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Stuck! (03 Jan 2004 at 11:30)
Well, I had planned to be driving back to Pittsburgh today. But on New Year's eve, as I was driving my father to pick up his own car from the shop, an overzealous left turner smashed up my poor minivan! Now I am stuck in CT until we get the car repaired or figure something else out.

Here's what happened: I was in the right lane of a two-lane (in each direction) road, Whitney Avenue. I went straight through a green light at an intersection while, according to the other driver, the car in my left lane waved him on for his left turn. That same waving car, some kind of large SUV, was blocking our view of each other, and he attempted the turn (quite quickly) and wham! The police officer, who made it to the scene in like a minute and a half (!) says it was the other driver's fault. Here's a lesson: Never wave someone to make a left if the road is two lane and you're not looking at the other lane. Here's another lesson: Don't take another driver's word that a left turn is safe! (Of course, the waving SUV drove off right away...)

Amazingly, this accident was at the same intersection (perhaps a mile from our house) as the last two accidents our family has had, making three different drivers of three different cars in three different directions, all at that same place. From now on, I'll refer to it as the corner of Death and Dismemberment. (Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured in any of those accidents.)

In fact, the most serious injury might be my own: The airbag deployed and hit my eye, which I saw the opthamologist about on new years' day. I sustained an injury to the retina; some swelling and bruising, and some blood in the vitreous humor that causes me to see some spots and floaters. That all should go away, but I need to see a retinal specialist on Monday to make sure that I don't have any retinal tears or detachment, which I would need laser surgery for.

This was my first accident driving. I learned a number of things:

- Airbag deployment is nothing like in the movies. The airbag is not a big soft and fluffy pillow: in my case it is a small and fairly coarse vinyl bag. When it explodes in your face it is not comfortable, basically, it is like getting punched. On the positive side, airbags do deflate right away, instead of puffing out and filling your car, making it impossible to see. On the other hand, the car fills with smoke (which smells like gunpowder, though I understand that newer cars use compressed nitrogen) from the blast used to deploy the airbag.

- If you get hit in the eye and see things, see the doctor right away. I didn't feel like I had been hit particularly hard, but apparently it doesn't take much to get a serious injury. What I saw (and still see today) is a flashbulb-like "afterimage" along the lower-left of my peripheral vision in my right eye (since I was struck in the upper right side of my eye, this makes sense) in dim light, and a small dark cobweb-like "floater" in that same region in regular light. Here's a cool page about the eye.

- Since the eye's tear ducts drain into the throat, you can taste eye drops. This is kind of sick.

- If you get in an accident, it's a good idea to inspect the scene, even if there's a policeman already doing this. Tips: get the make and model of the enemy car(s), make some rough measurements (in say, car lengths), remember the names of the streets in play and their speed limits. You'll be quizzed later in the form of a statement for your insurance company, which might be done over the phone (mine was).

- Do not hit my van. I killed the hell out of that other car, and mine had only a medium amount of damage to the body. Aside from the airbag spilling out of the steering wheel and the part of the body pressing up against the tire, my car is probably drivable. His looked like it was going to explode.

- Avoid the corner of Death and Dismemberment.
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ndm (user-vc8fbmi.biz.mindspring.com) – 01.03.04 18:36:39
whoa holy crap. You finally changed the code of your weblog to display the previous month's contents beneath the current month thus eliminating the hassle of always needing to come up with some filler at the first of the month to prevent your log from looking stupid. Good for you.

sorry about the accident.
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Tom 7 (pcp01253016pcs.hamden01.ct.comcast.net) – 01.03.04 19:10:01
Oh yeah, I did that too! But coming up with filler was one of the best parts...
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Adam (dsl093-061-064.pit1.dsl.speakeasy.net) – 01.04.04 00:24:09
Actually, it's not even compressed nitrogen, but a chemical pack which generates nitrogen gas with explosive force.
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Marc (h00102b024a85.ne.client2.attbi.com) – 01.04.04 09:20:16
Ack, that's really terrible about your eye, I hope that the eye specialist can help! I didn't know about that, sorry to hear.

Dang, I can't even tell you how many times I've been a waiting left turner on Whitney Avenue and someone stops coming the other way and waves me on, while other drivers zip by in the other oncoming lane. I don't get why they do it, and really, it's happened far more on Whitney then anywhere else for me, kind of odd. It's always a mixture of, "Hey, you're trying to be a considerate driver and that's a nice thing," and, "Don't you get it that you're on a two lane road and I will blow up if I try to accept your invitation? Just give it up and keep driving, please!"

So which intersection on Whitney is Death And Dismemberment? I gotta know to avoid it...
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Tom 7 (pcp01253016pcs.hamden01.ct.comcast.net) – 01.04.04 10:09:41
My eye will be fine if it doesn't have any retinal tears, and if it does, I think it's still a fairly simple laser thing to fix them.

The intersection is aka Whitney and West Woods rd. You probably never need to go up there unless you're going to Cheshire.
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Tuuur (supercow.kabel.utwente.nl) – 01.04.04 10:31:54
Sorry to read about your eye... hopefully that laser thing won't be necessary.
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Marc (h00102b024a85.ne.client2.attbi.com) – 01.04.04 18:40:41
Lasers are what you use to fix robots. Tom is a robot.
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Tom 7 (pcp01253016pcs.hamden01.ct.comcast.net) – 01.05.04 00:35:49
So true!
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Hock (res211.mesls.org) – 01.05.04 01:39:59
Damn Tom, that sucks. Be sure to get as much money out of this accident as possible. It is good that you have sustained some kind of minor injury. Demand monetary compensation for the temporary loss of visual information, something which I'm sure is priceless to you. After all, every moment of your action-packed life is precious and if you blink you'll miss something important, and a floater is like an extended (partial) blink.
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Tom 7 (pcp01253016pcs.hamden01.ct.comcast.net) – 01.05.04 09:23:45
Shit, I blinked when I read your post--I couldn't help it.
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Heather (cobamide.bio.pitt.edu) – 01.05.04 10:32:34
Cars suck,
Let's never have cars again!
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Heather (cobamide.bio.pitt.edu) – 01.05.04 11:14:48
Cars suck,
Let's never have cars again!
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mike (pcp01253016pcs.hamden01.ct.comcast.net) – 01.06.04 11:48:50
You don't have a car H!
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Afshin (218.19.244.69) – 01.12.04 13:24:12
Glad you're ok.
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paul (adsl-66-137-204-209.dsl.stlsmo.swbell.net) – 01.14.04 11:59:57
So you didn't have one of those "Jiffy Pop" airbags, eh? Helps you pass the time while waiting for the law to arrive. Nothing like some hot, fresh popcorn. Seriously, I'm glad you are ok.
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Anonymous (dhcp-21-161.matc.edu) – 01.13.06 15:50:10
My overzealous left-turner was in Milwaukee. The accident was Dec. 21st, and I'd never heard of a torn retina until Tuesday, when I had emergency surgery to get it repaired. Glad your eye was okay - the laser wasn't nearly as bad as the cryo.
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Tom 7 (h-68-166-177-246.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 01.13.06 17:22:16
Then we are accident siblings! What is the cryo about?
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Jordan (ip-216-23-55-140.adsl.one.net) – 06.04.07 23:36:18
Hi:

I had the exact same type of accident. The airbag deployed, slamming into my face, pushing my glasses deep into my face and creating a permanent dent in my nose.

A few days after the accident, I started see flashing lights in my eyes, followed by some deep, dark eye floaters. That was two years ago. They're still with me to this day.

From what I understand, there's really nothing you can do about the eye floaters. They don't go away and rarely fade. There is some doctor in Washington DC that I might go see that claims to rid or break up the floaters using laser surgery. His website is eyefloaters.com, if you're interested.

Do you still have the floaters? Mine are very bothersome. Fortunately no other real damage.
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Tom 7 (h-66-167-56-241.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 06.05.07 01:29:20
Sorry to hear that, Jordan!

I had bothersome floaters for a year or so, but now it's back to normal. So they may go away on their own?
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Jordon (226.165.68.216.ded-dsl.fuse.net) – 10.03.07 10:58:41
Hi Tom:

That's great to hear your went away. From what I've been told, there's little hope for me. I basically just have to live with them.

Sometimes I can ignore them but it's pretty depressing now when I try to stare at a computer screen or enjoy the view outside and there's all this debris in my eye casting shadows on my retina.

It's like living inside a snowglobe that's just been shaken.
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