Mrs. Bastard likes to say that everything happens for a reason. Good or bad, she seems to think everything is part of a master plan. According to her apparently the universe's plan includes our shower breaking for the 295th time, my burrito exploding in the microwave (again), and me getting stuck in traffic so long that I feel like the road and I are becoming close friends. I don't always agree with her beliefs, especially when she tells me that she believes asparagus is good for me. Regardless I don't really believe in fate or destiny, and to me everything feels more like random chance.
But sometimes the universe smacks me in the face and reminds me to listen to my wife. VERY CAREFULLY.
'The witching hour' in popular culture usually refers to midnight, but it can also mean any arbitrary time that something bad happens (or so Wikipedia tells me, and the internet has never lied to me before). For me, the witching hour for trauma is right around 5 AM, because by the time I'm done working up the patient, it's too early to do anything else but too late to go back to sleep. So when my pager woke me at 5:06 AM, I groaned, grumbled, said a few colourful curse words, and went down to see what was going on. When George (not his real name) was wheeled in a few minutes later, I groaned even more. He didn't look injured at all, and the medics admitted that they could barely find any outward signs of trauma.
"This is George (not his real name). He was the rear-seat passenger in a rollover motor vehicle crash. Looks like they hit a tree and flipped. Pretty severe damage to the car. George says he never lost consciousness and has a bit of a headache and some pain in his neck."
My first thoughts whenever I get a rear-seat passenger are 1) Where's the driver? and 2) Where's the front-seat passenger? Are they injured? Uninjured? Taken to a different hospital?
A detailed examination showed that George only had minor abrasions on his forehead and knee, and CT scans confirmed no serious injuries. Once the dust settled I had a chance to chat with George and get a bit more information. It turns out he was texting with his head down when the accident occurred. When the car flipped, the roof caved in, entrapping his head between the roof and his seat's head rest in that awkward downward position. Even the severe impact of the accident wasn't enough to jar his mobile phone loose from his hand, however (I'm convinced some young people glue their mobiles to their hands), so he was able to call emergency services. As you may have already surmised by his good outcome, he was wearing his seatbelt.
His two friends in the front seats were not.
As I was preparing the discharge paperwork, a police officer approached me to ask if I had heard The News. I didn't know what "The News" was, but in my line of work "The News" is never good. But I had a feeling that I was at least about to get an explanation about the driver and the other passenger.
George's two friends were both dead.
I still find it astounding that in a crash where two people in the car die, a third passenger can literally walk away with barely a scratch. It speaks volumes to the safety features that modern cars have and how well they work when used properly. I don't know if George believes in fate or destiny, but whatever the case may be he certainly seemed to have an angel on his shoulder that morning.
I'm seriously considering starting to listen to my wife more often.