Two Girlfriends, One Car crash, and Seven life lessons

Hi, Girlfriends and Guy friends.

Car crashes are NEVER good. 

Especially when your husband totals your girlfriends’ car.

I promise to tell the crash story (a.k.a. Part 2), but first, read Part 1 because it’s directly related to Part 2.

Oh, and then plan to read the finale, Part 3, to learn about John’s second cardiac event.

You’ll understand why I haven’t posted for six weeks!

March chest pain and my Girlfriend visit

It was a lovely Saturday morning on March 30th as John, and I began traipsing up Soldier Trail for a hike.  You’ll recall two months earlier we had unsuccessfully completed this trail because John had chest pain that led to his first cardiac stent.

Guess what. The chest pain happened again!

John placed a nitroglycerine tablet under his tongue- which erased the pain.

We turned around to go home, knowing a trip back to the Cardiologist was in order.  Since it was Saturday, John planned to call for an appointment on Monday. 

Coincidentally, my girlfriend Laurie was arriving in Phoenix from Wisconsin the very next day.  I planned to drive up from Tucson, pick her up at her hotel, and enjoy a girl’s road trip to the Grand Canyon.   

John assured me that he’d be fine almost pushing me out the RV door for my it’s-been-too-long-since-my-last-girlfriend-get-together-and-need-not-worry-about-John’s-health.

Northern Arizona Fun

Laurie and I reunited at her Phoenix hotel the next morning filling the parking lot with warm hugs and giggling.  I drove us north through Saguaro Cacti covered hills leading to our lunch destination “The Haunted Hamburger” in quirky Jerome, Arizona.   

Two hours later it was delightful hearing Laurie ooh and aah at the red rocks of Sedona.  Next, we passed Humphrey’s Peak in Flagstaff squinting at the bright snow cap.  Perfect timing brought us to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon just as the sun was setting.  After dinner, we retired to our hotel room for conversation and more giggles.

Girlfriends who care

I was having such fun sharing the beauty of Arizona with Laurie that I almost forgot about John’s chest pain the day before.

That night I updated Laurie with John’s health scare.  She offered huge listening ears to my babbling words.  Being able to speak of the scariness to my girlfriend seemed to loosen the grip that fears placed around my heart. 

Intoxicating vistas and dirty hiking boots   

The next day Laurie and I awoke excited to experience the Canyon on a hike.  Before heading down the South Kaibab Trail, we packed snacks into our backpacks, filled our camelbacks with water, and grabbed our hiking poles. 

Again, it was exhilarating to witness Laurie’s joy as we descended from the ridgeline taking in the dramatic panorama of this natural wonder.  Our 3.5-mile hike to our lunch spot and turnaround whetted Laurie’s appetite for the Canyon. 

Heading towards the Crash

Laurie and I had Tuesday morning to hike a bit of the South Rim, meet an adorable Sheepadoodle, and enjoy the vistas before heading back to Tucson. 

On our drive, my cell phone rang around 3 p.m., and it was John.  I began to share on speaker phone about our awesome trip when he interrupted me. 

“I’m in the Trauma Unit of Banner Hospital.  I had a car accident with Kathi’s car, and I think I totaled it.” 

I responded…. “WHAT?”

I took a sideways glance at Laurie’s stunned face which confirmed what we just heard. 

He told us what happened, but all I remember is “Big black truck,” “blind spot,” “T-Boned,” “Neck pain,” “CT Scan,” “concussion,” “no brain bleed,” “discharged today.” 

The Totaled Car

Here is a photo of what used to be Kathi’s car.

Crisis Mode kicks in

Laurie asked me “Do you want me to drive?  Do you want to pull over for a while?”  My response was no.  My M.O. is always the same when a crisis arises.  (Probably from my nurse’s training).  I stay calm, focused, and begin doing mental checklists and triage to move towards solving the problem at hand.  I’d be fine to drive. 

(Truth be told, it’s 3 or 4 days later when I fall apart.)

2nd Time to this Trauma Unit in 3 months

Laurie and I drove straight to Banner Medical Center’s Trauma Unit.  It was Deja-vu.  Just three months earlier I was with my friend Kathi (yes, whose car John crashed!) in the same Trauma Unit after her biking accident and head injury. 

Luckily John had no broken bones, a few skin lacerations, and would certainly be sore for days.  The airbags had done their job protecting (perhaps saving?) his life!

Laurie Ubered it to her hotel from the hospital as I went in to attend to John. 

How to tell Kathi?! 

Honestly, this was the most stressful situation knowing that John was responsible for destroying our friends’ car! 

Before I arrived at the Trauma Unit, John left a voice mail with Kathi for her to call him.  She had been out with friends all day, and John was also supposed to be watching her cat, Lilac.

I too called Kathi’s cell phone, but she did not answer.  I left a general “hey, as soon as you get this message give me a call.”  My memory is a bit blurred, but around 5 or 6 Kathi did call us back telling us she and her friends were heading home. 

I was so grateful that she was not alone and had her best friends with her when she got the bad news. When we got home to the RV Kathi and her friends greeted us with nothing but concern and love. 

Fast Forward

I’m going to end this story now because the next two weeks were basically full of the post-trauma stuff you must do after accidents.  There was lots of contacting insurance companies, mixed with watching John’s deep bruising appear, whispering heartfelt apologies over and over to Kathi, and hourly thanking God that John was not seriously injured or dead! 

Ending on the positive

Here are some truths that I’ve walked away with from this car crash story.  These are gifts from my two girlfriends that I’d like to share with the world.  I am forever grateful for their maturity and friendship.

  1. Being on the receiving end of Kathi’s grace was humbling.  She could have been derogatory, scolding, belittling, tossing contempt our way, slamming John’s reputation, or gossiping about us.  Instead?  Her concern ran deep and wide as she continued to check on John and saying things like “cars can be replaced, people cannot.”  Thank you, Kathi.
  2. Shared misfortune can deepen friendships.  The car accident necessitated having some conversations about health and finances that you usually don’t have with your RV’ing buddies. Kathi and I had also enriched our relationship a few months back as we processed her bike accident and some other health issues.  We have a new special bond.
  3. Humor and forgiveness are priceless.  Kathi’s first words upon hearing about the accident were “Well, I didn’t want to pay for new tires on that car anyway!”.  This comment was a balm to our devastated ears and hearts.  We kept repeating how sorry we were, and “please forgive John” for this accident.  She accepted our sorrow and replaced it with forgiveness.  One sure way to strengthen a friendship is to be supportive- even when it hurts. 
  4. Healthy communication decreases stress.  To avoid the rumor mill going amok at our RV resort, Kathi offered to communicate to our peeps through email and face to face with friends. She could have turned it into a gossip mess or worse yet, internalized her anger, frustrations, and fears and stressed her body.
  5. Authenticity trumps platitudes.  Kathi and I had to practice real-life discussions on insurance claims and legal stuff which is entirely mentally draining.  I was honored how she walked toward the dialogue, not backing down.  At times it felt like we were unwrapping trauma bandages but luckily only to reveal the healing wounds underneath.  The good news?  She got a new car in the process, and all the insurance stuff is a thing of the past.
  6. I’ve lost all faith in coincidences. Laurie’s trip to Arizona was perfectly timed and medicinal for me.  Additionally, we had my friends Beth and Randy coming the week before John’s second heart cath.  Again, the timing of these friends’ visits proved helpful in distracting our stress from the moment.   My advice to my readers is to trust your gut when spontaneous travel plans arise.  There are going to be undeniable blessings that come out of it. 
  7. Seeing gifts in painful moments.  As Laurie and I received the news about John’s accident and continued our drive towards the hospital, I glimpsed her quietly clasping her hands together and just being still.  I knew she was praying for me right at the moment.  As I witnessed this gift that only she could give it brought tears to my eyes and strength to my resolve.

Your Turn

  • Have you been in a traumatic situation like this one? Who can you identify with?  Kathi? John? Laurie? Or me?
  • Is there someone who needs your forgiveness for a mistake they made?
  • Have you been able to verbalize your fears, frustrations, failures lately? 
  • Who would you be if you took out that one stressor away that clogs your brain?
  • Who is that friend or family member who you can go to in times of stress?

Whew!  We’re not done yet, Girlfriends and Guy friends.  There is one last (I hope!) chapter to this saga. 

Click here for part 3 of John’s second cardiac procedure and how much it cost!  Plus, you’ll learn about our health sharing co-op that we are a part of. 

Click here if you haven’t read part 1; John’s first cardiac event.

Click here to read about Kathi’s traumatic bike accident.   

Click here if you need a good laugh about our dog, Penny.  She promises to write another post from a dog’s perspective of life on the road- now that Johnny is done having cardiac events.

Love,

Gretty

My new blog platform will benefit you while it stresses me out!

Hi, Girlfriends and Guy friends.

What is your biggest frustration right now?

Is it your partner’s incessant clutter?

Or that wiry hair sticking out of your nose?

Perhaps it’s being locked out of your Verizon account (again!)?

My biggest stressor right now is staring you in the face.

It’s my new blog platform.  Yeah, it’s pretty (yay), but I’m still slogging through the Word Press Swamp of Stress.

picture of swamp

Anxiety attack  

If anyone tells you writing a blog is easy, they are lying and you should unfriend them- like immediately.

For the past seven weeks, I have been attempting to transition my blog from WIX to Word Press.

I had no idea that coding, plug-in’s, CSS, tag attributes, anchor text, CMS, HTML, RSS, were now going to be my new vocab.  Yikes.

Drying my sweaty palms

Luckily, my blogging friend, Liz of The Virtual Campground, directed me to a special person. Her name is Teresa Rosche Ott a.k.a. Word Press Guru of a Fearless Venture. Teresa focused me on tasks to successfully learn about Word Press coding.  Hooray for Teresa and thanks to Liz for pointing me in her direction!

And special kudos to my meet-up friend M. Nakazato-LaFreniere who walked me through coding craziness at a coffee shop- all the while managing three blogs Cactus Dreams.

Insert real life

While hiking up this learning curve a bunch of real-life stuff happened.  For instance:

  • Detouring from our final travel to install Battle Born Lithium Batteries. (Not cheap!)
  • Dry camping almost two weeks on the parking lot of said repair shop (in a slightly sleazy area of town.)
  • Addressing (and resolving) a year-long mold/mildew issue in the coach.
  • Sneaking in a one-week trip to Philadelphia to visit the sons and daughter-in-law.
  • Finding out that an acquaintance here at The Voyager had suddenly passed away.

Add it together

These weeks of transition and anxiety- segue ways into the new focus for my blog writing which is:

How to help you manage your stress and relationships on and off the road.

Yup.

I will continue to share my real-life-often-humorous-sometimes-stress-filled-RV-travel-stories.

But now I’ll be balancing each post with tips to help you deal with the crap that life and relationships throw your way.

I love this stuff!

My background in the healthcare field and life-coaching makes this relationship blog re-focus a no-brainer.  Plus, it’s what many of you have responded to.

Relationship or Relationshit?

  • Each week I’ll provide links to articles to help you and me de-stress and improve our relationships.
  • I’m also excited to share some guest bloggers insights as we work through our sh*%.

Here’s your first Relationship Helper.  I designed it for your friend who is facing the holiday season alone after a breakup or loss.

Follow the steps I list and I guarantee you will get a hug.  Or another beer.

Click on me for your first freebie!

Please let me know who you hugged and drank beer with. It will help us all be brave to help others!

Plus, it will help me get better at this blogging thing.

Wishing you all a less-stress holiday and Merry Christmas from your Unlikely RVer,

Gretty

P.S. Sign up for more of my stories here.  Pretty please?

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