The Morning that Changed My Life

Throughout this blog I have mentioned a medical condition that I have and I should probably take a moment to explain myself because what happened to me on November 26, 2002 will forever be part of me for good or ill.

It was two days before Thanksgiving and I was on my way to an aerobic class in a small town about 13 miles east of my home. I had done this for the past eight years and there was nothing unusual about this day.

As I pulled up to the intersection to a highway I came to a stop. It was very early and very dark. I know the time to have been 5:40 because the radio station was doing "traffic and weather on the tens" and I left my home at 5:30. I was in my husband's very beautiful silver Lexus.

As I stopped I looked North to see if any cars were coming. I noticed a pair of headlights by the "llama farm" as my family called it. I then looked south. In my mind I said, "If no one is coming from the south then I can go when this other car clears the intersection. I saw no car coming from the south so I turned to watch the car clear the intersection.

As my eyes followed his headlights I noticed they were going to turn. There was no turn signal flashing and my thought was, "He is going to fast to make this turn. HE IS GOING TO HIT ME!" I do not remember anything after that for at least 10 full minutes.

The next thing I remember is someone "Tom" I believe his name was, asking me if I was OK. I don't recall much of anything else that morning. Somehow I talked to my husband on the phone. Somehow I talked the medical dudes to take me to the hospital by ambulance and not a helicopter. (There was no way I was going to admit I was that hurt.)

I had no idea how bad off I really was and in the giant picture of life, I was lucky and I was fortunate. Test have proven that the internal organs are severed of someone who is hit on their side by someone going 34 mph. At about 40 mph the spine is snapped. The guy who hit me was going 50-60 mph and driving a full size pick up truck.

I was released from the hospital at 10 and was in my own bed at 10:30. I didn't have a broken leg like they feared because it was trapped between the door and the steering column. I didn't have any internal bleeding like they had first thought. I had only bit my tongue really hard and blood had dribbled out of my mouth. I WALKED out of the hospital on my own two legs that morning. I was LUCKY.

But it only started a process of major healing. I was not only physically damaged, but mentally I was a wreck.

Physically I have major whip lash that to this day we are continuing therapy for. In fact in a little over a week I will go in and have a small operation called a Neuotomy that will burn the nerve endings in my neck. We hope that without feeling pain I will be able to strengthen the muscles so they can heal properly and I can get back to life.

I honestly do not recall what happened from the moments before the accident to December 31, 2002. I "woke up" while my family was playing games waiting to ring in the new year. Some how we had Thanksgiving and Christmas and I don’t' remember them at all. I have only one memory and I wrote about it for the LDS-NHA publication Quarterly Bulletin. Please take a minute to read that as it is very moving if I do say so myself. You can find it here

Mentally I thought everyone else driving was going to kill me. I froze one day while driving my husband's brand new car (the old one was totaled of course) and killed the clutch. I had troubles just driving out of the driveway. How could I function as an adult without driving? I had therapies to go to (five or six in a given week) and six children to get to all sorts of places. I thought only crazy people say therapist, but I gave in and went to see one. Miracles upon miracles have happened. I wasn't so spooked when driving anymore. I was able to handle most of the relearning after my short term memory loss, but most importantly I was able to handle the anger I was feeling from having this horrible thing happen to me.

My anger was wroth as the other driver was a day-laborer who was uninsured. "How in heaven's name are we going to afford what happened to me?" I still ask that question and I don't know the answer. I do know that I'm getting better and I have to take one day at a time. I hate sitting on the sidelines and I hate watching other enjoy something I use to enjoy. I hate getting head aches just because. I hate having to spend so much time away from home in therapy. I hate the fact that my kids have to have a grouchy mom who looses it so quickly when she is in pain. I hate that someone didn't get enough sleep and decided to drive. I hate that I was the one in that car.

But with all that hatred. I'm so glad I was in that car, because any other car and I would have been dead. It has also taught me a lot about faith, challenges, walking in other's shoes (I understand pain now), humility, service, prayer, fasting, forgiveness, love and compassion. I'm not a saint yet, but I'm working on it and I have a lot more to learn.

This is the car I was in. The Jaws of Life ripped the door off. I was hit by a full size pick up truck doing about 50-60 mph and lived to tell about it.

I'm lucky!