Recently, I posted this about a woman I knew who was in a horrible horseback riding accident. We had reconnected via email and were planning to get together.
What I never blogged about, however, was my other girlfriend who was in a terrible car accident right before Christmas. She was pulling out of a parking lot and was hit straight on by a police cruiser going at a high rate of speed.
The pictures from the accident on the front page of our local paper were horrific. She, thankfully, drove a car they say saved her life that afternoon, but to see it all mangled with the roof cut off and a picture of her being air lifted to a Boston hospital really shook me. In fact, my husband was stuck in the traffic caused by the accident but unaware it was Angela.
I've never asked her for details, but I do know she said she had stopped to let him go by and for some reason she remembers him coming straight at her on the drivers side. He was checked out and released. My girlfriend wasn't so lucky. [No, he never called or stopped by to check in on her, in case you were wondering.]
She is really one of the most giving people I know and the accident happened 3 days before Christmas, her absolute favorite holiday. The irony was sickening and I knew she'd be laying in a hospital on her most cherished family day.
Now the good part of these stories.
Kerri, who was thrown from the horse, met a girlfriend and I for some appetizers and drinks (she has to pass on the alcohol now) and she looked FANTASTIC!
The only way you'd ever know she is recovering from a traumatic brain injury is because her speech is slightly slurred, but she has most of her memory back, is walking on her own, can drive again and is DETERMINED to wear high heels to a friend's wedding in June.
To say she is a miracle is an understatement. She explained to us that she technically died after being thrown from the horse and a passerby in a car saw the commotion and stopped - that passerby just happened to be an ER nurse from Brigham and Women's Hospital (where Kerri was later air lifted to, ironically!) and she performed CPR on the spot which saved Kerri's life.
Yes, they do stay in touch. Yes, you should learn CPR. Yes, I believe nurses and teachers are out most under appreciated professionals on the planet.
She also explained she was kicked straight to the front of her head by the horse so she no longer has a sense of smell or taste. She has to remind herself to eat every 3 hours because without smell and taste she doesn't know when she's hungry. Crazy weight loss method, I know! Those senses will never come back. She actually laughs about it.
She's still in Physical Therapy to regain simple motions like raising her right hand up above her head (and the balance thing, hence her determination to learn how to walk in heels) and she told hysterical stories about how that area of the brain also controls aggression so she was saying some nasty things as she was recovering. Hard to imagine given her demeanor. A miracle.
As for Angela, the impact of the car crash had broken her pelvis in a couple of places and had broken her neck. She endured a few surgeries to put in pins and rods in her pelvic area. She was unable to sleep on her side because of a neck brace she had to wear to bed to keep her neck straight, and because of the pain. She was moved to a rehab facility around the new year and then home 6 weeks later because insurance refused to let her stay longer - I won't get on my healthcare soapbox, I promise, but seriously??
I visited her at her home in February and she was in a wheel chair. She was thankful to be out of the neck brace and miraculously she wasn't paralyzed. She remembers everything about her accident. She looked weak when I visited, but she was so determined to get better.
Well, get better she did. Last Tuesday Angela walked into my house, on her own, no cane or walker, and all put back together with a smile and a hug. She's slowly returning back to work as a real estate agent (highly recommended as she found us our current house) and she's getting back behind the wheel. She's a bit nervous about the driving part and has been practicing in her neighborhood - I can't imagine the scars from an accident like that - but is confident she'll be cruising in her new car in no time.
It's a miracle she's alive, let alone getting back to life as she knew it before the accident. It will be a while before she has full motion in her neck, but she's not letting that stop her. She insists her 5 year old grandson is the reason she survived - she wants nothing more than to see him do great things and she wasn't ready to miss out on any of it.
Now, whenever I'm feeling sorry for myself I have two miracles I can think of to remind me that I have it pretty damn good. I should stop complaining; stop whining; stop acting like I have it so hard and move forward. I have inspiration to draw from - two very strong women. How lucky am I?