There are some life experiences that you do not choose to have but can have an equally monumental impact on your life. On January 3rd 2001 I was in a car accident that changed the course of my life, has affected every major decision I’ve made and has affected me every single day for the last ten years. It is something I think about every time I see a car accident, look at my scars, think about my daughter one day driving or reflect on the reason I married my husband. The worst thing that ever happened to me is the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me. God knows what He is doing. Everything happens for a reason.
I was seventeen and a senior in high school. I worked as a waitress at Big Boy in Heartland
; it was at least a thirty minute drive from where I lived. I remember when I told my dad I was working there he warned me that the road I took to get there had the highest accident rate in the county-I shrugged it off to an over paranoid parent. There wasn't that much business that night because the roads were terrible, I only made fifteen dollars. I got in my car and saw that my grandma had called, I went to call her back and thought better of it since it was snowing so hard. On my way home to meet my new boyfriend (yes the one that proposed to me in Michigan -although this was only about 3 weeks after I had met him) I stopped at a gas station to buy some gum to hide my cigarette breath. I remember how frantic everyone seemed at the gas station because the roads were just awful that night and we couldn't keep up with the snow on our windshields….this is the last thing I remember. Paris
Days later I woke up in
intensive care unit. The first thing I said was ‘is everyone ok’ My car had been t-boned on M-59 and I had been in a temporary coma. I had 3 broken ribs, my pelvis was fractured, my lung collapsed, my heart was bruised and my arm was broken so badly that it required a metal rod to get the bone back together. This all was good news. The early prognosis was that if I were to make it I would be in the hospital for months having major surgery to get my internal organs back where they were supposed to be and that would be the best case scenario. I found out later that our family’s pastor was had been urged by the doctors to ‘prepare the family’ for the worst possible outcome. Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital
There is not much I remember, but I do remember how strange it was to wake up not remembering anything but knowing what had happened. My parents talked to me while I was unconscious and they said I would respond by squeezing their hand so I guess I was able to take in what they told me. I wasn’t shocked or surprised by anything that had happened or anything that the doctors told me I think because my mom told me everything while I was out and it seeped in. Although when I saw the pictures of my car it really became hard on me emotionally. When I left the hospital we drove by the police station so I could see my car and it was shocking to believe that I survived and was really ok. I had very few cuts (which is so hard to believe-there was glass everywhere-the dashboard of my car was through the windshield and the passenger door was in the driver seat) but I did have bruises! My legs were solid bruises from the very top of my thighs to the very tips of my toes-I remember pulling up the covers and looking at my legs-I couldn't believe I actually had bruises on my toes-I thought that was the weirdest thing. Somehow I was thrown into the back seat so I'm guessing that's where the bruises came from-my seat belt broke. I do remember flashing my visitors my bruised legs and flopping my arm around, I couldn't feel it or move it but was impressed with how limber it was. I know I had many visitors but only remember two of them actually there was about three months where I don’t really remember very much. After so much morphine, Vicodin and Demorall the brain becomes a bit mushy.
My physical recovery was pretty quick considering all my body had been through. I did have a rod and screws put in my arm in order for it to grow back together and then two years later had it taken out as it was rather painful. I had exercises for my lung to get stronger. By no logical explanation from the doctors my organs that were shoved in my upper chest relocated themselves to their correct dwelling. I do remember how much my throat hurt for months from the paramedics jamming the tube down my esophagus and my voice sounded very different to me for a long time. I also had severe headaches for weeks and weeks-at the exact same time every night-they were so bad I would wake up crying but it got to the point where I would wake up on cue about thirty minutes beforehand and take a Vicodin That was so scary and as soon I was ready to make an appointment with a neurologist they went away. It was hard to sleep and shower, with the hole where the tube had been inflating my lung I could not get in the shower or bath as it was too risky that water would seep in. Sleeping was a pain-literally, I couldn't sleep on the right side because of my arm, I couldn't sleep on the left because of my lung, I couldn't sleep on my tummy because of my ribs and it hurt my pelvis to sleep on my back. I was in and out of physical therapy for three years although that was not the end the physical effects-I had to have a c-section due to the pelvic fracture (nearly 10 years later). It could have been so much worse, I am so blessed that it wasn't. Then this was weird...a few months later, I found a huge bald spot on the back of my head! I have a lot of hair and since I could only use my left arm I am not surprised that it took so long to discover...but I NEVER did find out where that came from-it took a very long time before it started growing back. It could have been ripped out in the accident or maybe they had to remove the hair for a test while I was in the hospital or something...no big deal-it was just so odd!
The worst part for me was dealing with what had happened emotionally. I didn't know how to handle that level of attention and was easily frustrated with my loved ones who just wanted to take care of me. And it was very, very hard for me to deal with the stories I heard; It was hard to hear that the police officers wouldn't tell my mom anything so the whole drive to the hospital she didn't know if I was even alive, it was hard to hear that when my dad called my aunt in Maryland and sobbing said ‘it’s Allison-she’s been in an accident’ that my aunt said she just started crying so hard because she instantly thought he was calling to tell her I was gone, it was hard to hear the police officer tell me that he had been called to investigate the accident and an accident is only investigated when there is a death and they assumed that that would be me, and it was hard to hear that our pastor had been in the traffic of my accident on the way to the hospital and saw the cars and said ‘I hope that’s not Allisons’ accident because whomever was in that car didn't make it.’ I knew how lucky I was but point blank-these are sad things to hear and strange things to hear about yourself. For a very long time, I’d say close to a year, I cried so hard every day, it was almost as if I was in mourning-but how do you process things like this? It is still so hard to believe that this happened to me because I don’t remember anything. I always feel like I’m telling a story about someone else. It still makes me so sad that my family hurt so much and now that I myself am a parent I just pray so hard that I never experience that moment of a policeman knocking on the door and delivering such horrifying news.
I know many people think I’m quite paranoid nowadays and that I worry too much about things that haven’t yet happened but the truth is you can never be too careful or too cautious, you can never love someone too much or be too open with your feelings because you really never know what’s going to happen-anything can happen to anyone at any time-no exceptions. For every scenario I am wary of what could possibly happen-I don’t feel like I live my life in fear, I just try to prepare myself for…anything. And don’t wait to do things, you may never get the chance. I think so many people are so focused on having a career and lots of money that they wait, wait to have kids, wait to get married, wait to travel, or put off learning something fun or doing something they've always wanted to do-but you can’t. It doesn't mean that death is looming around the corner but it does mean that an accident could render you paralyzed or a family emergency could break your bank, a divorce could crush your spirit or a family member’s health could suck up your attention and focus. My point is that I really feel that it is important to live life to the fullest now because there will come a day when you no longer have the chance. This accident changed everything in my life. How I live my life, my thoughts and my actions in the long-term and it was ALL for the better. It has given me such an mammoth appreciation for life, for my family, for my health, and for my faith. I feel so lucky to have had an experience like this. This accident is also how I met my husband and ultimately the reason for my daughters’ existence. It has also given me the certainty of knowing that I was put here to do something amazing or else He would have taken me that day….. I just hope I haven’t already done it!