This has been the longest 4 months of my life. Days felt like weeks, and every day, even though progress was being made, I thought I was never going to get past this. I still feel that way.
I haven’t been able to clear my mind or relax for 4 months. I try and remember what happened while simultaneously trying to forget. I replay the events of that day as though it was a movie I once watched, trying to distance myself from it. The same thought pops into my head without fail: it was your fault. You almost killed someone and because of that you shouldn’t be alive. A little faster and his car would have gone off that cliff. A few seconds sooner and I would have gone off that very same cliff all alone.
“No one else got hurt. You could have been a lot worse off. You tried to stop. The car is replaceable. You’ll get past this.” People find comfort in trying to comfort me.
I remember being behind the wheel. I remember nothing. And then the sound of tires squealing. And then a bang. White light was all around me and I thought to myself, maybe it’s heaven. Maybe at some point you did something to deserve heaven. And then the smoke cleared and there was torn metal and car horns and glass and blood. I touched my face and I felt the rough edges of my windshield caked in blood.
I have nightmares now where it ends differently. Where I actually woke up in hell, where the man in the other car didn’t make it, where they end up taking my leg from me. If it’s just quiet enough, I hear the sounds of the collision like most people hear a ringing in their ears.
The first few days were hard. Being in the ambulance, and then the hospital, and then another ambulance, and then another hospital. People flocking around me asking the same questions over and over. And I just wanted it to be over. I forced my mom to go home, I told my closest friend to go feed my cats and let my dog out. It was me and 30 doctors and I just wanted one of them to say it was all finally over.
Night one was spent in Shock Trauma. Being woken up every 30 minutes. Having to *** into a plastic tub. Having my wounds cleaned out and answering more questions. Listening to the gunshot victim on the other side of the curtain scream and cuss. He hadn’t made peace with his fate like I had. He wasn’t ready for it to be over.
The first surgery was a blur. I was whisked away and I don’t even remember that morning. I woke up in a bed. That bed then became my home for a couple of nights. They had put this giant metal contraption into my ankle. They brought me food I couldn’t keep down. My mother hated to leave me. I hated that she had to watch. After a few days I left. But I didn’t go home.
I couldn’t take care of myself and if you’ve ever met me or a person like me you know that was worse than death in my mind. Being dependent was hard and unbearable. Going to the bathroom was a feat. Eating half a sandwich took all my energy. I was disabled and I hated myself.
People called. People texted. “I just heard, I’m so sorry!” “Are you ok?” “When are you coming back?” And then they stopped answering. They stopped pretending they were gonna come visit or help out. I don’t blame them, I wasn’t a person worth seeing anymore. But some people, they showed up. They brought flowers and cards and funny stories and they didn’t lie to me. They didn’t say “You’ll get better” or “I don’t know how you’re alive.” They said they love me, they said they were there and then proved they were.
I went back for another surgery. It was chaos and pain and I woke up in a panic. My heart rate was too high. They kept saying this right in front of me, which in hindsight is probably HOW my heart rate kept increasing. They drugged me up and then took me to my room. My tiny room. An angel walked in and moved me to a suite. You know, nurses don’t get enough credit. Dennis made sure I had a room with a view and a recliner for Mom to sleep in. He brought me the good crackers (the ones I wouldn’t throw back up). He talked to me like I was a person, not a patient. I was glad to finally not feel like the “broken person”.
15 screws and 3 plates. I went home full of metal and a little hope. It was short lived. I still couldn’t do things. I still wasn’t healing as fast as I wanted. My birthday came. And went. Another year I didn’t celebrate the way I had planned.
I got better every day. Learned how to manage with my walker and my wheelchair. But it wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel like I was getting better. A day came when I sat in the bed after watching yet another repeat of Friends. I went to take a painkiller. And the thought crossed my mind. Take them all. You’ll never be a whole person again and what good are you broken? You know how sometimes fate steps in and gives you an answer to a question you didn’t even know you had? I got a text from my closest friend. “Hey beautiful, can’t wait to see you soon.” If he reads this, he’s gonna realize that he saved my life that day. He saves my life all the time.
You know when you sit on your hand or you cross your leg too long and it starts to fade. Have you ever let it fall all the way asleep, where the buzzing kinda stops and all you’re left with is a body part that doesn’t answer to you? After two months, I tried to wake my ankle up. After four months, I’m still trying.
After getting my stitches out and getting the walking boot it got easier. I could do more. I started Physical Therapy. And it’s been helping, I know it has, but I dread going. I hate getting to my re-assessment and seeing the changes and telling myself I should be better than that. Why can’t I move the extra 5 degrees? Why can’t I balance on my right leg? Why does something as simple as walking exhaust me so much?
The first time we drove around a sharp turn, I cried. The first time I got into the wheelchair, I cried. The first time I sat behind the steering wheel, I cried. It’s been four months and I’m still terrified that once I get back to normal my world is gonna rip itself apart again.
It’s been four months since my car accident. Four months since I lost the love of my life. Red Velvet saved my life but I lost her because of it. A complete stranger lost his car because of it. And I am responsible for those consequences.
I’m going to make the world around me better. I’m going to make up for all the things I’ve done that hurt people. I’m tired of being “just enough”. Where I was broken I have been put back together. Where I have lost myself I have also found myself.
Every day I get a little better. I take that first step a little steadier. I hold myself up a little taller. I still get knocked down. I still have moments where things feel impossible and the world gets kinda dark and blurry. I get angry because I feel the world is just punishing me. I get sad because I don’t know where to go from here.
The people that have stayed with me; taking care of me, taking me out, coming by, texting me constantly, sending me funny thoughts, and making sure that when I stepped back into my life I didn’t have to struggle; these are the people that have gotten me though this.
I’m never going to be 100% again, but I’ll be ****** if I’m not pushing my way towards 99%