This true story is part of a series. Please read Part One and Part Two first. Photos in this post might be upsetting. However, I think it is important to include them to bring awareness to the danger of driving drowsy, and how it can be equivalent to driving while intoxicated.
Beep, beep, beep. I can hear the constant lull of monitors. I know they’re connected to me. The room smells sterile. Everything is blurry. I hear voices. Reassuring voices that I’m okay. That my children are okay and safe.
I feel like I need to clear my throat, and I keep trying to cough. Jared tells me to not try to talk because of the breathing tube. It’s ironic because, I have a breathing tube, yet I find myself struggling to breathe. Jared is constantly calling a nurse to suction my throat to give me relief. He can tell it’s bothering me. Later on I find out that a wonderful nurse spent the entire night with me and Jared; suctioning frequently to give me temporary relief. A few days later I am able to personally thank him for what he did. His kindness and dedication meant so much.
I drift in and out of consciousness, yet I still seem to be fully aware of my surroundings.
I hear a woman’s voice in the background. She’s explaining to my husband that they’re going to try to remove the breathing tube. I’m practically jumping up and down inside. PLEASE take this thing out of me so I can BREATHE!
The second the breathing tube is removed, I can feel such relief. I can clear my throat, and I can breathe. Everything starts to come into focus. I don’t dare try to move. I know my body is very, very broken. Jared immediately tells me again that our boys are okay. Somehow I manage to ask Jared what day it is. I’m not sure how much time has passed. The accident happened Thursday evening, and it is now Sunday. For some reason, I thought more days had passed.
Next I ask what happened. Not why I’m in a hospital, with IV’s in both arms, hooked up to many machines. I am fully aware of the catastrophic car accident my entire family was in. I remember every tiny detail. Etched in my memory, forever. I’m asking just how bad is my condition…because I know it’s very bad. Jared takes a deep breath, and recites my injuries.
Beginning from the top of my body, working the way down…here they are:
I had a skull fracture, in two different places. I also had a hematoma…my brain was bleeding. I had a very large laceration on the right side of my head in the shape of a horseshoe.
Moving down to my neck. It was broken. So very, very broken. I had a C1 – C2 fracture, as well as a C6 – C7 burst fracture. A Burst Fracture means to break forcefully apart. Essentially, the bone breaks in multiple directions causing the vertebral body to be severely compressed.
My neurosurgeon had to operate on my neck twice. These two surgeries were critical to my recovery. To attempt to avoid any type of paralysis, it was urgent that I undergo a cervical spine fusion. This is usually done with a bone graft from the patients own bone. HOWEVER, because I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta, it wouldn’t be in my best interest to use my own bone. My surgeon opted for artificial bone in an effort to give me better results. He used a plate in my neck to essentially hold everything together. After that surgery was complete, my surgeon went and slept for a few hours, only to return shortly after for surgery number two. He chose to place my neck in a Miami J Collar rather than a Halo, because of the severity of my other injuries.
My sternum was broken, and I had contusions (bruises) on my lungs. My pelvis was broken in four places. They did not operate on my pelvis because my bones looked as though they could heal without further intervention.
I had a compound fracture in my left femur. This means the bone came out of my skin, and I have the scar to remind me everyday. The orthopedist placed a rod in my femur. That surgery occurred a few hours after my second neck surgery. He was also concerned if I would ever have much mobility in my knee area because of the trauma sustained.
My left tibia and fibula were both fractured. My surgeon decided against surgery, however, my right tibia was also broken, and a rod was placed to stabilize.
Yes. I was very, very broken. I had 15 fractures and my brain was bleeding.
Do you know that prior to this accident, I had only 15 fractures in my 33 years of life. In fact, I hadn’t had a fracture in 19 years. This is REMARKABLE for someone with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. However, in a split second, that all changed. My fractures doubled, and were more severe than anything I have ever experienced.
I was in the Critical Care ICU….which is really the worst ICU you’d ever want to be in. When you think of the word “critical,” you think of death.
With that being said, I was ALIVE! I miraculously pulled through and made it. I knew my road to recovery would be long, but as crazy as this may sound, I had a sense of relief. Yes. I was laying in a hospital bed unable to move, and I was broken in many pieces. But I was alive. My babies were okay. They were my motivation. I never ever stopped thinking of them.
Once Jared finished telling me all of my injuries, he told me there were many family and friends in the waiting area. They would all come in and see me, one at a time. So many people were there. My parents, my brother, my aunt and cousin, and my best friend.
Lincoln and Avery were at home being cared for by many family members…all trying their best to keep their lives as normal as possible.
I was so, so scared to see my mom. I think when you’re a mother, you come to understand your own mother in a whole new way. My children are my world. They’re my everything. As hurt as I was, they were always my first thought. Their safety. Their well-being. So now I understood more than ever how my mom felt about me….her child. And I didn’t want her to feel pain because of my injuries.
The next few days were very difficult. I was in a lot of pain, and I was still very scared about my future. Each time a doctor came into check on me, they asked me to wiggle my toes….which one day I FINALLY could! This was fabulous news, as they now believed I wouldn’t be paralyzed.
Because of the severity of my spinal cord injury, I suffered extreme nerve damage in my arms, hands, chest, and stomach area. This resulted in numbness and tingling sensations all throughout my body. My left hand was mostly effected. I didn’t realize just how badly until I tried to pick up my cell phone with my left hand and dropped it. My hand wasn’t strong enough. I also couldn’t do simple things like touch my fingers to my thumb. The list could go on and on….
Recovery was going to be hard. It wasn’t going to be easy. Did I know just how hard it was going to be? No. Not at that moment. But what I did know, was I was alive. Seeing your name in the newspaper as being listed in critical condition is a scary thing. Definitely something you NEVER want to see. But here I was. Breathing on my own. Confined to a hospital bed and unable to move at all. But I was alive. I survived.
Stay tuned for part 4…