WARNING: This story contains graphic content and may be disturbing to some people. Pseudonyms have been given to protect some identities.
Glass shattering, people screaming, that’s all I remember. It was April 30, the last day of tax season for accountants, which meant a busy day for my parents. It was a regular day for me, my friend Mary and I were going to a coffee house.
We were driving through an intersection, when suddenly, glass shattering, people screaming. That’s all I remember.
We got into a severe car accident. We were good kids, though, there was no drinking, no drugs, no speeding, no texting. It just came down to a decision. Mary thought she had time, she didn’t. I was sitting in the passenger seat when we were T-boned. She turned left when she didn’t have time.
When my Mom got the call, she thought we’d just been in a fender-bender. That’s when the paramedic told her that it was a large scene and to get to the emergency room.
Both my parents rushed there. While they were waiting, a nearby lady was telling her friend there’d been an accident in my hometown, and that it was really bad and wouldn’t be surprised if there was a casualty. There wasn’t, but my parents didn’t know that.
It was foggy when I woke up, I felt heavy and in pain, and the first person I saw was my mother. She told me I’d been in a wreck. I had no memory of the accident at that point. My dad was there too, but I don’t remember him.
All I remember was staring up at my mother’s face, and a whole lot of pain. I hurt, everything hurt. That’s when she told me I broke my left femur, cracked the right side of my pelvis, and had a broken right wrist, along with many cuts and bruises.
They had put a rod in my leg and stapled it shut. I had a catheter in me because I couldn’t pee on my own. I couldn’t move, it hurt to move.
One of the earliest things I remember is having a nurse wash my hair because I couldn’t bathe. The water was brown from all the blood and bits of glass in my hair.
I was miserable. Having to press a buzzer just to use the washroom, constantly in pain, and the food was gross.
The first time I remember it being good was when my mother brought in a therapy dog who leaped on to my bed. I was missing my dog Oliver at the time, so this dog made me very happy. My friends and boyfriend all stopped by.
They eventually brought in a cushioned wheelchair for me to test out. It hurt to get in, but once I was in, I was moving. I couldn’t push myself, so either my mom, my dad, or my sister Rose would push me.
I started to develop a wound on my backside from the transitioning board. The solution was a diaper. Do you know how humiliating it is to be 17 and have someone change your diaper? To have your grandmother change your diaper?
I had to do a lot of physiotherapy. I had physiotherapists, whom I dubbed “physio-terrorists” even though they were very sweet and just wanted to help. I just hated the pain of physio. It hurt like hell.
After 20 days in the hospital, I was ready to go home – with all my equipment of course. I had to use a “Sara-steady” to get into the car. I still couldn’t walk yet; it was basically a standing wheelchair. I also a had a wheelchair, a walker, a commode, and a hospital bed. I was in my sister’s bedroom because it was on the ground floor and I couldn’t go up stairs. They put a ramp in my house so I could be wheeled in the front door.
My sister Rose was a godsend, she helped me get out of bed, sponge bathe me, get dressed, brush my hair, use the washroom, brought me food, and wheel me around. All things I couldn’t do on my own, stuff people take for granted.
My friends and sister wheeled me around school on the odd days when I would come in for a class or two. It was kind of funny, whenever I annoyed my sister and I wasn’t in my wheelchair, she would take away my walker and I was virtually stuck wherever I was left. I had a home sitter that stayed to watch me when my sisters were at school and my parents at work.
I soon had to take a shower. It was an ordeal. It took both my parents to help me, and I had to use the shower at my dad’s work because it was wheelchair accessible. My parents had to help me undress and guide me to the seat in the shower. It was a bit embarrassing being a teenager and having your parents help you take a shower.
My first real outing was a Girl Guides of Canada dinner. My best friend’s mom helped my mom get me out of the car and into the basement of the church. What really made my night was when they said they were dedicating the dinner to me and brought me presents and all the little Sparks made me handmade cards wishing me to get better. Yes, I cried, and I still have those cards to this day.
Soon, it was graduation time. We went to the Base Gagetown, where the activities were swimming, bowling, and rock climbing. Go figure. I tried my hand at swimming but soon had to leave. I wasn’t up to staying the night and my dad brought me home.
Prom also sucked. My date was the sweetest, rolling me around and was a good sport even though I wasn’t much of a date. The best part was the father-daughter dance. My dad held me up and we danced together. The rest of the night I did the ‘wheelchair shuffle’.
My sister wheeled me onstage where I stood to receive my diploma. I was very proud at that moment, even though I missed so much school, I still graduated with Honours.
By August, I could walk without a walker, and soon I was doing stairs. Yes, it was painful. No, I will never forget it. Do I remember the accident? Kind of, it’s slowly coming back to me, but all I can recall is glass shattering and people screaming. I’m still scared of cars. I absolutely don’t want to drive. But I went through it, and I feel stronger now. But just remember:
Take those extra seconds to make sure you have the right of way.
Wear your seat belt.
You may be a good kid.
You may be sober.
But all it takes is those few seconds to change someone’s life.