Chasity Lee Christian – Survivor

Chasity (before accident)

Hello. My name is Chasity. I am a single 34 year old as of this writing. I have always lived in Lebanon, TN and have never been married. I am no stranger to tragedy. I am no stranger to being thrust into life changing experiences that impact a life so greatly. Sometimes it is too painful to face. I want to say to those in my life, or who have come and gone from my life…

I understand, I am living it too. I know things are different for you, they are different for me too. I grieve the losses. I grieve the loss of myself. I am sorry it is painful for you to face, talk about and relive. I need to talk about it, I need to piece things together, as my memories aren’t there for me like yours are for you. I do find myself wondering sometimes how and why I survived and they didn’t. I don’t know if you wonder that, but if you do it’s okay. I understand. I need to tell my story. I need to heal and there is healing through story telling. Thank you for being patient with my repeated questions. I really am trying, even when you cannot see that I am.

My dad, my son, and me

I got pregnant young. On December 4, 2006 I gave birth to the sweetest baby I had ever seen. We named him Alton Brant Barrett. We called him “Brant”. He was my world and when I looked into his eyes I knew that my life was complete. After my maternity leave, I went back to work. Brant would stay with his grandparents (his dad’s parents) for child care while I was at work. Almost a full year had passed, after his birth, when the unthinkable happened. The events that followed would turn our lives upside down and completely change the dynamics of our entire family. A series of events that would seek to erase us one by one.

My grandma and dad

It all began on August 2, 2007 when I lost my paternal grandmother. This was a huge loss to my sister and I as our grandmother raised us and was there for us every day of our lives. It was also very hard for the whole family. She had diabetes and her sugars were really high and she ended up having a heart attack in her sleep. I missed her every day. Her death took a huge toll on our family as she was the rock that held us all together.

Before I knew it, it was November 14, 2007. I was unmarried and 20 at the time. I was a receptionist at a car dealership, something that required a fair amount of multi-tasking, great people skills, and required me to be really organized. I had just gotten off work and was driving on my way to pick up my 11 month old son (and the light of my life) Brant. I was running late. It was storming pretty bad outside and the roads were wet. I apparently hydroplaned in a puddle of water about a mile from where I was to pick up my son, lost control of the vehicle, went off the road, and crashed into a tree. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and I crashed into the passenger side windshield, hit my head, and ended up bouncing back onto the passenger side floorboard inside the vehicle. Thank God my son was not with me. I think about that a lot.

My son’s father has a brother. His brother heard the crash or a loud noise and went to investigate what happened and what the sound was about. I was due to pick up Brant to go to our home, so they were already looking for my arrival. I obviously did not arrive. My son’s father’s brother is the one who found me at the crash site.

I was taken by ambulance to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN and admitted soon after my arrival through the emergency room to the hospital. My son ended up remaining with his grandparents while I was in the hospital. Nothing about my recovery was easy as I lay there in a coma. My father (Mark Alan Christian) basically lived at the hospital the whole time I was there. and never left my side until I woke up. He even showered there. This was a huge thing to me.

Me in hospital

I stayed at Vanderbilt for roughly three months, until my release from the hospital the day after my 21st birthday on February 9, 2008. I was not ready to live on my own when I was released from the hospital due to the severity of my traumatic brain injury. I went home to my father’s house. When I got out, I was unable to care for my son still, due to my injuries. He continued to stay at this grandparents and I would see him as often as possible. Little did I know that this would be where my son would live for a number of years as I slowly healed and found my way back to life again. I will forever be grateful for their sacrifice of time, and love of their grandson to keep him safe, love him, and care for him on my behalf.

Paternal grandfather and my son

I had a lot of physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and lots of other medical appointments. I had difficulty walking. I was not able to climb stairs. Any more than a couple of stairs I need a railing. I had a severe brain injury and my memory was wiped almost clean. I couldn’t remember the accident at all. I still was having trouble with my memory as time went on. I walked all crazy and it was (and still is) hard to keep a straight line…but I get there. My short term memory is awful. I remember dates and stuff like that but it’s limited.

A series of events and relationships came unravelled for my dad and I over the next couple of years. He was heavily saddened by my medical state and seeing me the way I was. It was a struggle for him. It took until 2010 (two years) for me to be well enough to be able to move out of his house and into my own. Seeing me go through all of this, it flipped his world.

My Dad and my son

Right around then my dad had just gotten married. My father’s marriage affected him deeply. Many things affected him. This ranged from my accident, his own mental health, and personal issues of his own. It contributed to a huge change in him.

My Dad

On October 19, 2010 this man I knew as my father…. committed suicide. He had overdosed on prescription medications. I knew my father had many mental issues such as manic depression and other things I am not going into here. I believe this also contributed to him taking his life. I don’t think this is something to hide and be ashamed of. I think it is important to talk about mental health and how trauma changes people, not just the survivors.

My aunt Debra (my father’s only sister) has been my rock and the most reliable person in my life since my father’s death.

Paternal grandfather and my son

On July 29, 2011, three years later after the wreck I was in, tragedy struck again, only eight months after my father had died. My aunt came with a co-worker to the apartment I shared with my boyfriend. She told me that my son’s paternal grandpa was taking my son to the park to ride his bike and they were stopped at a red light. They were hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light going about 60mph and ended up killing both of them instantly. Somehow my Aunt was notified first before me. My precious little boy who had already lost so much, now had his like taken and went to be with Jesus in heaven. It seemed so unfair. I was devastated and angry. He was injured so badly they had to have a closed casket. I was allowed to open it though and see my Brant one last time before the funeral. It was almost too much to handle. He was everything to me…my son; so handsome and so very smart. He is at peace now though, thank the Lord.

I have been unable to return to a job at this point. I am not able to work confidently. I still have problems with my memory. I barely remember from day to day. Getting around is difficult for me. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I don’t cry much.  I put up walls they call it. I run from things and from feelings. I’m able to block a lot out, however it all just hits me at once sometimes and I get overwhelmed. My right side was affected from the accident. It has also caused carpal tunnel on left hand (caused by over usage where my right hand kinda lay deadish forever). I had to make myself use it and still do. I kinda walk with a slight limp. A kid from church said last week I walked funny. God Bless him, he doesn’t know better. I am grateful and thankful that I have Medicare, that has helped tremendously. I also am on Social Security disability and am thankful for this also. Anything I may think would be enjoyable to do I am limited on. I am unable to just hop on a bicycle and go for a ride. I spend my time going to the park often, watching TV, journaling, and going to church. I guess a good way to put it is that I am limited on what I can enjoy. I just ended an 11 year relationship that also helped me pass the time. All the changes took a toll on us as a couple.

In 2014 my mother died of Ovarian Cancer. I have a younger sister, but we have drifted apart over the years as our lives took us in different directions. We wanted and are doing different things. Our aunt is all I have anymore in regards to family. She has been very good to me and helped me tremendously. She even has taken on raising my sister’s daughter who is 4 now. Our aunt is everything to me. Both of my parents are gone. My son is gone

Driving gives me anxiety still. In fact, I recently had another accident where I hit a light pole. My tire barely went off the road, I overcorrected and it shot me in the opposite direction. Then they tried to make me pay for the pole. Apparently I have bad luck with trees and poles. I totaled the car, but this time I walked away. I had my seatbelt on this time.

My biggest struggle at this point are my memory issues. I have trouble with my memory every single day and continued to as time went on. Every day it is a struggle to remember what happened the day before. I also struggle with balance issues, any more than a couple of stairs I need a railing still, and finding the right words to use at the right time is a challenge. I keep getting better than I was yesterday and that is my personal goal – to just keep improving each day.

I wanted to tell my story because I wanted to help other people. I hope my story can make a difference to someone; and if there is a message I can give to others out there, it is to slow down and wear your seat belts.

Chasity Christian

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