When the tragic crash that took the lives of my young son and daughter occurred,
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was a relatively new term. It has since become a well-known diagnosis for people who suffer disorientation, depression, severe mood swings, erratic behavior and impaired ability to make sound decisions following a traumatic life event. The problems I endured certainly fit today’s definition, even if it was not a formal diagnosis.
I had crawled out from the vehicle wreckage to see the lifeless bodies of my two children (my daughter with her arm ripped off) and the other children scattered on the ground. Two years later I was tested in preparation for an insurance hearing but was not officially labeled as a PTSD victim.
Regardless of that, the damaging effects on me were clear and severe.
For the next 20 years I drove trucks, not cars. The first was a heavy three quarter ton diesel truck which was followed by a number of half tons. My reasoning was that pick-ups would offer me protection but also, if anyone in a car again entered my lane he would pay with his life. There would be no unjust or forgiving law or court process to excuse him/her.
I still have an extremely cautious approach to driving and I rarely ride as a passenger unless I have a thorough knowledge of how they drive. Often I envision other vehicles losing control. Some drivers have no clue think they are invinceable when they drive on snow, ice, wet roads, fog etc…
Today when I watch a movie and there is a scene in the vehicle, I’m bracing myself for the crash scene. That is so troubling as are the innocent looking posts I click on that suddenly lead me to a scene of a person texting and the gory scene that follows; very disturbing!
When I traveled the 100km stretch from Orillia to Newmarket for work and it was raining or snowing there would be huge assaults of spray from heavy transports on the 400 highway. I would get off the major highway where visibility was reduced and take to the back roads. I knew all the alternate routes to take me on my journey each way. I remember being late for work once as traffic on the 400 was at a dead stop. Cars rolling at full speed through a dense fog had caused a 250 car pileup. I still blast my horn and flip a finger at cars on side streets that race up to an intersection before slamming to a stop. A nervous driver? Maybe. A cautious one? Yes.
Will my anxiety ever go away? Not as long as idiots with cell phones talk, text, and drive blissfully unaware of the fatal danger they create. I think their stupid and selfish behavior should result in charges of attempted murder. The same applies to drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. Even to those who fail to stop when exhaustion threatens to put them to sleep at the wheel. Their thoughtless behavior kills and cripples innocent people and destroys whole families. A slap on the wrist in court is clearly not enough to eliminate these crimes.
Do I suffer from PTSD. I don’t know. But my blood still boils as I write this.
Two years ago, I downsized from a truck to a smaller SUV. Some days, I am seriously considering going back to a truck.