Saturday, 22 January 2011

What the eye doesn't see... or does it?

I've had a couple of 'palpitation' moments in the car....   the first was yesterday afternoon when I was driving home from the sea in bright sunshine.  The sun was behind me and all the cars coming towards me were really bright in the sunlight. I don't know whether it was because I knew they were driving into the sun and couldn't see so well, or that fact that they were glaring bright, but I felt nervous for the first time in the week I've been driving.

The second time was today when I drove to the railway station at 7.50am, it's in the next town so there is a straightish stretch of road, which is a 50mph limit but most people go faster.  I really didn't want to go over 40mph, and that didn't feel slow to me, but as it was relatively early and the road was quiet, I made myself speed up to 50.  Yikes it felt so fast!!  and then cars were coming towards me, and some of them were white... I really noticed the white ones. 

I didn't get upset or have to stop, but I was conscious of being nervous and my heart rate rising, and feeling very aware of the feeling of speed, and the white cars but not so much of the dark coloured ones.  And it was a relief when I could slow down again without thinking someone behind me was banging their steering wheel and shouting "It's not a bloody 40 limit on this road you stupid old bint!!!"    And yes I have been the person shouting that, in the past.

One of the women in my class today was telling us how she had been badly shunted in her car yesterday, someone drove into the back of her quite hard.  She said she couldn't believe how shocked she felt aftewards, and hadn't driven today but had got her husband to give her a lift, .  And one of my friends said that about 7 years ago her husband was spun several times on the motorway in very wet conditions when a car clipped the corner of his. She said that even 7 years later, there was a noticeable change in his driving and just the way he 'was', when he drove now in similar conditions.

Mr H phoned me just as I'd started writing this so I was telling him about my 'moments'.  He has mentioned to me before that since the crash he's felt as though the roads/carriageways are really narrow, and he has no space.  He also notices far more what other drivers are doing and their position on the road.  It's interesting how he has been affected slightly differently by being the passenger at the time.  I suggested that maybe he has taken away a feeling of being crammed into the verge/trees as I inevitably hugged the side of the road just before the impact. 

I think it's safe to say that our eyes take in far more than our minds consciously remember.


  1. Do you know what I see? Or at least think? I think there are almost 7 billion people on this planet, and 6.5 billion of them could not achieve what you have. You are remarkable. I have been following you and your story for about a year, and I must say that you are probably the biggest success story I have encountered blogging. Be proud, my friend. I know many people who can't take a left hook in life. You did, and you're still standing.

  2. I second what JJ said!!

    it's entirely to be expected that you will have "moments" on the road. I think you are very strong and very brave.

  3. Third!

    I remember being in the car when my sister had her accident. I was 14, with two years to go before I, too, would become a driver.

    That one event, where I walked away from an accident the police officers who responded said no one had a right to survive, colored my entire driving life to-date. Every time I get in a car, I think back to that moment, to the lack of care that led to it, and the awesome responsibility that rests on my shoulders. I am terrified that few drivers around me feel the same way, but in the end we need to go on living and getting around.

    Which is my way of saying how deeply inspiring your journey is. I've been there, and it's tough to come back from something as traumatic as this.

  4. I agree with the others. I used to ride a motorbike and came off twice. Nothing too serious, just some cuts and bruises but it really did shake me up. Moments like this are life changing. I think it would be weird if you weren't a very different driver now than you were before the accident.

  5. Fifth!
    And that will stop you roaring around the forest shouting at the grockles. OK I know you don't do that but I guess your whole adventure has made you much much more patient - with others if not yourself.

    Interesting to see how it affects Al.

    Any extra caution/alertness must be a good thing.

  6. Thanks to all of you, for reminding me that what happened *isn't* normal but the effects are. As those of you have been through it know, when it happens you are thrown into a steep learning curve of how well your body and mind can cope with the trauma. Every day can be a lesson in what you can (or can't) manage that you couldn't do yesterday. And as you say, some effects will be permanent.

    Rosie: Yes I am definitely more patient on the road. I'm in no hurry. I always used to use that phrase "better late in this life than early in the next" but that seems so real now.

    J x

  7. I'll just 'ditto' what the rest have given you. And remind you that you've really, really done well with the ordeal and the fall-out.

    I'm very pleased that you and himself can and do talk the particulars.
    So many try to 'not upset' the other and don't bother to process things that do crop up. You're both wise to do as you do.

  8. 7th or maybe 11th I agree...! ...and I also agree on those white cars (I drive one too) that white cars against white snow and especially bright sun....very very bad, horribly bad for our can white and bright be so darn blinding? Cheers to your eyes seeing...and your feet walking and driving! Bravo!

  9. When I got into the accident when I was just about to go to 6th grade, I wasn't driving or anything but it definitely changed me.

    I had to cross the street that we had the accident everyday. I had to stand on the very same corner where my mom swerved the car onto to wait for the crossing guard because at the time there wasn't a stoplight there yet.

    Except for the few times that I tried to walk out without the guard on purpose, I would wait until she was all the way out with a line of cars waiting before I would cross to make sure that the cars would stop.


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