I have taken two wonderful weeks off from my regular schedule to be with family in Nelson, BC. While I love where I currently am, I am full of joy when I visit my hometown. Many days were spent with my mother and father enjoying the beauty Nelson has to offer (even with the horrific fires), discussing life, love, the future, or just simply sitting in silence together, enjoying one another’s company. During our time together, I asked my mother if she would feel comfortable opening up to you all and share some of her story. We both could write hundreds of pages about various struggles, memories, people, etc., but today she would like to share a short version of what happened that day, what she has dealt with and continues to deal with, both negative and positive.
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday. We had just spent the weekend in Calgary visiting my sister Jeannie and her family. It was an awesome visit because I was asked to tag along with Jeannie and her daughter to shop for her wedding dress. A wonderful day. On the Sunday we packed up and started our day back to Nelson, BC. Banff was gorgeous. We saw grizzlies and black bears along the main highway, plus deer and elk; a memorable drive.
My story is different because I do not remember anything past Fairmont Hot Springs. The next moment I do remember is hearing voices almost two weeks later. You see, I have since learned that our brain shuts out the negative things – sometimes – like being hit by an SUV head on. I still have no memory of the crash at all.
I know I had 19 operations in the first few weeks, had two cardiac arrests and was saved by men and women who take an oath to save lives. My body was open for at least 4 days from sternum to the top of my right leg, with a vacuum sealed tent over it to keep out germs and anything that cause an infection inside my ravaged torso. I was administered 33 units of blood – my entire supply had to be refilled. I now have my entire blood supply from someone else.
My intestines weren’t so lucky. I lost 23 feet of small bowel which they could not replace with a donor. I am now what is considered an ostomate. The damage to my torso was caused by my seatbelt. It saved me from flying through the windshield but it also left me with lifelong injuries that I could not imagine in my wildest dreams living with for the rest of my days.
I spent six months in four hospitals, the first two months I was pretty stoned and hallucinated many times. The stories I could tell – Russian spies, starting a new job, watching someone build a space ship, meeting a family in an orchard who sang to me constantly, etc, etc. I could go on but not here. I also watched myself on a gurney as I was rushed to an OR room, listened to nurses and doctors talk gibberish and then suddenly I wasn’t there anymore – I am not so sure that was an hallucination.
A short list of my other injuries include 3 fractured vertebrae – which I had to wear the most uncomfortable back brace ever known to man, for four months – fractured sinus cavity, hematoma, fractured patella, broken ankle, crushed sternum, collapsed lungs, scraped vocal cord, every rib fractured plus a few more that take a little more detail.
Rehab has been long and critical to my recovery, similar to Maia. Therapy has been full of grief and tears. Civil and criminal courts are tragic for any victim of a violent crime. MADD, Mothers against Drunk Drivers, came into our lives shortly before the criminal case. This organization has been around over thirty years and their experience with victims of drunk drivers is undeniably critical to the mental survival of victims. I continue a relationship with MADD and advocate for their work by telling my story and speaking to victims of this violent and senseless crime.
Although I still deal with most of these “after effects’, they are slowly taking a back seat and I am returning to some semblance of my new normal. Life will never be the same but some amazing life changes for the good have come out of all this. I am stronger and more determined to be the person I was meant to be. I certainly don’t want any more bulls*&% in my life and struggle to keep it away. If people ask me how I am, I hope they are prepared for the answer or maybe not ask me (but know that I deeply appreciate the concern). Every day is a thankful day.