4 Things Nobody Tells You About Surviving An Awful Accident

You know that nightmare where your teeth fall out? I got in a bus accident, and that nightmare became reality. I'm going to tell you all about it here today. I've also included pictures for your viewing pleasure/schadenfreude. If you are squeamish, you should maybe look away. There will be blood.

#4. It's Impossible To Make Sense Of Accidents

It was a normal Tuesday afternoon, and I was on a bus that I'd taken hundreds of times without issue. I was playing some game on my phone, vaguely thinking about what I was going to eat when I got home. I had just gotten a haircut, I was wearing a very cute dress, and my Instagram post documenting both of those facts was getting a lot of likes. You know how it goes.

And then a truck drifted into our lane and slammed into the side of the bus, causing the bus driver to swerve and slam into a tree, causing me to slam my face into the seat in front of me. In that moment, I went from looking like this:

I know you can't see my teeth ...

To looking like this:

... but I promise they don't always look this way.

As soon as the bus stopped moving, I could tell something was very wrong. My lower teeth were squished into the middle of my mouth, and I could feel them moving. Also, there was blood everywhere, which is a classic sign of distress.

I just sort of sat there in shock and dumbly thought, "There's no way this is happening to me right now." I wasn't in pain yet, my mind just could believe that I -- a girl who had never so much as sprained anything -- was in a bus crash and just sustained a serious facial injury.

So I did the only thing you can do. I put my hands on the seat in front of me, gripped the sides, took a deep breath, and started screaming. I did not stop screaming until the EMTs showed up. Every time a tooth touched the roof of my mouth or I felt blood drip into my lap or any other reminder of "This is happening right now," my brain just short-circuited and slammed the "banshee scream" button.

Banshee is my pet seagull.

Once I had gotten to the hospital and they'd shut my ass up with some Dilaudid, the "What if" game started. That's the one where you torture yourself with every random scenario that could have prevented this situation, because your brain can't handle the absolute randomness of it all. What if I'd taken the train home instead? What if I'd been sitting somewhere else on the bus (like maybe not in the exact spot where the truck hit the bus)? What if I'd been paying attention and had time to brace myself? What if I hadn't gone home to visit my mom that particular weekend? Besides the driver and myself, everyone else on the bus walked away with scrapes and bruises. What the fuck did I do wrong that led to me getting my mouth smashed in?

This line of thinking is shockingly unhelpful, but way easier to deal with than "I got in this accident because the world is random and I am ultimately insignificant." It fucked me up good. I literally almost started shopping at Hot Topic and listening to Built to Spill again.


Also, for about three weeks after the accident, I was incredibly anxious all of the time. I broke down in my therapist's office about how I kept imagining all of these Final Destination accidents and how paranoid I was. Of course, she had never seen Final Destination, so I had to casually pause in the middle of being hysterical to explain the basic plot before I could go back to crying over how my overhead fan was making a threatening clicking noise, like it was counting down to my decapitation. Otherwise, I would've just sounded crazy.

#3. It's A Financial Nightmare

While I was being all emo about my place in the world, my mom was being justifiably emo about insurance. I have excellent health insurance, thanks to my mom, but if you're in an auto accident, your health insurance can go get fucked. Everything is covered by auto insurance and/or suing the shit out of somebody.

I have made many jokes about getting hit by cars, either for financial purposes, Jean-Ralphio style ...

... or because depression takes you to some dark places. God apparently does not appreciate my jokes, because the fuckwad that hit us didn't even have the decency to be Surgeon von Moneybags in a Masarati. Nope, I got hit by Dilapidated TruckFuck with shit insurance.

His auto insurance was supposed to cover my medical bills. Instead, it was a pointless joke, especially when you take into account that he almost fucking killed someone (the bus driver spent two days in the ICU), he wrecked my mouth, and he sent 11 other people to the hospital to check for concussions and fractures. Even worse, whatever cut of insurance money I was going to get was going to come in 2020 (his insurance company has to interview everyone on the bus and review the case) and was going to cover my mom's taxi ride to the hospital and a carton of Giant brand ice cream, at most.

Accept no substitutes, unless something better is available.

I guess we could have sued, but we have neither the time nor money to sue a poor man or government-funded transportation. My mom's auto insurance plan could have covered about $30,000 of my medical costs ... except that her first round of refund claims came back denied. Her insurance company initially told her that because I wasn't in her car, it wasn't covered.

The insurance lady helpfully told my mom that if I had been driving a golf cart that we owned and wrecked it, it would have been covered. But getting injured through no fault of my own? I can go suck an egg. The only way we'd get reimbursed for anything was if she submitted a document from Shithead McTexting's insurance saying they couldn't cover the cost of my injuries.

My mom is a single mother of four. Guess how much tolerance she has for bullshit like, "Well, if your daughter had been driving a golf cart that you owned?"

If my family had "own a golf cart" money, I wouldn't have been on a bus in the first place.

The insurance company has since apologized, and is now promising to cover the $30,000.

Which is fantastic, because a tooth runs $3,000-$5,000 a pop. That's not including the drugs you have to buy or any pre-surgery preparations or anything of the sort, and that's how much an implant is for one tooth. I lost five teeth. Do the math.

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Alice Jane Axness

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