I'm not sure how to start this story. I've drafted and re-drafted this post, unsure of where to start and what to include. This blog isn't just about me; it's a way for many people who love my family to keep tabs on us. However, it's ultimately the best record I have of things that I want to remember. So I've decided to take the selfish road and write what I remember. I may go back later and document stories from others, but this is what I have for now.
Tuesday we left the Evers. It was hot and dry in Texas and we'd been driving for hours. We stopped at a gas station to let Domino use the restroom and stretch our legs. We loaded back up and I climbed in the backseat letting Jace have shotgun. I stretched my legs out across the girls, despite their laughter infused, half hearted protests, rested my head against the window, and fell asleep.
Then there was a man in a brown baseball cap upside down, leaning over me. He had a Texan accent and was really trying to get me to respond. I don't know what he was asking or what I murmured in response, but it seemed to satisfy him. I closed my eyes. I realized that I could only feel my head between his hands-- it felt as though I didn't have a body anymore. I heard him tell someone else that he was an off duty fire fighter. That was when I realized something was wrong. I sifted through my dark, empty brain and finally pulled up one memory:
I saw my mom driving. I looked out the window and saw a white semi next to us. We got closer and then jerked away with such a force that I knew there was going to be trouble. I clenched my eyes and unclenched my jaw, felt a jarring bump, and went unconscious.
(The jaw thing was interesting. I don't how where I had the presence of mind to do that, but I do know where I learned it. When I was in high school at one of those assemblies we learned that the reason drunk drivers usually walk away from accidents is because the alcohol makes the relax and being relaxed saved them. I was fascinated by this and I told myself that if I were ever to get into an accident I'd relax. I figured that I probably wouldn't remember that because accidents happens fast, but look at that! I did! And the doctors said that had I not done that, I would have lost many of my teeth. Thanking God for that over and over. I love my teeth.)
The man in the baseball cap was gone. I felt a burning on my legs, which ended up being the propellers of the helicopter which carried me to the hospital. I saw my reflection in the sunglasses of the man on the helicopter. I couldn't see my eyes. There was blood everywhere and the side of my face was destroyed. Why was this happening to me. That was when I started thinking maybe this wasn't a dream. I drifting in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. I love my brain for knowing when to shut down. There were things I just didn't want to experience. I woke up to them stripping me of my jewelry. (They didn't end up giving it all back. Rude.) They told me they were going to cut my clothes off. That triggered my first coherent thought: crap. I've always thought about how much I never wanted this to happen. To be on a table under bright lights surrounded by several men stripping off all of my clothes. And they just ruined my favorite bra. I went unconscious again. It was too much to handle. I woke up later and registered for the first time that there was an accident and somewhere I had a family. Someone was dead. I guess someone told me that at one point in time. I asked the nurses who died. They said my mom was in the hospital and I could see her soon. I asked again who died, and I realized that I was in hysterics. I just wanted to know and they kept dodging the question. I was so frustrated. Finally they said that Jada didn't make it. I felt relieved. That was right. I knew that already. Unconsciousness again.
I awoke awhile later and really had to pee. I told the nurse that and she brought me a bedpan. It was impossible for me to raise myself up over it, so she shoved it awkwardly under me and told me to go ahead. Well I did...and promptly felt my pee running up my back. That, my friends, is an awkward feeling. More blackness. I woke up to the nurses telling me Jace was coming into the room. I was worried that I was still exposed and tried to cover myself, realizing that my arm was strapped down. But that I was covered. Jace came in and updated me on the situation. The instability of the Ford Explorer combined with the luggage rack made it so top heavy that the slight over correction caused it to roll over, landing wheels down in oncoming traffic. Kenyan, Jada, and I had been thrown from the car. Jace had already been discharged with just a gash on his leg. Mom and Kenyan were in the hospital--Mom with some medium head injuries and Kenyan with unknown, non severe wounds. Injuries from the seatbelt had killed Jada instantly. Aria had already been discharged with just a sprained toe and was currently with a new friend shopping and swimming. Lucky girl.
Jace was sitting there talking to me when some missionaries walked by. I don't know where they came from or where they were going, but they offered a blessing and some well wishes and departed. Like the man in the brown baseball cap I will never know their names and I can never properly thank them. But it was the first of many miracles that have occurred in the past eight days. More unconsciousness. I woke up to more men in my room, two more men from our church. I talked to them as much as I could and then, apologizing profusely, told them that I had to pee. They got a nurse and cleared the room. The nurse tried the bedpan again. This time I made it into the pan. Feeling proud I lifted myself off the bed so that she could remove the bedpan. I managed to hold myself up for a few seconds until my weak legs gave out and I came crashing down on the corner of the pan, tipping my fluids out all over the bed. It takes bravery to be a nurse. Also I got a catheter after that. And then I blacked out.
I vaguely remember seeing my mom. They wheeled her whole bed into my room. She was holding my hand and singing a lullaby from when I was a kid. I couldn't see her because I couldn't turn and picking my head up with the neck brace on was impossible. Then I was on another helicopter headed to another hospital in Lubbock, TX. The doctors were fearful that I'd had brain damage, so they sent me to a more specialized hospital. The helicopter burned my legs again and I woke up outside in the dark as they wheeled me towards the building. I remember feeling the cool desert air and loving the darkness of the night. So much, in fact, that I told the man wheeling my stretcher to leave me there. Begging, in fact. I told him to just hide me by a building and I'll heal by myself. He didn't listen. In fact, I think he laughed. There was a nurse in the emergency room. She told me her name was Tiffany and I could squeeze her hand. They gave me a tetanus shot and about a thousand other shots. Poor Tiffany probably didn't have any feeling left in her hand by the end of it. I got really attached to Tiffany. They wheeled me out of the ER to a normal room and I spent a lot of time asking for Tiffany, even when I knew she wasn't around. Then the most wonderful girl said her name was Kirstie and I could hold her hand. And I did. They had to change the dressing on my ear and do other heinous things that hurt me. And Kirstie was there letting me wring her hand dry. She put Chapstick on my parched lips and gave me water with a straw. She played music for me on her phone and she let me cry all I want. At some point in the night my second angel arrived. Dusti came to help Kirsti and together they healed my heart before the wounds could get any deeper. They listened to me tell every detail i could recall about Jada, even when tears drowned my words. I told them anything that came into my head and they sat there listening to me and crying with me and helping me in a way I didn't know people could. Their sincerity, their compassion, the way they dried my tears off my ugly cheek, they softened my heart and made me feel so loved in a way that I don't know I've felt before. I will be eternally grateful for these two angels.
Somewhere later in the night (actually I think it was about 4 in the morning) the Madeiras arrived. It was so nice to see familiar faces, as the rest of my family was still at the hospital in Amarillo. They'd heard they news, jumped in the car, and plowed their way through the dark desert. They arrived at the hospital and were told that they weren't allowed in my room. They thought it was unacceptable and they fought their way in. They had lip gloss for me and they held my hand and reminded me if the wonderful time I'd had the weekend before swimming in their pool. They held my hand as the blood pressure cuff tightened way too tight. I felt like a pregnant woman, holding on and breathing heavy until the blood pressure testing was over as though they were contractions coming and going in waves. It took Vic and Laura and Kirstie and Dusti to get me through physical and emotional pain of that night. But eventually I slept. I woke up in just enough time to realize I needed to puke. They raised my bed up and I regurgitated my morphine and travel food all over my hospital gown. The gown came off and my dignity was a little damaged as I was cleaned like a comatose old person. It was a good thing I liked the people cleaning me. I finally fell asleep again and only woke for about a minute to meet Jim Johnson: Vice President of the hospital and local branch president. He'd been alerted to our situation and was looking out for our family. He left the room and in came nurses with funny colored hats on to give me anesthesia. I blacked out as they went to work on patching together my ear. I hate to end the story here, since it's not the end of the story, but that's enough for today.
[These are the anesthesiologists. I was relieved to learn that they really did have funny hats on, that it wasn't just the effects of the drugs.]
Here's the thing about me and blogging. I like to remember details. I like to capture my memories with pictures, with favorite quotes, with the way things felt. When I write, it often ends up being lengthy and full of specific things. I try to write things down soon after they happen because I am fearful of missing one thing. So with that in mind, this will probably be the most difficult story to write--recapping the last seven days that have been unusually full of stories, words, and deep emotions. I've really been dying to start writing for the past few days because I feel the intensity of the details fading in my little drugged up brain. But that's as much as I can do today. Hopefully I can get it all out before I forget it all. I really wish I'd had more pictures. For now I just have one lovely one--super flattering, you know. Don’t worry. They’ll get better.
[Title from Worry About You by 2 AM Club]