How do we go on? How do we survive? How do we pick up the pieces that are left? How do we try and live our lives as if nothing happened as others want us to so forcefully do? How do we try and go on when we don’t even know who we are? How do we go on with someone or people we don’t know, and they don’t know us?
Do I have all the answers, yes and no. Are you going to like them, probably not.
We go on because it’s life. We fought to make it so by golly we are gonna live it and we are gonna live how we see fit whether you like it or not. Our first year is us learning the basics. Learning to walk, talk, feed ourselves, shave our own legs, shave our own monkeys (female private parts, idk what you call yours but mine is a monkey). Learning to put up w bs calls every 5 minutes to make sure we are alive. And, finding out we can’t go anywhere without someone else except to the freaking mailbox for fear of us getting lost in out own vicinity. Literally my first trip alone out of my house was to the mailbox and back.
Then when you do get to drive, you dare not go down the road you wrecked on, if that is how you obtained your TBI (that is how I obtained mine). When I finally did venture down that road it was to go to our salvage yard to see Maggie, my car, and to go to the wreck sight. It was probably 6 mths later. I was scared. I was like a deer caught in the headlights the first time I saw Maggie. I cannot believe I just used that analogy considering deer are what caused my wreck.
When I first saw her all I could do was rub my hand across her shattered body. The paint flakes were shivered off in numerous places. The top was completely gone where they had cut me out. I could see where they took the Jaws of Life and tore her apart and cut her to role the top back to get to me. There were awful marks where she was cut on the door frame where they popped it open to finally attempt to get me out. I’m sure it was like time stood still for all of the responders and firefighters working frantically to get me out. It still took them 45 minutes to cut me out. Maggie is mangled and I mourned her for a while. She was my pride and joy, I loved her. She is warped, literally. One part is up and another is down. Mangled is a good way of explaining what she looks like. I still have her to this day and it breaks my heart to go and see her, to go to my wreck site and see the pile of car parts I have spent hours collecting and piling up. It was the epitome of disastrous wrecks that someone actually lived through. One paramedic said he ranks it in his top 5 of accidents he had ever worked; by how the car looked and how injured I was.
The coroner was called in or either the paramedic did it one, but I was pronounced dead on the scene. I was in my car w no pulse or breathing for over 25 minutes. I was dead, dead – they thought there was no way of me ever being brought back to life or coming back to life on my own. 1. Considering how long I had gone without a pulse or oxygen. 2. I was down in that car way too long when they got there and they didn’t know how long I was down when they got there. My Golden Hour had passed. They called it and put me in the ambulance when they got me out thinking id be a DOA. God had other plans. Right before they got me out of my car I started talking to the medic. He was, I think flabbergasted for a lack of better words. Whoever pronounced me now had much more paperwork to do and had to call my pastor back. Yes, they had already called my pastor and given him the news that one of his congregants had passed in a horrible car accident on 306 west at approximately 11:38pm on July 8, 2012. 45 minutes later after the prayer chain was started I was once again alive. I do not remember any of this except the deer all of this is what I got from the first responders, firefighters and medics, police officers and all other personnel working my scene that night. What was said is that everyone worked as a complete team. There was no one ranked that night they were all a team trying to save my life bc they all knew me. Even volunteers not working or people that weren’t scheduled came in to help save me. I appreciate each one. Mostly I appreciate God.
I lost everything that night. My life, my memory and everyone I ever thought was my friend. They were all there in the beginning but after the new wore off everyone goes back to their lives. I don’t blame them. Time doesn’t stop for me. It doesn’t stop for anyone. I never forgot my kids and apparently my husband but there was someone else I never forgot either. I thought he was dead but thank God I was in that car alone. I don’t think I could have lived w myself if I had killed anyone other than myself. I don’t remember getting married. I truly thought I was married to another man. I had regressed in my brain 18 years but I knew exactly who everyone was except I kept asking for my deceased husband. How can that be? The brain is mystical, magical and interprets things as it wants at times especially when it is hurt and damaged beyond repair. That is what my family was told. My brain was damaged in every lobe there is in our master center of our bodies.
They called for med Evac immediately when I grabbed a deputies hand bc I knew who he was bc after they pronounced me he just wasn’t taking that for an answer. He couldn’t believe his best childhood friends sister was dead. How could he go up to my brother and tell him, she’s gone man. She’s gone and that be all he said!? And he never had to. I grabbed his hand and started talking to the medic and they all, about 50 people went at it hard to get me out. I had the best of the best there that night and people that would not give up on me. One of the first responders kept opening my airway as he was using the Jaws of Life, after he dug pizza out of my throat and gave me a few quick breaths to make sure my airway was open. Still no pulse but no way of doing compressions but that doesn’t mean he didn’t try. He finagled his way into my car w me through what he had already cut open and tried so hard to give me chest compressions to bring me back. It was a no go! To my demise.
But as you’ve already seen God brought me back to life without any artificial CPR or help from any of them. It just took me letting them know I was still in there somewhere.
Med Evac showed up in 2mins and landed on that two lane highway in between all those cars because hwy 306 in Colt, Ar was blocked off for the first time in history bc I wreck 3 miles west of where it started and it was blocked up to Pinetree which is about 5-6 miles continuing west bc people, my friends, family, first responders that knew it was me started showing up before traffic got bad. They are mainly the reason it was closed. There were prayer chains already in progress across the globe bc I used to be military for one, Facebook started one, my brother called his military and police friends, and my church started one w ever church in a tri-county area, I have family that lives all across the US and they started prayer chains, pastors I knew from a child and from working as a travel nurse and my friends from working as a travel nurse started them and candles were lit, prayer was an immediate action and was happening at my scene. I cannot thank God enough for riding shot gun with me that night.
When you look close on the roof of the car on the inside you can see two set of hand prints, with huge finger imprints, over where my head was when I wrecked. I believe with all my heart that is where Jesus Christ held me when we were slammed, tousled and thrown.
Idk if I’ve told you how my wreck occurred but I suppose now is time. I was on the phone w my daughter, Ashley, I had just left my other daughters house, Hailey, and my son, Tanner was behind me so was one of my best friends sons Drew. We were traveling west and there is a Huge corn field. There are also huge ditches that are about 3ft deep on the left side. I was on the phone eating pizza venting, going down there to have a beer w her and then there were deer every where. My last words were, ” Oh God, Ashley, Deerrrrrrrrr!” And it was done. My phone went dead my son saw break lights as did Drew, they were a little ways behind me, and that’s all I remember.
My son watched it all happen. He said I must have flipped out because there were 25-30. It was a pack, not one or two. I instinctively jerked the wheel, I had to of, and jumped the ditch. I uprooted a tree a pretty good size one at that and it threw me 25 ft in the air into another tree, we know this bc car parts were up there and that tree dumped me straight on the ground partially rolling my car but I was dumped on another tree which sling shot me into a field. If they had not been behind me I would have been in that field for only God knows how long until someone saw my car.
My iPhone was found in the ditch and it had been ran over, Praise The Lord for lifeproof cases. I continued to use that phone and that case for two more years. Just and FYI.
I died in route again. And died in surgery. I believe my total number of death count was 5 according to medical records. Reading that makes me proud in some ways because I know I fought hard to stay here. Why? One little girl and my two children. They are the only reason I cared to live. And still are today. Without them I am nothing. They are why I go on. You may have a different reason with your TBI but they are my sole reason and If I didn’t have them I wouldn’t have cared if I lived or not to be honest. This is just my temporary home. Sure, people would have been sad for a few days and the lives I did impact would have remembered me forever but the sun would have come up just like it did the day before and life goes on. It always does.
When I did wake up from the coma I didn’t know my last name or my address. You could have told me I was Drew Barrymore and I would have believed you. I was that bad. But is was smart. When the docs came it to ask me where I was, what day it was etc. I would look at the board and read them their answers. They are so dumb at times. They never caught on but my daughter, Ashley, did when someone was blocking the board one day. 🙂 I also never lived in a nasty hospital. A basement of my friends house was made into a trauma ward for me. It had all the machines I needed to check my brain bleeds, CT Scan. It had the MRI machine and a portable X-ray machine. I was not in a hospital bc I was a nurse and nurses do not go to the hospital or even to the ER unless we are dying. We self treat and go on and keep living. And I, of course, was telling the nurses how to do their job correctly especially if they were new grads w RN’itis. This is when a new grad think they know it all but they do not. They do not have the experience under their belt nor the proper fundamental training or knowledge to have seen enough out there yet to tell me they know more than I do! I’ve been a nurse RN, BSN, for 20 years, that traveled and seen and has done a lot! Do not come in my room and tell me my IV isn’t infiltrated when I know it is just bc I have TBI. I will hurt your feelings and I did forcefully to a few new teeny bopper new grads. I was told anyway. And do not send an aide in to clean up a female that does not know to wipe from front to back bc I will make him cry. Everyone here knows how freshly TBI pts are and how mean we are. We cannot help it and I slammed a few intern docs as well but I was right. I did not forget my education I lost memories and my body lost it’s ability to function.
This is why my family thought id wake up one morning and be my old self again. My husband never looked up TBI until 2 yrs later when I filed for divorce. He never understood I would never be the same Melissa that died that night in 2012. I’ve learned to love the new me. Why is it so hard for him? I can’t answer that question but the old me is in there bc she can be a vendictive, ruthless bitch. And if you push far enough and provoke me she will come out. Her name is Ann. Yes, she is so mean she has her own name. He has even made the statement, “that bitch died and we left her at the MED!” But she’s not dead. She’s still in there she’s just in hibernation until she is needed. 😉
How do we go on w people that don’t know us anymore or we don’t know any longer? We don’t. They walk away from us. They malinger for a little while but then they vanish. They were never friends in the beginning if you want my opinion. Bc they should have stuck it all out w you. Called a few times a week. Text a little here and there. Something, ANYTHING! But, when push comes to shove they all go away. I’m two years out from my accident and so different that I have NO friends. Not one that I can trust. I tell absolutely no one except my baby girl Hailey everything. She is the only one I truly trust and the only one that will listen with no regards to what I have to say and no judging. She has held me through a 6 hour anxiety attack where I never moved except for the shaking that comes w it and the crying. She’s held me like I’m the child and she is the parent. And for a long time she was. I had no idea what the hell to do or how to do it. I couldn’t even feed myself. And when I did become self sufficient I wouldn’t eat bc who cooks for just them self plus food has no appeal to me at all. I could care less if I ever ate again. But, she cares and she brings me dinner even when I don’t want it. And they trick me into eating it. Kaylee won’t eat unless Grammi does. Who wouldn’t eat to make sure their granddaughter did?
Going on is never easy but to know we fought so hard to stay in this life for the people we love is why we live. We do not live for us we live for you but on our terms. We do have a mind of our own and will do what we want and say what we feel. Not having a filter is extremely hard bc we have to learn what we can say and when we can say it and who we can say it to. I don’t have that problem anymore so much. My only true problem is living w a man I’m not sure I love for the sake of others that always wants to control everything I do bc he says he’s trying to protect me. I do not need protecting! I need to fly! I need to be the butterfly God has so gracefully turned and molded me into and spread my wings and fly. I am a high functioning STBI survivor. If I can sit her and write all of this I think I can make all of my own decisions and with God walking beside me I am safe. Yes, I will make mistakes but I would if I didn’t have TBI. Everyone does. I am not dead, I am not an invalid, I can run with the wind (even though it hurts like haddies), I can breathe on my own without any help, I can talk without help, and I can learn, I can voice an opinion and I have a good heart and I put God first and as long as I’m on HIS path for me I’m not living wrong!