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On September 7, 2010, at 10:21 a.m. our granddaughter, Zoë Alyson Calhoun, was born. Perfection then, and perfection now.  And now she is TWO YEARS OLD!!  Time doesn’t just fly, my dear Gentle Readers, time moves at warp speed!

Ashley, Princess, and I  left our home in Waynesville this past Thursday afternoon and drove as far as the Durham, NC area to visit first with our eldest son, Joshua.  We had a wonderful time visiting with him.  We arose the next morning, and started on our way to Nags Head, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, so that we could be with Zoë and her Mom and Dad to celebrate her birthday – and to enjoy her big birthday party on Saturday.

A funny thing happened on the way. . .

We left from our motel in Durham about 10 a.m. Friday morning, expecting to arrive at Nags Head around 2 p.m.  We were excited to be making the trip, and were filled with the joy of anticipation. We didn’t get as far as we had hoped.  It seems that someone else had other plans.  Following a route given us by our GPS, we were merging onto a highway and gathering speed when to our shock, a woman pulled out in her car from a Bojangles parking lot just ahead of us.  She either didn’t see us or failed to look in our direction, and though Ashley gave it his best effort, he could neither swerve enough nor stop fast enough to avoid plowing into her, “T-Bone” fashion.  We were traveling at about 35 miles-per-hour at the time of impact.  Our car will never travel that fast again.

The air bags, thankfully, deployed (and how!), and we, as always, were snugly buckled into our seats.  Otherwise you would now be reading the words of my (our) obituary (ies), posted by one of our sons, instead of this post of thanksgiving.

The woman driving the other car was, thankfully, uninjured.  Our wonderful fire-engine red Chevrolet HHR, that we have had for less than a year, was totaled. Ashley and I are both OK, but we, especially I, are battered and bruised.  I am essentially one huge, painful, purple, swollen mark.  Ashley was positioned in the car in such a way as to avoid being bruised as much, although he did get a burn-like abrasion on his right forearm (from the airbag), and was shaken up enough that the hearing in his left ear has been affected – apparently because the jolt shifted some of the fluid in his ear. And he is also sore.  Princess was not buckled in (that will never happen again,) but she was contained in her soft, collapsible travel crate.  It is cushioned, and because of it, she was completely uninjured, although she was very bewildered. We are all feeling incredibly blessed and grateful.  Miracles happened that morning:

#1.  I managed to keep my cell phone in my hand, and was able to hold myself together long enough to dial 9-1-1.  But strangers who stopped to help had their phones ready to call on our behalf.

#2.  The 9-1-1 dispatcher with whom I spoke was wonderful.  She sensed that I was shaken up, and calmly asked all the pertinent questions, and after getting a fix on our location sent the EMT’s and the police to help us.  They arrived within five minutes.

#3. The police officers were kind, concerned, and efficient.  The EMT’s were marvelous.  They were very understanding, especially of my state.  I have never been in that type of “shock” before.  It was difficult to control my shaking, and I had a hard time calming myself enough to give cogent answers to their questions. We were only about 15 minutes from Duke University Hospital.

#4. The EMT’s  secured our necks with rigid collars and put us on backboards, then put us on gurneys and into the ambulance.  They kept their calm and professional eyes on us, made note of our vital signs (they said they were especially careful with people of our “advanced ages!”), and kept up a light and cheerful banter as we rode along.

#5.  Duke University Medical Center is counted among the finest hospitals in the country, if not world.  It is always busy.  We were not considered “crash emergencies,” as we were both alert and had never lost consciousness.  Even though the ER was busy with much more serious cases, we had only to wait about fifteen or twenty minutes before we were assigned a cubicle in the ER examination and treatment area.

#6.  I was seen by no less than four doctors, all of them experts in emergency and trauma medicine, in addition to a beautiful young intern named Dr. Patel.  The doctors and numerous nurses and technicians were all efficient and very kind.  Because the pain in my chest was severe (the result of the impact of the airbag and pressure of the seat belt), and I had difficulty breathing comfortably, they took special care to ensure that I had not sustained any more serious internal injuries.

#7.  Princess was being lovingly cared for by the local Animal Control Services Center.  The police transported her there for us along with seeing that our car was towed to a secure facility.  (My very valuable camera/equipment managed to stay undamaged.  I had packed it all into my compact rolling crate.  The crate was completely destroyed, but it protected the camera from harm – another miracle!).

#8.  After calling 9-1-1, we called our son Josh.  We thought he was at work that day.  He did not answer his phone, and as we assumed that he was busy at work, we left messages and I also texted something to him, (likely incoherent but at least including the pertinent information).  We had still not heard from him by the time we arrived at the hospital, and we were both getting concerned for Princess, as we were hoping that Joshua could retrieve her for us and take her home with him until we were discharged from the hospital.  Joshua called me, very apologetically, just before I was taken to the treatment area.  It turns out that he was off of work that day, but had been outside when we called, and did not have his telephone with him.  He immediately took charge of things for us, and was only about 1/2 hour away from the hospital!

#9.  Our youngest son, Matthew (Zoë’s dad) is our insurance agent.  We had called him to let him know what had happened and would not be arriving as early as we had planned.  He immediately went to work expediting the process of getting the damages assayed, and procuring a rental vehicle for us.  He and Josh remained in contact throughout the day.

#10.  We were able to complete our drive to Nags Head that night.  We felt that if we got a motel room and finished our journey the next day, we would likely be too sore to complete the trip!  We were right.  Adrenalin kept us going that night.  It wasn’t until the next day that we really started to feel the effects of the accident.  And new bruises started appearing on me in places I didn’t know existed until I watched them turn purple. We were strongly urged to see our regular physicians for follow-up care, and now that we are home (one week to the day after the accident), we have made appointments for the first of the week.  There is, unfortunately, a possibility that my poor right hand has been injured, but I won’t know ’til I see Dr. Cutting (my hand surgeon).  Also, because of one of the meds that I take, the bruising on my chest has continued, and it is possible that one of my lungs may have partially collapsed.  Not enough for a crash emergency, but enough to continue to be very painful when I breathe. I am so blessed to have some of the best physicians in the world.  I am well cared for.

#11.  The best of all – we arrived in Nags Head in time for Zoë’s birthday party – the day after her birthday.  My camera was very busy! More of my photos of Zoë’s party, and of other (limited) activities of the week, will be posted on my photo site – “Reflected Glory – My Adventures in Photography.”  But I wanted to share with you a photo of Zoë – with her fairy wings on, she is indeed a beautiful fairy princess!

That’s the low-down on our eventful week.  I don’t expect to have any more to tell you about it.  Other than prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving, I have said enough. . .

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