Thoughts and insights from medical students
It is no surprise that I love to drive. As a medic practically living in the hospital, getting behind the wheel is sometimes the only time I have to myself. It has been a little over a year that I got my licence and every drive since, has given me great pleasure. It’s interesting how I don’t feel any fatigue when I am just sitting behind the wheel after a long day; how my mood instantly shifts to a more stable temperament.
All that joy ended soon however, when I moved into my new neighborhood. It’s a great place to be, quiet and modern but nobody warned me about the other drivers on the road!
The first time I almost faced every driver’s worst nightmare was when I was exploring the area. I was on the outer circle of a roundabout when a truck in the inner circle decided to change lanes within the roundabout nearly crushing me. That moment was not like what they write in books. I did not see my life flash past me. I did not have those endless questions of “why me?” or the rants about all the things I wanted to do before dying, not even “there ain’t no way in hell that I’ve come this far in medschool to die in my last year!”.
In fact the only thought that did cross my mind as things started moving in slow motion due to the grace of adrenaline was that I needed to get myself out of here - fast. So in one of those moments in our unlived lives, where time appears to superimpose over layers of the present, I got past the truck in the sharpest and fastest turn I could manage and within what felt like a million meticulously detailed seconds, I was past it all, unscathed.
Don’t be intimidated if you see the modern petrol chugging version of this in your rearview mirror!
I found out later that there were more accidents in that area -at least 2 every day- and usually involving an unforgiving collection of glass splinters and pools of blood. Once, on my way back from the beach, I saw a massive accident near the roundabout of my new home; a speeding truck had hit two cars and had gone into the center piece of the roundabout.
I just realized that I could be driving perfectly well and still die because of somebody else’s recklessness. Suddenly, I am so afraid to do the very thing I loved the most. I have a lot of long distance driving lined up ahead and I will be driving on some well known dangerous roads. If this was me prior to all these accidents, I would have looked forward to the challenge. But now, there is a palpable fear at the very core of my heart, somewhere near my AV node. I feel robbed of something that I had painstakingly earned. My fear is like a veil that swoops over me when I get behind the wheel now. And it seems to have glued itself onto my physical self, only getting tighter every time I see a maniac in the rearview mirror or one blaze past me in a flurry of smoke and screeching tires.