One year ago today I had my car accident. It was a typical Wednesday morning, I was driving to work about 6:30 am. I going about 60 mph and as I came upon the intersection, I could see the car not stopping at the stop sign. I started honking like crazy. A split second before impact I realized they were not going to stop, they were going to broadside me. What happened next seems like it all happened in the blink of an eye and as slow as molasses…. She struck the front driver’s side of my car, the moment of impact I felt my right arm break. My car went off the highway to the right and struck the stop sign on that side of the road and then an electric box, where I finally stopped, it felt like what I imagine it would feel like to be in a pin ball game. Every air bag in my car exploded, in a surreal all at once and one at time. Within a few moments a passerby opened my passenger side door. I remember the look on his face and the relief in his voice when he saw me. “I thought you were going to be hurt way worse.” I told him I thought my car was on fire and I wasn’t sure what all was injured but I knew my arm was broken. He told me the smoke was from air bags. He put my car in park and turned it off for me. I asked him if was ok? He looked at me so funny, and asked me if I thought I was ok. I was panicky about the other driver, was she hurt? He told me she was fine and that he had called 911. I asked him to get my phone out of my purse so I could call Nicole to let her know I wouldn’t be making it in. I knew she would start getting worried in a few minutes. He couldn’t find my phone. I have a terrible habit of not closing my purse so all the contents had been thrown out. Fortunately, I had accidentally left with the shop phone in my bag the evening before. I laughed as he he picked up our sad little flip phone and asked for the number. Y’all let me tell you…I do NOT ever retain phone numbers…but I recited Nicole’s off to him no problem at all.
The passerby stayed with me until the ambulance arrived. He prayed with me before he left. If you ever have the chance to be that person for someone, do it. I desperately needed someone helping me. He was calm and helpful and I cannot even tell you how much it meant to me that he stopped, stayed and prayed. Always, always, be that person.
When the EMS opened the door they also sounded shocked and relieved that I wasn’t more injured. One of them said from the looks of the accident on the outside they expected to find me pretty mangled up. The state trooper who came said essentially the same thing. He said he expected to be working a fatality based on the location of the accident. He said he certainly didn’t expect to see me sitting there looking like I hadn’t even been in an accident.
Turns out I had broken my wrist, right at the point it connects with my arm and unfortunately, it wasn’t a clean break, so I would need surgery. I have never in my life experienced pain like I did after the procedure, my arm swelled an obscene amount; I would have gladly amputated my arm if I had the ability. My arm still hurts and doesn’t work anywhere like it once did. Yet, it does work and is continually getting better. My RA doctor asked me why I wasn’t angry about it. I just looked at him and told him that wouldn’t make any difference, I would just be an angry woman whose arm hurt and didn’t work like it used to.
In September 2017 I had some vaguely abnormal test results which set off months of additional tests all with more vaguely abnormal results leading to even more tests with more vaguely abnormal results. Not even a week prior to my accident I had been told I should have a bone marrow biopsy. It was a time of confusion and trying not to worry and stress.
A couple of weeks after my accident I saw an endocrinologist who explained to me through my still very concussed brain fog, that my adrenal glands had stopped working. That it was a very serious condition that I needed to wear a medical alert bracelet and that trauma, such as car accidents, were very dangerous. I looked at him with what I’m sure was a look of confusion and told him I had just been in a car accident. His mouth actually dropped open, “You are very, very lucky” I laughed a little and told him the first responder had said the same thing to me. He looked at me very intently and rather forcefully restated just how dangerous a car accident was to someone whose adrenal glands don’t work. Evidently, my heart should have just stopped.
A few weeks later I was seeing another specialist due to a very large hemanigoma on my liver. It’s a tangle of blood vessels which they explain to me is kind of like a birthmark. Of course the one on my liver isn’t quite normal, evidently the one I have is very large, the size of a grapefruit and slowly growing, which they aren’t supposed to do. The specialist explained that it was more dangerous to me to try to do anything about it, the risk of bleeding out was high. So we need to just leave it alone and watch it. He then says, “it shouldn’t cause any issues unless it ruptures, you should be good, unless you are in a car accident. The seat belt could cause it to rupture, you’d bleed out internally before anyone even knows what’s wrong.” I’m pretty sure I gave him the same look I gave the other guy and laughed as I explained I just had a car accident. He looked at me with the same surprised look, “You are really, really lucky.” That’s what I hear.
In the year since my accident I have realized with a clarity unlike anything I have ever experienced that I truly am a dead girl walking. I think back to a year ago. Y’all it was just a normal boring, routine, no big thing, average, ordinary day. And then it wasn’t. Suddenly it became the Wednesday I should have died. From the accident itself. From heart failure. From the hemangioma rupturing and bleeding out. Yes, I know none of us are promised tomorrow. I know first hand, from my younger brother Matthew dying from bacterial menegitis, that suddenly death comes and your world turns upside down. But this is different. This is a daily sense of clarity just how out control this world really is, just how precious this very moment is, how quickly everything goes terribly wrong and how long it takes to get them “right” again.
Yet, I have an even clearer understanding that my faith and trust and hope and joy is in the Creator and Redeemer of All Things. And while my life might feel like it’s been turned upside down, torn apart, wrecked, that He is aware of all things, and He is not caught off guard by one single moment. I understand to the depths of my soul that I cannot not stop car accidents no matter how vigilant. I cannot stop divorce, I cannot stop health issues, I cannot stop trauma, tragedy, sorrow or pain… but I can decide how I live my life in the midst of those things and choose if I am going to let the Lord use them for good. The pain is coming, it’s always coming one way or another…it comes in the form of hurtling vehicles, betrayals, loss, death, divorce, uncertainty, broken arms and broken hearts. But God, is already there, waiting to take that pain and use if for something beautiful.
I’ve always wanted the Lord to make me whole and new. I want the broken to be like it never even happened. The Lord has been asking me to just trust Him with my brokenness. To just open my hand, let Him take the broken and give me His peace in return. Through this year I’ve been learning to open my hand to Him every. single. day. I’ve learned how much peace He gives us in the midst of all the brokenness, and how much peace and purpose and even joy I receive from realizing just how truly, I am every day…. a dead girl walking.