while in the hospital, i did a lot of journaling because i know how quickly memories can fade and i wanted to record all the details of my crazy experience. i apologize in advance for the length of this post...i have decided to divide my story into parts so that it may be easier to read. i hope that writing my story out will answer the many questions i have been receiving lately. thanks for taking the time to read!
even though my "afternoon away" was to be little more than a trip to the lab where i'd have to drink a nasty, sweet concoction and have my blood sugar tested, i was sort of looking forward to it. over an hour of alone time with a good book sounded lovely to me! originally, tristan was to be dropped off at his gran's house, but josh was home sick with pneumonia and the antibiotics made him feel well enough to want tristan to stay with him. i kissed my 2 favourite boys goodbye and left the house around 2:15 in the afternoon
it was a sunny day, but chilly and i was wearing my warm jacket--the only one that currently zipped up over my pregnant tummy. though i had sunglasses on, the bright sunlight still made me squint at times as i rounded the many curves down the hill on towards the next city. i remember feeling quite drowsy as i drove, especially without a little boy in the backseat to chat with and point out cows and horsies to. i made it down the hill without any problems and continued on the flat, though still curvy highway past the ostrich farm and palm tree farm on towards the vineyards, feeling very warm and cozy and sleepy.
i can't say exactly why i closed my eyes... it could have been the glare from the sun. i think, however, that it may have had something to do with the fact that i hadn't brought a snack along with me, since i didn't want my blood glucose levels to be high. whatever the reason, i clearly remember the moment where i opened my eyes to find myself completely on the wrong side of the 2 lane highway, with a very large F350 truck coming straight towards me. i had just enough time to slam my right foot on the brake and then we hit. i was driving over 50 miles an hour in a little honda civic. as my car crumpled all around me and began to spin in crazy circles, i remember yelling "NOOOO!" and desperately trying to cradle my pregnant belly with my hands.
the car stopped spinning and landed at the side of the road near a barbed wire fence. i didn't feel any pain at first; just disbelief, fear and panic. my car horn was stuck and the deafening sound only fueled the anxiety that was beginning to build inside of me. inhaling the fumes from what used to be the hood of my car, as well as from the deflated airbag in front of me made me feel nauseous. though the steering wheel was pressed up tight against my abdomen, i managed to put my hand to my belly and when i brought it up to my face, it was dripping in blood. that's when i began to wail.
through the bent and shattered windshield, i saw a few people with stunned yet concerned looks on their faces carefully making their way towards my car. they asked "is anyone in there? are you okay?" my high-pitched, shaky voice sounded strange in my ears as i answered their questions. someone tried to open my door, but was unable to. he informed me that 911 had been called and that help was on its way. one woman carefully took my glass encrusted hand through the open window, held it in hers and gently began wiping away the blood with a wet cloth she was holding. i still don't know if these people were other drivers who had witnessed the accident, or if they were from homes nearby, but i was so grateful not to be alone. i am sure that there were angels among them.
the foremost thought on my mind at that point was whether baby samuel was okay. unable to explain much, i kept moaning "my baby! my baby!" alarmed, a few people outside must have seen the empty car seat in the back and they began looking for a child nearby that may have been thrown from the car. one gentleman concernedly asked, "ma'am, how old is your baby?" realizing what they must have been thinking, i told them that there was no baby in the car, but that i was pregnant. "have you felt the baby move since the accident?" someone else asked. "no!" i said, and then my whole body began to shake uncontrollably. searing pain soon became apparent, but it was difficult for me to tell exactly where the pain was coming from. my legs felt very wobbly and i had the strange feeling that the floorboard of my car had opened up and that my right leg was dangling through the hole. curious, i craned my neck to look down and that's when i noticed that my knee was in the right place, but the rest of my leg looked somehow terribly wrong. my shaking increased and i began yelling "my leg! something is wrong with my leg!" all of the confused pain i had been feeling cleared up in that moment to pin its entirety onto the awful throbbing in my leg. i felt cold and dizzy and i started to pant. that's when a young man urgently stuck his face in the window saying "look at me. breathe. just look at me." he told me his name and that he was a lifeguard and that he needed me to focus so that i wouldn't go into shock. he instructed me not to try to move at all, but just to stay calm and then he began asking me random questions about myself, keeping my attention on something other than the situation i was in.
i have no idea how long i sat waiting in that car, first for the paramedics to arrive, then for the jaws of life to get me out of there. it felt like i was sitting in that wreck for hours. at some point, i noticed my purse sitting on the passenger seat and i immediately grabbed it and called josh at home. it was impossible to keep the shrill panic out of my voice, though the last thing i wanted was to completely freak him out. i told him that i thought i was okay, that something was wrong with my leg and that i didn't know if our baby was alive or not. my husband, as always, was my rock. even just hearing his calm voice telling me "it's going to be alright" soothed me tremendously. he asked to speak to someone else at the scene, so i passed the phone onto the lifeguard, closed my eyes, and prayed and prayed with disjointed words for my unborn child, knowing that "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)
praying really helped slow my breathing and soon i began to take more notice of my surroundings. through the broken and wrinkled glass of my windshield, i saw a man not too far away talking to someone and i recognized him immediately as one of josh's friends from church named karim. something about seeing a familiar face amidst the horror around me did something to me. i told the men who were working on getting my door open, "i know that guy. that's karim. i need to talk to him!" someone called him over and he came to my car as they finally pried the door open and were able to get me out. as i was lifted up onto the gurney and carried to the waiting ambulance, i asked karim to tell the church to pray for my baby. i cannot remember what he said, but his words were reassuring as he held my hand all the way to the ambulance. later i found out that, after speaking with me, josh had called 2 of his friends who are mail carriers for the city that the accident happened in. he asked karim, who was closer to the scene to go and be a familiar presence for me there. karim not only found me at the accident, but also drove to the hospital to be there when josh arrived.
the ambulance was cold, hard and sterile. the two paramedics inside were both trying to get an IV into me, one into each arm at the same time, while the speeding vehicle bounced and jostled me, sending shooting pains up my leg. i asked them if they could give me any sort of pain relief and i was told that since i was pregnant, they had to wait until we got to the hospital. once at the hospital, i was wheeled into a large room with bright lights and lots of medical staff busily making preparations to transfer me onto another surface. i heard the words "compound fracture" and "surgery" and "fetal heart rate monitor". i was given a little bit of morphine, which didn't really make much of a difference, and then josh was right beside me, holding tightly to my hand and kissing me. my panic began to fade and i kept my eyes locked onto his as my clothing was cut off of me and cold aprons were lay over my belly to keep the baby safe from the x-rays.
then came the fun part. they had to pull my twisted, broken leg out and re-set it before i could go in for surgery. the nurse on the other side of me said "okay, this is gonna hurt like hell!" and she was right. i yelled in pain, but i know that without josh right there next to me, it would have somehow felt a lot worse.
while we were waiting for the surgeon, a fetal heart rate monitor was wheeled into the room. i held my breath, hearing only silence while my belly was probed all over. and then i heard it: a sound like tiny little horses galloping. "that's your baby's heartbeat!" i was told with a smile. all i could do was breathe a deep sigh and say "thank you God" even though, deep down i knew that just a heartbeat didn't ensure that little samuel was going to be okay.
the surgeon briefly told me and josh what he would be doing to my leg--both the tibia and fibula had snapped and broken through the skin. he was going to clean my leg out, getting rid of all the bits of broken bone, then a rod was to be inserted from my knee to my ankle with screws keeping it in place. inserting the rod meant that they had to make an incision just below my knee, which would then be stapled up along with the the hole that was already in my leg from the bones poking through. he told me the surgery may be as long as 3 hours, but he said, "don't worry, you'll be asleep the whole time and won't feel a thing." i wasn't so sure about that, thinking that i had heard somewhere that it wasn't safe for a pregnant woman to go under general anesthesia. sure enough, once the anesthesiologist came, she explained to us that i would be given a spinal, similar to an epidural, which would be safe for the baby and keep the pain away during surgery. she said it would only last up to 3 hours however, which made me slightly nervous. i also wasn't looking forward to being completely awake during my own surgery, but i had no other choice. i bravely waved goodbye to josh as a stylish blue shower cap type hat was put on my head and into the operating room i was wheeled.