Growing up, I had a pretty normal childhood, but was searching to fill the God shaped hole inside me with things of this world. I ended up getting hurt and discouraged over and over, until my accident. Through my accident, I met Jesus and have been forever changed. God has blessed me more than I can express.
A pain stricken scream scares me as I try to take in my surroundings until I realize the painful screaming is coming from me. Smoke seeps out of the steering wheel and steam pours out from under the hood. Terrified I’ll die if I stay in the car, I grab the door handle, but the driver’s side door won’t open. With pain shooting through my body, I drag myself over to the passenger side door and pull on the door handle, but it too won’t open. Crying and screaming, I pull myself up onto the center console and reach for the back doors, but they also won’t open. Why is this happening? What am I going to do? I have to get out of the car! I don’t want to die; I’m only 21 and have so many things I want to do. Back at the driver’s seat again, I kick at the side window causing stabbing pain through my back.
I reach for my keys, still in the ignition, and turn them. Somehow, despite all the damage around me, my Subaru actually cranks on and the window rolls down. Adrenaline floods my body as I pull myself through the open window. Water splashes under my feet as I stumble toward the fifty-foot cliff rising in front of me and begin to climb over boulders towards the cliff. I use the fencing holding the rocks together in a wall and pull myself towards the road. When I near the top of the mountain, I use branches and anything I can grab to pull myself to the guardrail. Reaching out towards the few cars driving by, I pray, God I need you now. I know I don’t know you well and I haven’t been living my life for you, but I need you now. I’m broken and hurt and can’t do this on my own.
As I clutch the guardrail, a semi-truck slows down and pulls off to the side of the road. I stand up and make my way toward the driver, every step in agony. The driver jumps out of the truck and runs toward me, taking quick glances over the cliff at my crumpled car lying below. He reaches for my arm and guides me back towards the guardrail, “Here sit down,” he says, “Is there anyone else in the car?” he asks. I shake my head as the tears stream down my face. “Where are you hurt?” he asks. The only answer I can give him is an incoherent scream. A man in a white car comes from around the corner and pulls off to help, running towards us. He introduces himself to me and the trucker, telling us he is an off-duty paramedic. The trucker informs him that he is a part time trucker as well as police officer. “Here, take my car and go and get help,” the paramedic tells the police officer, handing him his keys. The paramedic feels for any obvious injuries and then lowers me to the ground to lie down until help can get there. He tries to cover my face to protect me from the pounding rain. Another car stops and a woman jumps out and informs us she is an off-duty EMT and a volunteer fire fighter. I lie whimpering and screaming on the ground as the paramedic fills her in on the story and the trucker drives back with his car. The EMT and Paramedic carefully lift me into his car to get me out of the rain. “The paramedics are on their way. I have my son’s blanket in the truck, I’m going to go grab it,” the police officer states, as he turns to go back to his truck. “Are you allergic to any medications?” the EMT asks? “Yes,” I reply, “Penicillin. It hurts to breathe. My inhaler is in the car,” I whisper. I start to close my eyes, “Can you help me take off my boats? I can’t reach them,” I ask quietly. The EMT and Paramedic carefully remove my shoes as the police officer comes running back with his son’s blanket. I can hear them talking, but can’t understand them. I’m so tired and I don’t know why. I got a good night’s sleep last night, but I just want to close my eyes and take a nap.
Flashing lights keep me from falling asleep. A fire truck and an ambulance drive past us and pull off to the side in front of the semi-truck. A state police officer walks over to me and starts talking, but I can’t comprehend what he’s trying to tell me. The paramedics arriving on scene run over to find out what happened then run back and grab the backboard to bring over to the car. The state troopers question the three people who had stopped to help me as the paramedics attempt to get me out of the car. They try to move the backboard carefully under me, as agonizing pain shoots through my body and screams bellow out from deep within. They manage to maneuver me onto the backboard, then strap me down and roll me to the ambulance. The paramedics looked down at the scene of the accident and consulted with the police men and the wonderful people who stopped to help me. Realizing how bad the wreck is, they come back and duct tape me down to the backboard. As we pull away from the scene of the accident, the paramedic sitting with me said, “No one should have been able to live through that accident.”
He hooks me up to an IV and asks if there is anyone I want to call. I ask him to call my mom to let her know more details and to let her know which hospital we’re heading to. The pain continues to get more excruciating, but after a thirty-minute ride, we make it to the hospital. Am I going to be paralyzed? Am I going to live the rest of my life in a wheel chair? Will anyone ever want to marry me if I’m paralyzed?
As I’m wheeled through the big double doors, bright lights flashing above me is all I can see. Doctors, nurses and the paramedics talk above me about what had happened as if I’m not there. The paramedics show them the pictures of my car, and over and over, everyone tells me that I shouldn’t be alive. Pain radiates through my body, getting worse by the second. “1, 2, 3” one of the doctors says, and they lift the board off the stretcher and moved the backboard onto the hospital bed. Nurses surround me and cut my soaking wet clothes off me, making sure I’m still duct taped to the board, then covering me with warm blankets. I don’t know what’s happening. People are coming in and out of the room, taking x-rays, giving me medicine, and I drift in and out of sleep.
The x-rays show I have no injuries; relief rushes over me. How is it possible being in this amount of pain that I have no injuries? Slowly the doctors peel the tape off, unbuckle me, and roll me off the backboard. The pain is more than words can describe, and all I can do is scream. I can’t catch my breath, I can’t stop screaming, and my chest burns. The nurse puts ointment on my chest, telling me I have a burn from where the airbag hit me. The blankets are getting wet and heavy. As I slip in and out of sleep, the nurses stack more blankets on top of me and continue to pump me with pain medication.
After an agonizing three hours, the nurses get me to a standing position and discharge me from the hospital. We started the two-hour trek back to my apartment to pick up a few things before heading to my parents’ house yet another two hours away. I can’t move without help. I can’t stand. I can’t walk. I can’t go to the bathroom by myself. My parents gave me a bell to ring for when I need help. The pain is intense and I can’t get comfortable. I am 21 years old, and I can’t even get up to take a shower. I spent the next two weeks at home visiting different hospitals and getting no results. Each hospital told me there was too much swelling, so they couldn’t tell what was really wrong. They gave me more and more medication to help ease the pain. My grandparent’s neighbor gave me a walker to use in hopes that I would be able to get around on my own. I can’t stand up to get to the walker, but if my dad helps, I can use the walker to take a few steps. The pain feels like it is more than I can handle.
A month after my accident, I land at Harborview in Seattle. The doctors can’t believe what they see in my CT scan. As my doctor put it, I broke my bagel off my stick. He has only seen another fracture this bad once and it was from a motorcycle accident where the gas tank on the bike went into that man’s pelvis. He says that there is no way that I could have sustained these injuries from a passenger car.
After multiple tests and x-rays, the doctors at Harborview told me that I have more movement and feeling then I should. They said that I should be paralyzed from the waist down and will never be able to have children. The doctors decided to not perform surgery to prevent further damage. I will never forget the doctor looking at me and saying, “The only reason you are alive and not paralyzed is because of God.”
Following the accident, I had to take a quarter off of college. During that time, I would lay on my couch and read the Bible. I got a crash course in what it means to be a Christian. At times I felt hopeless and wanted to give up. I had made so many unforgivable mistakes in my past and was in so much physical agony, I wanted to give up, but God supplied me to get through one day at a time. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life” Matthew 8:22 (MSG Version). Through the years, life hasn’t always been easy, but I have always had hope and joy with God pulling me through. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” Romans 15:13 (ESV Version). Living in constant pain can be difficult, and I complain way to much about it, but I’m thankful God forgives and uses my story to bring him glory. Despite being told I should have died, I’m alive. Despite being told I wouldn’t be able to walk, I can walk. Despite being told I would never have children, my husband and I have a beautiful daughter. God has truly blessed me.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” Ephesians 2:8-9