That Friday morning I was driving to work- a substitute job at a middle school about 20 minutes from my apartment. I am very familiar with the route I was driving and the roads themselves weren't even bad that day. I left as usual and drove over the mountain to get into state college. I came around a curve and noticed some ice and snow ahead so I put my breaks on. (Maybe I wasn't supposed to do that- but I can never keep it straight about how you should drive on ice). My car started to swerve out of control into the other lane. Another car was coming so I decided my only option was to try and swerve back towards my side and avoid the collision with another car. My car did avoid the other cars on the road but did not avoid hitting a tree! It's pretty thick forest along that road and going off to the side of the road means hitting trees. To this day I am still thankful that my car did not hit any other cars or injure anyone but myself- in this account I was very lucky.
The crash was bad- and the impact from it destroyed a lot of the front of the car. As you can see in these pictures the damage was pretty extensive. Derek (my roommate/friend) who went to gather my belongings from my car later on- took these pictures and told me that the engine had started to protrude up into the dash area of the front seats, especially on the passenger side.
After the crash happened I didn't really notice how bad the crash had been. I know that sounds strange, but I was in such shock and pain that most of my thoughts were focused on worrying about my own well being- not really worrying about the car. That being said- when the police officer showed up at the hospital with his report on the accident it prompted a lot more tests to be done on my body for internal and other serious injuries that may have occurred.
Now that the smoke has settled from the accident we have been able to work through all the details with my insurance company and seem to be getting back a fair amount of money for the car. In case you couldn't guess, my car (named Angie) is totaled. I was so looking forward to many more years of driving her, but I am glad that at least I should be getting enough money to get another car of somewhat similar caliber.
A seriously good samaritan named Nicole, stopped to help. She rushed over and started asking all the right questions. She asked about my pain, and if I had blacked out, and tons of other questions. She had another passer-by call 911 to report the accident as she helped me limp into her car. She grabbed my purse and then drove me to the hospital. In the car i called the middle school I was supposed to be subbing at and my mother. When I finally reached the E.R. I was in a lot of pain. My right knee was killing me, and skin was protruding from a hole in my jeans. My left hip and my nose also hurt a lot- and I had just about cleaned up my bloody mouth by the time we got inside.
Once i was admitted to the E.R. I felt really alone and scared. I didn't know anything about how intense these injuries were- and on top of it no one gave me any pain medicine! (for a really long time). I ended up having some X-rays and a C.T. scan done. (yes I had to drink the horrible radioactive fluid). It wasn't until after the C.T. Scan that we found out the total news of my injuries. My right patella (knee cap) was broken- with a pretty big whole in my knee down to the joint- letting air in (huge risk of infection) and my right hip was fractured. The news of a broken hip came as a huge shock since my right hip didn't even hurt at all!
All afternoon there was discussion of when and where the surgeries might take place. At this point I was at Mt. Nittany Hospital and they knew the knee would have to be operated on at least to clean it out and stitch it up. After waiting all morning and part of the afternoon they gave the word to ship me to a different hospital with doctors who specialize in hip injuries to get a more solid second opinion on the hip and the knee. I was so thankful to have my friends Sydney and Derek there for the afternoon- I am not sure if I could have done that entire morning all by myself.
Later- I took a hour and a half ride to Geisinger Hospital in Danville, PA. At this point my mom was already on her way to PA to come to the rescue.When I reached the new hospital I was notified that I would be admitted in the trauma department since my accident had been so severe. This is more urgent than an E.R. and came with some interesting details. When I got there about 10-15 doctors, nurses, and interns, poured over my body to examine every inch of it. I felt slightly humiliated when they removed my socks and hospital gown and just about everyone saw everything. I got over the physical embarrassment quickly but didn't adjust well to so many people acting crazy and running a million tests on me at one time. My knee at this point still was killing me- and had been bandaged up a little. While I was in the Trauma department my knee got a pretty good cleaning and new bandages- however it also got more painful X-rays and another C.T. scan. On top of all of this for the entire day I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything- not even water- because of the uncertainty of when my knee would be operated on! I hated not being able to drink water and at one point my blood pressure and pulse dropped dangerously low from being dehydrated. (That's when I finally got hooked up to Saline).
That entire first day is still pretty clear in my mind- and I remember the relief I felt when I was finally in a hospital room and my mother arrived. By this point I had some pain relief, but was still dying from not being able to drink any water. I somewhat remember drifting off to sleep that first night, being totally drained and stripped of any molecule of energy I might have had left.
The next morning my knee was operated on- they cleaned it out thoroughly and stitched it up. The recovery after this surgery was rough and I had to take a lot of pain killers before it even felt muted. The weekend included some really lovely visitors and a lot of recovery- just in time for my second surgery on Monday.
Monday (Feb 4) the doctors went in and operated on my knee and hip adding a screw to my knee and plate to my hip- to hold everything together. Waking up from this surgery was brutal- and again the with-holding of water was unbearable! Most of the nurses at the hospital were wonderful and very kind during this rough recovery process. We had a horrible and very scarring experience with one nurse on a night shift that I never wish to repeat in my whole entire life. (Don't worry- Mom reported it). Other than the one nurse we had some issues with the rest were so king to me. Their gentleness and patience I would count as a major contributing factor towards my recovery.
My mother was also my rock during this whole process- she held my hand (literally) through the entire process and I certainly would not have been able to get through that first week without her help. She is the best mother in the world- and I am ready to fight anyone who would disagree.
After about 4 very intense days of recovery it was finally time for me to leave the hospital and go to rehab. (which is where I am now!) I will get into all the ins and outs of rehab another day.
But for now you should know- my knee and hip are healing well. Both have a combination of staples and stitches- which you can see in my knee pictured below!
I am not able to bend my knee at all since the surgery on the knee was so extensive. Instead of a cast the doctors put my right leg in an immobilizer. It can come off but is supposed to stay on all day and night. My hip I just have a bandage on but when leaving the hospital they gave me some hip motion limitations in order to allow for it to heal fully. I am not allowed to bend my body forward more than a 90 degree angle because of my hip (this one is the hardest rule to follow).
One totally lovely thing about this entire experience has been the amount of love and support I have felt from everyone. I feel so overwhelmed by love because I never once have experienced people from every stage of my life all supporting me in one endeavor before. People from my childhood in Utica have reached out to me- all the way up to my most recent acquaintances in State college- my students and my cast of Legally Blonde- all of them reached out to love and support me through this time. I feel so blessed to have so many amazing people thinking of me and praying for my healing. I know it is by God's glory and power that my healing has been going so well so far. And everyday I praise him for sparing my life in the car accident and thank him for placing angels in that car with me to protect my life!
P.S. Happy Valentine's Day