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  • Writer's pictureMer

Two Years of Recovery...

Trigger Warning Contains graphic images of auto crash and bodily injury.

August 12th. Two years. It has been two years since I was #hitbyatruck while on the way to work that morning. I can still hear the sounds of vehicles crushing, glass shattering, the voices of those first on scene. "Oh my God, is she alive?" I often wonder if the images, smells, feelings, following the impact will fade. It was the most horrific experience of my life.

And, in the same breath, the most humbling. As scary as it was, I will never forget Eric, a complete stranger who opened the passenger door and crawled in to keep me calm. I had already dialed 911 but couldn't get words out. He spoke to them over my blue-tooth speakers and helped me communicate what had happened and where we were. While dispatchers were on the line, my phone kept ringing - over and over and over - it was my mom. When the call with dispatch was over, I handed the phone to Eric and asked him to talk to my mom. He disappeared, and I never saw him again. It turns out, he was talking to my mom and my husband and my best friend. All of them had received emergency text messages when I dialed 911 because they were on my Emergency Contact list in my phone. He explained that I had been in an accident and I was alive, but he didn't know much more.

When he stepped away, a woman named Hanieh came to keep me calm. "It's ok, Sweetheart. You are going to be ok. I can hear the ambulance, they are on the way." And then, she was gone and there were a million hands on me and people getting into the vehicle to help. "Do you have kids in the car?" I heard this question several times in the chaos and now know that my kids' car seats were turned completely sideways in the backseat. Everyone who approached the car feared there were kids somewhere in the vehicle, possibly tossed from the safety of their seats. I can't imagine how horrifying that moment is as a first responder. Every time I was asked, I found my breath and literally shouted, "I just dropped them off! They are safe!" Three minutes. I dropped them three minutes down the road from where I was hit. Those are the most precious three minutes of my life and I am forever thankful for that time.

The first responders were amazing. This was in the middle of a pandemic, so they all had masks on. I don't know who they were, names, faces, anything. So many of them said, "You are ok, we've got you. You are safe." I wish I could hug each and every one of them and tell them, "THANK YOU!" Thank you for working so quickly to extract me from my crushed vehicle. Thank you for thinking of my babies first and making sure they were safe. Thank you for running towards a nightmare and making it better. I love each of you and you don't even know it.

Once I was out of my car, I kept my eyes closed tight and waited until I was inside the ambulance to open them. It was too bright outside - a stark contrast from the dark space of crushed glass and brown airbag smoke that I had just come from - and I didn't want to see anything. I didn't know what had happened, other than a truck had hit me head-on. I didn't want to know. The paramedics began cutting my clothing off and I frantically grabbed one of their arms. "Please don't cut my bra. It was my sister's bra and she died. Please." She put her hand on mine, looked me in the eyes, and said, "I hear you, I've got you." They carefully removed my bra.

When we arrived at the Emergency Room several minutes later, there were dozens of people in the room. It was a flurry of activity, but I saw the paramedic hand something to the nurse and explain, "this has sentimental value, please keep it safe for her." It was my sister's bra. I found it in my purse several days later when we were discharged. *YES, a bra. I know it seems weird, but when you lose someone suddenly and unexpectedly as I did my sister, you grasp for every last piece of them. Plus we were the same size and it is the most comfortable bra EVER.

Everyone in the ER took such care to communicate, even when I was reeling from impact and a severe concussion. I think they hopped me up on pain meds pretty quick and the combination of those and adrenaline kept me comfortable. My husband came in at some point, blood-shot eyes and a look of terror on his face. I immediately burst into tears when I saw him; the first time I had cried since this nightmare began. He stayed with me and held my hand, signing papers, taking-over and communicating my medical history. His strength made me feel safe.

I was eventually wheeled away and put through every test imaginable. PET Scan, CT Scan, XRays, MRI....I don't even know what else. At some point, while I was inside some kind of a big tube, I finally lost it and began sobbing. I couldn't breathe, and I couldn't talk, I could only cry. I felt my body pull out of the tube, and a wonderful woman came over and grabbed my hand. She held onto me, rubbed my hand and arm, and just repeated, "You are ok. I've got you. You are safe." I don't know how long I cried, but this was the first panic attack of many, and this lovely women guided me through it with compassion and grace. I love her, too.

When the testing was done, I was taken into emergency surgery for my knee. My patella was lodged in my femur, a 6" hole blow-open in my knee, and a severed femoral tendon. When they wheeled me into the room, it was cold. There were two people on either side of me, and one woman explained, "we're going to have to take your underwear off, is that ok with you?" I told her she could cut it off and throw it away because it had a hole in it and I was thoroughly embarrassed by my undies that day. My grandma always told me to wear clean underwear in case of an accident. Well, Grandma, it was clean but it was old and torn. Lesson learned. The woman laughed and told me, "It's ok, I've got you. I will throw it away and nobody will ever know."

When I made it to my hospital room that evening and things started to settle down, I made my first Facebook post with the very first picture here. I was thankful to be alive, and thankful for everyone who had helped me that day. I eventually told my husband to go home and be with our babies so I could get some sleep. He'd been gone only minutes when the second panic attack hit. I pressed the Nurse Call button on my bed and nearly screamed, "I need help!" My amazing nurse rushed in to find me shaking, sobbing, and unable to breathe. After taking my vitals, she sat on the edge of the bed and grabbed my hand. She told me, "You are ok, you are safe. I am here to be with you as long as you need." We repeated this several times throughout the night, and she was there every single time.

I've never before experienced such an outpouring of love and support from complete strangers. In the scariest moments of my life, these people carried me through. They had me, and I was safe. I want these memories to stick with me for the rest of my life. I want the fears and sounds and horror of the day to fade, but I want the love, strength, compassion of others to always shine through.

Most of these people will never know my name or what happened to me. In a crazy cool twist of fate, I learned that Hanieh, the sweet woman who was there with me right after the crash, had actually become a Facebook friend of mine in the last year. I was not able to read the police report until after the criminal case was settled, which was only two months ago. I reached out to her immediately when I read the report and made the connection. I wish I could thank everyone else involved, too.

As I sit here today, working and living life like this 'mostly' never happened, I have to remind myself to look back and remember how much this changed me. I have more faith in humanity than ever before, despite the world. I'm making BIG changes in my life that are exciting and scary and so, so needed. Life goes on, but it is up to us to make ourselves happy and make it count. Thanks for being here, friends. You are such a valuable part of my life and I am grateful for you every day!

XOXO - Mer

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