I was in my first year as a school counselor, my dream to help others and work with youth, something I've been told I'm so good at. I was fresh out of Grad school. I was a High School counselor. I called a teacher at the end of the school day asking her if I could bring supplies back down to her room that I had borrowed. My "new student group" had just finished their float in the homecoming parade. She said "that's ok...bring the supplies down tomorrow." Something inside me said I needed to bring them down that moment. I asked her a few times, she said "it's ok....wait." I followed her request then took a minute to look at all the supplies in my room. I had an urge to take the supplies down anyway, but ignored it and left for the day.
Driving home, in my little maroon Toyota Camry, it was a sunny day, a perfect day. I passed a silver Ford pick up truck on my way out of town. I remember that truck so clearly. My journey home was an hour away. I was listening to my radio and reflecting on my day when I saw a herd of cattle on the road and a lady scurrying to get the cattle to cross the road. There was a white car in front of me. I slowed to a stop, waiting for the cattle to cross. At this moment, I remember turning my radio down, thinking "Mom says patience is a virtue." As I waited, proud of my patience, I thought, "I'll make green beans, mashed potatoes and pork chops for dinner." (This proved to be significant in years ahead. For some reason, without even realizing it, I made that exact meal each year for approximately 10 years on the anniversary of my accident).
This is my last memory of "Amy" before the accident.
My next memory was at a local Hospital, vomiting blood. I remember blood falling into a bowl, with the nurses hands surrounding it. The nurse asked "who do we call?" I said "Mom and Dad and Aaron," and I gave them them the phone numbers. How I knew the numbers or where they were at in that moment is God's grace. I remember thinking, "This is what my body needs right now." I was calm. My medical records state "patient continuously asks 'Am I going to die'?" I remember none of these thoughts or emotions. God's grace.
My Mom later told me her story. I have no memory of Mom and Dad at that hospital, that may be for the best. Her and Dad pulled in to see the helicopter in the parking lot (she knew it was for me). They found me in the emergency room soaked in blood, head to toe. I can't imagine my Mom's pain washing my clothes out that night in the bath tub (as she later told me).
I woke up in ICU at North Memorial Trauma Center in Minnesota. I had been "medically paralyzed," filled with drugs to keep me "out." I understand I was trying to pull the breathing tube for my lungs out of my mouth. My head was fractured like "a cracked hard boiled egg" (which served to be a blessing so my brain could swell). I had temporal and frontal brain damage (parts of the brain that serve emotional and mental judgement) and my lungs were not fully functioning. I also had a cerebral spinal fluid leak (the sac that surrounds my brain had an undetected cut). Staples were placed in my head where a large cut was the cause of the bleeding. Doctors told my family they "did all they could do" and that the next 24 hours would be very crucial...so they waited.
My friend Tanya had been in a severe car accident a month prior. When I went to visit her, I remember her being hooked up to all the machines, and I sat by her seeing her fingernails filled with blood. I said to her "Just rest." As I saw the people in the room that evening, and the machines, I looked down at my hands. They looked like Tanya's, God's grace filled me and I thought, "Just rest." I was filled with comfort in rest.
I understand the Clergy had been meeting with my family. I remember "feeling" my family members coming in to see me. With the tube in my mouth to help support my lungs, I couldn't speak. But, as family entered, I remember thinking, "I'm going to be ok, don't worry." They didn't know I knew they were there or that I felt their presence, their stress, their love, their fears, their worries. I remember writing Aaron's (boyfriend at the time, now husband) name down on a piece of paper to give to one of the nurses because I wanted to tell him I was OK. When he came in immediately after, I gave him a "fist pump" which we always did, to show we're a team. A sign, Amy has memory.
When I came out of ICU I remember one of the first things I said was to my brother, "Wayne, I didn't get your birthday cake." His reply, with tears in his eyes, "That's ok, thank you." He later told me that was the best birthday gift he could have asked for. He knew Amy was going to be ok. Amy was here and I had memory.
I remember asking what had happened. I didn't know. I asked if I hit the white car in front of me, or a "cow?" The white car drove off, thank God. I was rear ended by the Ford pickup truck. I have been told he was estimated to be traveling at over 60mph. No skid marks, hit me full blast. My car was smashed in the back up to my seat, the front caved in like a tent and the car spun 180 degrees around and landed near the ditch. My head was hit on the left side by the door frame and my forehead hit the steering wheel. I was wearing my seatbelt so I stayed in place. I was told that I tried to climb out the passenger side of the vehicle and wouldn't let anyone near me nor would I speak to anyone except a lady who was a nurse that "just happened to be" driving by and stopped to help. What an angel God knew I needed.
My hospital stay was quite an adventure. Wow... the new life in store for me. This is where I felt the strong presence of prayer, of God, of angels. I remember when Aaron's mom, Bonnie told me that everyone in Elk Mound (where I grew up) was praying for me. When she said this, I thought, "I know." I felt the prayers, almost like I heard them as I rested.
I felt so loved and was perfectly taken care of. The Doctors and nurses were right there to help me when I needed it. My sister traveled across town to bring me the Chinese food & meals I had asked for, which my appetite didn't want to touch. Aaron brought me all sorts of treats I couldn't open my mouth to eat, slept by my side, and studied my condition constantly. My Dad brought me flowers, rested on my bed beside me, and with his eyes holding back tears and fears said "I love you." It filled my heart with love and strength. My Mom gave me an angel token. Her and Dad stayed patiently at my bedside supportive and loving. My brother Wayne and his family took me outside for fresh air and nature's healing touch. My nephew Anthony helped me walk for the first time, My brother Brian was the first to be at North Memorial Hospital when I arrived and came from work often to visit. My friend Tali brought me pajamas to rest comfortably, Deb brought flowers. I received so many flowers & cards of support filled with prayers. The helicopter staff came to visit me, bringing me a hat. They were so excited I was alive and doing so well. What beautiful gifts God brings through "helpers" in all forms!
Miracles were occurring in each moment. I had cerebral spinal fluid leak (the sac around my brain was cut and leaking fluid). It was so aggressive that what wasn't going in my stomach, and making me throw up constantly, was running out my nose for 7 days straight. The Doctors said that if my leak didn't stop after 7 days that I would need to have brain surgery for them to go in and find the cut and seal it or I could risk spinal meningitis. The night before my scheduled surgery, I woke up to go to the bathroom (which was against the rules, I had a bedpan). When I came back from the bathroom, my leak was gone...which it did come on/off often. But this time was different. Everything inside me told me it was done. Done, done, healed done. I remember this moment with all my heart. I crawled upon my bed, all alone. I dropped to my knees and cried like I have never cried before. I cried with such gratitude, such love and knowingness. On my knees with my hands folded, I prayed like never before "Thank you God, Thank you, God, Thank you, God." I don't know how many times I said this and cried with all of my being. I knew God's grace had healed me. This was a moment of my life of pure love, healing, gratitude, knowingness. From that moment on, no one will ever convince me there is not a God. I felt God with ALL of my soul, with ALL of who I am. I knew.
The next morning the doctors came in to take me away for surgery for my cerebral spinal fluid leak. With my parents standing at my bedside I said, "I don't need to go." The doctor had a perplexed look and said "You need to go, it's been 7 days, no leak heals after 7 days...you are risking...." I responded, "I'm not going. I'm healed, see, my leak is gone." My parents had pure fear in their eyes. They were scared of the surgery (cutting into my skull to find the leak) but now also the fear that I wasn't going to be healed. After minutes of the doctor & my parents trying to convince me of surgery, the doctor finally said, "We can't take her without her permission." Oh, my poor parents! I can't imagine what they were feeling at that moment. They probably thought I was speaking from my pain killing, drug induced state! To God's credit...and my intuition...my cerebral spinal fluid leak was healed and never returned.
Soon after, another doctor came in. I asked what she was there for. She had me undergo more testing and finally said to me, "Do you know the left side of your face was shattered? I am here to do reconstructive surgery on your face. I was going to do the procedure on your face after your cerebral spinal fluid leak surgery." With tears and astonishment in her eyes she said, "This is a miracle. Every tissue, fiber, muscle has fallen into place to bring your bones in your face into alignment." I wasn't surprised by the miracle. I was more taken back by her information....news to me! God's Grace.
I had been poked and prodded so much, I had no idea of all the injuries I had. I'm not sure I still do. I had doctors and nurses looking at all of me all the time. I had so much blood drawn that I remember a nurse saying with a sad look, "We don't have any spots left to take blood on your hands, let's try your arm." I later found out through a Psychiatrist that the reason an eye doctor kept checking on my left eye was because the bone under my left eye was broken and typically resulted in the "dropping of the eye." It wasn't meant to be. It wasn't these physical effects I was meant to learn from, God had plenty of other lessons for me to grow from.
I left the hospital weighing under 85 lbs. I'm little anyway, but this is very little for my 5.0" frame. I had Vertigo, Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder leading to depression and suicidal tendencies. I had many doctors assigned to me upon my exit; neuropsychologist, therapist, psychiatrist. I thought my car accident injuries were on the mend, but I soon found out a deeper healing and journey was just beginning. I left the hospital with a whole new knowingness of miracles and the presence of God, of spirit. Which only grew and was needed in the months and years to follow.
I was to embark on a long journey in finding My truth, sharing what my soul had been speaking the entire time. My car accident was just the beginning, what needed to happen for me to learn, experience and become who I am today and my work as I've prayed since my accident to be "God's tool" for the highest good of all. This journey, I'll share another time. I now celebrate this date knowing it brought me too the exact space I need to be in today, filled with blessings, miracles and gratitude.