years ago I would never drive. This is my sixth van and I have driven approximately one-half million miles!

I look forward to your comments.




Pete at Framework IT said...

Good for you Mike, too bad it took so long. I take so much for granted. But in the end we all are so blessed. Take care my friend!

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Ruona said...

Outstanding! However, I think your chair is better in traffic. That baby has some torque.


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