One year ago, I was on my way to class the same as I do every day. I was riding my bike down the street as I was getting ready to turn onto the major street that lead straight to the school. I had being done this for almost a semester at this point so I thought this was going to be any other day. Little did I know, things were about to change. I was on my bike for about 2 minutes as I was nearing the intersection. There is a strip mall type like thing near my house and there was a car coming out of the parking lot. I stopped as I wasn’t sure if he was going to pull out in the street but he looked at me so I assumed that he was telling me to go. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication so as I was just in front of his car, he decided to go. His car hit me from the side at a very low speed and thankfully, there was no traffic coming. I fell out into the street and my bike fell on top of me. In that moment, I don’t remember a lot of what I was thinking or what was going on around me. All I knew is that I needed to get out of the street right now. I managed to drag myself to the sidewalk as I faintly heard voices around me asking if I was alright and someone calling 911. It was such a blur and I wasn’t sure about what had actually happened. Luckily, my backpack was still on so in my panic and shock, I was able to find my phone to call my mom. Now, my parents live overseas so I knew that they couldn’t be with me but they needed to know. During the time I was crying into the phone to my mom, the ambulance and police showed up to document the accident. I was not in much pain because of the amount of adrenaline in my system but I knew that I had scraped my knees and legs pretty bad. They looked over me and told me there were no serious injuries or broken bones so I was really lucky. However, they tried to get baseline readings and mentioned my heart rate. Through my panicked tears, I had to explain I had a panic disorder and that is why my heart rate was elevated substantially not to mention I just got hit by a car. They told me that I could go to the ER if I felt it was necessary but they thought I was just bruised and sore. I chose not to pay for the thousand dollar ambulance and would go later if I felt I needed to. Then, I had to talk to the police as I was calming down to detail the accident. Guess who was to blame for the accident. ME. In my town, bicyclists on the sidewalk have to ride with the flow of traffic, something I didn’t know. So even though I stopped, waited until I got eye contact from the driver, and then decided to go and he did as well, I was at fault because I was on the wrong side of the sidewalk. So now, I was having an additional panic attack because I now had a $300 ticket I had to pay. The police officer I was dealing with was not so compassionate when I was panicking as he said “can you just stop for a second so I can finish this”. I was being shamed for having a panic disorder on top of the trauma of being hit by a car. Honestly, I still have not gotten over how rude this officer was to me and not more understanding of the situation. So, after all of this, I had to walk home. He didn’t even offer me a ride. So the broken Kori had to walk back to her apartment with the messed up bike and tears streaming down my face. I got home and jumped straight into the bathtub and started to tell everyone that I was not going to be at work and class for the next couple of days.
The accident has stayed with me for the longest time, and not just because of the physical trauma. After I got off the phone with my mom, I realized that I didn’t really have anyone to call. At this point, there was only a handful of people I knew in Arizona, most being over an hour away from where I live. I started texting people asking if they could come just to be with me but a lot of people just couldn’t come. They had classes or no means of transportation or were just too busy for me. I took an uber to the emergency room that night because no one would take me. The next 4 days I spent alone in my house, making do with what I could. I would take my dog on really short walks as it hurt to walk. I ordered my food all of the time because I couldn’t get back on my bike, my only mode of transportation at the time. I couldn’t even go get my pain medication because I didn’t have a way to the pharmacy. I started to think maybe this was supposed to happen or I deserved it in some way. I deserved to be isolated at home just struggling by myself. Somehow, this was all of my fault. It was one of the worst moments in my life. I have never felt so low and alone. That stuck with me for a very long time. I couldn’t get on my bike after that due to the fear and stress it gave me.
A lot has changed in the year since the accident. I have made an effort to become a stronger person. I want to make improvements in my life on how I can manage my mental health. I have made some friends who may be there for me if something like this happened again. It was the worst thing that has happened to me last year but I grew so much as a person since then. I have the strength to be alone for some time without falling into such a deep depression. I conquered my fear of driving so I could have transportation again. As I think back to it, I was basically a different person than I was then and I’m so happy for it.