Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Accident

Was my last post about change? I'm still amazed how the tiniest change can affect so much of your life. The tiniest extra minute that I spent getting ready for work one morning... that put me on the freeway one minute later. The tiniest couple of seconds another driver on the freeway spends looking at something other than the road. The tiniest fracture in my back. My world is different right now because of those tiny little things. Hopefully one day, my current predicament will just seem like a tiny part of my life.

Wednesday, April 6th I was involved in a freeway car accident. A driver two cars behind me wasn't paying attention, couldn't stop fast enough, swerved out of our lane, lost control, hit me directly on the rear driver side of my car. I was knocked unconscious and ended up running into the car in front of me.

I have seen one accident in my life where the Jaws of Life were cutting the car open to save the driver. I remember thinking how scary that would be. I've passed a few accidents with paramedics on scene and you see someone on a stretcher being loaded up into the ambulance. I always say a little prayer for them and hope they're okay.

It's incredibly surreal to be the one lying in your car in so much pain. Staring at the deflated airbags, the smashed windshield. Accepting a stranger's coat. Holding another stranger's hand as she cries and asks you if you're okay. Wondering which one of them hit you. Calling your husband and then forgetting what you said to him. Feeling the pain in your back and wondering if you'll be okay and how you're going to get out of the smashed car. Listening to the side of your car being cut away. Being transferred onto a hard board. Getting your head strapped down. Not caring if they cut off your clothes. Watching a paramedic call your husband on your own cell phone and telling him where they're taking you. Being asked basic questions, "How long have you been married?" "How old is your baby?" and answering, "I don't know, I don't know."

Thank goodness for shock - that state your body goes into during traumatic situations. I didn't reach the hospital until 45 minutes after the accident, but it felt so much faster. If I would have been thinking clearly I don't know that I could have handled the scariness of it all.

At the ER I was given some strong pain medicine and sent directly to the CT scan. A few minutes later the nurse told me I had fractured the bone that connects my spine to my pelvis. That didn't sound good. I took comfort that I could move my toes. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink until late afternoon (hours later). The orthopedic surgeon had to look at the scans first and tell me whether I would be getting surgery that day. The shock had worn off and I was growing worried about a surgery, long recovery, complications, worst-case scenarios.

Finally the orthopedic surgeon came in to tell me my sacrum was fractured. The bone at the base of your spine between your hips. He felt that it would likely heal without surgery. If not, a 4 inch screw would be placed. No weight on my right leg for at least 6 weeks. A painful fracture. Painful recovery. If I'm careful, no surgery. Hopefully.

I took some comfort in no surgery but some sadness in realizing life would be a little difficult for awhile.

I stayed in the hospital 5 days. The second day a physical therapist made me sit up. Then stand up. So much pain! He asked me my pain level and I screamed, "TEN!" He left me alone for the rest of the day. The next day he came in again. Made me sit up, stand up. It was a little better. He had me take a couple of steps with a walker. Pain. He let me sit back down. I screamed a type of scream I've never heard myself scream. Right in his face. That sitting down HURT! I was depressed. I can't do that for 6 weeks.

Slowly but surely, in between the demoralizing experiences that come when you're bedridden in a hospital, I was able to get the hang of moving enough to finally make it into the bathroom on Sunday morning. After proving I could get out of bed and to the bathroom they decided they could let me go home.

I live in a basement. Stairs! Luckily my aunt, who owns the home we live in and lives upstairs, had an extra room upstairs that she's letting me live in. Sometimes I lie in bed. Sometimes I sit in a chair. Jonathan and Hattie still live downstairs. It stinks. I miss sharing a bed with Jonathan but I'm afraid to right now. I can't check on Hattie while she's sleeping anymore. I can't carry her. I can't pick her up off the floor. I can't meet her needs. I can't be alone with her. Boo!

Yesterday I was going crazy from sitting inside at home. I went to Costco with my Mom, Jonathan, and Hattie. I used my wheelchair. Little kids stared or smiled at me. Employees offered me extra samples. I'm a handicapped person! It's only for a couple of months. I'm so lucky.

Looking at pictures of my smushed car, I realize how lucky I truly am to be alive. To not be paralyzed. My sacrum is probably broken because of the seat belt, but I likely would have died without it. Many family-members, friends, and coworkers have sent flowers, games, books, movies, treats, dinners, cards. I feel very loved and taken care of. No matter how much I wish I could be the one to meet Hattie's needs, there are many people willing to do it for me. I'm so grateful for that. I have a friend who is an attorney helping me sort out insurance settlement stuff free of charge. So thankful! My aunt is a Licensed Nurse Practitioner who can reassure me that that lump in my thigh is not a blood clot. Blessings!

This has been scary, painful, frustrating, embarrassing, demoralizing, boring, annoying, and depressing but I am so grateful it's temporary. It's going to suck to see my muscles in my right leg deteriorate to nothing. It's hard to wonder if my baby is learning to love others more than me. It's frustrating to have to rely on Jonathan to bring me food, help me shower and dress, get this and that for me. I hope he doesn't hate me by the end of this.

It will end. I will heal. It will stop hurting. I can gain muscle back. I won't miss the whole summer. I have a lot of support. I can do this! (Maybe if I say that enough it will be true.)

Everyone, PLEASE, watch where you're going on the road! You're driving a 4000 lb machine at high speeds. Watch where you are going!

Sadly, no matter how much you watch where you're going, you are still taking a risk by driving. People forget every day that they are driving 4000 lb machines. And they text. Gr!