Silly young girl faces serious grown up ramifications
Taking a trip back in time today to the year 1994. December 15, 1994. I do not recall the time... maybe 6pm, maybe 7pm. My intentions were to mend a broken relationship by chasing after a boy as young girls do when their hearts are being broken and they think they can fix it all if only they had one more chance to talk to him face to face. Ha! Girls, don't waste your time! I never would have never taken the advice either but my story of that night taught me a tough lesson.
I remember begging my father for the use of the car that night, telling him I needed to go see Randy. I, unknowingly bargained my brother's life that night to get my way, telling my father Jim could go with me. There would be no lack of supervision with Jim there with me. My whole plan-- To talk to an old boyfriend. I was so hurt. We had "gone out" for two years. Totally exclusive. I was "dumped" the month before. I felt I would never, ever get over my heart break. If I was able to talk to him just one more time, I would be able to show him the mistakes he was making by "dumping" me.
To give a little background to the story-- it was what one would think... young love, scorned, etc... not going to get into all the details of how that relationship formed my life-- we can save that for another day. But, I do want to write that I had begged and pleaded with God at points during that relationship to get me out of it. I was in the wrong place and I knew it. I did not belong in such a grown up relationship at such a young time in my life. I recall at one point praying-- "Whatever it takes God-- do it. I do not belong here."
I was "dumped." God did it. He took care of it for me. Randy let me go and that was all I was asking for. But, I was young, I let my emotion take over. I was not coping. I chased and God "did whatever it took" to get my attention and focus back.
So, Jim and I got in the Buick Le Sabre Limited. What a great car that was-- still convinced it saved our lives that night. I saw Randy driving the opposite direction in his Pontiac whatever it was (girls really don't keep up with that stuff). I made my u-turn perfectly. The chase was on. It was dark, it was wet and misty and it was deer season. None of that played any roll in my opinion. I was traveling at a speed of 80mph or better. I remember Jim giving me some kind of warning-- slow down, something-- I cannot remember exactly. I would catch up and I did. I started reaching over Jim to knock on the passenger window as I pulled in the other lane next to Randy and he looked over shocked... that is all I remember until I uttered the words, "Jim, we have to get out of here!"
I reached over and unbuckled Jim's seat belt after I unbuckled mine. "Jim, we have to get out of here!" and I recall Jim saying something like, "Jill, your face is bleeding." Then, I faded out. I remember an old friend's eyes. It was Erin VanHart. We had lost touch for a couple of years but there she was before me--- she had no idea who I was and I don't recall what I said to her but I do remember recognizing her. I faded again until I heard the words, "We need to cut the doors off." Oh no!! I yelled for the rescuers to stop-- they first needed to ask my Dad-- this was his car after all. The response to me was a haughty, "I don't think he is going to care." I had absolutely NO idea how bad this situation was. I faded a lot here and I only remember hearing a helicopter, being so cold, and being loaded into it. The flight crew asked if I was using drugs or alcohol. Or was I pregnant? For me, only the most shocking of moments brought me back and that was one of them--- how could they possibly think I was drinking or on drugs?? I was trying to get an old boyfriend to hear me out and love me again. See? God did what it took-- I did not get that chance to talk to Randy.
The next thing I remember is the Emergency Room. I was getting stitches and my shoulder was aching and being put back in place and I was getting a rectal exam to determine internal bleeding-- I am pretty sure not-- but it seemed to me at the time that it was all happening at the same time. My Dad was at my bedside with his father, my Grandpa. At one point-- my Dad was crying and apologizing to my grandfather. I remember him saying, "Dad, I am so sorry. I had no idea until now what I had put you through." I remember my grandfather looking into my father's teary eyes and say, "George, I love you son. It's okay."
Randy did show up in the ER and held my hand for a minute and gave me hope. I asked him if we were getting back together. I know my grandfather said something to him and Randy told me honestly that no, we were not. I was devastated again. God was doing whatever it took and I was not giving up!
I then remember waking up in a hospital room with a nurse standing over me asking me how I was feeling. I remember my back aching. It hurt so badly. I just wanted to wake up from this bad dream but I could not shake out if it. Where was Joelle to wake me up? (We always had this deal growing up-- we shared a room and if one of us sensed the other was having a bad dream-- we would wake one another up. It had worked time and time again but I was not finding her now to wake me up.) I asked the nurse if there was something I could have for my back and I recall the shocking reply of, "No, we are afraid you may go into a coma." My Dad was on the other bed in the room and I remember asking him if I was going to be okay? Where was Mom? Where was Jim and was he okay? I faded again.
I was awake again and in some serious pain. I was being rolled over by several people for some reason that escapes me and probably knowing what I know now--- I should be thankful it escapes me. I asked why so many people were helping and got a different shocking reply of, "We are afraid you may be a quadriplegic. We are taking all the precautions we can to protect you." In my mind, I thought-- oh no, I will not-- let me die now. I cannot do a wheelchair the rest of my life. The next day, I was down graded to paraplegic which I also did not want to deal with.
I know this is such a sketchy re-telling. I do only remember the most shocking of moments. The moments that hurt the most-- emotionally and physically.
The next scene I will tell is exactly the moment I decided I would become a nurse and care for people. I had broken my jaw and had to go for a panoramic x-ray. There was a clinic attached to the hospital and in the clinic was an orthodontist's office. At this office, there was the equipment necessary for me to have the x-ray required. I was wheeled in a waiting room of "normal people" garbed in their winter sweaters and boots. I was wheeled in a wheelchair with an open back and in a hospital gown with no lap blanket. My indwelling urinary catheter bag dragging alongside the chair with my bruised up, unrecognizable face. My right wrist was in a soft cast and my left ankle was splinted. My hair was sticking up all over the place matted with vomit from the very first night. I stunk. All eyes on me-- staring, as the nurse put my brakes on after pushing me next to a "normal person" in a chair and turning on her heel and leaving. Tears just rolled down my face... my mangled ugliness as people just stared and though it felt like hours-- my mother, my rescuer from these ugly starers wheeled me into the back where I was freed from the open gawking. Ouch, that hurt so badly. I cry now thinking about it. In that moment, that very moment, I knew I would be a nurse. I would never be able to do anything like that to someone. I would never treat someone like that. I knew I could do better as a nurse than that.
All of this and there is so much more to write...I will edit a lot and just give some excerpts of some of the following that happened in days to come.
I was visited by friends from all over. I remember so many people leaving the room and coming back in because they did not even know it was me. I remember one person getting sick at the site of me. I remember Joelle telling me I stunk and advocating for my hair to get washed and the scrubbing of a lifetime to happen. I remember my Aunt Judy being there. She encouraged me to become a nurse. I remember Granddad dropping off my favorite CD and a CD player for me to listen to-- The Phantom of the Opera. I remember his friend Marty coming with him. I remember my parents sitting for countless hours at my bedside. My mother looking so tired and worn out. I remember a police officer coming-- oh, that is a terrible memory. Randy's friend Todd told the police I was trying to kill Randy. I had all but one point on my license and I got a ticket for reckless endangerment of another's life. That really hurt. I remember Mr. and Mrs. Campbell coming and Mr. Campbell giving me that knowing look and telling me that I am free from it. I remember Mrs. Campbell looking at me and telling me I need to be very careful what I ask for.
Mostly, I remember asking about Jim, time after time... was he okay? I needed to lay eyes on him. I was so thankful for the day that I did see him. I was so sorry then and I am so sorry now. Jim, I am sorry for your broken bones, I am sorry you missed playing basketball that season. Mom, I am so sorry. I don't know how to begin. Dad, I am so sorry-- I don't ever want to truly know what I put you through. Joelle and Jessica had to stay home and were left with worry and I am so sorry for that. Everyone, I am sorry but I am also thankful. Those days were rough but I have come a long way. That incident, that accident shaped me into the person I am today.
I am sure my memory of what happened is not completely accurate. I am sure changes could be made to my story. I tried to share what I remember honestly and without exaggeration. There are parts that I left out intentionally and there are parts that I left out unintentionally. Jim and I have always checked on each other this day to make sure each other is safe and sound. We never bake Candy Cane cookies this day-- that is what Mom was baking when she received the phone call to tell her about the accident. My favorite kind of cookie incidentally.
So, a broken jaw plated with screws, a dislocated left shoulder, a broken right wrist, three compressed lumbar vertebrae, screw placement in a broken ankle, lots of bumps and bruises, and cuts and scrapes--- God did whatever it took and got me away from a bad situation. It certainly was not all roses from there on but my life certainly changed for the better because of it in so many different ways.