Trauma is a sneaky thing

The car accident happened a month ago tomorrow.

I am well recovered physically from it. I haven’t had any pain on a daily basis for maybe a week and a half now, maybe nearing two weeks. I was cleared from my physical therapist, he said to keep doing chest/back strengthening exercises but I didn’t need to come back to PT. I’ve been running again, and doing regular yoga again – including intensive back-to-back sessions and feeling good and strong. That all makes me feel mentally/emotionally awesome. My energy has been back to normal, which has also been great.

I still feel a heightened sense of anxiety while driving – I ALWAYS feel a little on edge when I see someone approach an intersection too quickly, or look like they are pulling out from a street, business, or driveway too quickly or extending too far out in the road. I am very cautious at stop lights, making sure drivers on the intersecting road are actually stopped at their red light before I proceed on my green light. But it hasn’t been unmanageable or debilitating, and I figure a little extra caution is never a bad thing.

Yesterday, I went to the repair shop to pick up the car…and it was much more emotional than I was expecting. Even though the car looks brand new again, and not like how I last saw it, it was an emotional sucker punch. When I sat behind the wheel for the first time, I felt like I could see the other driver driving straight at me again. Wasn’t expecting that reaction!

However, I felt fine when I left work yesterday. No lingering emotional trauma. Coming home from yoga last night was more stress inducing. It was dark and I was traveling on poorly lit back roads – and all three things were true for the night of the accident. But it wasn’t awful.

(Important history note: We were having major transmission problems the month before the accident. We were in a rental car for at least half of February as the dealership tried to replicate the problems we were having. The dealership was never able to find the problem, and thus never fixed the problem. They replaced the throttle something, hoping it would fix the problem, but since they couldn’t replicate the problem, they weren’t sure it was fixed).

Enter this morning. I was driving into work, and I have the same transmission problem again. But this time, instead of the car shifting into neutral, and having to pull over to the side and restart the car, the car VIOLENTLY bucked and jerked in the middle of the intersection before finally getting into gear and proceeding to drive the rest of the way into work without incident. But because the car jerked so quickly, the seat belt contracted and I was jerked against it – in the same manner that I was in the accident.

By the time I get to work, my chest and back were hurting again (not as bad as after the accident though), and I feel like a total emotional basket case – angry, scared of being in the car, very shaken up.

The chest/back pain is gone again, and I feel calmer now. But all this indicated to me that 1) I am not quite as physically or emotionally healed as I thought (because I doubt I would have had any pain today if I wasn’t just a month out from the accident), and 2) I really, really need to get a new car!!


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