April 10, 2005

The Accident

Writing about what happened that Sunday night has always been hard because I never know where to begin or how much to include. So bear with me.

After church on Sunday evenings we would always go to our local Dairy Queen, but this Sunday, I had a strong feeling that I shouldn’t go. I ignored it.

My dad took my youngest sister, Rachel, and my little brother, Thomas, home, and I took my other sister, Amy, to Dairy Queen. I told her we couldn’t stay long though because I still had some history homework to finish.

We left around 9:00, and while driving home I was concerned with not having a date to my senior prom.

Topping the next hill on the two-lane highway, I saw headlights in my lane. I whimpered Amy’s name and my stomach sank.

The next thing I remember is waking up with my steering wheel in my lap. I thought, “I wasn’t dreaming. I must be alive because this can’t be heaven–I’m hurting too much.”

I couldn’t really feel anything below my waist, but my right arm was throbbing.

When the rescue crews finally got to the scene, a nice fireman sat in my passenger seat the whole time they were using the jaws of life to cut me out of the car.

He held my hand and talked to me. I remember he asked me what my social security number was, and I told him. I was so proud that I had remembered it, and thought maybe my brain’s not damaged–the jury’s still out on that one though.

It took them awhile to get me out because when my car was struck, it was turned around so it was facing the opposite direction and it went off the side of the road where there was a steep embankment. The drivers side was on the side facing down the embankment.

They had to tie a firehose to my car to keep it from rolling all the way down. And the man using the jaws of life was being held up by another person just to help keep him steady. (I know this because after I was out of the hospital and feeling better, we went to the fire station to personally thank all the people who helped save me that night. They told us more about the rescue and then took me around in the fire truck!)

The firemen did the best they could to get me free, and finally said they were just going to have to pull me out as quickly as possible. They didn’t sugar coat anything, and said it was going to hurt a lot.

They weren’t lying. As they pulled me out, I could finally feel below my waist and it didn’t feel good–huge understatement. I screamed and then apologized for making so much noise . I’m a quiet person, and even in the midst of this trauma where it was socially acceptable to scream and be loud, I felt so strange doing it. There were a lot more screams from me that night, and every time I just felt weird being so loud, but I didn’t know what else to do.

When they got me up the hill and into the ambulance, I got to see my dad for the first time, and I think he was on the phone with my mom. So I said hi to her and smiled at him and told him I’d be fine.

They took me by ambulance to a helipad a couple of miles away and then life flighted me to a hospital in St. Louis. I’ll talk more about my hospital stay next week, but I want to take the time now to show how God was right there with us when all of this happened.

God’s Provisions

About seven months prior to this accident, I was in a little fender bender (completely my fault) that dented the fender above my front passenger wheel. My parents said if I wanted my car fixed, I would have to pay for it. I didn’t have that kind of money, and it didn’t affect the car functioning properly. So I kept my dent.

The dent did, however, make it pretty hard to open the front passenger door, so all my passengers had to ride in the back seat. My sister, Amy, hated this, but on that night, she was in the back passenger seat–furthest away from the impact.

She suffered some whiplash, but that was about it for her physical trauma. But she was awake and coherent for the entire aftermath of the accident. I don’t want to speak on her behalf, but for a few moments she didn’t know if I was alive or not, so the emotional turmoil she went through that night was great.

But if she hadn’t of been there, I assume it would have taken much longer for my parents to find out about the accident, and I needed to see my dad before they whisked me off in a helicopter to the hospital all by myself.

Good Samaritans

The first person to pull up to the scene was an off duty ER nurse and the second person was a former EMT. They were both able to get Amy out of the car safely, and knew enough not to mess with me until the emergency workers got there.

The nurse stayed with Amy until my dad got to the scene. She was actually the one who called my dad. God knew Amy needed comfort and help, and he sent her the right people.

Angels

Before the emergency crews got to the scene, there was an itty bitty little tree keeping my car from going any further down the embankment. I also believe I had angels there that night holding my car up.

One of the fire-fighters said that when he got to the scene he looked down and saw people holding up my car. He was worried because he didn’t want the car to roll over them and then have more injured people. But no one else ever mentioned seeing these people. And we had to talk to a bunch of people who were first to the scene because of the criminal case against the drunk driver. They had to testify in court about what they did and saw.

So I like to believe they were angels that God let that one fireman see, so he could tell me about it. I mean I guess it could be that everyone else who was there that night just failed to mention these heroes. But even if they weren’t real angels, they were angels to me. That people would risk their lives to help save a stranger humbles me greatly, and I am so grateful for them and all the other emergency workers who saved my life that night.

Below are some pictures of my poor little car. I always joke with my parents that at least I got hit head-on because that’s where my car got the most stars in the crash tests. It would have done horribly in a side-impact accident.

Picture 025

Picture 026

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