Flying, spinning, hurting, swearing

How a collision with a car introduced Corey Robichaud to a cast and the ‘kindness of others.’IMG_1023

I remember as a child, still in elementary school, being hit by a small car driven by an attentive driver crawling across slick mid-winter road, wary of inattentive little boys yet to contemplate their own mortality.

You see, the first time I was hit by a car, I actually thought the whole ordeal amusing.

I remember flying, spinning in the air like a well-thrown football, then flopping to the ground like a stuffed animal before sliding across the ice like winter road kill.

Even four seconds of flight is fun for a 10-year-old kid.

Next came all the faces: peering down on me, frantic to comfort me, moving in and out of my vision, and then one would lodge my head between her knees. If it comforted her, ‘why not?’ I thought.

In truth, they were as confused by my laughter as I was their worry. Then came the ambulance, where strapped to a plastic board, I made jokes with the medics, in a tasteless attempt ignore my neck brace’s weak grasp on my neck.

“Are we paying for this?” I squeaked from the floor of the vehicle, just barely audible over scratching tires, whining sirens, and the clanking metal of my stretcher.

“It’s all covered by Medicare…” my mother piped in with a French accent I didn’t notice at the time.

Unencumbered I continued. “I tell ya’ boys, I don’t feel too bad – Just a pain-in-the-back.”

“I say we make a quick stop at the McDicks. If you’re really concerned, I’m actually more hungry than hurt!”

•••

Corey RobichaudThree weeks ago, I was hit by a much larger van going much faster, seconds after disembarking a bus. Though I skid like road kill all the same, this time the road was not cushioned by fluffy snow.

Then the medic has the balls to ask me why I was sweating so much, like I was on-the-drugs or something.

“I‘m lying on hot asphalt in the hot sun,” I responded. He was a nice guy, but I was not laughing.

Nor was I when I finally heard the news.

“You have a fractured hip and tailbone,” said the doctor.

I had been waiting on him for hours, to give me the good news and send me on my way. I had suffered hours of the neck brace and somehow survived a nurse’s every attempt to shut me up with edible opiates and IV’s strung with liquid sedatives.

Later, it hit me like lightning: every hot spark of pain, every muscle spasm, and  every slow building throb to hit my nerve was potentially crippling. I was no longer whole. I was broken.

“Please don’t curse in the emergency room, sir. There are children,” the doctor said in a stern voice.

I am not proud to say, at that exact moment in my life, I had little to no concern for the innocent ears of children.

“What are you fucking talking about?” I growled as low as I could, half in physical pain.

“My god man, if there were ever a time in a man’s life when he has every reason to use curse words,  seconds after hearing his ass is broken must be it!”

Later, I learned my only course for not causing future injury was to keep weight off my left leg and avoid doing things that cause pain.

Was that a joke?

No, that wasn’t a joke.

I know I’m lucky to be alive, let alone at school. The medic I joked with, the doctor I made angry and the mother I made worry are the reason I ever made it this far. As a kid I couldn’t understand that.IMG_1026

My family rushed to help me as soon as they heard and nursed my broken ass back to usable condition. My best friend and roommate helps keep me fed and makes sure I don’t fall down and completely shatter my ass. Friends visit me when I’m in too much pain to leave my bed, drive me to class, and help me with everything that takes two legs, really.

There’s something humbling about being injured, being unable able to fend for oneself.  I guess when you can barely feed yourself, you can’t just think of yourself, because you’re living off the kindness of others.

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  • Rexanna Keats

    I was more than a little traumatized in August when I witnessed from a Fredericton Transit bus a young man “flying spinning” after he was hit by a van going fast. We had got on the bus at the same stop, across from the potato research station. I recall him being smartly dressed and very politely letting me on the bus. I was there taking pictures of the St. John River, relaxing on my day off. The driver of the bus, who bears a striking resemblance to Vin Diesel and did not hear me scream because he was pounding on his horn, was also visibly shaken by the incident for some time. The young man was in a hurry and did not hear in time through his heavy, red headphones. As a student who started university 6 weeks after having back surgery at the age of 18, knowing that there had to “hurting, swearing,” but not knowing how the story ended, made it worse. Another driver ended the suspense, confirming that he broke his hip, which I knew by the way he and the ambulance attendant left his leg after he tried to stand up. I see that he broke his tailbone, not his collarbone. Regrettfully, there was a lesson in Mr. Ribichaud’s story that was not included in the written piece. Many drivers had warned him about running in front of the bus, just as many other university students do. Perhaps, it is a habit picked up as public school students who cross in front of school buses. He was also distracted by the heavy headsets, as are many students, and could not hear the bus driver’s warnings or horn. From the second he was hit, he was living off the kindness of strangers, which I was impressed by. There was the lady who gathered up his belongings, including those expensive, heavy, red headphones. The van, which he was fortunate that it was a tall delivery van and batted him in font, instead of over the roof into traffic, stopped as soon as he was hit on Queen Street and pulled into Secretary Lane to wait for the authorities. Two commissionaires from the NB Legislature came out as the EMS were arriving, within minutes of the incident, with a first aid kit. Another woman directed traffic around the incident. Our bus driver waited until police arrived. Another women administered first aid, calming him down, preventing him from moving. He was not just living off the kindness of family and friends, he was living off the kindness of strangers who rallied to support him. The incident showed Fredericton at its best, and I hope he realizes what a lucky man he is!

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