5.17.2011

3 Years Ago Today...

(Warning: I am not the greatest or most eloquent writer but I tried. Also this is the Longest. Post. EVER.)

So I've mentioned it a few times in passing but...3 years ago today I was in a car accident. I know people have been in worse ones but it completely changed my life and I can honestly say it has been for the better. I mean some stuff still sucks, the experience itself sucked, but my outlook on life is much better.

Here's what happened...
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was hanging out with some friends, Kevin and Porn (his real name is Dan, but we call him Porn). Porn needed a new pedal or something for his bike and they didn't have it at the local bike shop. We all piled in my car and drove to a different bike shop in the next town over.
At this point my sister and I were sharing an apartment and had planned on having a party that night. No special occasion but I was in charge of picking up the keg. We left the bike shop and headed to the beer distributor. I had no idea where I was.

I have lived in PA for 5 years now and still hardly know where anything is if it isn't near where I have or do live and work. At that point, it was even worse!
We drove a back way from Bethlehem to Allentown and I just followed the directions they were giving me. We came to a stop sign and Porn told me to make a left. Kevin said "No, I don't like that intersection, go right." So I went right. We came to another stop sign and I had to make a left. There was no one coming from the right and when I looked to the left, that car was turning onto the street I was on. So I made a left.
There was another car behind that one that sort of went around the turning car and plowed right into me. Total T-Bone. I never saw that car until it was about a foot to the left of me. I saw Kevin curl up into a ball and everything went in slow motion.

I always thought that was bullshit in movies but it's not. Everything literally went in slow motion. Probably because I got hit square in the face with the air bag.
I came to and realized my car was spinning so I slammed on the brakes but I don't think it did anything. At some point I also realized that my car door was being smashed in on me so I put my left hand on the door as it was coming in at me, my right hand on the center console and lifted myself up. I didn't have my seat belt on. If I had my seat belt on...well...I'll get to that in a minute.

Once the car stopped I heard Porn in the back seat moaning and I was crying and saying over and over "I can't believe this happened, Oh my God, I can't believe this happened." I looked in the rear view mirror, since I was holding myself practically up in the air it was right in front of my face and saw blood was pouring down my face. That's when it hit me that this had really happened. I started crying and screaming for Kevin to get me out of the car. He got out, ran around to my side and tried prying the door open but no dice, it was completely smashed in. Then I wanted to try and crawl out through the passenger door. That is when I realized by left foot was smashed under the door and totally stuck. Again I screamed and Kevin came and helped me yank my foot out. Once my foot was out I tried again to crawl over the console and had the most excrutiating pain shoot through my back and down my legs. Something was very wrong, I was fucked and knew I had to wait for the cops to show up.

So here I am waiting for someone to come help me. I was stuck in the car, holding myself up because the car door was so far in that there was no seat for me to sit on. I noticed all these people lingering around and looking in the car at me. I asked the first few if they were in the other car and they all said no. Turns out across the street is a park and all these assholes came to stare at me. I started cursing at them and they stood back. Then the fire engines and ambulances and cops showed up.

They asked me my name and birthday about 100 times. They told me they were going to have to cut the door off with the "jaws of life" so this kid, I swear he was younger than me gets in the passenger side and puts a blanket over me to cover the flying glass and metal. I was in so much pain at this point, I kept holding onto him for dear life and crying. His name was Matt but I kept calling him Sir for some reason, and telling him I was so sorry for crying and screaming in his ear and all he kept saying was "It's ok, everything will be ok". I don't know when but they put one of those stupid neck braces on me and once the door was off they somehow got this wooden board behind me before they lifted me out of the car. I was crying and in so much pain, all I wanted was to go home.

Here is what my car looked like...


See how there was no where for me to sit!


So now I'm in the ambulance with these 3 guys, all around my age who start poking me, sticking needles in me AND THEN cutting my clothes off!! I looked right at the guy cutting my pants off and said "I'd like to at least know your name before you see me totally naked!!" They all laughed and he told me his name was Alexander. Somehow, through all this shit I kept my sense of humor.

I get to the emergency room. Again, everyone asks my name and birthday a million times. The entire time since I was removed from the car I was laying on my right side. Anytime I tried to roll flat on my back, I had blinding pain. These ER people are pushing me and poking me and God only knows what else and all I keep saying is "Fuck, Fuck, Fuck" because anytime I was slightly moved, pain jolted through my body. This bitch of a nurse looks at me and says "Can you watch your mouth please?" I snapped back "Can you shut YOUR mouth please?!" Man I can be a jerk!
Anyway...then this doctor sticks his finger up my butt to make sure I wasn't bleeding internally. No warning or anything, just BAM finger in the butt!! I yelled right at him "Haven't I been through enough!?" He giggled.


I don't remember a whole lot after that because they began dopeing me up. I know I was just in the hallway of the hospital waiting to get a CAT scan and other crap when all of a sudden, my sister runs past me! I hear her come to a hault and run back at me. She instantly starts crying and freaking out that I'm just in the hallway.
At some point I was moved to a tiny room, again waiting for tests and a cop comes in. This guy is basically interogating me to see if I was on my cell phone (I was not) or if I had been drinking or doing drugs that day (I had not) and then he writes me a ticket for not having my seat belt on! As he is writing this ticket he says "You're lucky you didn't have it on though, you would have been decapitated." Totally nonchalant like he was giving me the weather report. My sister told him he was an asshole and to hurry up and get the fuck out. Us Toohey's don't give a shit man!! LOL
Anyway...I got a bunch of tests done and was put in ICU. All in all I had broken my pelvis in 3 places, broke my ankle and "degloved" my heel. This last part they didn't realize until after they went in to fix my ankle. My heel basically flipped inside out but didn't break the skin. My eye was also jacked up but I didn't have any serious injuries to my face. Which I was very concerned about (vain).
I was in ICU for 2 days and had amazing male nurse, Kelly. He tucked me in just like my Dad used to when I was little and covered me in about a billion blankets because I was so cold.

Tuesday I had surgery to put an External Fixator on my hips. I was so doped up for those 8 days, I hardly remember anything. I know I had a lot of visitors and phone calls. I know I had a little button I could push every 15 minutes to injec
t myself with morphine and just stared at the clock counting down the minutes. I was woken up multiple times of the night to give blood and started calling the nurses vampires.
It sucked. A lot.

This is a close up of the external fixator.



The following Sunday I was moved to Good Shephard Rehab. The first thing I remember is that as soon as I was in a room a nurse asked me what time the nurses at the hospital had changed my dressings. I had no idea what she was talking about. Again she asked, what time did they change my bandages. I told her they've never been changed. The look that came across her face scared the shit out of me. Without a word, she walked right out of the room and came back with another nurse and 2 doctors. Where the external fixator was attached to my hips there were open wounds. Three of them. Apparently these bandages were supposed to be changed 3 times a day. The nurses at the hospital did not change them once, not once in the 6 days those wounds were there!! They were so painful and almost itchy but I didn't think twice about it. Come to find out this was because the gauze was all dried out and poking my open wounds. Gross! The doctors and nurses told me that I could have had a staff infection so they had to take my blood to make sure I didn't. I also heard the other nurse saying that the hospital I was in "was a disgrace" WHOA!

Anyway...I ended up doing occupational and physical therapy there. The women who work at that rehab center are literally angels on Earth. I have such a respect for nurses after going through that because what those women had to do for me and the other patients there, I don't even know if I could do for loved ones. It was amazing. One example of their amazingness, a nurse on her lunch helped me take a shower. The only time I had taken a shower since the day of my accident. I mean she did this on her own free time because she knew how much better it would make me feel!!
I was there for 8 days and then went home.

I was so excited to be going home...until I was actually there. I realized I would now be living at home in a wheel chair and I burst into tears. I hadn't actually felt sorry for myself yet or fully realized the situation, I had just been going through the motions.
In order to take a shower, my mother or sister had to help me in and out. Totally changed those relationships!! I had to sit on a chair in the shower. I had to sleep in a hospital bed. I had to use the bathroom with a special attachment because the real toilet was too low. I had to change my bandages 3 times a day. I had to sleep flat on my back, no rolling over, no laying on my side. My arms constantly fell asleep at night because I didn't move. I was constantly in pain. All in all it sucked.
But thank God for family and friends. I only got through those months because of my family and friends. My sister waited on me hand and foot. My mother would leave work to bring me food and do my laundry. Kevin's brother left me his play station so I could play Guitar Hero all day. My Dad drove from work (1 1/2 hrs) at least once a week to visit me. All my friends came to our apartment every weekend to party since I couldn't leave the house. My neighbor and sister's boyfriend carried me out of the house in my wheelchair, put me in Liz's car so she could take me to see fireworks on the 4th of July. The first time I had been outside since I went home from rehab.
July 7th I got the external fixator removed. The job I had previous to this I was only a temp, no insurance or anything. I had been seeing all the hospital, doctor and rehab bills. I opted to have this thing removed from my hips in the doctors office, no surgery, no anesthesia, nothing so that it would be cheaper. It was pure torture, some Saw movie shit. The doctor had to literally use a wrench to unscrew these GIANT screws from my hips bones. I screamed bloody murder which I'm pretty sure terrified all the other patients, I bled all over the doctor and that little room and if I had to do it again, I would have gone to the hospital.
At the end of July I had a nurse come to my house who did exercises with me and helped me start walking again. I had to use a walker for a while but by the end of September I was on crutches. The beginning of October I was back to work part time and going to a rehab place for exercise and what not twice a week. That's right about the time I met Jeremy (I met him Friday October 3rd, I went back to work that Monday). I was constantly in pain because I still had a giant screw in my back. It was inserted on my left side and holding the main break at the back of my pelvis together. The bad thing is that it went right across a joint so I always had shooting pains if I moved a certain way. I had it removed that December though.

I still have a screw in my ankle. And tons of scars. At first I was very self concious of these giant purple scars all over my hips and foot. Now I don't care so much.
There were times that I cried myself to sleep and wallowed in self pity. I couldn't walk, had no money, was a burden on everyone I loved and was in pain 24 hours a day. There were also times that I marveled at how blessed I am. How lucky I am to have a sister, mother and father who literally bent over backwards for me. I have friends who drove hours just to sit with me or take me outside. I have friends who spent every weekend of that summer in my house and buying me beer and cigarettes.
Before this accident, I pretty much took everything for granted. Not on purpose or because I was a self centered bitch. I think it was just because I never took the time to slow down and really look at my life. To really look at who and what I have.
Every day I am reminded of that accident. Every night when I wake up and have to roll over because my back hurts. Every morning in the shower and when I get dressed and see these scars, I remember everything.
I am fully aware now that I only have this one life. I only get one shot to be happy and live a wonderful life. I don't let any drama or nonsense take over my life. I do what I love and with who I love. I am extremely lucky to be walking or even alive. I will not take this life and the people who love me and who I love for granted ever again!

You shouldn't either!


Have a good day lovies!

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17 comments:

Amy said...

Wow. What an amazing and inspirational post! All of that and you still look like a rock star, even all drugged up in the hospital.
Thank you so much for posting all of that story! I loved every second. And you do have some amazing friends and family!

Meg Needles said...

Wow - you are amazing, and so are your friends and family.

sarah said...

what an inspirational post. it's amazing what we can go through and survive, only to come out stronger afterwards. thanks for sharing!

Marilyn (Pulp Sushi) said...

What a traumatic thing to go through, I'm so glad you were able to share this, it is inspiring. While reading this I couldn't help but think of my own experience 9 months ago, I wasn't in an accident but I had to have open heart surgery kind of unexpectedly but going the experience of hospitals, pain, drugs, nurses, scars - it really does change your perspective on alot of things. So glad you're ok now.

Hello there! My name is June said...

When you go through something this horrible, you realize what a gift life really is. Each day is truly a blessing. I've been there... someone hit me head on...on a bridge. It was slow motion like watching the Dukes of Hazard jump the median & come crashing in on me. Nowhere to turn. I'm here to tell the tale, but appreciate every day. The pain is there always, but I'm alive. Crafting keeps my mind off of it a lot which is probably why I do it so much. I've always wondered what happened to you when I saw your avatar on craftster, but was too shy to ask. I'm glad you are here! Do something to celebrate today! Call a friend, have a cupcake or a drink & relish the moment! Cheers!

"I Sew Cute"

Ashley said...

I knew you were fantastic before, but especially now after this. You're truly a fabulous person, miss. It's inspiring and a great reminder to make the best of life. You never know when it'll get taken away.

Pretty Penny Mae said...

Oh my goodness! What a horrible thing to go through, but what wonderful people your family and friends are. I can't imagine going through something like that. I've always been terrified of breaking my pelvis, it seems so painful. For what it's worth, I'm glad that you have a new outlook on life and are able to not taking anything for granted. A lot of people never understand how fortunate they really are.

Brooke

Jamie said...

Amy - I try to look like a rock star at all times LOL

Meg- thanks =D

Sarah - it definitely is amazing!!

Marilyn - open heart surgery sounds scary!! I hope everything is ok now!!

June - I took your advice and got a smoothie today =D

Ashley - I try to remember that as much as possible, you never know what tomorrow will bring! ps. I owe you a letter!!

Brooke - I'm glad I have a better outlook now too. I was definitely one of those people who didn't know how lucky I am. I'm glad I do now tho!!

Sarah said...

What an incredible post. ♥

That is the kind of story that gives you tingles and makes you ill and fills you with gratefulness and is just so overwhelming. You are one amazing lady, I hope I remember this tale for a long time so that I don't take things for granted. LOVE.

PuNk rAwK pUrL said...

i had to skim through the descriptive parts because i get squeamish over a bad hangnail...

but I super applaud your being able to keep your sense of humor throughout the process & for allowing this ordeal to make your life a bigger more badass awesome experience.

* said...

fantastic, heart felt post. thank you so much for sharing it...you are very brave. sometimes we go through horrific things in life and come out stronger on the other side.

Jamie said...

Sarah - thank you so much for the sweet words!

Tammy - there were some pretty gross things that would make ANYONE squeamish hehe!

Kym - I definitely did come out stronger because of this.

EVERYONE - Thank you so much everyone for your kind words!! I definitely didn't write this to be inspirational or anything, I kind of thought I was a little too matter of fact. I'm glad I was able to inspire and maybe make everyone take a moment and appreciate what they have. Xoxo

i have an idea said...

Wow, was not expecting that! Boy were you lucky :) Certainly gives living life a new meaning doesnt it? Thank you fo sharing xox

Mollie said...

Wow kid. You had long hair!

Erin Dawn said...

I had no idea this happened to you!!! I'm so glad you made it out safe and well...not worse. Was the other driver ever charged for anything? Oh Jamie, I have stories to tell you!!!!

Jamie said...

Donna - It sure makes me appreciate life a lot more =D

Mollie - My hair was soooo long!! Pretty much my whole life aside from my mom chopping it off when I went to Kindergarten and a horrible hair cut incident in 7th grade. I miss it a lot still =(

Erin - The other driver wasn't charged, I was at fault because I was at the stop sign =( I can't wait to hear these stories!!

ellecupcake said...

wow life is so precious, people so fragile. I'm so glad you are ok. Its so great that you see the positive things in life. What a crazy story to read at the start of my day! It's definitely changed how I will look at this day. Sometimes you need reminders. :)