Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Car Wreck Story (part 1)

This post has been a long time in coming because it is so hard for me to remember things. I took several days over a period of five weeks to put this post together. I wanted to have it on my The Car Wreck page so that anyone who was interested or just plain curious could read all about it in one place. I tend to bring up bits and piece in different posts, but I wanted the main collection of events in one solid place. What better day to bring this post to life than the two year anniversary? :)

Before the wreck...this was me.

How Life Was: I was just a normal college student/working girl. I attended college on campus at Rose State College, in Midwest City, OK. I worked two part time jobs, one for Old Navy (which I absolutely loved!) and one for Payless Shoe Source (which I hated with a passion!!), I also sat with a friends grandparents on the weekends, and was active in my at-the-time-church. Friends were something that I had a lot of and we would hang out and go see a movie or eat at McAllister's (a really nice soup and sandwich restaurant).

1994 Pontiac Firebird.

Eight Months Earlier: The most exciting day of my life, I finally bought my very own car! A bright red T-top, 1994 Firebird. No more driving my parents van! This was a long process of searching and looking at so many cars which were in terrible shape...and not only that they weren't 'cool' either. When I went to look at this car I prayed, like I did every time I looked at a car, that if it wasn't the one I would know. The price was more than the cash I had so I asked if she would take 200 off. She said she could do that. My next thing was I had to make sure I could afford the insurance. I prayed again, if this isn't supposed to work then God please make it less than $100 a month. It was $98! I bought the car. The breaks had to be changed right away because a previous driver had done something to them to make them warped, but that was not a problem. Rear tires were needed, and they were bought during the summer. The only thing that was a problem and would eventually need to be fixed was the starter. I didn't have the $80 to do that, even with my two jobs.

At that point in my life I had a deep hatred in my heart towards my family. I did not want to be around them, I did not want their help, and most of all I did not want them in my life. I am SO grateful to God that he did not allow me the opportunity to move out because I would be lost to my family and who-knows-where right now if I had moved out and cut off all connections with them.

October 10, 2010: The day of the wreck. I was going about my normal busy schedule day the morning of the wreck. I had an interview for Chili's, a Mexican style restaurant, and I finally had saved the money I needed to replace my starter. It had gotten to the point where it would take me 15 minutes just to get the engine running. Not only was it stressful, but it was a pain and desperately needed fixing.

I took my car to the shop and dropped it off. I went back home and did little things that I needed done, then I went back out to pick up my newly fixed car. I was so very excited the first time I sat in it after it was fixed and the engine started right away. It was such a relief and a wonderful feeling to hear that engine start up immediately. I was in a rush to get back home to change and go in for my interview at 2pm.

We lived off of Old Highway 9 in Tecumseh. That is a terrible highway. There are accidents on it all the time. I had one little hill to go before I made the left hand turn onto my road. My house was less than 5 seconds from the highway. I remember driving behind a very slow eighteen wheeler and being extremely frustrated because I was running short on time. I remember glancing in the rear view mirror and seeing a white car behind me. I remember turning my blinker on to make that left hand turn. I remember stepping on the break to slow down. I remember thinking what all I would grab as soon as I walked in the front door and how long it would take to get back in my car and on the road again. I remember starting to pull into the opposite lane in making the turn..... I remember a loud crash as my car was hit in the drivers side. I blanked out. Then I remember squealing tires, my car sliding, thinking I would go into the big ditch on the right side of my road. I blanked out again. I remember seeing the tall cliff like wall of dirt right in front of me. I blanked out again.

Mom was standing on the edge of the highway to take this photo. This is how far my car traveled after I was hit. It is pointed in the direction of my neighbor's driveway (straight ahead) and to the right is their neighbors driveway. Our house was to the left where the main part of the gravel road traveled.

My car was stopped, I was breathing hard. I sat in stunned silence, grateful to have not hit anything. I saw that the car that hit me had stopped back up by the highway. I was at my neighbor's gate, over 100 feet from the highway. I finally got myself calmed down enough to try and get out of the car. I reached for the door handle and pushed. It didn't budge. That is when I realized that the door was bent in towards me and I panicked. I calmed down enough to climb out of the car through the passenger side.

I don't have a before pic, but this side of the car used to look as good as the car does in the second photo of this post.
The door was split into two pieces from top to bottom. The other car went into my car where the dent is at the front, unhooked and scraped down the side of my car toward the back before the cars finally disconnected and sent me on a wild ride.

Here is the same style car without the broken door so you can see the difference.

My memory does not serve me will in remembering something so long ago, but I remember the man and wife who were in the car that hit me. I thank God I never saw the woman's face because if I had run into her any time in the next months after that wreck I may have said something I would now regret (she was the driver). The man was very nice to me and made sure I was okay. The only thing I can remember thinking was: oh my god, my car is wrecked! My beautiful car is completely damaged! I just put $80 in the car this morning! I can't believe I finally spent money to get that stupid starter fixed and now I won't even be able to enjoy it! Needless to say I was very ticked off.

I don't remember if the man called the cops or if I did. I remember telling my boyfriend at the time (we had started dating the day before the wreck, but had talked two months prior to that) and my best friend Ro that I had been in a wreck. Both of them freaked out. I called my dad. He showed up not long after that...he had been out of the house at the time or he would've been there in a shorter amount of time. Oh, the wreck happened only a few yards from my driveway...

As I was waiting for the cops and my dad to show up I started feeling really bad. Somehow I remembered I had an interview and asked the neighbor whose driveway I ended up in if he had a phone book since I didn't have the number (he came out to see what had happened because he noticed my car in his driveway). After I called to let them know what had happened and that I wouldn't be able to interview that day (I was offered the chance to come in a week later...but was never able to do that) I sat on the hood of my car and waited. I had a migraine kicking in like one I'd never felt before. My back/spine started aching about 30 minutes after that.

It felt like hours before anyone showed up. My dad showed up about 20 minutes after I called him. The cops showed up about 40 minutes after that. At that point I was running out of adrenaline and starting to feel what would become a normal pain in the months to follow. I don't remember very much after the cops got there. I remember being asked questions and I remember one of the cops asking me if he needed to call an ambulance. It turns out I was looking pretty bad at that point but I didn't realize it. Dad said he would take me up to the ER once everything at the scene had been wrapped up.

After the paperwork and all was done I remember going home. I remember not being able to walk on my own down the sidewalk to the front door. I remember being so dizzy and light headed and in so much pain that I didn't want to move. I think I was crying, but I can't remember for sure. I'm crying now as I remember these things. I laid down on the couch while I waited for something before going up to the ER (I don't remember what was going on then).

Let me interrupt this story to say I have a very long history with the ER room. We go back a long time. For some reason I was blessed with being very accident prone...but at least I never broke any bones! :)

Back to the story...the ER was terrible. I HATE waiting in the ER. I did eventually end up in a bed in a room in the back part of the ER. Where I got an IV....something else I also hate is needles. I don't remember anything else about that day. At least not right now. Maybe eventually I might think of something else but for now this is it.

The photo on the left shows more accurately howI really felt. But I love the photo on the right. I think I look pretty there and after the wreck...that was rare.

The days after that ER visit I couldn't do very much. I was very drugged. I don't remember very much except texting my boyfriend Evan and playing the old computer game Chips Challenge. I had a very hard time putting sentences together. In my head I knew what I wanted to say, but it wouldn't come out right when I'd try to speak it. We thought this was a side effect of all the pain meds I was on.
The red arrows point out the three sets of skid marks that the other driver made once she realized I was turning.
The purple arrow shows the skid mark from my car.

Mom went and took pictures of my car and where it ended up and the skid marks while I was at the ER. The marks are no longer there today so it's a good thing she took the pictures.

The Next Few Weeks: I went to my primary care doctor. I don't remember anything else that happened. I think that I started going to a new chiropractor. I don't remember. I do remember being in extreme pain each time I would ride somewhere and the car would hit a bump on the road. At some point in these weeks (I think) we figured out that I had actually got a concussion in the wreck. That helped explain a lot of things, but we never really knew why no one noticed that at the ER in the beginning...we didn't learn about the concussion until a week or two later.

I've added the orangish line so that you can better see the slant in the line.
Each line extended out towards the camera was on one of my hip bones.
My spine was messed up enough that I was not walking evenly which was increasing the pain in my back and if it hadn't been corrected could've caused a lot of problems in the future.

I've added two arrows so you can hopefully make out the two lines here.
The blue arrow shows were my spine was lined up after the car wreck.
The pink arrow shows where my spine should be.
There was a 7 degree difference. Dr. Sprague said that in a typical car wreck like I experienced 2-3 degrees would be a lot.

I started going to a new chiropractor. They worked with S.O.N.A.R. waves instead of doing manual adjustments on my neck and spine. I was very grateful for this since I didn't even like to move much less let someone else move me. In a typical exam you go in and learn about the S.O.N.A.R. treatment and do measurements and x-rays of everything.

I remember being nervous before the first adjustment.

Dr. Sprague explaining the process as she was getting the machine ready.
It looks terribly scary, but it just sends waves towards the top piece in the vertebrae. This slowly and gently moves it to where it needs to be.

The appointment was over...but Dr. Sprague knew she had to get me care right away because of how bad I was. Mom and I went out for lunch and came back later for the very first adjustment. Right after the first adjustment I sat up and for the first time since the wreck I was able to say exactly what I was thinking without it coming out jumbled or me not being able to say part of it. Dr. Sprague's explanation is that the hole in the bone that lets all the nerves run through it was so cramped from the wreck that it was squeezing my nerves and not allowing them to function properly.

Chiropractic care continued for about two years. I was released under the terms that I wasn't better, but I may never be better. At some point you may not be able to keep going and have to stop. We figure I now have about a $10,000 dollar spine.

I ended up in the ER about a month after the wreck. This is when I met the man who would become my neurologist. He was quite funny and I really do appreciate all the time he has spent over the past two years taking care of me and working with me and how patience he has had while we've gone from one medicine to the next to find something to help keep my migraines from leaving me in bed all day long. He has been a great neurologist. I am really glad that I ended up in his care because the original neurologist I was scheduled to see was actually over a different part of neurology and wouldn't have been able to help me like Dr. Gordon has.

My physical therapist Mike H. and Me! Most of the times I had to have physical therapy, Mike was my therapist so he knew my background pretty well.

Physical therapy was a huge part of my getting better. I think I did therapy for my neck and back and body in general for over six months. Fortunately Shawnee Medical Center has the most amazing team of Physical Therapists and they are fun to be around. They all knew me from my many visits before for shoulder, ankle, and knee injuries in the past. They were all very encouraging and many times lifted my spirits when I was having a very hard day.

My cognitive therapist Terri M. and Me.

Cognitive therapy was introduced after I started physical therapy. In all my times of being there before I had never met Terri and didn't know who she was or what she did. She actually heard about me through the other people who worked there and found mom one day while I was in therapy and told her that she wanted to see me to see if she could help me. Phone calls were made and things were shuffled around and next thing I knew I ended up in a little room sitting across from Terri at a desk. Mom was there too taking notes since I was still unable to remember almost anything at that point. I continued therapy with Terri for a long time. I don't remember how long. Terri soon became a friend. She helped me be able to get back to normal functioning in my daily life: she helped me become responsible for my own medicine--at that time mom still had to give it to me; she helped me have a plan for getting up at normal times instead of sleeping until 12 or 2 in the afternoon; and she helped me start a card system with a few little chores on it to accomplish each day and then put on my mom's nightstand...this included: getting dressed, do my physical therapy exercises, do my cognitive therapy homework, take my medicine, and a few others. I will have to write more on this since she really did wonders and helped me get back to the person I am now.

My primary care doctor stayed with me through my journey as well. She did a lot for me and was a great doctor. I am so glad that I had so many great doctors taking care of me and worried about me. They are a big part of why I am doing so well today.

This story has so many more details to it and there are so many more problems which have stemmed from the first day of the wreck and I may never be able to write all of it, but I do want to eventually try to write a few more posts eventually. I keep everything related to my wreck and everything since posted on The Car Wreck page.


  1. Wow....sorry you went through all of that. You seem like a very strong girl though and are stronger now from all you went through. Car accidents are so scary and can be life changing. Praying that each day you feel better. I'm a new fan from Let Them Eat Cake. Your blog layout is so cute! Have a great day sweets!

    1. Yes this was a life changing car wreck for sure! I hated what happened to me for the first year or so, but then I realized how bad it would've been for me to be without my family..especially now and so sometimes it seems worth what I've gone through to still have them.

      I'm so glad you stopped by! Thank you! I like the look too :) Thanks for the follow!


  2. Oh my, I couldn't stop reading this. You are so brave and strong for what you went through. And even now if you still feel the pain, be it physical or psychological, you have so many people around you to keep you going.

    I hope you can put this behind you and continue your life (and it seems like you're doing a good job so far)!

    N x

    1. I don't feel very brave or strong, but thank you. :) I couldn't make it through daily life without the people I have.

      I am trying my best to put it behind me, but some days it's harder than others.


  3. I need to know... Did you get a new car and was it as "cool" as the Firebird?

    1. Lol well, I still can't drive, and I still have my doesn't drive, and I can't drive so I guess we still go together. One day I hope to be able to drive again. If I ever get another vehicle I want to get a Dodge Ram. :) Thanks for your question!


  4. Oh no Helen, reading this whole page made me cringe in fear. I could hear those brakes skid and the loud crash that happened vividly. I hope you're better right now on your 3rd year and I definitely thank God for you that you're still here today. I think it's a gem that I've found someone like you, and that we'd learn to appreciate life more, and you've just shown me that. It is so fragile, so unpredictable. But I'm glad you're okay :)


    1. Jo you are so sweet! Thank you for your beautiful comment! That was such a blessing for me to read today when it came through my email!!! I too am very grateful to still be here! Yes, over all I'm doing a lot better. I still battle with depression due to chemical imbalance, the brain injury, back injury, fibromyalgia and more...but over all I can function at a level that wasn't possible after the wreck for over a year!

      I tried to see if you had a blog, but your user name above just sent me straight to your Goolge+ page. If you do have a blog I'd love to stop by some time and take a look around!


  5. Wow, what a terrible event to go through. I pray you get better and better each day!

    1. Thank you Becca! That is sweet of you! I have come along a lot further than my doctors thought I would and for that I am grateful.

  6. I’m amazed that you still remember the details of your car accident! That must be terrifying! And your Pontiac did take a pretty bad blow. But I’m glad that everything is okay now with you. Relating what happened will teach other people to be safe always.

    1. I actually don't remember a lot of them. I journalled a lot and my mom has detailed notes about a lot of things so I read through that periodically...especially if there's something I'm trying to figure out or remember. I have a hard time remembering anything before the accident unless I can read about it or see photos. Sometimes that helps, sometimes I still don't remember at all. It can get frustrating sometimes!

  7. Wow! I totally understand, having gone through a bad accident myself. Thankfully I was only left with some deterioration to the discs in my back. But I also am unable to drive. I was wondering if you have tried and if so, what has helped you? I have never met another person that has this fear and its very lonely.

    1. Hi Summer! I was unable to drive for a long time after the wreck. A lot of it had to do with being dizzy and blacking out and then part of it was due to memory problems as in I was unable to remember how to get to places I've been to hundreds of times. When I did finally try to drive I ended up blacking out on a two lane highway and almost ended up in a head-on collision. Needless to say it was a LONG time before I tried driving again. My husband is really the reason I drive any at all now. He helped me over come a lot of the fears I had about driving again. I don't drive often, but I can if I need to. Most of the time hubby drives or I wait until he can go with me. I do enjoy having the freedom to drive myself to the store or to visit a friend, which is something I didn't have for about two years after the wreck. I don't like driving long distances or being in busy cities, but we live out in the country and in a small town so driving for me isn't too bad most of the time. It still scares me and sometimes I still have bad reactions to how other drivers are driving even if they're being perfectly safe. I think the thing that helped the most is having a calm person help me get back in the drivers seat. Hubby was that person for me and still is.


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