After I was life flighted to a hospital in St. Louis, it was all kind of a blur–probably because the nurses gave me my first couple of doses of morphine…
They ran a whole bunch of tests and x-rays and scans to determine the extent of my injuries. I vaguely remember the trauma doctor summarizing my injuries to me and my father (I’m pretty sure he broke all kinds of speeding laws to get to the hospital which was about 30 miles north of where the accident happened).
On top of just being bruised all over, pretty much all the bones in my feet were crushed, and I had a compound fracture in my left foot. I fractured my right knee and broke my right wrist. I lacerated my spleen which caused some internal bleeding. It was right on the line of needing to be removed. They watched it for a few days, and it eventually started healing enough that I got to keep it. I also significantly bruised my lungs and got to do breathing exercises for a couple of weeks to build up their strength again.
I had surgery that night to set the bones in my feet and wrist and then a few days later to put pins in my left foot and right wrist and a screw in my right foot.
I was in intensive care for my first few days in the hospital, and then I moved to a room on the pediatric floor for the rest of my two week stay. (I was a few months shy of my eighteenth birthday, so I was still technically a kid.)
The photo below is the only one we have of me in the hospital because I didn’t want my picture taken, but my mom insisted we needed pictures and waited until I was asleep. It was about 4 days after the accident, so a lot of the bruising had gone down. My nurses were great and tracked down every spare pillow in the hospital to prop up my feet and arms.
Besides just the awkwardness of being in the hospital and not being able to do anything on my own, the thing that surprised me the most about my hospital stay was how much I was loved. I mean I always knew that my friends and family loved me, but I don’t think I understood how much until after this accident.
My first day in the hospital, the waiting room was full of people just wanting to see me. They could only come in a couple at a time, and people were in my room all day visiting. I was overwhelmed with how much they cared.
I received so many cards and letters and gifts and balloons. My choir teacher printed out Beauty and the Beast coloring pages and everyone in both of my choir classes colored the pictures for me. My mom taped them up all over the walls in my hospital room, so really, I fit right in on the pediatric floor.
Throughout the whole 2 weeks, there was never a day that I didn’t have visitors or receive a new card or present. My grandfather called me every day which was a huge deal for me because he was never much of a talking on the phone kind of guy.
My grandmother on my mom’s side who lived 14 hours away came up and stayed with us for a few weeks to help out around the house while my mom stayed at the hospital with me.
Family, friends and even strangers showered me with great love and support–it was such a happy side effect to a horrible situation.
Being loved so well taught me a valuable lesson that I wish I could say I remembered and put into practice more often. We shouldn’t wait for tragedy to strike to overwhelm our friends and family with love. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, so we can’t waste today–it’s the perfect opportunity to show your loved ones how much they mean to you.