Drunk drivers and recovery

Some of you may already know this because, well, you follow my Facebook. I should also warn that there may be graphic descriptions and images. I need to write this out. Consider yourself warned.

Monday evening, March 12,2018. My son and I were hit by a drunk driver. WE ARE BOTH OK. I wanted that in caps because you don’t bury a lead like that. Everything could have been so much worse. I know that.

My car is obviously totaled. My son fractured his wrist but walked away mostly unscathed. I took the brunt of the impact which sprayed glass all around me, pinned my legs beneath the dash, breaking my femur and bruising everything else in my legs. Of course I also am the proud owner of the seatbelt abrasions across my chest and hips that prove I was wearing my seatbelt. (Of course the fact that I’m alive is further proof of the same.) Superficial scratches run down the side of my face from the glass and I’m once again thankful I wear sunglasses all the time. Bruises along my wrists and forearms offer additional visual evidence that the car did its job. It saved my life. It saved the life of my son.

My son got out of the car and called 911. So did the witnesses on the scene. I’m thankful for their presence and feel bad for screaming at them in the midst of the chaos. I finally called my son over and took the phone from him and as calmly as possible talked with the dispatcher. Begging them for help. Telling them I’m trying my best to stay calm but begging them to hurry. The pain was excruciating and I had no idea at the time what injuries there were.

The other driver has some sort of head wound. She was in a Ford Edge I think. Something bigger than my Infiniti. I know about the head wound because as the paramedics were trying to pump me full of drugs it was discussed. Paramedic on my left telling paramedic on my right to go ahead and transport the other driver. Right paramedic pausing to say “nope. She can wait” as he continued to get me drugs. Giant tells me she was being treated in the same hospital as I was and was only a room or two down from me. For an already angry kid, none of this experience helped.

I feel bad for the volume of my obscenities as the paramedics drug me out of the car after cutting off the door, lifting the dash and removing the window. Even in the excruciating pain I was in, I was occasionally cracking jokes. Telling the paramedics they may need rent-a-crane to get me out. Asking if they had enough hands on deck because I’m not light and won’t be able to help much.

I know my son is nearby and can hear my screams too. I keep asking for him so I can keep him calm. I keep asking if anyone has checked on him.

They finally get me on a gurney and out of the car. “My phone! I know it’s dumb but I need my phone!” I knew I had people to update and wouldn’t be able to without it. Luckily, my phone was not broken in the impact. It seems dumb that I cared about that in the moment but I did. I remember telling my son in a perfect calm motherly voice to grab my purse and my laptop bag. I remember asking about my shoes. That was the least of anyone’s worries though. I later learned why.

They get me into the ambulance where they continue to make adjustments to stabilize me. I know they’ve given me drugs but they’ve done nothing for the pain. They’ve made me foggy and unable to focus on anything. Not 100% sure what all was happening but it involved cutting my clothes to check for additional injuries I guess. Then they put my leg in some sort of traction/splint device that I’m pretty certain was only meant to get me from the county road to the hospital but more on that satanic implement later. The young, male, presumably good looking paramedic that I’m laying exposed in front of asks me how I’m doing. “Well, I’m feeling a bit exposed and I’ve been better” I quip back. He covers me with a blanket and tells me to breathe through the pain. “It’s just like child birth” he says.

Let me assure you- it is NOTHING like child birth. I tell him as much as remind him that in child birth I had better drugs.

They tell me we’re going to Seton and I vaguely remember thinking how far away that was. Every turn and bump made me wince in pain. I felt like I was going to roll off the gurney several times. That doesn’t bode well for someone who has an actual fear of falling. The siren isn’t as loud as I would have expected inside the ambulance. I think I may have apologized a time or two for being such a weenie. I wasn’t a weenie. It hurt like hell.

Connor posts on Snapchat and his friends come to sit with him. My bestie’s daughter sees the Snapchat and tells my best friend who drops everything to rush up there too. I feel bad that that’s how she heard about the accident. I’m thankful that’s not how my parents heard about the wreck.

Nurses keep complementing my nails. I don’t even know the damage done yet but we’re bonding over my nails moments before they move and adjust me to get all the X-ray images and ct scan. The screams were uncontrollable as the muscles spasm around what I’d later learn is my broken femur. The screams heard all the way in the waiting room by my bestie and son caused them to exchange looks that silently said something along the lines of “we can’t hurt them because they are doing their job but it sounds like they are killing her”

At some point, I called my mom. Again, trying to be calm and matter of fact. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’m in the hospital. Connor is fine. Someone said something about surgery. Mom sends dad down. He’s the best choice. He’s calm. Always. He hears without the coloring of emotions even when deep down he’s terrified of seeing his baby on this table in pain.

Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Nurses coming in throughout the night and try to take my vitals. They try to clean the glass from me… my hair. My clothes. Even the hint of movement sends me into more uncontrollable screams. They need to wash me down with something to prep me for surgery. That is not going to happen. I scream and cry and tell them to stop touching me. I later feel bad for that. They were just doing their jobs. It takes a few hours but they do finally figure out that maybe they can just wait until I’m completely knocked out before moving me any more.

The Ortho’s PA comes in to tell me about the surgery. She tells me that once the rod is put in, I’ll be able to walk on it without pain. I believe none of this. Turns out I was right because even after 4 days in the hospital, I’m looking at 2 months of rehab because in addition to the broken femur, that was fixed with the titanium rod, the lower section of bone is split and held together with screws and I can’t put any weight on it for 6-8 weeks. I’m gonna be super fun in the airport security line. No one is going to want to travel with me.

Many thoughts running through my mind of course. The loudest are wishing I had started IP sooner and was further along in my journey. Using a walker to get around the extra weight is so much more noticeable. I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by family to help take care of me. That’s huge. Mom has told me that she just needs me to tell her how to make my food and she’ll help me stick to plan. My coach just reminds me to take some time to heal lol. I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern. Flowers and plants and in person visits help more than I can say.

Mentally it’s already a battle. Depression. Frustration. Hating feeling helpless and relying on others to help me. I am really good at a lot of things…being told I CANT do something and asking for help are not on that list.

Two weeks after my release I head to the Ortho. They take an X-ray of my “good” leg because I was having some pain in my knee. I try to chalk it up to being overweight and figure that I’m just making it work harder. Nope. A tendon or something has managed to pull a piece of bone loose so I don’t really have a good leg after all. Upside is that the injury on my left leg doesn’t prevent me from putting weight on it. Downside is once the right leg is healed, we’ll prolly need an MRI on the other leg.

My giant and I go see the car about 5 weeks after the accident. I still had my personal items in it and wasn’t about to release the car until I got them out. Nothing of real concern but my toolbox… some school supplies… stupid stuff that can be replaced. My keys- not to the car but the house and mailbox and rental house. Those I needed.

I found my shoes. My favorite pair of platform flip flops that my shorter friends joke about me not needing extra height when I wear them… which was all the time. One of them was laying free on the floorboard but the other was wedged so tightly under the gas peddle it took some real strength to pry it loose. It’s a wonder I didn’t break more than my femur.

My son and I both take pictures of the car. It’s surreal. I’m again filled with gratitude that I’m here to even type up this post. So much so that my next car will likely be the same as this one. She saved our lives.

I’m angry though about the thoughtlessness of the other driver. Friends ask if I remember what happened.

Truth is I remember everything.

I’ve blocked out years from my memory – crappy years with my ex.. time during the divorce… but that day? It’s as vivid as if I had just watched it on the big screen.

I remember driving down the two lane county road. I remember seeing the other car lose control and swerve into the grass as she came around the corner. I remember seeing her overcorrect and swerve into our lane going way too fast. I remember hearing the unmistakable crunch of metal and seeing the airbags deploy all around me. I remember hearing the horn blaring and looking over to make sure my son was ok and seeing him stumble out of the car. I remember hearing screaming before realizing it was coming from me.

We are almost at the six week mark. The flowers delivered to the hospital have been enjoyed but are now gone. I’m thankful for the live plants that continue to brighten our home. I don’t have as many visitors. I’m fairly certain they don’t know what to say. I’m sick of having to use a walker to get to the bathroom and a shower transfer seat to take a shower. I’m tired of not being able to run to the store or go for a walk outside. I hate what a burden I am on my family to get the simplest of errands run.

During this time though, I’ve helped my son with tons of homework to try to ensure he can graduate. I’ve coordinated everything he needed for prom and even hobbled our to the yard to take pictures because I know I’ll want them. We’ve bonded and fought and sat silently together. We’ve resumed counseling and I know that too is a long road ahead of us.

I’ve learned that if I stand on one leg too long I get nauseous but that our kitchen is small enough that I can make meals and feed my family a few nights a week as long as I take breaks.

I’ve learned that while my company has been amazing in allowing me to work from home, I need to be in the office. I was not meant to work from home.

I’ve learned that binge watching Grey’s Anatomy is one thing, but watching a YouTube video of the same type of surgery they did to me makes me queasy.

I’ve learned that tiger balm is miraculous stuff. As is the calamine lotion I need for calming the itchy heat rash behind my knees from the braces that minimize knee pain.

I’ve learned that you can’t just sleep through recovery as hard as I’ve tried and sometimes you do need to walk it off.

I’m hopeful that my next appointment with the ortho gives me some timelines. When can I walk unassisted… when can I drive… when can I have my life back…

Yes… I’m grateful I’m alive. It could have been much much worse. I’m just still angry that this could have been avoided and ready to figure out my next normal.

Many have asked about the other driver… I googled (like you do) and learned that she’s a 60 year old first grade teacher, but no longer listed in the school’s staff directory. I know that she’s had two previous DWI charges that resulted in almost non-existent jail time due to having a good lawyer it seems. As good as my Google fu is, I don’t know what’s happening with her. I have a lawyer to handle all of that and I’m grateful for that as well because the one thing I don’t need is an excuse to dwell on my anger. She’s not worth that kind of energy.

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Comments

  1. I am so very glad you are ok — and you re 100% validated in your feelings of frustration, etc. I pray that the appt gives you a clear and helpful timeline!!!
    Lydia brilliantly penned… Wild Child (a poem)My Profile

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