This is my account of what happened the night of April 16, 2011. I still remember the details as if it just happened. Today is the 4 month mark since the accident. It's been a long, hard 4 months. I feel very blessed that I am still here to share this.
WARNING: I will share some photos. Some are not very pleasant to look at. I will post them at the end, so if you do not want to see them, do NOT scroll to the bottom of the post.
Ryan and I hadn't had a date night in awhile, I'm not even sure exactly how long it had been. We asked Ryan's parents to come over and stay with the boys so we could have a night out. Riley was nearing 4 years, and Eli was 17 months. We wanted some time for us in our always hectic schedule.
I had worked all day at the Nappy Shoppe. Ryan was home with the kids. Towards the end of the day at work, I stubbed my big toe, and it hurt like hell! When I got home to change for our night out, I decided to wear my flat slip on shoes, since my boots have a heel that hurt my toe too much to walk in them. Normally, I do wear boots while riding the motorcycle, but I didn't really think much of it. We were always safe, and I trusted Ryan 100%.
It was a rush as I arrived home from work. The kids were excited that their grandparents came over, while Ryan and I tried to get ready. At some point I nursed Eli, who was down to just a few nursing sessions a day. I don't remember the details or the last time I nursed him. It was so routine, I didn't really think about how special our time was.
Ryan and I told the boys goodbye, put on our leather jackets and helmets and hopped on the bike. I waved goodbye one last time as we drove off, with the kids and my inlaws watching and waving from our front yard. It was my first time riding with Ryan since before getting pregnant with Eli, so nearly 2 years.
We went to dinner, then decided to take a ride around Grapevine. We had no plans other than to enjoy our date. We rode over the dam, then headed back to downtown Grapevine. I wanted to visit the wineries and buy a bottle of wine I had tried on my birthday. A couple hours later, we decided to head home, a bottle of a blackberry merlot in my purse, tucked under my arm.
It wasn't even 11:00 pm, but I was tired after a long day. So I relaxed and enjoyed the ride, laying my head on Ryan's back, with my eyes closed most of the ride. Soon, we were just a few miles from home.
A pick-up truck exited the tollway to merge with the service road, so Ryan changed lanes. We were now in the middle lane. He decided to stay there since there were only a couple of cars, both behind us. The left lane is left turn only, and the middle lane can either turn left or go straight.
The light ahead was red, so Ryan and the other cars slowed down. As we approached, the light changed to green, so Ryan acccelerated and started to make the (legal) turn left. My eyes were closed again at this point. I was ready to be home so I could finally rest for the first time all day.
The bike leaned for the left turn, and suddenly I felt the worst pain of my life. It was excrutiating. My immediate thought was That car just tried going straight in a left turn only lane... I didn't see it coming.
The next thing I remember was laying on the ground, in the middle of the road, hearing Ryan calling out to me. I opened my eyes and saw him running toward me. In a state of shock, and fear that a car would run me over (I was in the middle of the intersection), he was yelling at me to get up.
I tried lifting my legs and the pain hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't do it. The pain, well, there are no words to describe how bad the pain was. I guess you could say it felt exactly how you would expect it to feel to have your leg crushed between a small SUV and a motorcycle. I rolled back and forth on my back, unable to stop. I yelled and cursed at how bad it hurt. I think I would have offended a sailor.
Ryan was there, asking if I was okay. Then I heard 2 other voices, one male and one female. I never saw their faces. I was too distraught, in too much pain, and my motorcycle helmet blocked my view. The man talked to me, trying to calm me down and get me to lay still. I settled on my left side, clinging to the bottom of my full face helmet. I tried to focus, but I was scared, hurt, and trying not to completely freak out anymore.
Ryan was behind me, and I kept asking if he was okay. He tried to reassure me he was fine, that he was concerned about me. I kept hearing the man and woman who stopped to help talking about how there was so much blood, they couldn't stop the blood. I honestly thought they were talking about Ryan. Later I found out it was mine. My left leg felt like every bone had been crushed into a million pieces from the knee down.
It wasn't long before the ambulance arrived, only a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Once they arrived, things moved quickly. They took Ryan to an ambulance. I was put on the backboard while they worked on my leg. I didn't know what they were doing. I just felt pain. They moved me to a stretcher, and took me to the ambulance. Ryan was inside, waiting for the second ambulance to arrive. We kissed goodbye, and they took him to the hospital in the other ambulance.
An officer asked if there was anyone they could call. I told them to call my inlaws, who were at home with my kids. And also my parents. I knew that this was the call every parent never wants to hear. And then it hit me just how hard this was going to be on my kids. How was this going to affect them? I was hurt, but I was worried for them. My heart ached and all I wanted to do was hold them. I also wanted Ryan there with me to hold my hand, but he wasn't. I felt so alone.
I remember repeating I can't believe this happend. We were just on a date How could this happen? I was told by the paramedics that there was no pulse in my foot, and they had to do "something" before they could take me to the ER. I didn't know, or really care, what that "something" was. I didn't ask, just told them to do what they needed to do. They had started an IV at this point, but told me the pain meds wouldn't help with what they had to do. The paramedic next to me, who had started the IV, took my hand. I still had my helmet on, so I stared at the ceiling of the ambulance. I squeezed his hand tight, and I remember thinking, That wasn't so bad. At least not compared to how it felt since my leg was crushed. I don't think it could be any worse than it already was.
They finally removed my helmet, and replaced it with a hard neck brace. So I was still unable to look around, much less down. I still had not seen what my leg looked like.
In the ambulance, I apologized for all the cursing I had done. They told me I had a right to say whatever I wanted. I think a combination of the shock wearing off and the medication running through the IV, but I was finally feeling a little calmer and not so panicked. Talking helped, to try to distract me from what happened, and from the pain. I even joked about how earlier that day I was worried about jamming my big toe (which just happened to be on my left foot).
Soon enough we arrived at the hospital. There were 2 hospitals closer, but this one had the trauma center level that could take care of me. I was later told that if we had been any further away by ambulance that I would have been careflighted to Dallas.
They wheeled me into a room, where Ryan was laying on a gurney. There was medical equipment between us, but at least we were in the same room and could talk to each other. Doctors and nurses moved about, talking to me. They cut off my clothes, which were all brand new. The paramedics briefed them on what happened. I don't remember anything that they said. Except for one thing. They told the hospital staff that I had a bottle of wine in my purse that was crushed, so that's why they smelled alcohol. I'm sure Ryan and I both smelled completely drunk, though we weren't.
The rest of the night is a blur of doctors and nurses talking to me, working on my leg, and a lot of waiting. I spoke with my parents on the phone, I think they said a prayer with me (but I honestly don't remember the exact conversation), and told me they'd be there in the morning.
The morphine they gave me for pain wasn't doing much except make me nauseous. I even got sick a couple of times. They gave me something to help the nausea, but it didn't help.
I cried a lot, thinking about how different things were going to be. I cried for my kids. I knew they were safe and just fine with my inlaws, but I still worried for them. Especially Eli. He was such a mama's boy, still nursing, and hated to be away from me. I worried about how he would do when he woke up and Ryan and I weren't there. I knew that our breastfeeding days were over. I worried about how Riley would handle seeing me in so much pain. I worried about how I could take care of my kids. Ryan was still on his gurney, so we couldn't even hold hands. And because of my neck brace I was unable to see him.
I was taken to have CT scans done. They scanned my head, neck, back, legs... pretty much everything. Back in the ER, the doctor came and told me the news. He said the good (and very surprising) thing was that not a single bone in my ankle was broken. That was extremely shocking, since I fully expected it to be crushed. So did he. I had broken my left fibula and right pelvic bone. He then told me about what they call a "degloving". The skin and pad of my heel had been peeled off of my foot, exposing the heel bone and achilles tendon. They needed to clean it up and reattach it to my foot. Which meant surgery.
They began stitching up Ryan's gash in his leg, but it was almost time for me to go to surgery. So they took me to a room somewhere, and soon after Ryan joined me. I had to throw away my contacts, so everything was fuzzy since I didn't have my glasses. My father in law would be bringing them soon, but he wouldn't be there until after I was taken back for surgery.
I was still feeling nauseous. I even got sick. Morphine was not what it's cracked up to be. It's bad stuff.
Around 7:00 am, they took me to the OR. I don't remember going. I just remember waking up in a room, with Ryan on the couch next to the bed. My left leg was propped up on pillows, my foot completely limp. The pain was still horrible, despite their attempts to give me enough medication to control it. A tube was attached to my foot. I found out later it was a wound vac.
I slept most of the day, the anesthesia still in my system. I was thankful I was even alive. I found out in the next few days that it was a 16 year old girl who hit us. I also learned that my head smashed her windshield, which is the only part of the accident I don't remember. Thank God for helmets. If it weren't for the helmet, I wouldn't be able to share this story.
The boys were brought up to see us later that day. Oh how I missed them! I knew it would be hard for them to see me in that condition, that it would probably scare them. But I also knew it would scare them more to not see me at all.
Riley was quiet, but would sit next to me on the bed. Eli wouldn't come anywhere close to me. But at least he wasn't screaming and crying. I much preferred that he be happy away from me than not wanting to let go of me. I was nervous that he would want to nurse, and I wouldn't be able to. You can read more about the end of our breastfeeding journey here.
Ryan stayed with me for the first several days, even though he was never admitted to the hospital. I'm glad he was there. It would have been much more difficult to be there, especially at night, by myself. I had another surgery on Wednesday, April 20. They had to put 2 screws in my ankle since a ligament broke due to the broken fibula. They placed another wound vac on, as well as a big heavy cast/splint.
Our life has changed. Our lives as individuals, and our life as a family. It has been extrememly difficult, and while we have had our ups and downs, I believe we are stronger because of it.
Ryan and I could have easily lost our lives that night. Riley and Eli could have been left without their parents. Eli wouldn't even remember us, and Riley would only remember bits and pieces. I thank God everyday that we are still here to hold our kids and to see them grow up into the amazing individuals I know they will be.
I don't think the reality of the accident set in until 3 weeks later. I had been home for less than a week, but I wanted to help out my boss at an expo. I was feeling okay and ready to do something useful. So Ryan drove me to the mall and unloaded me in the wheelchair. I was asked the same question I have been asked about a million times since the accident: "What happened to you?" One woman in particular stands out. After I told her it was a motorcycle accident 3 weeks prior, she stopped, a look of realization on her face. She asked if it was at a certain intersection, and I said yes. My first thought was that she was the mother of the girl who hit us. I didn't know what I would say to her. Then she told me that her husband was a first responder, an off-duty police officer who saw it happen on his way home.
He called his wife that night to tell her that he'd be late. He also told her that he thought it would be a fatlity accident.
It hit me then just how bad things could have been. I hid my emotions, and told her to let her husband know that my husband and I would be fine! She was more than happy to be able to tell him that. But her words sank in. I couldn't even pick her face in a crowd because I lost myself in my thoughts once I heard those words. Again, I thought of my kids. And about how thankful I was.
I believe the man who calmed me down was this woman's husband.
Here I am, 4 months later, and facing one more surgery (#5). This will be an easy one, to remove the screws in my ankle. It is scheduled for Friday, 8/19/11. (edited to add: surgery was rescheduled to Monday, 8/22.) I've finally been able to start walking without the boot or my crutches in the last 2 weeks. Physical Therapy is going well, though it's hard. Despite the accident, life still moves on. The world does not stop because we were hit by a car. Riley turned 4. Ryan has a birthday this weekend. Our 5th wedding anniversary is in a few weeks. We have tried to live as normal life as possible. It's just been a new normal.
I have been asked how I can have such a positive outlook through all of this. I answer that here. I have dealt with people who somehow don't realize that someone, somewhere always has it worse than you. Despite the crappy things that have happened in the last few months, I know that there are many people right now who are facing much more difficult situations than I. I truly believe it's all a matter of perspective. Yes, what happened to us was a horrible thing, but I will not dwell on the bad and what could have happened. I will focus on the good and what didn't happen.
When I say certain things or write certain posts, it's not to be "holier than thou". It's because I want to use my experience to help others realize that life, no matter how bad at times, is a beautiful thing. Something bad happened to us. But I have always believed that God will make something beautiful out of something tragic. And I believe He is doing that now. If our story touches just one person, then sharing it has served it's purpose.
Today I heard a song I haven't heard in awhile. So I thought I'd share.
"If You're Going Through Hell" by Rodney Atkins
If you're going through hell
Keep on goin', don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out before the Devil even knows you're there
If you're going through hell
Keep on movin', face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out before the Devil even knows you're there...
If you would like to read more about the months following the accident and how it has affected our family, you can read my posts here. I am always open to questions, so if you have any, feel free to post them in the comments or on my facebook page.
I have been asked by countless people to see pictures of my foot. If you are squeamish, you will want to close your browser now.
|Ryan's deep gash, total of 10 stitches.|
He now has a scar, but it has healed well.
|Ryan's bruising, 2-3 days post accident.|
|My foot, between 1st and 2nd surgery.|
The black you see is the wound
vac. The rest is tape. It was
completely limp and I was unable to move it.
|4/25/2011 Inside of left foot. |
Skin is beginning to die on back of foot.
|This was about 3 weeks post accident.|
The black is the dead skin/tissue.
The white is a cream I had to put on it.
This was a few days before the 3rd surgery.
|This was 1 week after the 3rd surgery, |
1 week before the 4th surgery (skin graft).
The plastic surgeon removed all of the dead tissue.
I had a wound vac on this to prepare it for the skin graft.
This is the first time I saw the skin graft,
5 days after the 4th surgery.
|This was right after the skin graft (4th surgery).|
|6/6/11. The back of my foot after the skin graft.|
My tattoo is still there!
At the top edge of the photo, in the center, you can see
the incision where the screws were put in my ankle.
|6/6/11. My outer left thigh. Donor site for the skin graft.|
|August 2011. This was also about 2 weeks ago.|
normal skin. It is still tender, but looking good.
|August 2011. This was taken about 2 weeks ago.|
The skin graft looks great! There is still one small
area at the bottom of my heel that has remained open.
Overall, it has healed well.