I think I encountered my worst traffic jam yet today. I took off an extra day of work to go down to Stir Trek (a tech conference) early. Ironically, one of the reasons was to avoid the morning rush hour traffic I hit last year in Columbus. Today, like last year, there were some heavy downpours, though only for short periods. They were so heavy that it was hard to see and many people slowed with their blinkers. One of these probably resulted in the accident that caused the jam.
I came up on the jam fast sometime before Ashland I think. At first it seemed like a normal jam, stopping and going frequently. But eventually, the going became less and less frequent. At one point, we were stopped completely for at least a half hour. I turned my car off during that and other stops. Overall, the jam was at least an hour and a half.
Which brings me to the worst part about the traffic jam for me: my health. I had my health issue come on during the jam and slowly grow until I was considering pulling off the road or even calling 911 if it got much worse. It would be weird calling and telling them I’m somewhere in a traffic jam on 71 South. Luckily it didn’t get quite bad enough for that.
My main issue involved lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, tingly limbs, slightly blurred vision, and foggy brain. Lighter versions of the incident a couple weeks ago. I still don’t know what my issue is, so I don’t know what to do to solve it. I have associated it with being hungry, though, and I didn’t have food at hand. It was in the back of the car, but just when I was considering going back there, traffic started moving (slowly) again. I would’ve had to pull off the road to get it at that point. I just took the first exit and went to a Denny’s, ate some jelly beans in the parking lot, and then had dinner.
I also found myself needing to go to the bathroom. I’ve been drinking a lot of water lately, partly from thirst and partly doctor’s orders, and thus have been peeing a lot to accommodate. I didn’t feel painfully in need of peeing, but just enough to feel a bit uncomfortable and over time the urge to get over to the side and find some trees to pee in. I ended up just waiting until I got to Denny’s.
Yet another issue was that I was getting hot. Because I needed to pee, I had significantly limited my drinking. Vehicle exhaust and nearby drivers smoking was bothering me, so I left the windows closed most of the time. I have now verified that my air conditioner does absolutely nothing, at least when it’s hot. The outside temperature was only around 64°F, but the inside of the car seemed to be a greenhouse. I ended up dumping some of my drinking water all over me. When I got to Denny’s and looked in the mirror, my face was all red.
During the jam, dozens of cars drove past on the berm. I’m not usually one to do such things, and it usually makes me mad. I certainly didn’t let any of the passers in in front of me. But I was somewhat considering joining them, to look for one of those turnarounds.
Of course, both driving in the berm and using those turnarounds are illegal for non-emergency vehicles. But I kind of think it shouldn’t be in situations like this. Perhaps if the accident is going to take that long to clear, they should have police block the one lane going in the opposite direction and then direct cars to the turnaround, assuming there’s not exit before the crash. There’s gotta be something they can do.
My health can now make traffic jams, and thus highway driving in general, a little bit scary. I never liked traffic jams on highways before, being trapped and unable to escape, but it’s made much worse as the need to escape becomes more important, and health issues can make it important.
Driving past the accident, I didn’t get a good look, but there was a terribly powerful diesel or gasoline smell.