I was a nurse. I worked in an Operating Room. I was 40 years old. That was on March 22, 2013.
I had worked way too many hours. My last memory is I had worked 33 hours straight in OR (operating room) and I was exhausted. I had left work to head home. I was turning up my road at the light. I don’t remember anything else after that or from the wreck.
I read the State Trooper report that I had had fallen asleep. He measured the whole wreck and said there were no marks, no black marks on the road. Nothing. When I wrecked, apparently I hit 2 trees, went down a 14 ft. cliff before stopping at the bottom. I don’t remember falling asleep. I also was not wearing my seatbelt. I was approximately 2 minutes from my home when everything changed for me.
I was dead at the scene. I was bleeding in my brain and gained fluid, so they airlifted me to the hospital. I was in a coma for 9 months. I broke 27 bones in my body including every bone in my face but my nose. I had cracked my skull in 3 places. They couldn’t do surgery at all due to hemorrhaging in my brain and fluid build up. I was on life support.
I don’t remember any conversations while I was in a Coma. I do remember that at one point I was going towards a light. I saw my mom. This is significant because my mom died in 2007 and after seeing her, I then came back and woke up.
I was paralyzed and couldn’t talk at all then. It was frightening and horrible. I started praying in my head cause I couldn’t talk. I was asking God to help me.
When I woke up the Doctors told me that I would never walk or talk again. I had the mindset of a 12 year old right after the wreck. They told me I would not recognize myself and to prepare myself for that because I had broken every bone in my face except my nose. I even broke my eye bones and ear bones. It took a lot of time, but they healed. My face looked different, even to me. My cheekbones were not where they were previously. They healed in a higher position.
A few months later I started walking and talking. I had also acquired a TBI and PTSD. It is very hard fighting my brain daily. It never stops running.
I do think my memory is great, which is the opposite of what most people experience. I don’t forget anything and it drives me crazy. My brain never stops thinking. I can think of 50 things in 10 mins. I have insomnia now as well. It is hard to sleep due to my brain not wanting to stop. I was told by everyone that it seems most of my other memories are still intact.
So many people do not understand me. I am a different person now in a lot of ways than before the wreck. In other ways some parts of me just got accelerated. I have not had any plastic surgeries, though some people think that I have. My face was so badly fractured that it healed so differently than the way it was before.
My horse is amazing therapy for me. She accepts me for who I am. She is a disabled horse. She was beaten and is now blind in one eye. I wanted desperately to relate to someone who could understand my disability. I found this in Lacey (my horse). We have a gentle understanding and respect for each other.
Life has been hard since my TBI. I still have my nursing license – they did not take it. However, I am totally disabled and will never work again.
I would say the most difficult things I have to deal with and have had to adjust to are trying to control my brain over my body. I struggle with my motor skills. I overthink things. I have really bad anxiety now. I get scared over lots of things that didn’t bother me before (like lots of traffic, big crowds). I am now scared of heights. I am not sure why though. The Doctors who take care of me now say that my brain lets me know heights are scary because of the way I flipped over and over again. I still sometimes have a hard time accepting that I cannot remember the wreck.
There are a lot of positives and good things that have come out of my experience. I would say it has intensified my cleaning and need for things to be in specific spots. I would say that life has a bigger meaning for me. I am more grateful. I appreciate everything and do not take it for granted. While I feel strong in my points of view now, I also feel I have more humility.
I worked very hard to get my independence back separate from my family. I moved away. They still acted like I was dead and like they didn’t know me. I continued to work on myself to get back to relating at an adult level. I became much stronger as time went on. I never gave up on myself. I thank God every day. I feel special that he chose to keep me here.
I currently still see about 8 different Doctors per month. I see a Brain Surgeon, Neurologist, Eye Doctor, Hip Doctor, and a Bone Doctor for my back. I have PTSD and this is a part of me for life now. My anxiety seems to be the worst part though. I have had no formal therapy, just my horse.
I had become a loner and withdrawn. I didn’t get close to others. I couldn’t get close to them. I am not even sure why. This went on for a long time.
I have a very powerful story. It is sad in a lot of ways. I am living proof though that miracles happen. I want people to see that Miracles happen. That is what telling my story is about. My wreck was March 22, 2013. I was 40 when I got in my wreck. I just turned 44 on November 2, 2016. I am still alive.
The messages I want other people to get from my story encompasses a few things.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Don’t listen to others when they encourage you to work past exhaustion. I was told “you’ve done this before, you’ve got this!”….Obviously, I didn’t “have it”.
- Set healthy boundaries with your workload.
- Don’t drive when you are exhausted.
- The moment you actually believe it can’t happen to you, it will. I didn’t think it could happen to me. I lived well I had a good life. I lost everything.
I lost my career. I loved Nursing. I graduated in 2000. I had worked in nursing 13 years in the dental field before that graduation. I also participated in Rodeo’s.
I lost everything in a blink of an eye.
Everything, except my life.
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